Nikah - an institution for individual and social change
Through Nikah ceremony Muslim get into the wed lock. It has been prescribed for every human being to marry once they attain maturity, provided if he or she is ready to shoulder the responsibilities. The Muslim marriage ceremony (Nikah) is simple. It requires:
1) A mutual agreement by the bride and the groom
2) Two adult and sane witnesses.
3) A legal guardian on behalf of bride.
4) The groom should provide mandatory sum of wealth (Mahr) to the bride according to his status.
5) Written marriage contract signed by the bride, the groom and two witnesses.
After the delivery of Nikah sermon both are solemnized and that completes the marriage. After Nikah the bridegroom supposed to offer a treat (Valima) to the relatives and friends as per his capacity. Here the message of Nikah is being explained in view of our Non-Muslims brethren.
The wedding process starts with the Nikah sermon which is delivered in Arabic, as taught by The Messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The sermon comprises of Allah’s praise, few verses from the Quran and a few Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that is Ahadith.
Translation of Nikah Sermon
Praise - Thanks be to Allah that we praise Him, pray to Him for help; ask Him for pardon; we believe in Him, We trust Him; and ask Him to guard us from the evil of our own souls and from the evil consequences of our own deeds. Whomsoever He leaves straying no one can guide him. I bear witness that there is no God save Allah, who has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He has sent with truth as a bringer of good news and a warner.
The best word is the book of Allah, and the best way is that of Muhammad, on whom be peace. The worst of all things are innovations and every innovations leads astray, and everything leads to astray, leads to hell.
Whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger will be guided aright and whosoever disobeys will cause loss to his own self (and thereafter). Hereafter, I ask the refuge of Allah from Satan, the outcast. In the name of Allah most Gracious most Merciful
■ Oh Mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. (Ch 4- An Nisa:Verse 1)
■ Believers! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not accept in a state of Islam. (Ch 3- Aal-e-Imran: Verse 102)
■ Believers! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right. That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you & your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger have already attained the highest achievement. (Ch 33- Al Ahzaab: Verses 70-71)
Sayings of Prophet, Ahadith:
■ Nikah is my tradition, the one whose desires go against my tradition is not amongst me (Source: Bukhari Book of Hadith).
■ By Allah! Among all of you I am the most God-fearing, and among you all, I am highly conscious of saving myself from the wrath of Allah, yet my state is that I observe prayer and sleep too. I observe fast and suspend observing them; I marry woman also. And he who turns away from my Sunnah has no relation with me". (Source: Bukhari Book of Hadith)
■ A woman may be married for four of the qualities, for her wealth, for her rank (and nobility of her family) for her beauty and for her character, so attain success with one possessing nobility of character (Source: Bukhari Book of Hadith).
The marriage ceremony means a lot. The assembly of men and women encompasses tremendous importance. The words of mutual trust and co-operation uttered, witness a couple abiding by those for the whole of their lives. These are defining moments and a new beginning. And a true manifestation of the family system that Allah has prescribed for the entire humanity.
Man meets Woman
■ We have observed that by virtue of a Nikah ceremony, a man and a woman gets into conjugal relationship. Blending of a man and a woman in this manner is a sign of God just as the existence of sun and the moon. Looking at the movements of these celestial objects one can understand the creation of the Almighty.
■ Same is the case here, the spouses with their intimacy, affection, love and caring attitudes, reflects one or the other favor of God over them. As the Quran says:
And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect (Ch 30 - Ar Room: Verse 21)
For the whole of their married life they are constantly blessed with the love and mercy. If one were to understand the caring attitude of God, he would reflect his thoughts over the way a husband and wife spend their lives, the way they share their gains and pains, the way they understand each other’s sentiments and emotions, the way they fulfill their desires. Sometimes love in their hearts defines their relations, sometimes it leaves and open the doors for mercy to play its part. When a squabble of even a small magnitude happens between the two, the loving attitude takes a leave for a while and the mercy will act instead and the spouses get back to their normal life.
