The Prophet (peace be upon him) was once asked, “What is more important than prayer?” He replied, “The spirit of prayer.” He was asked what is more important than fasting – he replied, “The spirit of fasting.” For each question concerning an Islamic practice the answer was the same – the spirit that animates the practice, because the spirit brings the action to life and unfolds its potentials. Without this animating spirit, the prayer is only movement, and the fasting is only hunger. But when the spirit enters, when a pure and concentrated intention enters, the action becomes transformative.
So what is more important than marriage? It is the spirit of marriage, the intention which underlies it. The treasures hidden within it must be brought out and realized by the couple themselves.
The Qur’an says: “It is He who created you from a single soul and made its mate of like nature in order that you might dwell with her.” (7:189)
So the male and female complete each other – together they make a single self and this is how they must strive to make their lives together – as if they are one being, one person, one spirit.
The Qur’an says: “Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.” (2:187)
So a husband and wife complement each other – each one takes on a new aspect of their humanity, a new facet and depth to their personality. This beautiful and appropriate metaphor explains the varied duties and obligations of man and woman in the married life.
The garment when worn is next to our body; so let husband and wife be so attached to each other in their mutual love and affection. The garment hides our nakedness and covers our physical flaws; so let husband and wife hide each other’s secrets and cover each other’s character flaws. The garment also protects the wearer, so let husband and wife be each other’s protectors and helpers. Let them safeguard their partner’s honor, and let them make the marriage a haven of caring shelter, where each is safe and secure. The garment brings grace, beauty, and embellishment to the body; so, too, are wives to their husbands and husbands to their wives.
Since “God created the male and the female from a single soul,” God is the point of reference for the married pair. If the two partners of a marriage set themselves in correct relation to God, then certainly a perfect balance will be realized within their lives together. For this reason, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would recite the verses commanding Reverence to God at weddings and similar gatherings. For it is by revering God, fearing God, and being conscious of God that we can act in the correct way with our family in particular and with society in general.
We ask God to let this couple be helpers and protectors of one another.
We ask God to let them be a refuge and a comfort to one another.
We ask God to let them be beautiful garments for one another.