By Nishwa Gardezi
This year, November 19th, may be an ordinary day in the lives of many, yet if you look at an Islamic Hijri calendar; you will see it marked with the announcement of “Aqde Bibi Fatima (sa) and Imam Ali (as)”. In other words today is the wedding anniversary of two sinless beings; in essence a perfect marriage in the eyes of Allah (swt).
In jurisprudence, marriage is not compulsory in Islam; it is a highly recommended act. The institution of marriage is highly favoured by Allah (swt), our Holy Prophet (pbuh) and our Imams (as). Islam promotes marriage and strongly discourages us from celibacy or bachelorhood. Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) stated on one occasion, “The best people of my Ummah are those who get married and have chosen their wives and the worst people of my nations are those who have kept away from marriage and are passing their lives as bachelor.“ On another occasion the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has said, “There has not been created any institution in Islam which is more favoured and dearer to Allah than marriage.” Quran, itself also holds proof of the sanctification of marriage in the eyes of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) says, “Marry the spouseless among you…if they are poor, God will enrich them of His bounty.” As seen from the above verses of Quran and ahadith from our Prophet (pbuh), in Islam, marriage is a sign of God’s power and blessings. Moreover, marriage is a highly recommended act of virtue, which should not be avoided because of poverty.
The word “nikah”, the legal term for marriage in Islam, in its societal context means a marriage contract. In Islam, marriage is based on much more then fulfilling one’s physical needs. It is based on a relationship of mutual love, understanding and caring between the spouses. Islam advocates for one to choose a spouse based on non-materialistic values: values such as one’s level of faith; their character; and their ability to help you become a better person. Prophet (pbuh) has said, “Do not marry a woman for the following four reasons: Wealth, beauty, ancestry and lust. It is obligatory upon you to marry a woman on account of her religion.“ Imam Sadiq (a.s) says, “Two rakaats of a married person is better than seventy rakaats of an unmarried one.“
We see from the relationship of Imam Ali (as) and Bibi Fatima (sa) that they both lived in a harmonious relationship based on not only faithfulness, obedience and care, but also in soul and spirituality; they are the epitome of the perfect couple. In her last days, when Bibi Fatima (as) was giving Imam Ali (sa) her will, she said: “You have not experienced me as a liar or unfaithful and I have not disobeyed you since I have known you”. To this, Imam Ali (as) replied “You are more pious, God-fearing and knowing for me to rebuke you in anything of that sort.” This is an example of the harmony, which existed between Bibi Fatima (sa) and Imam Ali (as). Their relationship and dedication to each other as husband and wife represents a role model for all single and married Muslim youth. It is narrated that Imam Ali (as) and Bibi Fatima (sa) used to divide the responsibilities inside the house. Their agreement was that Bibi Fatima (sa) would grind, knead and bake and Imam Ali (a.s) would sweep the floor, and bring water and wood for the fire. In this, there is a lesson for both men and women. Men should learn not to feel too arrogant to serve at home, and women should not feel as though working at home is demeaning; a mentality which has arisen amongst Muslim women lately.
In writing this article, I decided to interview some married friends of mine; suffice is to say, that I was highly envious and in awe of the things I learned from them. It is important to realize that you should not be hesitant, when it comes to asking questions to satisfy your fears and trepidations towards marriage. And the second best source (first source being the married lives of Imam Ali (as) and Bibi Fatima (sa)) to assure yourself, is to question other married couples in your community. Through my interviews I have come to the conclusion that most marriages are based on the similar founding principles: mutual respect, friendship, and a well-matched desire to reach a higher level of faith.
Sakina*, Zainab*, Rukkiya*, all three said that mutual respect and companionship is a large part of being married. When asked about her relationship with her husband, Zainab said, “We are the best of friends. We can discuss anything and everything with each other; but most importantly we both respect each other, and this allows us to help each other with any problem that arises.” Sakina also had similar response in regards to her relationship with her husband: “You can never be a perfect couple, but you can be perfect in the sense that you can love each other and respect each other.”
Islam promotes marriage for mainly for two purposes: to protect oneself from sin and to increase one’s level of faith. It was the latter for Rukkiya, who got married at the early age of nineteen. She said, “My parents are very secular; they pay more attention to cultural traditions than religion. They did not like it when I started to observe hijab. My main reason for getting married was that I had found a guy who was not only religious himself, but also helped increase my level of faith in Allah (swt).” In regards to incorporating Islamic values within your marriage, Sakina said, “In order to please Allah (swt), you live your life a certain way, hence when you marry it should be also to please Allah (swt).” As for Zainab, when asked with the same question, she said, “I was not always as religious as I am today. However I have learned you will not be content within your marriage, nor will you have a satisfactory marriage, until and unless you do not incorporate Islamic teachings within your married life.”
I have so much more to share, but I will conclude this article with imparting wisdom from the three wonderful friends I interviewed; for single youth, who are either thinking about getting married, or are in the process of getting married. In short, their message simply states: Imam Ali (as) and Bibi Fatima (sa) marriage is the perfect role model for single and married youth to look up to. Every single second of their lives is a lesson for us and we should learn from them as much as we can. These lessons can permanently transform your married lives for the best.
*Due to privacy reasons, the real names of the people interviewed for this article are not identified.
 Mustadrakul Wasail, Vol. 2, Pg. 531
 Was’il al-Shia, Vol. 14, p 3