Strict Adherence To Culture/Custom Over Islamic Prescriptions On Islamic Marriage: A Critical Need For Reconsideration And Reorientation

I have observed some of our Muslim brethren’s strict adherence to their cultures/customs especially as they concern Islamic marriage and these persons would go to any length to protect their cultures/customs even where Islamic laws provide otherwise or for a simple rules. They would insist on the would be groom to comply and or fulfill the would be bride’s cultural/customary rules (and it does not matter to them whether the cultural/customary rules required to be fulfilled are unrealistic or difficult for the would be groom to meet up with and regardless of whether the would be groom is able to meet up with the Islamic prescriptions). I felt that we as Muslims generally really need to reconsider our steps, actions and prescriptions as they concern Islamic marriage and I felt too that there is indeed great efforts to re-orientate ourselves on the need to prioritise Islamic values over cultural/customary values so that we could be in total submission to the will/religion of Allaah (Islam) as true Muslims, hence, this paper.

I must first state that Islamic law does not overrule all cultural/customary rules/practices regarding marriage. The customary practices are regarded as ‘’Urf’ or in another word ‘’aadaat’ under the Usuulul-Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). Professor AbdurRahman I. Doi, in his book Shari’ah: the Islamic Law, Taha Publishers Limited, London, 1997, at page 84, has the following to say about ‘’Urf’ or in another word ‘’aadaat’ ‘’Urf, the known practices and ‘aadaat’ or customs are recognised as a subsidiary source by all schools of Jurisprudence. The Maalikischool attaches more importance to custom than other schools. But customary rules are valid as long as there is no provision on the matter in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. If any of the customs contradict any other rule of Shari’ah, they will be considered outside the pale of Islamic law’.Therefore, this paper is not to the effect that cultures/customs relating to Islamic marriage are prohibited (where such cultures/customs do not violate Islamic rules on same subject of marriage), however, what this paper is appealing for is the need for ‘leniency’ and ‘simplicity’ as any strict adherence to cultures/customary requirements where the Islamic requirements are met or are much more easier and simpler to meet up with would bring difficulty and excessiveness which would in turn cause disregard for Islamic requirements. If I am to say, I would recommend with due respect, that the Islamic requirement should be the yardstick for measuring compliance with marriage rites for every Muslim family then, the cultures/customs should be secondary where the primary (Islamic laws) has been met! But the situation that I have observed in some of Muslim families is the contrary which is a situation where the cultures/customs are considered as the primary while the Islamic requirements are regarded as the secondary to be met! One would also observe with due respect, some selfish interests or the interests of some persons being brought into the customary rules when it comes to marriage and because, people see the need to fulfill the personal interests of these set of people (bride’s family relatives), then, the Islamic law’s requirements (which ought to be the yardstick) is considered less important! In fact, the bride’s family would go to any length to refuse any good man/suitor who would not comply with their customary requirements (even where the man is able to meet up with the Islamic law’s requirements). This is where some of these Muslim families become extreme and violate the Islamic rules! This is an angle where I humbly call for reconsideration and reorientation! There are many challenges in marriage. The most important consideration in my humble view, to consider is righteousness in a man that your daughter seeks to marry! Where you find the righteousness, then, every other thing should become less in value/importance!  This the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah’s blessings and peace be upon him) had admonished when he said ‘If a man comes to you seeking marriage, and you are satisfied with his diin and character, marry him- lest a fitnah (harm) and great destruction become rampant on the earth’. (Recorded by At-Tirmithy, IbnMaajahabd others.Verified to be hasan by Al-Albaany (Shiihul- Jaami’ No. 270 &Shiihah No. 1022). For further education on this subject of Islamic marriage rules, please refer to: Al-Usratul-Muslimah (The Muslim Family) revised by Muhammad Mustafaa Al-Jibaaly, Alkitaab&Assu-Sunnah Publishing, Vol. 1-4. Therefore, the righteousness (in both religion and characters) of a man seeking to marry a Muslim lady should be the priority of every Muslim lady and her family, else, if they reject such a righteous man (on grounds not on Islamic grounds), such a family might be cursed and cause calamity on earth! I view these as the repercussion that we face today in relation to marriages! Some Muslim marriages are contracted on ‘benefits’ or ‘material benefits’ either by the bride to be or her family relatives! These become the reason why ‘fornication’ and ‘adultery’(Zinah) become very rampant on earth the situation which does not exempt Muslims! I pray Almighty Allaah rescue us all from these wrath of His and not to cause our path to deviate from His path! Aamiin!

