The Permanence of Marriage

            Because Islam considers marriage a very serious commitment, it has prescribed certain measures to make the marital bond as permanent as humanly possible. The parties must strive to meet the conditions of proper age, general compatibility, reasonable dowry, good will, free consent, unselfish guardianship, honorable intentions, and judicious discretion. When the parties enter into a marital contract, the intention must be clear to make the bond permanent, free from the casual and temporary designations. For this reason, trial marriages, term marriages, and all marriages that appear experimental, casual, or temporary are forbidden in Islam. (We are aware of the complex and intricate arguments used by some Sheea Muslims as regards the so – called mut’ah marriage. We appreciate the scholarly dimension of the problem but see no purpose in pursuing it here. Interested readers are referred to the detailed discussion of the whole matter in our  book The Family Structure in Islam.). In one of his most unequivocal statements, the Prophet declared that condemned are the men and women who relish the frequent change of marital partners, that is, the “tasters” who enjoy one partner for a while, then shift to another, then to a third, and so on.

             However, to insist on the permanent character of marriage does not mean that the marital contract is absolutely indissoluble. Muslims are designated by the Qur’an as a Middle Nation   ??? ? ???? (ummatan wasatan) and Islam is truly a religion of the “Golden Mean”, the well – balanced and well – integrated system. This is particularly clear in the case of marriage which Islam regards as neither a sacrament nor a simple civil contract. Rather, marriage in Islam is something unique with very special features of both sacramental and contractural nature. It is equally true that the alternative to this casual or temporary extremity is not the other extreme of absolute indissolubility of the marital contract. The Islamic course is one of equitable and realistic moderation. The marriage contract should be taken as a serious, permanent bond. But if it does not work well for any valid reason, it may be terminated in kindness and honor, with equity and peace.


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