The institution of marriage was established by Allah at the beginning of creation. The Prophet Adam, upon him be peace, was married to his wife Eve, upon her be peace.
The Holy Quran says,
“And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.” (Surah an-Nur, 24:32)
The above ayat begins with the words Wa Ankehoo (And marry…). The imperative form of the word ‘nikah’ implies that either it is obligatory or highly recommended.1 According to scholars, though marriage is a highly recommended act, it becomes obligatory when there is a chance of falling into sin.
The Prophet (S) says, “No house has been built in Islam more beloved in the sight of Allah than through marriage.”
On another occasion the Prophet (S) said, “The best people of my nation (Ummat) are those who get married and have chosen their wives, and the worst people of my nation are those who have kept away from marriage and are passing their lives as bachelors.”
Imam ‘Ali (A.S.) exhorts, “Marry, because marriage is the tradition of the Prophet (S).” The Prophet (S) also said, “Whosoever likes to follow my tradition, then he should know that marriage is from my tradition.” 4
A. Importance of Sex in Marriage
In Islam, marriage is not restricted to a platonic relationship between husband and wife, nor is it solely for procreation. The Islamic term for marriage, “nikah” literally means sexual intercourse.
So why has Islam provided extensive rules and regulation regarding sex? This was because Islam has fully understood that sexual instincts cannot and must not be repressed. They can only be regulated for the well being of human beings in this life and for their success in the hereafter.
Sex in married life has been openly recommended in Qur’an,
“…when they [i.e., the wives] have cleansed themselves [after menstruation], you go into them as Allah has commanded…” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:222)
B. Fulfillment of Sexual Urge
The Holy Prophet (S) and the Holy Imams (A.S.) also encouraged their followers to marry and to fulfill their sexual urges in lawful ways as can be seen from the following: The Prophet (S) said, “O you young men! I recommend marriage to you.”
Imam Reza (A.S.) said, “Three things are from the traditions of the Messengers of God (A.S.): using perfume, removing the [excessive] hair and visiting one’s wife.” 7
C. Celibacy and Monasticism is Forbidden
Islamic is totally opposed to monasticism and celibacy. ‘Uthman bin Maz’un was a close companion of the Prophet (S). One day his wife came to the Prophet (S) and complained, “O Messenger of God (S)! ‘Uthman fasts during the day and stands for prayers during the night.” In other words, she meant to say that her husband was avoiding sexual relations during the night as well as the day. The Prophet (S) was angered. He did not even wait to put on his slippers. He went to ‘Uthman’s house and found him praying. When ‘Uthman finished his prayers and turned towards the Prophet (S), he said, “O ‘Uthman! Allah did not send me for monasticism, rather He sent me with a simple and straight [Shariah]. I fast, pray and also have intimate relations with my wife. So whosoever likes my tradition, then he should follow it; and marriage is one of my traditions.” 8
D. Beneficial Effects of a Married Life
Various studies prove that married people remain healthier, physically and mentally. Islam has always maintained that marriage is beneficial for us in many ways.
Islam also regards marriage as a way to acquire spiritual perfection.
The Prophet (S) said, “One who marries, has already guarded half of his religion, therefore he should fear Allah for the other half.” 9 How true! A person who fulfills his sexual urges lawfully would rarely be distracted in spiritual pursuits.