Many years ago, I read a short book by a scholar  called “Have Mercy on Our Youth”. The scholar was calling for society to make marriage easier for young people, citing how hard it had become to get married at a time when the doors to unlawful behaviour like fornication had become so open and multifold. Written many years ago, I sometimes wonder what he would write if he were alive today.
Marriage is such a massive part of our lives and weddings are big social occasions for families and friends.The Prophet ﷺ said:
“Marriage is part of my way (sunnah), and whoever does not follow my way (sunnah) has nothing to do with me.” (Ibn Majah)
Marriage at the time of the Prophet ﷺ was simple and made easy. The Prophet ﷺ called for dowry (mahr) to be light  and pushed young people to marry.
“O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, let him do so, and whoever cannot afford it, let him fast, for that will be a shield for him.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
“Can afford it” in this hadith doesn’t mean a person needs to have a lot of money to marry. All a husband is obligated to provide for his wife is three things:
Let’s be very clear here; these do not refer to having a large house, lavish dinners, holidays abroad or a brand new outfit for each occasion. For example, the books of fiqh (legal jurisprudence) mention an outfit for the winter and one for the summer suffices as a bare minimum.
Nor does a person need to throw a large wedding costing thousands of pounds, rather the Nikah ceremony itself only takes a matter of minutes and can be conducted anywhere with certain conditions. Technically even the ‘Walimah’ event itself is not an obligation, it’s a sunnah.
Whilst teaching a class on hadith studies on the topic of family law, we studied a famous hadith which has many legal rulings derived from it . In the hadith, the Prophet ﷺ conducted a young man’s marriage even though he owned next to nothing. I remember contrasting this with the expectations we unnecessarily put on today’s youth when they are already under so much pressure in the world we live in. Finances are important, and by no means should the hadith be used as an excuse to become lazy with regards to earning a living. However, we must reconsider the unrealistic expectations we are putting on our youth.
We can’t ignore the reality of today’s hyper-sexualised culture with constant exposure to sexual content compounded with easy ways to engage in haram relationships via the internet, social media and dating apps. Without a halal outlet to fulfil their desires, is it any surprise many are turning to haram relationships and fornication?
I have personally dealt with cases of young Muslim men and women who have confessed to fornicating, in some cases even for years. These young people know it is wrong and want to stop. When marriage is proposed as an option, many say they can’t due to their parents not allowing it until after their university studies or after a few years of being in the workplace. In the majority of these cases, the parents were completely unaware of what their children had been doing, and like one scholar said, think their daughters are like Maryam and their sons like Yusuf (a.s.) – i.e. they refuse to believe their children would ever engage in haram activities, irrespective of their environment.
The experiences of myself and others in the field tell me otherwise. I have even had young people discussing abortion with me, with some parents even encouraging it due to the shame it would bring upon them! How far we have gone from the Prophetic example.
What Do You Think?
Are we making marriage unnecessarily difficult for our youth? Do you have any thoughts or experiences to share? Leave a comment below.
1. Shaykh Ali Tantawi
2. “The best of mahrs is the simplest (or most affordable).” (Al-Haakim)
3. “A woman presented herself to the Prophet (for marriage). A man said to him, “O Allah’s Messenger (If you are not in need of her) marry her to me.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “What have you got?” The man said, “I have nothing.” The Prophet ﷺ said (to him), “Go and search for something) even if it were an iron ring.” The man went and returned saying, “No, I have not found anything, not even an iron ring; but this is my (Izar) waist sheet, and half of it is for her.” He had no rida’ (upper garment). The Prophet ﷺ said, “What will she do with your waist sheet? If you wear it, she will have nothing over her; and if she wears it, you will have nothing over you.” So the man sat down and when he had sat a long time, he got up (to leave). When the Prophet ﷺ saw him (leaving), he called him back, or the man was called (for him), and he said to the man, “How much of the Quran do you know (by heart)?” The man replied I know such and such surah and such and such surah (by heart),” naming the surahs The Prophet ﷺ said, “I have married her to you for what you know of the Quran.” (Bukhari)
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