Towards an Ideal Society
Al-Azhar Magazine – November 1973
Islam aims at building up a society in which there is no class conflict or discrimination, but it retains such of the classes and groups was needed for the harmonious development of the social organism. These classes and groups are the limbs of the same body functioning systematically for the healthy development of the body as a whole. The most important factor which develops an ideal society is organised family life. Islam contributed much towards a healthy and sound family by prescribing an ideal marriage system, because it leads to build up a sound family. A society built up of such families, undoubtedly, will be an ideal society
The Concept of Marriage:
The marriage system is not restricted to human beings, animals and plants, but is a vast and accurate universal law which established itself in individual beings and divided every being into two parts endowing each part with an unknown power different from that in the other part, similar to the neagative and positive currents in electricity. The unknown power in the positive current is different from that in the negative current, and the natural law will not produce its effect unless both powers meet together joining both negative and positive currents in the well known method. If both powers do not meet together the law will remain ineffective and the eternal yearning for the positive to meet he negative and vice versa will continue to exist. The Holy Quran says:
وَمِن ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ خَلَقۡنَا زَوۡجَيۡنِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَذَكَّرُونَ
And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect. (51:49)
This means that ‘marriage’ is an original necessity for all beings in this world, but we do not mean by this what psychologists call sexual instinct or parenthood “instinct”. What we mean is a far deeper secret more closely connected with the laws of the universe because the logic displayed in this holy verse covers everything created by God: plants, animals, human beings,…. and other things unknown to us: the Holy Quran says:
سُبۡحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلۡأَزۡوَٲجَ ڪُلَّهَا مِمَّا تُنۢبِتُ ٱلۡأَرۡضُ وَمِنۡ أَنفُسِهِمۡ وَمِمَّا لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ
Glory be to Him Who created all the sexual pairs, of that which the earth groweth, and of themselves, and of that which they know not! (36:36)
Man is a social animal, or he is civilised by nature as people say; he has the selfishness and individualism of animals, and has, from the civil point of view, the tendency to gather together, settle down and cooperate to develop and improve. In him, animal nature contradicts human nature; his repulsive nature contradicts the nature of living in a society.
This makes his life complicated and his history full of breaches of social systems and deviations from their requirements. The efforts to reconcile these two contradictory tendencies formed important parts of the missions of reformers and prophets to realize coherence between individual and society. Undoubtedly, the most successful effort made by man in this respect is the attempt which led to the formation of the family system in the way known to ancient and modern civilised societies because it led us to the natural position in which our authentic nature prospers and produces good fruits for the individual and the society.
Islam is the only heavenly and legislated law which originally instituted marriage between individual beings. This basic institution leads us to meditate carefully when we look into “marriage” as a necessity for every individual and for society.
When we consider the organic formations which indicate the distinction between the feminine and masculine body, and look into the function of the womb in the woman and other distinctive features, we shal clearly realise that nature did not intend by these original distinctions to satisfy the sexual pleasure of the two spouses but it actually aimed at a sort of “multiplication” to maintain the existence of the human kind in line with the purpose and aim of Allah by His creation. Sexual pleasures was never the purpose for which these distinctions were made, but it was made, to force man to fulfil the aim of the nature in maintaining the existence of the human kind.
No doubt that human beings, especially women suffer in performing duty, immense pains, toubles, weakness and sickness that are apt to turn him or her away from it or even make them shrink thereform.
Man is selfish by nature. This selfishness will, at least make him avoid pains. If he is , therefore, let alone in connection with his duty to preserve mankind he will never care for it, and if he tried it once; such an experience would turn him and others from it. Divine wisdom has, therefore, planted in him sufficient lust to stir his imagination and enkindle his despair and spur him to attain it in the well known Beastly manner to fulfil God’s decision to maintain mankind. Hence the Holy Quran stated that the aim of sexual appetite is not obtain one’s lust, but childbirth, where it says:
فَٱلۡـَٔـٰنَ بَـٰشِرُوهُنَّ وَٱبۡتَغُواْ مَا ڪَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ
“ So hold intercourse with them and seek that which Allah hath ordained for you “ (2:187)
Interpreters say that this means that we should aim at child birth. The preservation of mankind is nature;s intention from the creation of the male and the female. If man limits his aims to the mere obtainment of pleasure he would deviate from nature’s rule.. and man will not be in order unless he follows the rules of his original nature and existence.
