Coming from a Western or European background, we often equate love with the stereotypical images that we see in all forms of media. The pouting woman waiting breathlessly at home for husband to appear to “love her,” alternatively the career woman who throws off the shackles of the workforce to return breathlessly home to her waiting husband. Sex sells, and the print and visual media take advantage of this fact. Sex sells, and businesses in all corners of the world will do anything to make an extra dollar. Sex is not love, and the word ‘love’ has, unfortunately, lost much of its true meaning.
We drive to work past the giant billboards selling cars and clothes and laundry detergent. The billboards all have one thing in common a pouting woman who says with smoldering eyes “drive this car and attract women like me”; “wear this brand of clothes and women will want you more then the clothes.” We open the newspaper to see advertisements for exotic destinations; the people appear to be happy and “in love.” The television and movie screens tell us that if you consume this product you will be desirable, your husband or wife will “love you.” Drink brand X and fall in love, wear brand Y and have all fall in love with you.
This is not love, this is an advertising ploy. Marriages fall by the wayside because husbands and wives find that they cannot live up to the expectations that they impose on themselves and each other. The images are impossible to emulate simply because they are not real; they come from the minds of advertising executives, not from the natural order of our lives. Our senses are assaulted almost every waking moment by images of what the media feeds to us as a normal lifestyle. These images are not normal, and the lifestyles that they portray are in no way a reflection of how men and woman should live together in a normal, healthy relationship.
Islam, on the other hand, being the natural way for human beings to live, employs no trickery or gimmicks. Love in Islam brings men and woman together with strong bonds that tie couples together with the rope of Islam. [And hold fast all of you together, to the rope of Allah (i.e., this Qur’an), and be not divided among your selves, and remember Allahs favour on you] (Aal `Imran 3:103). A marriage based firmly and soundly on the Qur’an and the Sunnah should suffer none of the pangs of insecurity and subterfuge that abound in marriages whose role models are the pouting woman and muscle bound man found in all forms of media. Marriage in Islam is a contract between two people, a man and a woman, by which they agree to enter into a [halal] relationship for the sake of Allah Most High.
It is a relationship that binds them to each other through all the tests and trials of this life, through hardship and ease. [Verily along with every hardship is relief] (Ash-Sharh 94:6). It should be a relationship whose sole purpose is to worship, praise, and thank Allah Most High. If love—the tender blissful feeling of being in love—is present in this relationship, then it is an extra blessing from Allah.
Marriage in Islam is not based on whether we find our partner desirable or whether he or she contributes a great deal of money to the family. Marriage in Islam is a partnership. Two people, working as one unit. One unit striving for Jannah, longing to secure themselves a place in the shade of Allah. Love in Islam is a [halal] marriage secure in the knowledge that the wealth and adornments of this world are but illusions and that it is in the Hereafter that our real lives will begin.
[And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the hereafter for those that are al-muttaqun (the pious). Will you not then understand?] (Al-An`Am 6:32)
If we examine our thoughts on love and marriage and endeavor to renew our intentions to have a marriage for the sake of Allah Most High, we will, [in sha’ Allah], find that we are no longer blinded by the subtle advertising that invades our lives and eats away at our [iman]. Shaytan (Satan) works in devious and treacherous ways and loves nothing more then to put enmity between a husband and wife. His work is made easier by the fact that we are so easily deceived. Before we realize what is happening, the seeds of destruction have grown into an evil tree.
We begin to think and worry because our marriages are not what we see on the television or read about in the latest release novels. Our minds are invaded with thoughts that are contrary to the natural order of Islam and the universe, and our insecurities lead us to long for unattainable and unnecessary ideals in our lives and marriages. We have grown complacent in our commitment to our marriages and to our Islam, where as Shaytan is ever watchful and eager to guide us to the path that leads to nowhere but eternal Hellfire.
A marriage in Islam is about more than ‘love’; love in Islam is about more than tender feelings and smoldering sexual desires.
Through our commitment to Islam we should be able to return to an era where love and marriage are synonymous. Where a marriage is a partnership, a bonding of two people that, like ripples on water, moves ever steadily outwards to encompass the ideals of an Islamic community. The bonds of marriage should tie us to each other, to our families and children, to our brothers and sisters in Islam, to the worldwide Ummah. If we put our love for Allah first and our own desires last, then we should find ourselves in a relationship that no longer falls prey to the subterfuge of Shaytan. We should cling tightly to the rope of Islam and recognize the fact that life is not always sunshine and roses but that this [dunya] is a place of testing and tribulations. [Do people think they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested] (Al-`Ankabut 29:2). We should bear our tests with patience and gratitude, take refuge with Allah, and take comfort in the arms of our spouses.
[And We will most certainly try you with somewhat of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits; and give good news to the patient, Who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah's and to Him we shall surely return. Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord, and those are the followers of the right course.] (Al-Baqarah 2:155–157)