One of the important problems in connection with marriage and choosing a spouse, which must be taken into consideration, is the time and age of it.
Much has been written and said on this topic. And everybody has endeavoured to answer this question according to his own taste and perdisposition, understanding, knowledge, and mental ability. We must say that the answer to the question “when must we marry?” is hidden in the interior of man’s nature and instinct and does not need and answer, logic of knowledge, or philosophy.
We should look inside ourselves and ask its answer from our nature, instincts and inclinations, which do reply in a truthful manner, without different hurdles, ceremonies, habits, customs and prejudices. It is much like hunger and thirst, which are not controlled or governed by any law, which tells when to eat and drink. Instead, a man knows by virtue of his nature when he is hungry or thirsty and when he is not and when is a suitable time to eat, and when is not.
yes! Laws can be formulated for the pertinent matters such as not eating rotten, prohibited and illegal food, and never drinking contaminated water. Instead, man should eat licit, lawful and healthy food and must not eat during fasting etc. But a law cannot be set for the actual and basic needs of hunger, thirst, eating and drinking.
The need for a spouse and raising a family is a natural and instinctive need, which Allah has, through His wisdom, placed in the human being. It is awakened at its particular time and season, and makes its demand. If it is answered on time and properly and its requirement is fulfilled, it traverses its natural course and reaches the summit of maturity and completion and makes man reach that point. If it is delayed or answered in an incorrect and unnatural mode, it deviates from its natural course, revolts and rebels, and not only becomes corrupt itself, but also corrupts the man; just as if the natural and instinctive needs of man such as hunger and thirst are not properly answered, they become deviated and drive man towards ailment, disease, the eating of stale and prohibited food, and occasionally, stealing and death.
So any law in this connection must pertain to the balancing of this urge and provisioning of aids and assistance with regard to this difficulty and the removal of hurdles on the way.
But when must this need be fulfilled and when must the man and woman marry? This cannot be regulated inside a particular law. It does not have any specific law and regulation; its law is genetic and the Creator has gifted it inside human nature. Therefore, ‘shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’ in this connection are not correct. But one can study and research to discover its approaching time so as to be informed in advance and provide a suitable ground for welcoming it.
THE PUBERTY AGE
After giving all sorts of explanations, young men still ask, “Nevertheless, when is the proper time and age of marry?” The answer is: The proper time and age of marrying is when the “sexual and mental maturity” has reached its desired completion in a person. (Reaching completion does not mean the climax and apex of the possible completion, because reaching that stage particularly in the case of mental puberty, is much distanced and difficult; but here it means reaching the ordinary and commonly known limit).
Some say Islam has fixed the marriage age for boys at 15 years and that of girls at the age of nine years. This is not correct. Islam has not given any such order. Islam is the religion of nature and gives an order against nature and human instinct. But Islam commands one to marry when one reaches puberty and maturity. According to the interpretation of the Prophet (peace be upon him) it is like a fruit whose ripening is its maturity and adult age.
Yes! Islam’s divine legislation in this connection stressed the desirability of marriage (in the previous chapter we discussed some fact about the merits of marriage). But whenever this need and urge stirs itself and desires revolt and rebel and make man probe and practice prohibited acts, then it becomes obligatory, and postponing and delaying it becomes prohibited
So this divine legislation also revertsback too the law of genetics. That is to say, when puberty is reached, marriage becomes a desirable act and whenever it comes to the revolt and rebellion of emotions and the preludes of sin become obvious, then marriage becomes obligatory.
When a person attains maturity and puberty (we have explained puberty) his time for marriage has arrived and delaying it would not be advisable in any way, just as its early execution is also not commendable, for it’s like being an unripe fruit.
When the interior call of a person, which rises from one’s nature and instinct comes, it is the time for marriage. Everyone can clearly hear this call from his interior, provided of course, that this power has not been scarred or become ill by the effect of various factors. Because it is quite evident that if this power has been scarred or become diseased, then it cannot give a timely and proper call. Just like a patient who has lost his appetite and his health deteriorates from its normal course. If this need and inner energy gives a call and says, “I have approached, I want a spouse,” the factors hidden inside the human conscience may come to face it and argue – I have no house, no money,no dowry, I do not have my degree yet, I do not have the means to pay for the celebration, society does not approve of marriage at this age, the customs, ceremonies and family discipline do not yet approve it, a person possessing money, a house, and a car has not yet proposed to me, I have yet to find a rich girl, a wife has her expenses and then there are children to follow who too, have a lot of expenditure and headache. What about the parties and invitations? How can I face the ceremonies and formalities? How can I get the money for the dowry, gold, dress and for purchasing other items?…” It is evident that the poor call will retreat!
Or if that youth has gone astray through masturbation, corruption and debauchery, and deviated from the course of his nature, then that interior call of instinct too has been trampled down and there is no more chance of it raising a correct call.
