With His wisdom and out of His mercy, Allah has made the Children of Adam male and female, and has institutionalized marriage to make the females mates for the males and vice-versa. The Quran says:
These verses of the Noble Quran draw at least two purposes of marriage; companionship and procreation. Marriage allows a man and a woman live together in peace and tranquillity enjoying each other’s company. Marriage is a lawful means to fulfil the basic biological instinct to have sexual relation. Sexual relation outside marriage tie is a major sin but when it is done within the institution of marriage, the reward is like giving charity.
Through the fulfilment of this biological instinct Allah grants them children that will continue the mission of human’s creation as ‘khalifah’, representing God on the surface of the Earth to look after this planet. Islamic law has prescribed detailed rules not only the rights and the responsibilities of husband and wife, but also of their offspring.
However, these verses also indicate another dimension of marriage, namely ‘ibadah. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) declared,
"Marriage is my sunnah. Whosoever keeps away from it, is not from me."
Marriage is an 'Ibadah in a sense that when one commits to a marriage, he or she is doing an act which is pleasing to Allah. This marriage must be performed in accordance with Allah's commandments and guidance of His prophet PBUH. This is beautifully explained in a tradition of the Prophet. It is narrated by Anas RA (May Allah please with him) that the Messenger of Allah PBUH said,
"When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half."
In another narration, prophet Muhammad PBUH said,
"O you, young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty."
Marriage is an ‘ibadah because it purifies husband and wife, their offsprings and the community. It protects Muslim men and women from committing things which will displease Allah. The Prophet considered marriage for a Muslim as half of his religion because it shields him from promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality etc., which ultimately lead to many other evils like slander, quarreling, homicide, loss of property and disintegration of the family. According to the Prophet PBUH, the remaining half of the faith can be saved by Taqwa.
The Ahkam (Ruling) of Marriage
Studies of Quranic verses and the traditions of the Prophet PBUH clearly show that marriage is compulsory (wajib) for a man who has the means to easily pay the Mahr (dowry) and to support a wife and children, and is healthy, and fears that if does not marry, he may be tempted to commit fornication (Zina). It is also compulsory for a woman who has no other means of maintaining herself and who fears that her sexual urge may push her into fornication. But even for a person who has a strong will to control his sexual desire, who has no wish to have children, and who feels that marriage will keep him away from his devotion to Allah, it is commendable (Mandub).
There are slight differences amongst the school of thoughts. According to the Maliki madzhab, for example, under certain conditions it is obligatory (fard) for a Muslim to marry even if he is not in a position to earn his living. These certain conditions are; (1) if he fears that by not marrying he will commit fornication (Zina), (2) if he is unable to fast to control his passions or his fasting does not help him to refrain from Zina, and (3) even if he is unable to find a slave girl or a destitute girl to marry.
However some jurists suggest that if a man cannot procure a lawful livelihood, he must not marry because if he marries without any hope of getting lawful bread, he may commit theft, and in order to avoid one evil (his passions) he may become the victim of another (theft).
The Hanafi madzhab considers marriage as obligatory (fard) for a man if; (1) he is sure that he will commit Zina if he does not marry, (2) he cannot fast to control his passions or even if he can fast, his fast does not help him to control his passion, (3) he cannot get a slave-girl to marry, and (4) he is able to pay the dowry (Mahr) and to earn a lawful livelihood.
Marriage is forbidden (Haram) to a man, according to the Hanafi school, if he does not possess the means to maintain his wife and children or if he suffers from an illness, serious enough to affect his wife and progeny. It is not desirable (makruh) for a man who possesses no sexual desire at all or who has no love for children or who is sure that marriage will cause adverse effect to his religion.
Wallahu a’lam, Allah knows best.