As an emphasis on the consequences of fornication and adultery which should cause every Muslim to fear the consequences of Allaah’s wrath on earth, there was a question and a ruling on the question on islamweb.com which would be supplied here as it is useful for the purpose of this paper which goes thus

‘Question

A non-Muslim friend asked me how is it possible, in recent life, to avoid having relations with a girl before the marriage as long as there are many means to avoid pregnancy or diseases? I want to convince him the dangers of Zina.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhiwasallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Zina (fornication or adultery) is a grave major sin. It is prohibited in all religions due to fatal diseases such as AIDS. It does not only bring down Allah’s wrath, but also causes crimes, generates hatred among people, spoils the chastity of the person and his/her lineage and so forth. Allah, the Exalted, has imposed a great punishment on those who commit Zina in this worldly life and in the Hereafter.

Allah Says (what means): {And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty. Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated – Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.} [Quran 25: 68-70]

On the Night of Israa’ and Mi’raaj, as recorded in Saheeh Al-Bukhaari, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhiwasallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saw naked men and women on a building similar to a furnace, wide at the bottom and narrow at the top, and a fire kindling from the bottom. When the fire starts, they cry and come up; when it goes out, they return to their previous state. When the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhiwasallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) asked about them, the answer was: ‘They are those who committed Zina.’ They will be tortured in the same way till Resurrection.”

Allah warns us against committing Zina as He Says (what means): {And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.} [Quran 17:32]

As for the punishment of Zina in the present life, if it is proved, an unmarried person is to be lashed one hundred times, and then, the man should be exiled for one year. This should be carried out by the Muslim ruler. As regards a married person who commits Zina, he should be stoned till death.

Allah Says (what means): {The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.} [Quran 24: 2]

This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above sin but if married persons commit it, the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah’s Law.

The Prophetic Hadeeth explained the above verse stating: “One hundred lashes and one year exile for a bachelor and a married one should be stoned (to death).” [Muslim, At-Tirmithi, IbnMaajah]

As for your friend’s saying ‘How can I endure?’, we clearly state that whoever believes in Allah, the Final Day, the Reckoning and the punishment, Hellfire and Paradise, should have patience, fearing Allah and longing for His reward.

On the other hand, using medical condoms and so on does not change the Sharee’ah rulings for a believer. But, for a disbeliever, we are to do our best to convince him of Islam and belief since there will be no profit to convince him of the dangers of Zina as long as he is not a believer.

Therefore, dear brother, your first step is to convince him of Islam and the dangers of disbelief. Then, he – Allah willing – will automatically believe in the dangers of Zina.

Allah knows best.’. (Underlining is mine for emphasis).

From the above question and the answer provided, it is clear what happens where cultures and customs are made to be strictly required than the Islamic law’s dictates on marriage. What happens?! Fornication and adultery are encouraged! Then, the generations find their ways into ‘Hell fire’ (may Allaah save us all and our generations from such calamity!

