Islamic Character as our Foundation

These days, many young Muslims fight over the technical details on what are the rights of the husband or wife. These disputes are heated, emotional and often devoid of any understanding of the Quran and Sunnah. Marriages are reduced to contracts in which rights are exchanged in a formal manner without any positive feelings towards the other. However, Islam does not encourage this kind of attitude towards relationships, whether it is a marital relationship or our relationships with our parents, siblings, children, friends, and neighbours. The focus in Islam is not on law, but on manners and character.

Islam lays down some very clear laws regarding relationships, but also leaves other aspects open to interpretation. For example, the hadith states that women must obey their husbands, but the details of what that entails are often decided by cultural and economic norms. Likewise, the Quran teaches that men must provide for their wives, but what exactly they need to provide and how much they should provide is dictated by cultural and economic norms, as well as individual needs. The laws exist to prevent abuse and to establish the parameters of the Shariah. Within these parameters, there is a lot of room for flexibility.

Islam’s laws related to marriage dictate the bare minimum that is required for a marriage to work. This has never been the standard recommended by the Shariah. That standard is a loving mutually beneficial relationship based on good character and kindness. Meeting the bare minimum does not make a person a righteous Muslim or an ideal spouse. If anything, it indicates laziness and a lack of commitment to the relationship. The true measure of success in a relationship is one’s character and manners with one’s spouse. 

The Prophet said, “The best of you are the ones who are best to their families, and I am best to my family.” (Tirmidhi 3895) He also encouraged women to marry men of good character (Tirmidhi 1084) and emphasized in multiple narrations the importance of kindness in a marriage (Muslim 1218, 1468). All of these narrations clearly indicate that marriages are not built on meeting minimum Fiqh standards, marriages are built on kindness, good character, and wanting to please each other. 

Our marriages should not be built on meeting minimum Fiqh standards or arguing over the details of the law. We need to clarify these laws so people know their rights and responsibilities, but we should build our marriages on kindness and love. This verse of the Qur’an should be the foundation of how we build our marriages, “And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find peace in them, and He has put between you love and mercy.” (Surah al-Rum 30:21)

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar

Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help and Izzah Academy, author of over a dozen books, and the operations manager of Yaqeen Institute.