Benefits of marriage

This is a grammatically edited excerpt from the chapter 'Adab an-Nikah' from Imam Ghazzali's 'Ihya Ulum-id-din' translated by Fazlul-Karim. Also blended with this translation is an excerpt from 'The Proper Conduct of Marriage in Islam' and this is a translation of the same chapter by Muhtar Holland. Benefits of marriage

There are five benefits: (1) to beget children, (2) to control sexual urges, (3) to obtain peace of mind, (4) to increase divine service, and (5) to gain rewards for duties to family. [Item (4) and (5) are not dealt with in this Appendix.]

(1) To beget children. This is the main purpose for marriage. The aim is to engender and preserve the human race. Four objectives are accomplished through procreation: - (i) to increase mankind (ii) Islam is propagated by increasing the number of followers of the Prophet, p.b.u.h. (iii) parents will hope to leave behind children who will pray for them (iv) and if a child dies before the parents, the prayers of the child in Paradise will be very beneficial for the parents.

The first objective is very subtle  God has created man and woman with the wherewithal to produce and raise children. The uterus is the fertile field and both the male and female organs are the tools for cultivation. He also created sexual passion in both the male and female for the bearing of children through the use of these organs. This is proof of God's design. The Prophet has clearly substantiated this when he said "Marry and keep a family". He who does not marry, destroys these seeds and allows these tools to lie useless and dormant and he thereby goes against God's wishes. Infanticide has also been prohibited by God for this reason.

From Muhtar Holland's Translation: [Pages 17 & 18 ]

 Intercourse is brought about by the prompting of sexual appetite, which is an involuntary impulse. The only voluntary contribution a man can make is to procure the stimulus to sexual desire, and this can normally be anticipated. One who has contracted a marriage has therefore performed his duty and done what he had to do; the rest is beyond his own volition.

That is why marriage is recommended even for the impotent, for the stirring of desire is hidden and not susceptible to observation.

Such are the considerations in forming their severe disapproval of abstinence from marriage, even in cases were sexual appetite is enfeebled. [end of Muhtar Holland's translation]

(2) The second benefit of marriage

The second benefit of marriage is to be safe from the machinations of the devil and to satisfy lust and hence protect the private parts. The Prophet said: "If a man marries, half of his religion is saved. Fear God for the remaining half." The Prophet said: "Whoever among you is able to marry, should marry, and whoever is not able to marry, is recommended to fast, for fasting diminishes his sexual power." The pleasure which lies within sexual intercourse is an example of happiness in the afterlife. There is no benefit derived from a thing in which there is no pleasure.

(3) The third benefit of marriage

Marriage brings peace of mind as love grows between the couple. Peace of mind is necessary for divine service. God says: "It is He Who has created you from a single person, and He has created from him his wife, in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her." Hazrat Ali said: "Give peace to the mind because it becomes blind when it becomes disturbed." There is a Hadith which says that there are three special times for a wise man: - he speaks secretly with his Lord at one time, he takes account of his actions at another time, and he occupies himself with food and drink at another time. In another narration, a wise man is not desirous except in three matters: to earn his livelihood for the next world, to earn his livelihood for this world, and to taste the pleasure of lawful things. The Prophet said: "There is effort in every action and there is struggle in every effort. He who adopts struggle goes towards my Sunnah and guidance. The Prophet said: Upon complaint to Gabriel about the lessening of my sexual passion, he advised me to take Harisah. The Prophet said: Three things are dear to me among earthly matters - perfume, woman and prayer, the latter is coolness to my eyes. This comfort is necessary for peace of mind.

From Muhtar Holland's translation: [Pages 20-22 . . . Conclusion]

He who obeys his master out of the desire to please Him is not the same as one who obeys merely in quest of deliverance from the perils of this agency.

Consider this Wisdom, this Mercy, this divine Providence! See how two lives derive benefit through this one appetite: an outer life and an inner life. The outer life is the life a man leads through the continuance of his line, which constitutes a kind of survival, while the inner life is the Otherworldly life. The bliss [of sexual satisfaction], deficient because it is so ephemeral, thus stimulates a desire for perfect bliss, for bliss everlasting, and serves as an incentive to the worship which lead to its attainment. Desiring this so ardently, the creature finds it easier to persevere in the course that will bring him to such felicity in Paradise.

Relaxation and recreation for the soul [pg. 27 Muhtar Holland's Translation]

This [third benefit of marriage] is obtained by enjoying the company and sight of one's wife, and by shared amusement, whereby the heart is refreshed and strengthened in worship; for the lower self (nafs) is prone to boredom and inclined to shun duty as something unnatural to it. If constrained to persevere in something repugnant, it jibes and backs away, whereas if revived occasionally by pleasures it acquires new strength and vigor. In familiarity with women, one finds the relaxation to banish cares and to refresh the heart.

The souls of the pious need legitimate recreation, which is why the Exalted One said:

"That he may rest with her." [Qur'an 7:189]

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