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Articles Section > Nikah Sermon or Solemnisation of Marriage by Nasir Ahmad Sahib

Nikah Sermon or Solemnisation of Marriage:
by Nasir Ahmad Sahib, B.A., LL.B.

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O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah, as it ought to be kept, and die not but as Muslims (3:103).

O people, keep your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same kind, and spread from these two many men and women. And keep your duty to Allah by Whom you demand one of another (your rights) and to the ties of relationship. Surely Allah is ever a Watcher over you (4:1).

O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah and speak the straight word; He will put your deeds into a right state for you, and forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, has indeed achieved a mighty success" (33:70, 71).

These four verses of the Holy Quran just recited have been taken from various chapters. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) invariably recited these verses on the auspicious occasion of nikah (marriage). In these verses, emphasis has been laid on fulfilling one’s duty to Allah as well as to one’s fellow beings and they outline the main objectives of married life. Again, attention has been drawn towards safeguarding the rights of two weak sections of the society, viz., women and orphans. And lastly, the need to deal with one’s kith and kin with love and affection has been reiterated. The verses also point out that both men and women are equal in rights and rewards, and in order to provide a congenial atmosphere and a happy domestic life for the proper upbringing of children it is essential that husband and wife should respect each other and fulfil their mutual obligations sincerely. Again, while fulfilling one’s obligations one should be straightforward and truthful so that domestic life is not marred by mistrust and misunderstanding.

The basic aim of the teachings of Islam is that every member of the Muslim society should demonstrate civilised behaviour and noble character, both in his individual and collective life, as envisaged by Allah and His Messenger. If professing Islam does not bring about the desired purification and sublimation in our moral character, then we are practically negating Islam. This has been expressed in the following words of the Holy Quran:

Hast thou seen him who belies religion? (107:1).

Allah has also warned in the same chapter (107), that is, Al-Ma‘un against the consequences of such a negation of religion in one’s practical life. He says:

Woe to the praying ones.

That is, such persons are liable for Allah’s punishment. In other words, inaction not only makes one’s life unsuccessful, but also brings punishment to man in the Hereafter. But those who follow the guidelines laid down by Allah earn blessings in both lives. Such an assurance is given by Allah in these words:

Those who say our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the Garden which you were promised. We are your friends in this world’s life and in the Hereafter, and you shall have therein what your souls desire and you shall have therein what you ask for (41:30,31).

Islam wants a Muslim to live his individual and collective life in a way that is reflective of the manners and morals of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. There is a short hadith (tradition) of the Holy Prophet that contains a significant guideline for creating real peace and security in the Muslim society. The hadith is:

"A true Muslim is he from whose hands and tongue no harm is caused to another Muslim."

In another version of this hadith, instead of the word "Muslim", the word "an-nas" or "people" occurs, which means that Islam envisages a society where everyone, irrespective of his colour, creed or nationality, is guaranteed peace and security. There is another brief saying of the Holy Prophet that comprises only two words: viz. Ad-din an-nasihah (religion means guidance and good counselling). In this hadith the Holy Prophet has summed up the objectives of religion, saying that it provides guidance and guarantee for an equitable and just society that caters for the welfare of all. Thus it is evident that at every step and at every turn of our life, be it an occasion of joy or grief, be it success or failure, whether one is about to start a job or is nearing its completion, on every occasion the Quranic teachings and the sunnah (practice) of the Holy Prophet serve as beacons inculcating resolution and fortitude for achieving noble objectives in life.

The nikah ceremony is indeed an important occasion in our social life, when two persons enter into an agreement and decide to start a new life together. This beautiful union ushers in a new era of happiness, bliss and mutual relationship, on the one hand, and, on the other, it is the starting point of taking on new responsibilities and building new relationships.

In modern society, marriage and its ensuing responsibilities are generally limited to husband and wife only, and it caters only for them and their children, and their life-style and attitude in life are determined accordingly; other relationships are not considered of much importance. Islam not only confers special grace and honour to the marital relationship and to rights and duties of husband and wife but also to the relationship between the two families. This is why in the second verse selected by the Holy Prophet for this occasion, Allah says:

And keep your duty to Allah by Whom you demand one of another (your rights) and to the ties of relationship (4:1).

It means that one should pay special attention, out of fear of Allah, to the obligations that have now been created out of this new relationship. In other words, besides the interest and the comfort of the immediate members of the family, a person should also be careful in discharging his responsibilities to other relations. At times untoward things do happen and relations between the members of a family are estranged and in such a situation one is reluctant to do acts of kindness to them. That is why Allah says wattaqullah (keep your duty to Allah). That is, discharge your obligations towards relatives just for the sake of seeking Allah’s pleasure despite personal differences or dislikes.

In this context, let me narrate a pithy hadith of the Holy Prophet. It says:

"Anyone who wishes longer life or increase in his means of sustenance should show kindness to his relatives."

The Holy Quran has repeatedly stressed the need of fulfilling one’s promises and commitments and says that Allah loves such a person. The Divine words in the Holy Quran are:

Yea, whoever fulfils his promise and keeps his duty – then Allah surely loves the dutiful (3:75).

In Islam, nikah is not only a covenant between two persons witnessed by people, and they are bound to fulfil it, but every Muslim is also answerable to Allah, the Being Who not only knows the innermost intentions of man, but Who also has the power to take him to account for all omissions and commissions. Therefore, a Muslim should be more faithful and careful in fulfilling his promises and commitments.

The third verse recited in the sermon provides a significant guideline with regard to fulfilling one’s promises. It says:

O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and speak straight words.

