CAN PEOPLE FIND love and intimacy without unlawful romance? For the West, it is an important question. In mainstream America, an estimated 33 percent of the children are born out of wedlock, and sex before marriage is the norm. Even some of the married people cheat on their spouses.

Of all the out-of-wedlock children, a whopping 70 percent are born to females ages 10-17. Without a supportive father, most of these children end up in a cycle of poverty and despair.

Many Americans spend years in illicit relationships before settling on “that someone special” –but only a short while later, their marriage flounders on infidelity and lack of love. Ever wonder why?

Love is not a forbidden subject in Islam; in fact, it is something to covet. However, Islam defines love as much more than sexual appetite, above and beyond those stunning looks. Love that follows Allah’s guidance provides both physical and spiritual happiness.

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Those who fall for physical beauty but overlook the spiritual poverty of their spouses are known to regret it. Pretty looks and youthfulness eventually fade away but good character only becomes better overtime.

Khadijah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad was 15 years his senior and twice widowed, while the Prophet was never married, the handsomest, and the noblest of men. Yet, their marriage was a true love story and the Prophet mentioned her glowingly ever after her death.

Make no mistake, the attraction for a beautiful person of the opposite sex is real. Most young people find themselves defenseless against the desire for intimacy that suddenly seizes their heart. Aware of the dangers of young age, the Prophet advised us to marry our children early so as to help them lower their gaze.

Unfortunately, in many Muslim cultures young men cannot be married early because of pressures from home and society. They are expected to “complete” their education and be financially “settled” first, before they are cleared for marriage. These pressures are hurting our youth and pushing them toward sin. They are also delaying the marriage of the young women whom these men are destined to marry.

Islam tells us that marrying is equal to half of the religion. Allah calls the outpouring of love and affection for spouses a sign of His creation.

And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect. [Sûrat Al-Rûm, 30:21]

It is an amazing phenomenon that, in marriage, what were one-time strangers overnight become intimate friends and well-wishers. Together, they raise a family and resolve to endure the tribulations of life through thick or thin.

In stark contrast to Allah’s wrath against unlawful relationship, marriage becomes an act of worship and a righteous life among the highest forms of enjoyment. The Prophet said,

The world and all things in it are enjoyment, but the most enjoyable thing in the world is a virtuous woman. (Muslim)

While love for a girlfriend lands one in dangerous territory, the love for the wife becomes a charity; even conjugal relationship is deemed worthy of reward.

Not all marriages work well, though. Some men and women become prisoners of their marriage, living miserable lives or ultimately divorcing.

Most marriages can survive with careful handling. But many a time, spouses do not appreciate each other and instead dwell on the negative. One of the things some women ignore is adorning themselves for their husbands. At home they live shabbily, perhaps from cultural influences, thereby alienating their husbands. They explain that their few nice dresses and perfumes are for weddings and functions, not for home. Clearly, this is just the opposite of what Islam instructs Muslim women to do.

Back to the question, can people find love and intimacy without unlawful romance? The answer is, “Yes” –aplenty. Love within Islam is deep down, while outside of it is superficial. In the lawful relationship, long after physical beauty fades away, spousal love, if carefully nurtured, remains vibrant –and in old age transforms into mutual compassion and mercy.

To top it all off, loving, righteous spouses will be joined in an eternal companionship in the Hereafter. They will neither age nor tire of each other’s company.


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