The Message of Nikah
The prophetic way of Nikah sermon has been already mentioned, at the time of congregation Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to remind very important things of which Taqwa (consciousness, fear, love of God) would occupy a prime place. In view of the beginning of a new marital life, he (pbuh), through his sermon, advised in a way that not only addresses the newlywed couple but also to guardians, relatives and the participants. In addition it lays responsibility on all of them to reach out to the people to convey this message. After the praise of God the first verse of the sermon goes like this:
O mankind! Adopt Taqwa (reverence your Guardian-Lord), who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you (Ch 4 - An Nisa:1)
Following are the elements of advice that we get from this verse:
1. Bouquet of virtues - Taqwa
The verses recited in the sermon have a common constituent – Taqwa, it’s a familiar Islamic terminology. Taqwa, the root from which it is derived indicates a very strong and determined commitment towards the obedience of God and His Messenger (pbuh). Since the fear happens to be a driving force to adhere to any discipline, therefore Taqwa is usually translated as fear of God. Its broader perception envelops all good qualities and the base of the moral values that Islam elaborates. Taqwa is from among the common advises of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). At the time of discourse or an address, the Prophet (pbuh) used to counsel –I advise you to adopt Taqwa of God. One can make up his mind about the most desirable and epitome of moral values – Taqwa – that it is all about virtues. Garden just does not mean flowers and greenery, it’s all about herbs, fruits, flowers, vegetables etc. similar is the case of Taqwa, it includes almost all virtues of which fear of God forms the nucleus. Mentioning of such a noble quality at this auspicious occasion:
■ Cultivates love of God and His Messenger (pbuh) in the heart more than anything else.
■ Defines the parameters within which a husband and a wife can spend a happy married life.
■ Builds consciousness about fulfilling the obligations that a husband is guardian and a wife is the protector of her husband’s house and his children.
What is Taqwa?
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2. Love of God
Love of God has been described as the primary condition that a true believer qualifies. This love proves to be a guiding force for doing good things and abstaining from the evils. In the first verse of Surah An-Nisa, adoption of Taqwa of God has been emphasized, to make sure its observance in true sense further said:
“…Fear Allah, through whom you demand your mutual (rights)…”
It means it’s the fear and love of God that help a person to be a protector of human dignity. The secret of humanity lies in the cultivation of true love of God. The humanity is nothing but a reflection of one’s relation with his God. If the hearts are facing appalling dearth of God’s love, the protection of rights cannot be materialized. The dilemma that we are facing today in our society is that in spite of human rights declaration, violation of rights is on the rise. In fact the violation of rights has crossed all the boundaries; one can hardly find such a precarious position throughout the human history. So, one has to be very much clear with the fact that it’s the fear of God that helps protect all forms of relationships. Since with Nikah a new marital life begins with multiple additions in relationships, at this crucial juncture it has been reminded that let the addressees take stock of their hearts as to what is the true status of love and fear of God.
3. Sturdy Relationship
The second thing which is described for ensuring Taqwa is - uphold the relationships do not spoil them. On the occasion of marriage the relatives come closer or they deem wise to maintain a little distance because of their earlier differences, this is a true occasion that inspires them to tighten the thread of relationships still more firmly. Binding the associations has always been desirable; the Holy Quran mentions it as a precise manifestation of true believers:
Those who join together those things which Allah has commanded to be joined… (Ch 13 - Ar-Rad: Verse 21)
Thus the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is - associates with the one who disassociates himself from you. Therefore it has been strongly advised to pay special attention towards the relatives, it’s been made obligatory to invite them to the wedding feast (Valima), Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: When anyone of you is invited to a marriage feast, he must attend it (Source: Muslim Book of Hadith).
Taqwa For The Entire Life
The second verse recited in the sermon goes this way:
O believers! Adopt Taqwa (means fear God) as He should be feared, and die not accept in a state of Islam (Ch3 - Aal-e-Imran: Verse 102).
Abiding by the Divine injunctions should not be a time bound affair, it deserve to be a guiding principle for the entire life. That is Taqwa should envelop the entire life. The positions or the phases with which one can portray human life can be broadly categorized into three, viz; the positions of standing, sitting and lying down. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught us an invocation which tells specifically that Islamic teachings should encircle all phases of life:
“O God guard me with Islam at a time when I am standing, guard me with Islam when I am
sitting and guard me with Islam when I lay down.”
