Is the purpose of marriage to have sex or to establish a family and reproduce?

The Details of the Question

- ​ Can you prove with verses and hadiths that the main purpose of marriage in Islam is to establish a family and reproduce, not to have sex?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is stated in the Holy Quran that marriage is a proof of Allah’s existence and power. In addition, the love and affection of the spouses for each other are underlined and the basic pillars of marriage are virtually expressed between the lines:

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (ar-Rum, 30/21)

Our religion regards the family formed by a marriage performed in accordance with its conditions as the foundation and basis of a good nation. Everything has a purpose; the purpose of marriage should be to raise a generation that will please Allah and His Messenger. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) states the following in a hadith:

"Marry and increase in number; I will be proud of your large number on the Day of Judgment." (Abdurrazzaq, Musannaf, 6/173; Kanzul-Ummal, 16/276)

When we consider the verse and hadith above, as well as other verses and hadiths, it is possible to speak extensively about the purpose of and wisdom behind marriage. Our scholars have given detailed explanations regarding the issue in different sources.

For example, in his explanations shedding light on the views of the fiqh scholars on the nature of the marriage contract, Sarakhsi establishes a connection with the lexical meaning of marriage and states that marriage
- is a contract that legitimizes sexual intercourse,
- binds the spouses together like a single body to form a partnership of life,
- has the purpose of providing material and spiritual benefits for the parties.

- And he states that satisfying sexual desires is essentially a means serving the primary purpose of marriage, which is the perpetuation of human race. (see Mabsu, IV, 192; XVI, 123)

It is also emphasized by many fiqh scholars that the marriage union formed by the marriage contract should be based on the understanding of life partnership based on mutual love and respect of the spouses and on the principle of permanence and hence Islam has put an end to the practice of temporary marriage and it is not permissible to terminate the marriage unless there is a necessity.

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi expresses the importance and purpose of marriage with the following concise words:

“Concerning marriage, one of man’s most intense needs is to have someone respond to him with heartfelt love and to share with [his partner] pleasure and intimacy, and for them to together feel wonder (at the divine bounties) and to ponder over them.” (Badiuzzaman Said Nursî, İşârâtü’l-İ’câz, p. 147)

In other words, according to Islam, marriage and the institution of family is a very necessary and indispensable value in terms of raising a generation, bringing up children, protecting the generation and preserving human dignity; it is both a physical need and a fundamental ground for spiritual development because marriage satisfies the desires of the soul with legitimate measures and goals, and leads to the establishment of families full of peace and happiness and the raising of good generations.

So, marriage is a very necessary institution for practicing and protecting one’s religious and worldly life in the best way possible. Therefore, while getting married, it is necessary to choose pious spouses with high ethics and to try to establish a religious family.

The best aspect of the family is the children, who are the fruits of the heart. A family home where a person leads a peaceful life with his wife and children is a corner of Paradise.

Some Verses of the Quran Regarding Marriage:

“Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise.” (al-Baqara, 2/221)

“Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.” (an-Nisa, 4/24)

“They ask thy instruction concerning the women say: Allah doth instruct you about them: And (remember) what hath been rehearsed unto you in the Book, concerning the orphans of women to whom ye give not the portions prescribed, and yet whom ye desire to marry, as also concerning the children who are weak and oppressed: that ye stand firm for justice to orphans. There is not a good deed which ye do, but Allah is well-acquainted therewith.” (an-Nisa, 4/127)

“This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).” (al-Maida, 5/5)

“And Allah has made for you mates (and companions) of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best: will they then believe in vain things, and be ungrateful for Allah’s favors?” (an-Nahl, 16/72)

“Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and he knoweth all things.” (an-Nur, 24/32)

“Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah gives them means out of His grace…” (an-Nur, 24/33)

“They are your garments and ye are their garments.” (al-Baqara, 2/187)

Some Hadiths Regarding Marriage:

“He who gets married completes half of his belief; he should fear Allah for the other half!” (Haythami, IV, 252)

“One of the most encouraged deeds is to mediate between two people and to help them for marriage.” (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 49)

“A man marries a woman for one of four reasons: Her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her piety. Choose the pious one so that you will attain goodness and blessings!” (Bukhari, Nikah, 15, Muslim, Rada, 53)

“Marriage is my sunnah. Whoever does not follow my Sunnah is not from me. Get married! I will be proud of your great number compared to other nations. Whoever has the financial means should get married immediately. And whoever does not have the means should perform nafilah fasting. Fasting is a means of preventing his lust.” (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 1/1846)

“Do not delay three things. Prayer (salah) when its time period starts, dead body when it is ready for funeral and marriage of a single person when his/her equivalent is found.” (Tirmidhi, Salah, 13/171)

“O young people! Those who can afford to marry among you should marry.” (Bukhari, Nikah, 3; Muslim, Nikah, 1)

“Marriage is my sunnah. Whoever does not follow my Sunnah is not from me. Get married! I will be proud of your great number compared to other nations.” (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 1)

“He who can afford to marry should marry because marriage protects the eye from haram and protects chastity…” (Bukhari, Sawm, 10)

“The best marriage is the one with little expenditure.” (Abu Davud, Nikah, 32)

“How terrible it is to have a wedding dinner where the rich are invited and the poor are not.” (Bukhari, Nikah 72; Muslim, Nikah 107)

“O people! Respect the rights of women! Treat them with compassion and love! I advise you to fear Allah about them. You have taken women as the trust of Allah, and you have made their honor and chastity lawful by promising them in the name of Allah!” (Sahîh-i Buharî Muhtasarı, X. 398)

“Get married; do not divorce!.. The Throne (Arsh) trembles due to divorce…” (Ali al-Muttaqi, IX, 1161/27874)

“If a person awakens his wife at night and they pray two rak’ahs together or each of them prays alone, he will be listed among the men who remember Allah much and his wife will be listed among the women who remember Allah much” (Abu Dawud, Tatawwu 18, Witr 13)

“May Allah have mercy on the one who gets up at night, prays and awakens his wife, and sprinkles water on her face to wake her up and if she does not wake up! May Allah have mercy on the woman who gets up at night, prays and awakens her husband, and sprinkles water on his face to wake him up if he does not wake up!” (Abu Dawud, Tatawwu 18, Witr 13)

“A righteous woman makes her husband happy when he looks at her, fulfills his legitimate wishes, and protects both his property and honor in his absence.” (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 5/1857)

“If a woman who has pleased her husband dies, she will go to Paradise.” (Tirmidhi, Rada, 10)

“The world is only a temporary benefit. Its best benefit is a pious woman” (Muslim, Rada, 64)

“The most precious of all things is a tongue that makes dhikr, a heart that gives thanks, and a righteous wife who helps her husband in terms of belief …” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir 9/9)

“A person who can easily marry but does not marry is not from me.” (Bayhaqi, Shu’ab, VII, 338/5095)

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