God Almighty states in the Quran on the creation of Adam and Eve, “It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her in love" (Chapter 7, Al-Araf: Verse 189). He further refers to them in the Quran saying, “We created you from a single pair, male and female” (Chapter 49, Al-Hujurat: Verse 13).
From the beginning of time marriage has been established as a bond between a man and a woman. Islam views this bond as a sacred institution, one that allows for procreation and ensures that communities will flourish and the next generation will be full of God-fearing men and women.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, stated, “There is no institution more beloved to God than the institution of marriage” (Mustadrak, Vol. 2, Pg. 531). He also said, “Marriage is my Sunnah i.e. tradition” (Ibn Majah) and that “When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion” (Bayhaqi). Islam views this relationship as profoundly significant, even equating it with an act of worship. When one marries, one is pleasing God.
God Almighty refers to the beautiful relationship between a man and a woman who are married, saying, “They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them” (Chapter 2, Al-Baqarah: Verse 187).
The analogy is made using the word libaas, literally a “garment,” to refer to the relationship between spouses. In the same way a garment provides warmth, your spouse provides emotional warmth and comfort throughout your life. And as a garment would provide a covering, your spouse covers you, protects you, in numerous ways.
A spouse provides protection from fahisha, literally wild acts, or desires, including fornication and adultery. Islam teaches that men and women have a natural attraction to one another. This attraction is natural, but it is haram or impermissible to satiate those desires except in the context of marriage. Marriage provides the context in which acting upon this attraction becomes halal or permissible. Your spouse serves as respite from sin and a means of chastity.
The institution of marriage in Islam also provides stability for the spouses and their children. When two people come together as husband and wife in front of God, they are committing themselves to a binding contract—this contract ensures that the two parties will provide for and sustain their family unit.
When Muhammad brought the message to pre-Islamic Arabia, he established new rights for those entering into a marriage. Men and women were given equal and established roles, as providers and nurturers respectively, and the rights of both were clearly outlined by the word of God and His messenger, peace be upon him.
Marriage in Islam further protected individuals from financial worry. As established by Islam, the man is the head of the household—one who provides financial support and sustenance for his family. The woman also protects her family—not only is she given the task of protecting the family’s assets in the absence of her husband, but she also secures the family’s bond by providing a proper upbringing and comforting environment for her husband and children.
The family unit is seen as the building block of society in Islam, and marriage is the stepping-stone to the creation of families. As Islam forbids sexual relations except between a husband and wife, it is only through marriage that families can be formed. The creation of, and sustenance and provision for, the family unit are key aspects of the Islamic faith. Through the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad we learn the importance of marriage, family life, and raising children in a proper environment. The importance of providing and caring for one’s family is highlighted in his saying, “The best among you is the one who is best to his family” (Tirmidhi).
This family unit is so important that breaking it apart via divorce is abhorred by God. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “The most detestable of permitted things in the sight of God is divorce” (Mishkat). Though permissible, it has a significant and negative impact on the family.
Marriage as an institution is facing numerous challenges today—children are being born to broken families, being raised by unfit parents, and in some cases being altogether abandoned by those who gave birth to them. Progression away from the institution of marriage has significantly damaged our communities. In the United States, 25.8 percent of children are now raised in single parent households; single parents, whether male or female, are tasked with becoming both the provider and the nurturer for their children. Many are unable to provide sufficient care for their children, leading to disjointed parent-child relationships. Families have become more fragmented, and the very fabric of our society has begun to unravel.
Society does not see the need for marriage, yet if marriage were regarded with sanctity as it is in Islam, the matter of childbirth and raising children would not be treated so frivolously. Marriage lends credence to the family unit—two people become bound by a contract to support one another and support their family unit. Even now, after so many have moved away from the traditional family structure and rejected marriage as its foundation, our government tries to sustain those broken family units by requiring child support payments and alimony in the case of divorced couples.
Same-sex marriage is another onslaught against this revered institution—the natural tendencies granted by God to a male and a female are lacking in a same-sex household. Same-sex households are inherently unable to procreate to sustain the future of humanity.
It is important to note here that while Islam opposes same-sex marriage, our opposition to it and to President Obama’s stance is not a matter of hate or bigotry but a matter of the principles of our faith. It is just as important to note that Islamic principles also dictate that one must not act violently or hate individuals for their choices.
Violence against and hatred of homosexuals is unequivocally wrong; Muslims and people of all faiths must stand against violence, bigotry, and hate crimes against anyone based on lifestyle or sexual orientation. All religious leaders must step forward and speak out against such violence. When homosexuals are targeted in our societies it is our duty to call upon law enforcement to provide them with protection and prosecute those who target them.
In his last sermon, the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, highlighted the egalitarianism of the Islamic faith. “Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another,” he said. “All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white, except by piety and good action.”
God created us as equals. One person is no better than another regardless of race, color, ethnicity, lifestyle, or even sexual orientation; what makes us different in the sight of God is our fear and consciousness of Him. Islam establishes that we are free to act as we choose, and God will hold us all accountable for our actions. The Prophet Muhammad affirmed this when he said, “Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds. So take heed, and do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”
Verse 13 of Al-Hujurat, the 49th chapter of the Holy Quran, teaches that our differences do not justify intolerance or persecution. God Almighty states, “We made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.” While Muslims oppose same-sex marriage as a violation of God’s law, we are in no place to judge others or mistreat them for their choices. God alone holds the power to judge us for our deeds. It is no doubt our duty to God and faith to protect the institution of marriage; we must also remember our duty to respect and protect all community members from any form of violence.
Rida Fozi is an active member of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and a frequent writer for ICNA.org. A resident of New York, she graduated from Brooklyn College cum laude with a bachelor of arts in English.