The dignity of human beings and especially the dignity of women is something that is utterly valued and highly sanctified in Islam.
A woman’s womb in Arabic ‘rahm’ is extracted from the name of Allah Himself ‘ArRahman’ (The Most Merciful). This is a sign of elevation and closeness the woman has with The Creator Himself, The King of kings, the Giver of Life. Allah chose women to be the carriers of life into existence and this is an honorable position.
Wherever she is, the woman must be taken care of, protected and honored. If she is in her dad’s house, then raising her and spending on her is an act of worship for him that he’ll be rewarded for by Allah. If she is in her husband’s house, then spending on her and treating her kindly and gently are acts of worship for him that he’ll be rewarded for by Allah. This is all in the most authentic narrations of this religion.
When Islam came, it empowered women with rights and dignity, something that was abused in their time. And that’s not in pre-Islam time only … it seems to be in our time today as well!
One manifestation of this is the idea of girlfriends/boyfriends and having premarital relations.
Some think that this is liberating for women, and they blame Islam/Muslims for being uptight or oppressive.
But let’s think about this together.
Honestly and objectively, which is a more dignified scenario:
That a woman gives her body, emotions, time and care freely to someone who can enjoy all that and leave her whenever he wants without owing her anything or committing to her in anyway or giving her any rights…
That a woman’s body, feelings and needs are sanctified and guarded by The Creator Himself; if someone wishes to enjoy her, then he has to testify before Allah and witnesses and provide a contract stating that he will be responsible for providing her with her financial needs, emotional needs, physical needs and legal rights. And if any harm or injustice is inflicted on her by him, then he will be held accountable for it before The Creator on The Day of Judgment…
Which scenario better dignifies and protects women?
Is the first scenario really liberating, or is it humiliating and degrading to the woman’s body, feelings, needs and rights?
Is the second scenario really old fashioned and oppressive, or is it dignifying and elevating?
If you contemplate this issue with open mind and heart, you’ll realize that Allah doesn’t want for the woman to be abused, sexualized or made easily available, cheap or accessible to men to use as they please. And Allah doesn’t want for the man to be a slave of his desires and commit injustices against himself or others on account of his lusts and physical urges.
That’s not real love and that’s not honorable or elevating type of relationships for human beings.
“And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.” (Qur’an 17: 70)
Allah specifically honored us above other creations.
But the first scenario for many people seem easier… Fulfilling physical needs is easy; any creature can do that — even those who are below us in rank and are not gifted with intellect or ability to purify and discipline their beings and desires.
It’s easy to submit to the basic physical needs. But what Allah and Islam are calling us for is to elevate above the physical and explore meanings that are much deeper, richer and more everlasting than that.
Marriage in Islam is more than fulfilment of physical urges. It is peace, mercy and tranquillity to the heart, mind and soul. It is meant to be a journey of intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical growth and elevation.
It is considered an act of worship! It follows the path that the Creator has revealed to His Messengers to teach humanity.
It is a completion of one’s faith.
Faith in marriage is a language and a deep bond between the couple. Those who are connected through their love for their Creator, their gratitude towards Him, their desire for His Closeness, their pursuit of His Knowledge….. All of this creates a major common ground brought into the relationship between the partners. It’s like they bring an eternal bond that connects them with their Eternal Creator, and they hope and pray to remain connected for eternity in the afterlife.
This is what’s meant to go on between believing partners. When we pray for partners, we ask for someone who could help us get closer to our Creator, help us learn more about Him, fall more in love with Him and be persistent on our journey towards Him.
