We have gathered today to have a reception party of Dr. Zahoor and Asma Rizvi. Congratulations to both of you from me, members of the community and all those who are present here. We are always longing for such parties and celebrations, and here we are with friends and family members and co-workers of all religions and nationalities.  It is a wonderful feeling to take part in these wonderful festivities.   However, Islam makes these festivities even more meaningful. Muslims, following the tradition of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) remind not only the newly wed couple, but also the previously wed, and those who wish to be wed of the roles, rights and responsibilities of the spouses.  This is done because the family unit is extremely important in the eyes of Allah(SWT).   In fact, the topic which is discussed in the greatest detail in the Quran is the family life. The harmony in the family unit builds a better community and consequently determines the quality of life in a society.

First of all, we thank Allah (SWT) who has created this sacred institution of marriage.  Allah (SWT) says:

 Humans are created weak.  If we are asked to stay single forever, it would be very hard for us to do so in many ways.  Allah (SWT) not only created the sacred institution of marriage but also highly encouraged us to marry as soon as possible. It is indeed a beautiful and pleasant solution to overcome inherent human weakness.It helps to resist temptation of flesh. In this way two persons, who are strangers, bind themselves together and instantly develop care, kindness, consideration, sympathy, sincerity, and love for each other.It is further strengthened by mutual respect and understanding.

 Allah (SWT) not only created this sacred institution, and specified goals for it and means to achieve these goals. Allah (SWT) says: Ar-Rum # 21

And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and love. Verily, in that are indeed signs for the people who reflect.

Hence goal or objective of marriage is to find peace, comfort and tranquility.

This peace can only be achieved through mutual love between the spouses and not by merely one way traffic. In this verse two words are used side by side for this mutual love between the spouses. One is Mawaddah and other is Rahmah  both meaning love. Scholars explain that Mawaddah is perhaps the love and infatuation between the couple whilst they are in their prime youth or in the early stages of the relationship, and they are attracted to one another.  Rahmah, is love, kindness and consideration that they have for each other when they grow old.  However, they may exercise both of these terms at the same time throughout the relationship.

Now I would like to describe some rights of the spouses.  We all have two kinds of rights.  There are rights which we have in our business and trade transactions.  These rights are spelled out in business contracts.  If these rights are not fulfilled we have to recourse to a local justice department, and these can be enforced on the defaulting party.  Then there are other rights between parents, children, spouses, and relatives.  These can only be fulfilled if we show love, care, consideration, sympathy, and sincerity.  There is no court system in the world which can fairly say who and how much a person is supposed to show love and consideration to others. There is no stethoscope or any other gadget to judge this. A person will only exercise these values if there is fear of Allah (SWT) and consciousness of accountability on the Day of Judgment.  This is why Prophet Mohammad (SAS) sometimes gave this brief  Khutba اتقوا الله

Fear Allah or be conscious of Allah (SWT) in every walk of life.  This is a sufficient reminder by itself.  Since, different verses of the Quran are explanations of other verses. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) used to explain this verse by reciting the first verse of surah An-Nisa during a marriage ceremony.

O mankind be conscious of Allah (SWT) who created you from one person (Adam), and then created from him his wife and then created many men and women from them.  You should also fear Allah (SWT) whom you refer to when you make your claims from others.  Last but not the least, be conscious of fulfilling the rights of relatives.  Since Allah (SWT) is definitely watching over you.

Why should we fear Allah (SWT)? The answer to this question is, since He created us and our very existence is due to Him. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran : Surah Al-Insan # 1

Has not a long time passed on a person when he was not even a thing worth mentioning.

Hence, if a person is twenty years old who would have known about him twenty-five years ago. Even the parents did not know.  It is Allah (SWT) who created him.

Allah (SWT) is not only the creator but also our nourisher and provider. Therefore all of our loyalties belong to Him alone.

He could have created us in a variety of ways, but he created us from one person (Adam), to guide and remind us that we are in fact one family. Hence the members of this large family must always show love,respect care and consideration to one another.  In this way, Islam teaches us the universal brotherhood.  No other religion commands and demands from its followers to practice this universal brotherhood so emphatically.

