Islam is not just a religion but a complete way of life. It provides guidance in every aspect of life covering from personal devotions, to matters of family development, social transactions, administration of public welfare and security, judicial matters, distribution of wealth, striving for truth and justice and even leadership and public administration.
It has to be noted that when one speaks of “worship”, in the Islamic concept it is not limited to acts of personal devotions and rites alone. The Arabic word “ ‘ibaadah” (usually translated as worship) is derived from the root word “ ‘abd” which means “a slave or servant” and thus it encompasses every conscious efforts in ones life which as Muslim , we are to “submit our will to the will of God.” Thus on the subject of marriage, Muslims sees it also as an act of serving God and is to be done in accordance with the principles which He (High and Exalted is He) has stipulated and emulating the ways of His Messenger Muhammad (salutations and peace be upon him and his family).
What is marriage ?
“And among His signs is this, that He created for you (“azwaaj” - plural for “zawj”) mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell (live) in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.”
(Qur’an : ar-Rum : 30 : 21)
The word “zawj” is used in the Qur’an to denote “the other half of a pair” or “mate”. The act of the two (male and female) coming together is called “nikah” (marriage). Islam stresses that it is in the nature of man to seek his partner in life. But unlike the animals, man is a rational and a social being. There are higher ideals and objectives to “marriage” than simply for copulation. The attainment of tranquillity, love and mercy is mentioned by God in the above verse. Therefore to understand “marriage” from Islamic perspective, we need to firstly understand man’s nature and his purpose for living. We believe none except our Creator (God) alone knows what is best for man and therefore Islam is also sometimes called “Ad-deenul-fitrah” (the natural religion) whose laws are there conforming with the nature and needs of mankind. And for man to develop fully his humanity, marriage is seen as complementary rather than as an obstacle. Fulfillment of his sexual needs through marriage is viewed as an act of “worship” and not (as in some other religion) as something profane.
Family - an Islamic perspective.
Islam emphasizes the preservation and perpetuation of family as an institution. Thus marriage being the vital means for the formation of new family, must also be uphold. Without the institution of marriage, the family institution will be destroyed. And it is within the family structure that such important aspects of protection, nurturing and education of women and children are possible as well as enhancing the dignity of individuals and the preservation of their honour.
“O you assembly of young men, whoever amongst you is able to set up a home, let him get married, for that will avert ones eyes from lustful gaze and is most chasteful for the private parts : whoever is not able (yet) then he should fast, because it (fasting) will repulse him therefrom.”
(Hadith of the Prophet)
“Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions.”
(Qur’an : an-Nisa’ 4 : 34)
Although everyone is equal in their humanity, yet we are different in our nature (gender). And because of this recognition, the leadership in family structure depended very much on gender roles which nature has dictated. Lest we get overboard with the current craze over “women liberation” we should note that family in Islam is paternalistic. And men have been assigned extra rights over women because of the extra responsibility placed upon men i.e. to protect and maintain the women. It is well-known how Islam, through the last Messenger Muhammad (pbuh), spearheaded the movement which accords a respectable status to women.
(Taklif) Rulings on whether to marry or not ?
When a Muslim attains the age of discernment and accountability, all his actions has implications subjected to the teachings of Islam viz. permissible (harus), desirable (sunnat/mandub), obligatory(wajib), undesirable(makruh) or even forbidden(haram). This rulings is not rigidly fixed but takes into consideration the circumstances which the person may be in. Thus regarding marriage, as a rule it is permissible act but it is regarded as :
 Mandub or Sunnat : Recommended (desirable) if one has the means and the desire to marry.
 Wajib : Obligatory or compulsory if one has the means and fears that because of his urge he may fall into temptation of committing fornication etc..
 Makruh : Undesirable (not encouraged) if one does not have the means and/or the desire for sex.
 Haram : Forbidden (prohibited) if one intends to or may cause harm or suffering to the wife.
Importance of Marriage.
Marriage is viewed by Islam as the only right form of relationship between man and woman because it leads to the setting up of families and enables members to undertake and fulfill their social responsibilities conscientiously with devotion and sincerity.
In the Islamic social order, the family is the first and natural unit of humanity and the real cohesive force which makes civilization possible. It is either based on blood relationship, on faith or formed as a result of marriage and which later grows through ties of kinship into groups of tribes, clans and nations.
Islam stresses the importance of the family as a basic unit of society because the foundation for a strong nation can be realized if the families in a particular society carry out their respective duties and abide by the Shari’ah (Islamic Law). Below are some of the important aspects which marriage aims to bring :
 Preservation of family and continuation of the human race.