The bond between spouses is beautifully described in the Qur’an by Allah who says about spouses:
“[…] They are your garment and you are their garment”, “ […] They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them” (Qur’an 2: 187). Meaning they’re so close to you, they cover you, they fulfill your every need and you fulfill them…
Even more significantly, marriage is described in the Qur’an as a sign of the Creator:
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought” (Qur’an 30: 21)
A sign leads to a destination. He said that this relationship is one of His signs. This is because when we experience mercy, we get reminded that Allah’s Name/Attribute is The Most Merciful, The Source of Mercy… any mercy we experience is a fraction of His Infinite Mercy. This helps us long for Him. When we experience deep affection (or wud in Arabic), we remember that His Name is Al Wadud, The Source of Ultimate Pure Affection. When we love our partners, we also fall deeply in love and gratitude to The One Who created them. A husband and wife smiling at each other is an act of worship that is rewarded by Him. There are so many experiences we go through and they are a reflection of His Presence, His Names and His Gifts…
But when we devoid man and woman’s relationship of those everlasting meanings and lower it to fulfillment of temporary physical needs and infatuations…are we really doing ourselves any justice?
There is a notion among some people that premarital relations are necessary so that the couples get to ‘know and test’ one another. But this is really a delusion and it is degrading and humiliating. There is no way one will know what will happen in the future, no matter how long they ‘test drive’ their partners. Only Allah The Knower of the future and the unseen know that. And if couples are united for His Sake and with His Guidance, then He will be The One who descends peace, mercy, love and tranquility upon them– at the end, He is The Owner of Peace, Love and Mercy.
The idea of “let me try her/him first and if I didn’t feel that he/she is perfect enough for me or I don’t feel like I want to continue in this relationship, then I’ll easily ditch him/her. No worries. No strings attached,” this – if anything- is selfishness and lack of responsibility.
We are not going to have ‘perfect’ partners. But we choose people based on values of true faith, righteousness, responsibility, good reputation and initial attraction… and then we commit and ask the Creator to bless and ease and aid both partners on their path and place between them His eternal bond, His mercy, affection and tranquility.
Al Hassan Al Basri, one of the most renowned theologians and scholars of Islam, said: “marry your daughter to one with sound religion (knowledge of Allah and the deen), so if he loved her, he’ll honor her and if he ever disliked her, he will not commit injustice against her.”
These are the basis upon which we choose partners.
Long term premarital relationships did not and will not prevent divorces or disagreements. This is a delusion.
Most importantly, married partners are meant to learn deep meanings of patience, humility, selflessness and commitment. Premarital relations are simply an easy way out. It’s no longer about “for sickness and for health, for better and for worse”, but rather “for my own benefit, my own satisfaction and if I don’t like it, I’m out.”
Who is really the winner in this situation?
Women? Not at all. Men? Maybe at first, but if they remain on this path, they’ll end up being alone or die alone and miss an opportunity of learning what makes them true noble men who commit, not neglect or abandon.
Again, in Islam, relationships outside of marriage are not allowed given how unfair they are especially to the woman, even if she doesn’t recognize that. It is part of a woman’s honor and right to have a marriage contract. This is a testimony from the man in front Allah and witnesses that this man will be responsible for taking care of her emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual and financial needs. This is a commitment because the woman is highly precious and submitting herself, her emotions, time, thinking and physical being to someone who doesn’t owe her anything and can leave her at any point… THIS is not fair or befitting of women, and women are really meant to be much more honored than that.
How many sisters in humanity are left alone struggling to support children whose fathers have left off without committing to supporting them or covering their needs?
The deprivation of rights and deprivation of full attention and commitment is not fair or just to human beings. Those innocent children deserve to have a healthy household with committed parents who acknowledge them fully and commit to their upbringing and growth on all levels.
On the other hand- and if bringing up children is not the point of the relationship- then isn’t it injustice for the woman to make her body a dump for strange men’s physical urges? How is this dignifying or liberating to her?
What about children that result from the intimate bond between a man and a woman…. is it justice for them to be created/raised in secrecy, or get dumped and aborted eventually as though their existence is a mistake and glory was meant to the temporary physical lusts not the precious dignified human life?
Ask your heart if this is what’s really honorable and dignifying for human beings.
What happens with the blessing of Allah, The Light of the Heavens and The Earth, will surely have His light. What happens without the blessings of The Source of Light, will only be a means of darkness to the heart, mind and soul.. even if it was initially pleasurable, but it will never be truly and durably a fulfilling source of peace, mercy and Tranquility.