A cure to Selfishness:
One of the significant sides of marriage is that man describes for himself a “private are” to satisfy his sexual desires in such a way as not to transgress upon the areas of others. In this way he cures his selfishness by himself and trains himself to remain with in certain limits paying full regard to the rights of others. By this, he, no doubt, takes successful step towards his social capabilities.
By marriage both spouses agree on a deep auto-suggestion basis to live together and exchange desires in love and joy and mutual cooperation which, under certain circumstances and the presence of children, become strengthened by more kindness, altruism and tenderness. A further significance is that when spouses agree on this deep auto- suggestion and kind feelings, they reduce their selfishness and consequently increase the circle of their kind feelings to embrace others i.e their children: they exchange kind feelings in a manner previously unknown because this kindness of man was solely limited to himself. This is a wide step that cures his selfishness and strengthens his moral existence in the field of social capabilities.
Another significance of the marriage system is that when man strives in his economical horizon and distributes his earnings among his children or others, he has started to serve others instead of serving himself alone as he used to do in the past, and he now gives preference to others instead of keeping everything for himself, only. This is a remarkable development in forming his social personality. The real significance of marriage is that a man be connected with a woman, in both their physical and human characteristics. The physical connection results in children and in the continuous existence of the human kind.
The Objects of Marriage:
If man knows that marriage is an eternal law and the he himself was adapted to this law, he will get a clear idea about himself and find a way to good and happiness. Marriage was made for childbirth and for comfort and an agreement on something that produces kindness, mercy and good feelings and relations. It is clear that the best wives are those who have the spiritual characteristics which make them abler than others to fulfil the sensual and moral aims of marriage in the best manner.
Therefore, the efforts of a wise person should be directed towards looking for noble qualities, beautiful thoughts and good character which represents noble humanity. But there are people who ignore the value of life and look at it as a fortune to be obtained and lavishness which satisfies the senses of the body. Such a person, therefore, makes wealth an essential condition in the girl he engages.
This is a deviation from the nature of things and using marriage for a purpose other than the one for which it was legislated. The Prophet, therefore, say “Do not marry woman for their wealth, lest their wealth makes them tyrannical”.
The human connection allows the innate human characteristics to grow and thrive in their souls by giving comfort, friendship, kindness, mercy and mutuality and this is the meaning which is expressed in the following Quranic verse: “ …. that ye might find rest in them, an He ordained between you Love and mercy…..”
If the function of man on this earth is to bring children, one of his most important functions, as well, it to invent the virtues of kindness, good relations, getting acquainted with others, altruism, condolence and cooperation…. Without these virtues, man will be a dormant energy without any mission, and these virtues are the only means to make society worthy of any reverence or respect.
These objects are not to be realized, in a way acceptable by nature and society, unless marriage is consummated in the manner decreed for us by God. Because marriage is the joining together of qualities with qualities, the basis of the acceptance for the man who offers to engage a woman should be character and religion.
It will be mere complications and idolatry contrary to rules and actual facts to let aside the appreciation of religion and character and care for other things such as richness, class, position, nationality, colour…. etc. He is a man and that is all. His share of humanity will indicate whether he is capable for the woman he is engaging. Islam laid down the basis of this human preference, as the Quran said:
إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡ
It means: “Lo! The Noblest of You, in the sight of Allah is the best in conduct” (49 :13)
Therefore, a man who has good conduct, high education and profound religious feeling and respectful personality, will be capable for the best woman in any class, nation or colour. In this high standard of thought, the prophet says, “ If a person with acceptable character and religion comes to you, let him be married. If you do not do so, there will be great disturbance, and affliction on earth.”
In this way the Islamic marriage system removes effectively all barriers that divide a brother from brother, or family from family on the basis of descent, inheritance, wealth, and social or political position, and builds up a society on the basis of equality and fraternity among individuals and groups.