Searching for a Pure Spouse
One day, a young pious man by the name of Thabit had no food to eat. As he was walking, he came across a garden with an abundance of apple trees. Although the garden was fenced, the trees were so mature that their apples were hanging over the fence. Innocently, he took an apple and started to eat from it. After he finished that apple, he felt an extreme sense of shame and guilt as he did not take permission from the owner of that garden. The guilt drove him to go and apologize to the owner and ask him what he could do to pay for the apple. To his surprise, the owner said “The only way you can pay me back is by marrying my daughter.” On the surface, it seemed like a pretty good deal. Then the owner said, “But you must know that my daughter is deaf, dumb (unable to speak), and blind.” Thabit pondered upon this but not too long as he sensed that he had committed a great crime by eating the apple that didn’t belong to him. So he agreed to marry the man’s daughter to absolve himself of the sin. As he entered upon her, to his surprise the woman was beautiful and returned his salaam. He looked at her and said “But your father said that you are deaf, dumb, and blind!” She smiled and responded “I am deaf to all forms of backbiting, gossip, and lying, dumb to any thoughts that are displeasing to Allah, and blind to that which Allah has not permitted me to look at.” It had become clear that Allah (swt) had rewarded Thabit for his sincerity, good character, and honesty with a pious woman. Through that woman, Allah would bestow upon Thabit a son by the name of Nouman, otherwise known as Imam Abu Hanifa (RAA).
I open with this story for the purpose of discussing the magnificent words of Allah (subhanauwata’ala):
“Women impure are for men impure, and men impure for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity; these (pure men and women) are not affected by what people say; for them there is forgiveness, and anhonorable provision.” (SuratNur, Ayah 26)
It should be noted that the mufasiroon (interpreters) of the Noble Quran offered different interpretations of this verse. Some of them understood that Allah was referring to words and actions rather than women when He (subhanahuwata’ala) used the words “khabeethat” and “tayyibat.” They opined that the message being delivered was that men of honor and purity only speak and act in honorable ways and the opposite also holds true. However, the opinion of AbdulRahmanIbnZaydIbnAslam (rA) and many others was that this verse was referring to pure men being for pure women and vice versa. In fact, they stated that this verse was revealed in connection to the slander against the mother of the believers, Ayesha (rA), as a proclamation of her innocence. As Al Baghawi (rA) states, it was to say that those who were accusing Ayesha (rA) of being unchaste were closer to being so themselves as Ayesha (rA) was a pure woman and was married to the purest of men, the Messenger of Allah (salAllahualayhiwasalam). For this reason, some of the scholars restricted the meaning of this “purity” to chastity. Abdullah Ibn Abbas (rA) in his explanation stated that “never did the wife of a prophet commit an act of adultery.” The evidence for this meaning is that we find that the wives of some prophets, as in the case of Nuh and Lut(alayhimussalam), despite being disbelievers, never committed adultery. Other scholars, such as As-Saadi (rA), understood the words “pure” and “impure” in a general sense rather than restricting them to chastity. This means that men who lead honorable lives are for women wholead honorable lives, and these men and women act and speak in an honorable fashion.
The problem that many people find with this meaning is that we sometimes see in our communities very pious women who end up with impious men and vice versa. Would that mean that Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) has broken a promise or stated something unrealistic? The answer is that the general rule is that upright men and women end up with uprightspouses, whereas corrupt men and women end up with corrupt spouses. There are, however, instances in whichan upright individual is tested by Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) with a corrupt spouse. A similar instance is when righteous parents are tested with a disobedient child. Although that is sometimes an unfortunate reality, it would be unreasonable to suggest that regardless of the behavior of parents, there is always an equal chance of having an obedient ordisobedient child. Likewise in the case of marriage, your morality and righteousness are bound to have an effect on who Allah (subhanahuwata’la) grants you as a spouse.
It is too often the case that young Muslims will indulge in disobeying Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) by experimenting with many forbidden things during their high school and college years but then all of a sudden expect to be granted spouses with piety. Experimenting with forbidden things is, in part, due to the unreasonable academic, professional, and cultural expectations sometimes placed by Muslim parents upon their children.This can make marriage seem like a distant and unreachable aim to many youth. That does not, however, absolve anyone from the responsibility to demonstrate restraint with regard to forbidden relationships or condemnable actions.
This is a situation in which the “I’ll get religious later” mentality can prove particularly deadly. One might just find that when he/she decides to get “religious” and live an upright life, the person who they hoped to be the ideal spouse turns out to be just as shallow as them. They would soon discover that their“best of both worlds” gimmick didn’t go as planned.Things begin to unravel and their newly beloved’s past turns out to be just as dark as theirs.
It is a sad that any Imam will confirm that this is very common in our communities. I appeal to my unmarried brothers and sisters to realize that you yourself have to be what you hope for and expect in your future spouse because your Lord will ultimately grant you what you are deserving of. If you stay true to your Islamic beliefs and convictions and Allah decides to test you with someone who is not to your level, then Allah will compensate you for that in the hereafter, and Allah is the best of Compensators. If you are living in disobedience and think that you’ll be able to bury it in the past without sincere repentance, know that you can fool a human’s perception, but Allah knows well your secrets.Guard your prayers, your gaze, your purity, and place your hope in Allah and you may just find the best of both worlds; not the gimmicky “best of both worlds,” but the best of this dunya and the best of the hereafter. As the messenger of Allah (salAllahualayhiwasalam) said “This world is all temporary pleasures and the best of the temporary pleasures of this world is a virtuous wife”(Muslim). I ask Allah (subhanahuwata’ala) to make us virtuous and make our spouses virtuous, and to grant us from our spouses and offspring the coolness of our eyes. Ameen
by Imam Omar Suleiman
About the author
Imam Omar Suleiman is the Imam and Khateeb of Masjid Abu Bakr Al-Siddique at Metairie, Louisiana.