That is, when saying something or making a commitment, one should make sure that one’s intention and action co-relate. In other words, one’s intention and action should not be different from the contents of the agreement or be contrary to it.

It is due to such contradictions that difficulties arise in the implementation of agreements. Different interpretations are put upon the wording of the agreement and this leads to complications and estrangement. That is why Allah enjoins here that a true and straightforward statement will not only remove complications, but it will bring credibility in our affairs and further, Allah will shower His grace and blessings on us. In the last verse Allah has given the glad tidings in this regard:

And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he indeed achieves a mighty success.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), by his meticulous example, emphasised the importance of showing kindness and affection to one’s wife, children and near relations as it generates an atmosphere of ease and comfort at home and in the society at large. He is reported to have said:

"O believers, the most perfect among you in faith is one who is best in morals and the best among you are those who treat their wives and children in the kindest manner."

The Arabic words are khairukum, khairukum li-ahlihi.

If we wish to maintain a cordial and pleasant atmosphere at home, then husband and wife shall have to observe restraint, pleasant behaviour and respect towards each other and towards other members of the family as much emphasis has been laid on these in the Holy Quran and in the example of the Holy Prophet.

In my humble opinion, fasting and marriage are two practical obligations in Islam which go a long way in providing spiritual and physical purification and discipline in human character and urge a believer to be respectful and sympathetic towards one’s family, and to be compassionate and considerate towards Allah’s creatures. In a saying of the Holy Prophet, Allah says:

Fasting is for Me and I shall provide its recompense.

And similarly there is a directive by the Holy Prophet:

"An-Nikahu min sunnati" (To marry is to follow my sunnah or example).

One should bear in mind that it is Allah alone Who provides recompense for every good act, and similarly, when we do any act in accordance with the practice of the Holy Prophet, it is sunnah. That is why Allah pointedly says that He shall dispense reward for fasting and the Holy Prophet regards marriage as following his practice in particular.

It clearly shows that Allah and the Holy Prophet have adopted this expression in order to highlight the importance of fasting and marriage in the individual and social life of a Muslim. There is no doubt that fasting and marriage inculcate a high sense of purity and responsibility in a believer and these tend to generate feelings of kindness and sacrifice for one’s family and fellow human beings. This brings to our notice another very important saying of the Holy Prophet:

"I have been raised to exemplify gracious manners and perfect morals."

Therefore, it is essential that the two persons who are now going to lay the foundation of a new unit in the society should be considerate to each other and also to others who have now entered into the fold of the relationship. Consequently, this sort of behaviour and attitude of husband and wife towards each other and towards others will ensure peace and happiness. How important is the role of husband and wife in creating such an atmosphere at home and elsewhere has been beautifully alluded to in the following words of the Holy Quran:

And of His signs is this, that He created mates for you from yourselves that you might find quiet of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion. Surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect (30:21).

In this verse, two points deserve our special attention. Firstly, that although from a tiny particle to the huge planets in the universe, such as the sun and the moon, and also the air, water, etc., have been created for the sustenance of human beings and other creatures and are evident signs of Allah’s power of creativity, yet the creation of husband and wife has been specially mentioned as His sign. It has further been mentioned that whoever will reflect over this phenomenon will discover the deeper wisdom and more significant role a husband and wife are destined to play in the evolving of a congenial and happy life on this earth.

Secondly, Allah considers love and compassion between husband and wife and the spirit of sacrifice for each other and for other relations as His special sign. There is no doubt that union between husband and wife is the closest and most intimate and beautiful relationship in the physical sense and that is why Allah has regarded it as His special grace. But the words you might find quiet of mind in it cannot mean getting just the physical satisfaction out of it, because that is something that is very obvious and both derive it in any case. Hence there was no need of specially pointing it out.

The peace and tranquillity towards which Allah wishes to draw our attention here refers to mental and social peace and it is in this regard that the woman, as compared to the man, plays an important role. But, unfortunately, this silent service of woman as a wife is mostly unappreciated. A wife is like an anchor in the life of a husband, as she keeps the domestic life at home on an even keel and protects it from the rude shocks of misfortune and the vicissitudes of life, and she, like an anchor lying at the bottom of the sea, keeps on providing silent service to the welfare and happiness of the family life.

Allah also attaches importance to woman in another aspect of human life, and that is with regard to the procreation of children. Allah has likened a woman to tilth (2:223). If the seed of man is not provided suitable and fertile land, all the potentialities lying in it go to waste.

Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, a well-known poet and philosopher of Pakistan, has beautifully highlighted the importance of woman in promoting beauty and happiness in the human environment in the following stanza:

Woh-jud-e-zan se hai ka-i-nat mein rang

It means that the very existence of woman fills the world with myriad colours. While one is young, this colour may mean physical beauty and its pleasures, but as one passes through various stages of life, one discovers her deeper colours and the more important aspects of her existence. That is why Allah has taught us a prayer for thanking Him for this bounty and for its continuation in the following words of the Holy Quran:

Our Lord, grant us in our wives and our offspring the coolness of our eyes and make us leaders of those who guard against evil (25:74).

I end my sermon at this beautiful prayer and pray that Allah may bless the couple with all kinds of joy and blessings. May He grant them strength to inculcate Islamic ideals and character. And may Allah also give us wisdom to ponder over the edicts of the Holy Quran so as to reform and improve our character and attitude towards life. I now make the happy announcement for which this beautiful ceremony has been arranged.


Articles Section > Nikah Sermon or Solemnisation of Marriage by Nasir Ahmad Sahib


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