 Preservation of Morality and Chastity.
 Fulfillment and feeling of self worth through emotional stability, love and kindness.
 Widening the network of family relationship and producing a social cohesion in society.
 Induces greater responsibility by according clear roles.
 Ensuring the preservation and protection of woman and children.
Choice of partners
As a rule, Muslims are to marry Muslims. The rationale behind the prohibition in marrying non-Muslim is that relationship between husband and wife are not merely physical but also spiritual and cultural. And the fact that a Muslim regards religion as a total way of life, having a partner who does not share the same orientation will certainly invite problems. Although it may be possible that a Muslim may influence the unbelieving partner and the children to accept Islam later, it is equally possible that the Muslim himself/herself may be influenced to discard Islam (na’uudzubillaah ! we seek refuge in Allah!). The fact that if the Muslim begun the marriage by not respecting his/her own religion, it certainly would make the task ahead much more difficult in influencing the partner and children to Islam later. Principle difference in religion would cause friction and strain for the family, and therefore the issue of adherence to a common faith at the onset is certainly wise. Even amongst Muslims, choosing a partner should also be based upon his/her adherence to the religion. As advised by the Prophet [pbuh] :
“And do not marry women who ascribe divinity to others beside God unless they attain to [true] belief [in the absolute Oneness of Allah]: for any believing bondwoman is certainly better than a woman who ascribes partners to God, even though she pleases you greatly. And do not give your women in marriage to men who ascribe divinity to others beside God unless they attain to [true] belief [in the absolute Oneness of Allah]; for any believing bondsman is certainly better than a man who ascribe partners to God, even though he pleases you greatly. [Such as] these invite unto the fire, whereas God invites unto Paradise, and unto [the achievement of] forgiveness by His leave; and He makes clear His messages unto mankind, so that they might bear them in mind.”
(Qur’an : al-Baqarah : 2 : 221)
“A woman could be married for four qualities; for her wealth, for her noble descent, for her beauty and for her religious piety. Therefore (those who) choose to marry her for her religious piety will be successful.” (Hadith)
How to make the proper approach to marriage ............
Talab - “seeking after”
The Prophet [pbuh] recommended that in the selection of a bride, a man is allowed to see his intended before betrothal to prevent any disagreements in his choice of life partner. If a man so desires, he may appoint a woman as go-between and interview the would-be bride, or he may himself meet the would be-bride under supervision of her guardian.
Khitab - “engagement”
In Islam, engagement is permissible for purposes of preparing the wedding as well as to indicate to other would-be suitors that the woman has already been spoken for. And in Islam, it is forbidden for another man to ask for the hand of a lady who is already engaged to be married (unless the engagement has been called off or he has the permission from the man she is engaged to).
In S’pore all Muslim marriages must be done officially under the Registrar of Muslim Marriages (at Fort Canning). The prospective bridegroom and bride must personally come to apply for registration, accompanied by the woman’s guardian. You have to bring along :
[a] Identification papers (passport or I/C).
[c] (If a Muslim convert) your Conversion Certificate.
[d] Other relevant papers : e.g. divorce certificate (if previously married)
(if foreigner e.g. from Malaysia, Brunei or Indonesia) a letter informing of your status from a recognized Islamic authority in your country.
Marriage preparatory course
As it has been found that couples getting married must be fully aware of their rights and responsibilities as well as to be educated on importance aspects of married life, a preparatory course is now required. The Registrar of Muslim Marriage requires proof of attendance of this course from approved institution, and will advise those who has yet to attend to do so.
The Marriage Solemnization (Aqad)
The essentials (Rukun) :
 Bridegroom - must be Muslim, who knows the bride; must be free and not forced; and he must be free from the constrain of Hajj or Umrah; and whose relationship to the bride is not “Mahrim”.
 Bride - must be Muslimah, who knows the bridegroom; not forced by the guardian; free from constrain of Hajj and Umrah; and she must be free from previous marriage bond (if applicable). - in this case of divorce or death of husband, she is required to go through the mandatory waiting period called “Iddah”.
 Guardian (Wali) - For a bride who has never been married before, her guardian’s consent is necessary. The Guardian must be a (male) Muslim adult; sane and must not be forced; and not a “fasiq” (i.e. a Muslim who persist in committing major sins.)