Furthermore and most worrisome today is the way and manner some of our Muslim males and females get so used to getting closer (if not into) fornication and adultery against Allaah’s order! I admonish them to repent to Almighty Allaah and to heed warnings and to fear the calamities of such unlawful enjoyment in this world and in the hereafter! Some Muslim males and females now freely intermingle on the social-media (even at workplaces) leading to unwarranted chats and relationship! In fact, a righteous Muslim (man) who would love to marry but fears Allaah in not moving close to fornication or adultery would find it very hard to win and or convince any of such females that he is interested in to marry without ‘dating’ or ‘courting’ her and or without (if not sexually attached to her i.e. by having sex with her, even within the shortest days of meeting her) and without making fake and deceitful promises to her! Subhaanallaah (may Allaah be glorified)! This is very critical! Sexual relationship is getting rampant among some Muslim males and or females in Nigeria (Allaah knows best) and the various Muslim families seem less concerned about this calamity! This development I got to know about in the cause of my search for a mathnaa (second wife to marry), which I am still in serious search for (though with prayers and patience and hoping in Allaah)! There have been many rejections due to various Un-islamic reasons ranging from: I cannot marry him (or he cannot marry our daughter because he is not from our tribe/language); I cannot marry him because he is married and I cannot marry a married man; he does not have what it takes in (wealth) to take care of me and I cannot suffer with any man; etc., (even where some of these commentaries are not spoken, one would understand the action from the reactions) whereas, some of these Muslim females fall easily into the hands of some males who do not fear Allaah or have no good intention for them or who are not even ready to marry them but only offers fake promises! It is important for me to state this fact for the purpose understanding how bad the situation/calamity has become! Virginity is no more celebrated! Immorality is marked as a sign of exposure especially some of those so much entangled with the western world, whereas, the fact that you are educated in western education should not make you to become immoral rather it should expose you intellectually! Today, marriages breakdown easily without any regret (even the family relatives have their own shares of the calamities)! Materialisms and fake promises pervade marital relationships! The one who is righteous is seen as either a ‘fanatic’ or an ‘extremist’, just because he only fears to violate the laws of his Lord! Males and or females get so exposed to sexual relationship right from Junior Secondary School! This is likely one of the reasons why many males and or females do not think of marriage because they now have alternative of ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ (with sexual enjoyment), hence, the need not to even think of marriage early! Then, some females of this generation whom a righteous male considers to marry on a close proposal become exposed as having a secret partner already for years without necessarily being ready for marriage! These females would tell you ‘I have someone already’! or ‘at least, I have a choice in choosing the man that I love’!There and then, where a man finally gets the approval of a Muslim lady to marry, he must cross the path of her family relatives who are not reluctant to sacrifice their family requirements for any good! The would be groom is issued a list of materials and objects to buy and offer to the lady’s family, to show his readiness to marry her! The costs of meeting up with this listwhen evaluated might run into millions of naira, whereas this money would have saved them (the couples) from economic hardship that would have befallen them (the couples) after their marriage and afford them the opportunity to plan a better life after the marriage! Different cultural ceremonies are organized on the expectation of the marriage whereas at this time, no one of the family is thinking of the need for fulfillment of the Islamic values and or requirements! It is very unfortunate that all these excessive acts are encouraged by the fact that these people have little or no knowledge about what awaits them as punishment for some of these unlawful acts (especially the fornication and adultery committed by would be bride and or groom) that they commit daily except if they truly believe in Allaah, the Final Day, the Reckoning and the punishment, Hellfire and Paradise and except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allaah Forgiving and Merciful.} [Quran 25: 68-70] and they should therefore have patience, fearing Allah and longing for His reward.Some of us as Muslims and or as Muslim families do not also value Islamic education for ourselves and the children anymore!

Finally, I humbly admonish myself and my fellow Muslim males and females to truly believe in Allah, the Final Day, the Reckoning and the punishment, Hellfire and Paradise and for us to repent, believe (in Allaah) and to do righteous work. As then, for us Allah will replace our evil deeds with good and ever is Allaah Forgiving and Merciful.}. We should therefore have patience, fearing Allah and longing for His reward.I also admonish the respective Muslim family respectfully, to always allow the Islamic law’s requirements for marriage to be the yardstick in approving and disapproving a suitor introduced to the family by the daughter sought to be married. Also, cultural/customary requirements should be made to strengthen family bonds between the two but new families coming to get into a bigger family, hence, the cultural/customary requirements should be such that are simple and considerate! Islamic law does not forbid cultures/customs based on mutual understanding and which would not input hardship on one another! I therefore pray to Almighty Allaah to guide us all aright to His path to paradise! I also pray to Almighty Allaah to forgive me for whatever error resulting from this paper! Only Allaah knows the best!

 

Email: hameed_ajibola@yahoo.com

 

 

 

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