An exhausted youth said: “For many years I have masturbated and now that I have married a girl, I do not have any desire for her and can not get any enjoyment from her. I still masturbate and prefer it to intercourse with my wife.”
This is known as an ill and diseased nature and instinct. It can no longer hear the voice of its natural call. As a matter of fact, no more of a call or voice has been left over and survived.
Brother and sister! Let us talk a bit about the facts, about the untouched life and nature and the uncontaminated instincts and those away from the civilities, ignorance – based customs and ceremonies of society.
Let us for the time being, throw those (customs) aside so that we may talk in a free and unbounded atmosphere. Later on, we will talk about those limitaions.
Oh, young sister and brother! You are yourself aware of the noise and turbulence that is going on inside you. You are aware that you need a spouse. You know that you are apprehensive and feel a gap, a void and solitude. You can very well percieve and hear your internal yearning, which calls you to find a spouse. You know quite well that you are not that child you used to be a few years ago and a change has developed inside you.
You fully understand that you have lost something (which you must find out) and whenever you think about it, there is a big inflammation that takes shape inside you and motivates you to probe and search for what you have lost
Why do you deceive yourself? Why do you put a cover and a lid upon these sacred and natural wishes and desires? Why do you bring excuses? Why do you suppress your spirit of independence? Why do you choke up all of these passions and calls of love? Why do you allow these beautiful blooming buds to wither away? Are you scared? From what? From poverty? From ceremonies? From inflation? From responsibility of life? From having children? You are afraid you whould not be able to cope with their expenses? You fear that you may not be able to continue your education? You are afraid you would not be able to manage and run your family expeneses?
My dear, do not be afraid and scared. Allah is with you. Have trust in Him. Do not you believe Allah is all-strong, all-beneficent, and your helper? Would it not be a pity that you destroy your youth?
Marriage has a season and spring, and if this passes away, you would face a loss. The fruit that ripens and is not benefited from becomes spoiled and stale. Is it not a pity that a young one, who has Allah to support and help him, is afraid of such imaginary and absurd matters?
Be brave! Take steps depending and trusting upon Allah. Be contented and assured that Allah will help you and inshallah you will succeed.
Allah has promised in the holy Quran that he will solve the problems and difficulties, saying:
“If they are needy (poor), Allah will made them free from want, out of His grace.” (24:32)
Do you not believe in Allah’s promise and commitment?
God forbid such be the case. Allah will definitely materialise His promise. Come on, enter the field with trust in Allah and get married! I promise you that if you minutely scrutinize and concentrate on choosing your spouse and observe and practice all the orders, commandments, standards criterions which Islam has set for marriage and which have been described in this book, you will definitely be prosperous.
Oh brother and sister, do not say: “Perhaps you are unaware what is going on in this society. Do you not know what number of difficulties has been created upon the way to marriage? Do you not know what amount of misfortunes and afflictions are brought into effect by some selfish and foolish parents for their children in connection with their marriage? And what amount of undue and illogical expectations they have from the sons and daughters?” Yes, I am aware of all these facts more than you are aware, since, on account of our responsibilites, answerabilites and nature of work, we are more concerned and in touch with the society. Many young ones contact us about their problems. I am thoroughly conversant and aware of the difficulties of the youth, but with all my knowledge of these problems, I say: “Marry, do not be afraid, take the step.” We will discuss the difficulties shortly.
MARRIAGE: A MEDIUM OF REACHING ALLAH
We have already described that one of the important factors in making spiritual progress is having a well-bred and suitable spouse.
Young brother and sister, do you desire to start upon a spiritual journey and reach a place where Allah stamps your heart with His approval and pleasure, when you are still young and your heart is pure and the dust of abjectness and sin has not yet contaminated your soul?
By the grace of Allah, move on! But do not move alone, this is a risky and dangerous way. You need a companion, a helper, a sympathiser. Take the hand of another young one as your life partner and set off together, so that you may be the helper, sympathiser, associate and confidante to each other. You may make each other hopeful and encourage one another.
Think of what the Prophet (a.s) said:
“Whoever disires to meet Allah in a pure condition must marry (take a spouse).” 1
So now that you have the love, enthusiasm and joy of the youth, move and select your partner for the life journey, Now is the time to commence a journey. Do not allow this love, enthusiasm and joy change into sadness, apathy and frigidity.
The marriage that rest upon fresh love and felicity makes the coming years of life fragrant, pleasant and colourful. Take the hand of your young, vivacous life partner and fly over the heights of the sky like two loving pigeons. Make good of this duration. Do not let it go.
See what Ali (a.s) says about his wife Fatima (s.a) and how he recited verses of love, defining the duration of youth.
“We were enjoying felicity, health and youth like two pigeons in a dwelling.”