 Witnesses - Two male Muslims as witnesses (one from each party); they must be adult, sane and 'Adl (i.e. just, upright and not a “fasiq”)
 Dowry (Mahr) - The “mahr” is a marriage gift from the bridegroom to the bride as consideration. The amount may be determined by the bridegroom according to his means, at the wife’s request or by mutual consent and may be of any reasonable value. The minimum stipulated in S’pore presently is at not less than S$100.00
The Khutbah Nikah (Sermon prior to solemnization)
Usually prior to the actual solemnization, the Qadhi (Registrar) will give a sermon following the ways of our Prophet Muhammad [pbuh], to advise the couple.
...................excerpts from the Khutbah ...............................
“..... Marriage is a social contract, yet it is essentially a spiritual bond of union which should be made with the firm resolve of maintaining it for life.
The institution of marriage in Islam is based on interdependence of man and woman in ensuring fullness of life for each other through mutual affection, mutual confidence and mutual protection. It involves duties and responsibilities that the couple should bear together and individually.
It is the husband’s duty and responsibility :
[a] to maintain the wife with profound care, and live with her on a footing of kindness and equity;
[b] when blessed with children, to maintain them with devotion and to provide adequately for their intellectual, moral, physical and spiritual development; and
[c] to protect the wife and other members of the family to the best of his ability, and order their lives in accordance with the teaching of Islam.
As to the wife, it is her duty :
[a] to guard her chastity and to protect the rights, honour and property of her husband and to be ever honest and sincere;
[b] to serve her husband and members of the family with consideration and politeness; and
[c] to bring up the children as good Muslims.
With the solemnization of your marriage, which will take place presently, you will begin a new life as husband and wife. With mutual devotion, understanding and tolerance, you would be able to live a happy and contented life. Be grateful to Allah for the blessings of happiness, and face any trial or tribulation with courage, forbearance, completely trusting yourselves to Allah.
By following the precepts of Islam and being truthful and trustworthy, fulfilling your obligations towards Allah, you will certainly achieve success and happiness. And Allah says in the Holy Qur’an : “O you who believe ! Guard your duty to Allah and speak words straight to the point, He will adjust your works for you and will forgive you all your sins. Whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he verily, has gained a signal victory.”
Hold discussions between yourselves, and deliberate on all matters pertaining to the affairs of the family; and exchange counsel in order to avoid friction. Maintain good relation with in-laws, treat elders with respect and youngsters with affection. This will strengthen family bonds and promote happiness and harmony in the family.
Finally, I advice you to avoid separation (divorce); for separation brings unhappiness to the children and misery to both husband and wife.”......
------------- end of important excerpts from the khutbah ------------------
 The “Ijab - Qobul” (Solemnization)
This is a clear offer of the bride by her guardian or his nominee (usually the Qadhi - registrar), to be immediately accepted by the groom with clear pronouncement without hesitation. e.g.
Guardian or Qadhi : “O! (name of bridegroom) I give my daughter (name of bride) in marriage to you with the dowry (i.e.“Mahr”-consideration) of (either in dollars or in kind - in the latter case then the value will also be stated).”
Bridegroom (to respond) : “I take her as my wife”
“I take (name of bride) as my wife with the dowry mentioned.”
It is to be noted that with this acceptance, the bridegroom has taken over from her guardian the responsibility of maintaining the said lady, as his lawful wife: to provide for her needs, be it physical and spiritual comfort, to provide for her religious education and development, and to protect and safeguard her honour, chastity, welfare and security of herself and her properties.
Ta’aliq - “special condition”
In S’pore, to ensure the rights of the bride is further safeguarded from abuse, a special condition is to be agreed upon by the bridegroom. It reads :
“On every occasion that I _____________ :
 leave my wife _________ for a continuous period of four months or more, intentionally of unintentionally; or
 fail to maintain her for the said period, whereas she is obedient to me; or
 commit any action that causes injury to her body or damage to her property or causes her to lose her self respect;
and my wife complains to the Shari’ah court and if her complain is proven, then she is divorced by one Talaq (pronouncement). ”
The Feast to celebrate (Walimatul aqad / Walimatul- Urus.)
It is strongly recommended by the Prophet [pbuh] that the bridegroom should host a “walimah” (feast) for friends and well-wishers on the day following the marriage, because in Islam marriage should not be done secretly but should be publicized as much as possible. This practice is a binding practice from the Prophet’s teachings. It serves as a means of announcing to relations, friends and the community concerning the marriage - to join in the joyous occasion and to share the happiness and blessings. But, it must be noted that one should not be extravagant (but within one’s mean and ability).
was-Salaamu 'alaykum WaraHmmatullaah
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