The following Quranic verse is often quoted on the occasion of marriage in Muslim societies:
And among His Signs is that He created for you, from among your selves,
spouses that you may dwell in tranquility with them,
and He has instilled love and mercy between you; verily, in that are signs for those who reflect. (Q30:21)
According to this verse, the nature of marital relations is considered as one of the signs or wonders of God Almighty, and that this can be understood upon some deep thinking. This means that there is much more to this verse than meets the eye, so let us parse its meaning more carefully.
The verse defines in fact the ideal marriage. It is addressed to both men and women, and states that women are created from the selves of men and men are created from the selves of women. What does this mean?
The verse emphasizes the state of “dwelling in tranquility”, which can only happen when there is little or no conflict between husband and wife, that is, when there is much harmony between them. But that can only happen when they have a great deal in common, in terms of outlook, desires, likes and dislikes, with nothing to hide from one another; in other words, when their conscious selves are so alike. This is the meaning of creating spouses “for you, from among your selves,” for when one self is created from another, figuratively speaking, the two selves have the potential of being much alike and hence achieving harmony and tranquility.
The ideal in marriage is for the two spouses to strive to become in perfect harmony. This is not easy; it requires much determined effort by the two spouses in order to relinquish selfish interests, subdue their egos, give in to one another on various matters, and merge their selves together so as to achieve an ideal union in every sense of the word. And all this is between two persons who were at one time more or less complete strangers. That is indeed a great sign.
The second part of the verse adds to the state of tranquility, the feelings that God has instilled and which should normally govern the conduct of spouses toward one another, namely, love and mercy. The Arabic word, rahmah, that is translated as mercy has a broader meaning that includes being kind, gracious, gentle, forgiving, compassionate, and benevolent. In other words, rahmah is not just passive love but is love-in-action, manifested in words and deeds. Love and “mercy” are indeed the feelings that should normally be harbored between husband and wife, who are sharing their lives together in common destiny and who would bring forth into this world a new generation of human beings and nurture them with loving care.
How does this affect children? Children learn mostly through observation and by example rather than verbally through exhortation, preaching, or lecturing. The best guidance for children is to observe their parents treating one another with love and “mercy”. This will have a great salutary psychological impact on children. It instills in them a deep feeling of security and benefits their social behavior and overall outlook in life.
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