I would now like to explain the roles and responsibilities of spouses in light of the guidance of the Holy Quran and the teaching of Prophet Mohammad(SAS). Allah (SWT) says in surah An-Nisa: # 34

The men are overall incharge over the women. This verse is often misunderstood, due to the fact that people ignore other verses in the Qur’an pertaining to this topic.   For example it does not mean that men are to act as hard headed dictators.  Allah (SWT) says:

Live with them in goodness. Hence we must treat our women nicely. Allah (SWT) says: Al-Baqarah # 233

Consult your wives in matters of home life.  Consultation or Shura is an important element of Islam and must be used in family unit as well. There is, in fact, absolutely no difference between a man and a woman as far as rights are concerned.  Allah (SWT) says: Al-Baqarah # 228

Women’s rights over men are the same as men’s rights over the women.

Each has a role which is very demanding in its own way.  Only men can do men’s roles the best and women can do women’s roles the best. Why should He who created us not know, as He assigned these roles for us?

Hence, we see that man is overall incharge but he is to consult and treat his wife nicely all the time.  Man could really be in trouble because if his judgment on a final decision in a matter goes wrong, it will fire back on him.  Thus he will be accountable in this world and in the life to come for it.

So far I have given a lot of instructions to men.  You may be wondering if there are any instructions for women.  Yes.  For example, who are the pious ladies?   Allah (SWT) says: An-Nisa # 34

The pious woman is that one who whole heartily accepts man as the one who is incharge. In the absence of her husband she protects herself and his wealth.” Wealth of course means, physical belongings as well as children. Hence, bringing up children Islamically is very important.  Since, both of these obligations are difficult tasks, Allah (SWT) says that He will especially help the women to fulfill these obligations if they sincerely try.

 Prophet Mohammad (SAS) gave the explanation of this verse by saying, “The best wife is the one whom when you see her you feel happy, when you ask her to do something she obeys, and when you are away she protects herself and the belongings.”

Life is not always smooth.  There are some ripples.  In case of any differences Allah (SWT) says: Al-Baqarah # 237

If you forgive, it is closer to piety.  By forgiving you are not a  loser but rather you are the winner. Therefore, do not act rudely or meanly towards each other in sorting out your differences.  Resorting to cursing each other is an even worse behavior.  For example, Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said to his companions, “Do not curse your parents.”  The companions humbly said, “How can one curse one’s own parents?”  Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said, “When one curses another person’s parents, then he may start to curse your parents.”

To avoid such confrontation the Quran guides us not only to forgive others but also it insists that we should not forget the goodness and graciousness between ourselves.  Al-Baqara # 237

Do not forget the niceness between yourselves.

Allah (SWT) describes the mutual relationship between spouses in surah Al-Baqarah.# 187‏

Women are men’s clothes, and men are women’s clothes. Allah (SWT) has used a beautiful smile to explain this relation. Allow me to ask you, what do clothes do?

They protect us from heat, cold, sun, dust, etc.  Similarly spouses are protectors of each other and in a way a shield for each other.

Clothes cover our defects and spots on the body.  Similarly spouses know each other’s defects and are supposed to cover these defects and not to go around saying to relatives and friends the weaknesses of their spouses.

Clothes add to the beauty and charm of a person.  Similarly spouses add to each other’s beauty and charm.  Physically, they should be best dressed for each other and not for ceremonies only.  For example, men are not supposed to be sloppily dressed at home and vise versa.  Furthermore, each should display beautiful character and behavior of each other.  If for example a woman does not have good behavior, it shows the behavior of  her husband and vice versa.

Last but not the least, clothes are closest to the body.  Similarly spouses are closest to each other and know each other’s secrets.  They should keep each other’s secrets and should remain close to each other with sincere understanding.  It is not proper that a woman remain closest to her relatives and a man closest to his relatives. There is no other phrase or wording in any book in the world except in the Quran which describes so beautifully, eloquently and comprehensively the mutual rights and responsibilities of spouses, than this tiny verse:

I pray to Allah (SWT) that He may enable us to understand this guidance and also to make use of it in real life, I wish the best of luck to the newly weds and congratulate them, their parents and their relatives, wholeheartedly.

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