Islam encourages marriage making it the way to build a solid and well-knit society. It is the only legitimate way to satisfy the sexual desire which Islam accepts as natural and healthy. It does not approve of relations outside marriage. Marriage is the proper way to build a family, which is the basic unit of society. It urges people to choose good marriage partners, seeking God’s help in doing so. When the choice is made and the official steps have been taken, marital life should start with the remembrance of God.
It is recommended that when the bridegroom meets his bride for the first time after the wedding ceremony, he should place his hand on her forehead and say: “In the name of God. May God bless each of us for his and her partner.” The bridegroom should then say: “My Lord, grant me the best in her and the best that you placed in her nature. I appeal to You to protect me against her worst and the worst that you placed in her nature.” She should say the same prayer. No one should wonder at such a prayer at such a time. Every one of us has weaknesses that are better kept unexposed. Anyone who claims to be perfect suffers from great delusion. Even when the married couple are very close, the continuity of their love and happiness requires them to focus on their partners and to pray God to help them maintain their piety.
A unique feature of Islam is that it surrounds man’s natural needs and his satisfaction with remembering and glorifying God. When we eat or drink, we begin by mentioning God’s name. Likewise, when a married couple have sex, they should mention God’s name. The Prophet says: “When any of you is about to have sex with his wife, he should say: ‘Our Lord, protect us from Satan and protect what you grant us from him. Should a child be the result on this occasion, that child will not be harmed by Satan.”
While sex is a pleasurable pursuit, it is right that it must be kept within marriage so as to bring about a family, which requires steady striving. Such are the pleasures of this life: They are always attended by hard struggle. In this case it starts with the woman as she struggles through her pregnancy. She then endures the pains of childbirth and the burden of breast-feeding. The father has then to strive hard in order to provide for his family and bring up his children. Hence, it is important to always seek God’s help to relieve our pain and to facilitate our purpose. The Prophet taught us numerous prayers and supplications to ensure that. Let us quote a few: “My Lord, I seek Your grace. Do not leave me to my own devices for even a twinkle of an eye; and set all my affairs on the right course. There is no deity other than You.”
“My Lord, You are the Ever-Living, the Eternal Master of all. I urgently appeal to You to bestow Your mercy on me”.
“My Lord, there is no deity other than You. All glory be to You. I have been a wrongdoer.”
By making marriage the rule of life and the legitimate way to satisfy the sexual desire, Islam steers a middle way between religions that shun the sexual desire and urge their followers to suppress it, and permissiveness that makes everything acceptable. To suggest that suppression of the sexual desire is a mark of true piety is wrong and has no foundation. Likewise, permissiveness ushers numerous problems. It is only through a mutually caring relationship of marriage that man finds a happy middle way. Hence, this is the way approved by Islam.
-By SHEIKH MUHAMMAD AL-GHAZALI