Marriage has been designated in Islam as a necessary practice beneficial to both the individual and society. There are several verses of the Quran which promote the sanctity of the relationship between husband and wife:
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 s people who give thought. (The Quran, Chapter 30 Verse 21).
The analogy of husband and wife being garments for one another (Chapter 2 Verse 187) directs us to cultivate a relationship that is protective and functions to hide each other’s flaws and weaknesses.
As marriage is regarded as a means of strengthening the social unit in an enduring and Islamic manner, it is important to also begin this relationship in a halal or permissible manner.
Searching for a Spouse
A hadith of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) advises us that a woman is married for her beauty, wealth, status or faith. He recommends marrying someone with the right taqwa or faith, over all other characteristics, in order to lead a successful Islamic life. The same holds true for women- they too need to seek a spouse whose faith and deen take precedence over wealth, status or good looks.
Dowry or Mehr?
Mehr is a gift from the husband to his wife which is paid at the time of marriage, or is specified as payable within a certain timeframe. It is popularly believed that mehr needs to be a sum of money, gold, property or any such tangible wealth. However, we know from prophetic tradition, that it can also be anything non-materialistic the wife has requested which was agreed upon by the husband. At the time of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), a man married a woman with the mehr of teaching her the Quran. Anecdotally, there are contemporary instances of mehr being the commitment to take the wife to Hajj. Dowry is associated with the payment of money, property or material payment, from the bride’s family to the groom and has no validity in Islamic law.
The best marriage is that in which there are least expenses (Hadith of prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him).
Allah has facilitated marriage to guard men and women from ‘zina’ or adultery and fornication. Marriage is a protection for the society and the individual, and hence it is to be made as easy
and accessible as possible. It has become normal practice to wait several years after finding a suitable spouse, in order to save money for a lavish wedding. This is not permissible as it provides opportunity for zina or illicit sexual relationships. Cultural traditions involving several ceremonies, gift-giving and expense, are not a religious requirement, merely cultural traditions.
In fact, the Quran expressly forbids extravagance and waste, saying:
Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful (The Quran, Chapter 17 Verse 27).