(Arab. Zawadsch, Nikah, Turk. Evlilik)
In the general Islamic view, as a social, moral, and legal institution, marriage is a foundation not only of the union of the family but of the structure of society as well. In the view of Islamic legal scholars, marriage is a contract under civil law between a man and a woman, against whose marriage there may be no obstacles. According to the Qur’an, God did not leave Adam alone as the first person on earth but created a partner for him (4:1). The verse in which God commands: “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise” (7:19) implies that Adam formed a family with his wife in Paradise.
The mutual attraction of the genders is part of human nature and forms the prerequisite for the continuation of humankind. The vast majority of Muslims attach great importance to the institution of marriage; through it, human emotional and physical needs are met (love, sexuality, trust, security) in the proper way, and children can grow up in secure family surroundings. Marriage can also bring forth progeny and the experience of the love of children that is anchored in every person.
The Qur’an encourages single people to marry and advises those who are still unmarried to refrain from sexual relations until marriage (24:32-33). Adultery (zina), on the other hand, is prohibited, as this not only injures the spouse but also affects the social, moral, and legal structure of family and society. According to many of the hadiths, Muhammad also instructed people that marriage was the customary path, as well as the path that he himself had taken, and that anyone who turned away from it was deviating from the path of the Prophet at the same time (cf. Ibn Madscha). Muhammad advised young adults to marry (cf. Bukhari).
Under Islamic law, marriage (nikah) is sealed in the presence of two witnesses by means of an agreement voluntarily signed by both spouses. The majority of Muslims attache great importance to bilateral, free decision in one’s choice of partner and rejects application of family pressure in this connection. In the Islamic view, a mentally healthy person who has reached the age of puberty is responsible for his or her own actions. For this reason, Muhammad determined that the wife’s consent is required to conclude a marriage (cf. Bukhari). There is no support whatsoever in the Qur’an for forced marriage, a practice that nonetheless continues to this day.
The family is the best environment for a person’s biological and spiritual development. Indeed, the Qur’an even identifies affection and mercy between spouses as a sign of the existence of God (30:21). Where the marriage of individuals of different faiths is concerned, traditionally it is possible for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman, but not for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man. Marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men presently in some countries make a renewed discussion of the topic necessary.
İsmail Hakkı Ünal