By Syed Akbar Hassan
The Qur’ān (30:21) says: “And among His signs is that He creates for you spouses out of your own kind, so that you may find tranquillity in them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you. In this there are clear signs indeed for people who think.”
People are well aware of their feelings towards the other sex; indeed, they are often preoccupied with this relationship. It is Allah, the Exalted, who has made the relationship between the two a source of physical and emotional comfort, stability, spiritual friendship, and reassurance for both.
The Creator’s perfect wisdom is such that He has not created man in one sex only but in two sexes, which are identical in humanity, but the two have been created with different physical structures, different mental and psychological qualities, and different emotions and desires. And then there has been such a wonderful harmony between the two that each is a perfect counterpart of the other. The physical and psychological demands of the one match squarely with the physical and psychological demands of the other.
Moreover, the Wise Creator is continuously creating the members of the two sexes in such a proportion since the dawn of the creation that in no nation and in no region has it ever happened that only boys or only girls may have been born. This is one thing in which human intelligence has absolutely no part to play. Man cannot at all influence the course of nature nor has he any means by which he may change the proportion in which men and women continue to be born everywhere in the world.
If one ponders, it becomes evident that all the requirements of men from women end up in drawing peace of mind, tranquillity and comfort. The Qur’ān has put it succinctly, “so that you may find tranquillity in them”. That is, this system has not come about by chance, but Allah has brought it about with the object that a man should find fulfilment of the demands of his nature with a woman and a woman with a man, and the two should find peace and satisfaction in association and attachment with each other. This is the wise arrangement which Allah has made the means of the survival of the human race, on the one hand, and of bringing the human civilization into existence, on the other.
This same desire for peace and satisfaction compelled them to make a home together. It brought families and clans into being, and made social life possible for man. In the development of social life man’s mental capabilities have certainly been helpful, but they were not its real motives. The real motivating force was the same longing with which man and woman were endowed and which compelled them to establish the “home”.
The ayah thus indicates that the total outcome of married life is peace of mind and comfort; the couple that enjoys it is successful in the object of its creation, while the family that is deprived of peace of mind and tranquillity is unsuccessful. This is also true that the very foundation of a successful married life rests on a lawful marriage. If one probes into the societies that developed illicit ways of living together without the bond of marriage, he will certainly discover that the life of such people is devoid of peace and tranquillity. Living like animals to fulfil lust may provide temporary pleasure, but not the lasting peace of mind and comfort one draws from a proper married life.
The ayah declares that the object of married life of man and woman is peace of mind. This could be achieved only when there is a mutual recognition of each other’s rights and a sincere effort to fulfil them. Otherwise, the demand for meeting one’s own rights only will lead to domestic brawls and shattering of peace. One course for the fulfilment of these rights could have been to lay stress only on legislation and imposing laws. However, it is a common experience that people cannot be corrected only by giving them a set of laws, unless they are accompanied by nurturing taqwa (God-Consciousness) and Allah’s fear in the hearts. That is why the Qur’ān, whenever it gives any injunctions regarding the social life of man, comes with the directions of “Fear Allah” as a complement to those injunctions.
Mutual relations between man and woman are of such a delicate and sensitive nature that neither a law can ensure the fulfilment of their respective rights completely, nor can any court do full justice to them. It is for this reason that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ has selected the ayat of the Qur’ān for the khutbah (sermon) of nikah in which stress is laid on piety, fear of Allah and the hereafter. Only these qualities in the spouses could stand as a guarantor for the fulfilment of mutual rights.
“And He engenders love and tenderness between you.” (Ayah 21), that is, Allah, the Exalted, has not restricted the relationship between spouses to a legal and religious relationship, but has filled their hearts with love and compassion. Here Allah has used two words – one is mawaddah (love or friendship) and the other rahmah (kindness, mercy). It is possible that mawaddah (love) refers to the young age when spouses are attracted towards each other with love and affection, while rahmah (mercy) refers to the old age when passions subside and compassion for each other takes over. (Qurtubi)
Alternately, “Love” here means sexual love, which becomes the initial motive for attraction between man and woman, and then keeps them attached to each other. “Mercy” implies the spiritual relationship which gradually develops in the matrimonial life, by virtue of which they become kindly, affectionate and sympathetic towards each other; so much so that in old age, sexual love falls into the background and the two partners in life prove to be even more compassionate towards each other than they were when young. These two are the positive forces which Allah, the Exalted, has created in man to support the initial longing of his nature. That longing and restlessness only seeks peace and satisfaction and brings the man and the woman into contact with each other. After that these two forces emerge and bind the two strangers brought up in different environments so intimately together that the two remain attached to each other through every thick and thin of life.
Evidently, this love and mercy is not anything material, which may be weighed and measured, nor can it be traced back to any of the constituent elements of human body, nor is the cause of its birth and growth found in a laboratory. The only explanation of this can be that the human self has been endowed with it by a Wise Creator, Who has done so of His own will to serve a special purpose. Of course, “In this there are clear signs indeed for people who think.”