This gracious occasion is quite befitting for its emphasis, that the newlywed couple in particular and other participants in general should feel the importance.
The words should match with their intention
5. Precision of Words and Actions
It’s indispensable that one has to spend his life according to the wish and will of God, for that matter, it has been reminded again that one should have to be careful in going by the words that he utters. The Nikah ceremony has this psychological advantage too, the two verses recited from the 33rd chapter addresses the bridegroom, the bride and to their respective guardians:
O believers! Adopt Taqwa (fear God), and (always) say a word directed to the Right. That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger has already attained the highest achievement (Ch 33 - Al Ahzaab: Verses 70-71).
“Say a word directed to the Right” points towards the gesture of acceptance of bridegroom when he says “yes I accept her as my wife”. This confession should not be a time being matter. The words should resemble verbal communications. It implies the bridegroom has to look at the strength and weakness of his spouse with due consideration. Same should be the case of a bride that she should be well aware of her husband’s positives and negatives and try to co-operate with him as and when required. A husband should try to qualify this saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) “The best among you are those who behave best towards their wives; look at me I am a true well wisher of my wives” (Source: Tirmidhi Book of Hadith).
And a bride should qualify, this saying: “That pious believer wife is good that help her husband in his matters of faith” (Source: Tirmidhi Book of Hadith).
It is this nature that nurtures a temperament that helps spouses co-operate with each other, understand each other and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. With this very spirit a wife becomes an inspiration for her husband, she motivates him to excel in various fields. In fact a husband should realize the true essence of his dreams and get tremendous amount of energy to strive to make the dreams come true. One can have a look at the way Khadija, wife of Prophet (pbuh) co-operated with him. The advancement of Islam in the earlier stages of Mecca was embellished with the devotion and commitment of Khadija. After her demise, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to remember her frequently, used to remind to others her contributions towards the cause of humanity. A man and a woman, who are getting into the conjugal relations, should enter with this bent of mind that they have to be true well wishers of each other. The open proclamation at this point of time is an added advantage. Their proclamation is a covenant with their Merciful Lord and from now on their words and actions should illustrate its fulfillment. The parents and guardians too have a kind of moral and religious responsibility; they have to keep up their words by acting as a just agency between the couple. They are not supposed to go by the emotions at a time of pleasant or unpleasant matter, rather try to act justly.
Words and Actions
Disparity between words and actions leads to?
6. The Message For Humanity
The Nikah sermon has many a things to be dealt with. The first verse of Surah An-Nisa, recited by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the sermon, begins with an open declaration – Oh Mankind – has a lively communiqué for the entire humanity and it takes the message of Nikah from the four walls of a hall to the vastness of the world. It means that the beneficial teaching of Islam, especially the family system, with which the newly wed couple is being benefited, deserves to be conveyed to the fellow beings. Not only the newly wed couple but their offspring should also convey the vivacious teaching to the entire humanity. The following supplication still more elaborates this concept:
"Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous." (Ch 25- Al-Furqan: Verse 74)
Thus with a Nikah ceremony a man and a woman not only gets companions but a mission too. This mission demands that their lives should resemble a complete submission to the will of their Creator. The portion of above verse “…and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous” – illustrates that:
■ The one who wants to become a good husband, should look at him
■ A woman aspirant of a good wife should have a look at her
■ The one, who wants to raise the moral standard of his child, should look at the high moral level of his children.
■ The one, who wants to treat his children in a fair manner, should look at them.
■ An aspirant of a prosperous family should have before him this ideal family.
The message of Nikah goes this way. To be very specific by virtue of a brief ceremony not only a couple gets a legal sanctity to their relations but also a mission, a mission that starts with their married life, then goes through the upbringing of their children, strengthening of the bonds with their relatives to conveying the message of individual and societal change to the humanity.
(C) 2014 - Muhammad Abdullah Javed (m abdullah javed)