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Ramadan & Marital Obligations: Navigating Fasting, Prayer, and Intimacy

Islam teaches us to be a source of comfort and support for our spouses, and the Quran describes married couples as "garments" for each other.
by TNN Editor - 10 Apr, 2023 1677

Humaira Aleem

Allah has created human couples to find peace and ordered marriage to ensure the survival of the human race and to prevent sin. Unfortunately, in modern times, these objectives are not always being fulfilled. Many people, including married individuals, engage in extramarital affairs and do not consider it a sin. Additionally, due to government family planning policies and inflation, having fewer children or smaller families is now seen as acceptable.

What are the reasons for having an affair with someone who is not an instant family member (na-mehram) while being married? Although each person's reasons may vary, most people engage in this sin because they are not satisfied with their spouse in any situation. The hadiths illustrate that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered both men and women to adorn themselves for their spouses. He set an example of living together as friends, laughing, playing, and assisting with household chores, but in our current society, this seems more possible with someone other than our spouse.

Men often desire their models-cum-maids wives to have a unique and beautiful sun-kissed smile both at home and in public, but they themselves do not take care of their appearance. Whether it is the husband or wife, they tend to look unkempt and unclean at home, but dress well and smile when they go out. This is the reason why when both partners are in a better mood at home, children ask if they are going somewhere or if there is a function at home. When married couples do not have time to groom themselves and communicate with each other, they may start seeking mental and physical satisfaction outside the home. Although Allah Ta'ala has ordered fasting, veiling, and lowering the gaze to control the self, we tend to neglect these rules of Shariat and focus only on our own gratification.

Also Read: Periods: “Ain’t you observing fast?”

To avoid such sins, Allah Almighty has encouraged married couples to fulfill each other's rights. According to verse 185 of Surah Al-Baqarah, when fasting became obligatory in the early days of Islam, couples were prohibited from intimacy during the month of Ramadan. However, one night, Umar approached his wife after Isha. When he narrated this incident to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the morning, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "O Umar, we did not expect this from you." After this incident, verse 187 of Al-Baqara was revealed, which allowed companionship during the nights of Ramadan. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) called coitus or cohabitation an act of worship, as it helps to save both partners from sin.

Mufti Mink shares a story about an incident where the imam of a mosque was late for the Fajr prayer. As a result, the congregants asked someone else to lead the prayer in his place. Later, when the imam arrived, people asked him why he was late. The imam replied that he was performing a different form of worship, which caused the delay.

In this regard, so much leniency was granted that if a person was unable to perform "Ghusl e Janabat" (bathing after sexual intercourse) before Fajr for any reason, they were allowed to take a bath after eating Suhoor and start fasting without breaking their fast.

The purpose of these orders is to promote a peaceful and harmonious married life, to protect them (husband & wife) from sins, and to encourage spouses to fulfill each other's rights.

These teachings stand in stark contrast to the messages being propagated by modern-day feminists and liberals, who attempt to persuade women that they should demand their rights while neglecting their duties. Such individuals argue that a woman's subordination to her husband lowers her status, that any intimacy between spouses without the wife's consent constitutes marital rape, and that women should be economically independent.

However, these notions go against the teachings of Islam, which emphasize the importance of fulfilling each other's rights and responsibilities in marriage, rather than focusing on individual demands and desires.

It is important to remember that Allah has created men with a certain level of excellence and strength, which makes them inherently different from women. Denying this truth would be denying Allah's wisdom and order. Men are traditionally the providers and protectors in our families, so it is not necessary for women to take on additional responsibilities such as working outside of the home.

During the marriage ceremony, the couple exchange vows and give each other authority over their bodies as a part of the dowry agreement, witnessed by others. Both parties then have the right to use this authority as they please it. The concept of marital rape is non-existent in this context, as both partners have agreed to fulfill each other's needs and desires. When a man fulfills his wife's needs and expenses, he is entitled to enjoy conjugal rights, and similarly, it is the husband's duty to fulfill his wife's needs. However, if either party is unwilling, they have the right to seek separation or divorce.

However, as human beings, we should also show compassion and understanding towards our spouses. If one or both partners are unable to fulfill their conjugal duties due to fatigue, illness, or work pressure, they should not make it a cause for a fight or immediate separation. Instead, they should try to understand and support each other during difficult times. It is important to remember that marriage is a partnership built on love, respect, and understanding, and both partners should strive to maintain these values in all aspects of their relationship.

If one partner becomes disabled due to an accident, or the other is diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer or stroke, should the couple immediately separate? In fact, this is a time when spouses should support each other more than ever. Again, marriage is about being there for each other in sickness and in health and fulfilling each other's needs and responsibilities.

Islam teaches us to be a source of comfort and support for our spouses, and the Quran describes married couples as "garments" for each other. This metaphor emphasizes the importance of protection, beauty, and preservation of the relationship. Just like clothes can become dirty and need washing, marriages can experience difficulties and hardships, but they should not be discarded. Instead, spouses should work together to overcome challenges and strengthen their bond.