- “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that believer who has At-Taqua (Piety).”
- “Allah, it is He Who has made for you the earth as a dwelling place and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape (form) and made your shapes good looking…”
- “He created the heavens and the earth, and He shaped you and made good your shapes, And to Him is the final return.” (Q. 49:13; 49:64; 64:3)
Nikah or Zawaj ?
The verse does not say “We have created you from a part-male and a part- female” nor is it written that Adam was created androgynous as claim the Gnostic magi. There is absolutely no ambiguity or duality in authentic gender identity as pristinely ordained and created by Al’Mussawwir, the Bestower of Form. As the verses imply, the first marriage was conceived in Divine love and the contextual implication is that ‘At-Taqua’ (piety) attended the marriage and was later imparted to subsequent generations as a product of the romance Allah established between the perfectly male Adam and perfectly female Eve ― both of whom were also perfectly “good looking shapes.”
The purpose of this divinely guided conjugation of human reciprocals appears to be the expression of human submission-to, as well as trust and faith in our Creator and that the lot of us exists for reasons other than suffering, death and annihilation. This is chiefly accomplished by means of the flesh through the senses of “touch” and “pleasure” – physical and metaphysical – that naturally incline us towards the attainment of At-Taqua when not perverted.
Without touch – as I will demonstrate – we cannot bequeath As-Sakkinah (peace and security) to our descendants because in its absence there are no descendants. This is because sexual stimulation and response can be achieved without sight, sound, smell, taste and even pleasure — but not without touch.
- And those who pray, “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort [pleasure] of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.” (Q. 25:74)
If this is how we started, then what has happened to the estate of marriage that it is such a cause of despair for so many these days? Muslims have failed to keep pace with science and hence have also failed to intelligently acknowledge, define, utilize and justly defend the gender specific differences Allah created and established between men and women. Instead of unity there is a diversity of division, despite the marital facades that promenade as pedestrian masjids. Marriage has become a kind of ‘trench warfare’ with spouses dug-in on either side of the gender-line with pre-nuptial nukes and fantasy snipers locked and loaded. In-between is a war-scarred no-man’s land of ignorance of the “other” where insults are traded and frequent devastating sorties are entertained. It is also a place where ‒ when no one is looking ‒ passionate ‘touch’ takes its natural course only to be denied its dais of pristine glory as the continuum of a pious afterglow called as-Sakkinah. This is not the example of the Prophet who said:
- “Nikah is my sunnah. He who shuns my sunnah is not of me.” (Muslim)
Now, we’d like to think this Hadith refers to marriage in its generic transcendent sense. However, the use of the word Nikah has completely different connotations and I can’t vouchsafe that the Prophet actually used this word; Can You? Though many of the Shafii School use it to mean marriage, the word Nikah doesn’t exactly mean “Marriage” in its gestalt romantic sense. From the Dictionary of the Quranic phrases and its meaning, Sheik Mousa Ben Mohammed Al Kaleeby, Cairo, Maktabat Al Adab, 2002, writes:
- The definition of “Nikah” is the penetration of one thing by another. Examples would be as in saying the seed in the soil. It also can mean the entwining of two objects one with the other. An example would be saying the trees (embrace) each other, meaning they entwined with one another.
Imam Ahmed Ben Ali Ben Hagar Al Askalani, Beirut, Dar Al Balagha, 1986 writes in Kitab Al Nikah:
- Linguistically, Nikah means embracing or penetrating. When it is pronounced Nokh it refers to a woman’s vagina. It is mainly used in the context of “sexual intercourse.” When it was used in reference to marriage it is because sex is a necessity in marriage. Al Fassi said, “If someone says a certain man (N) a certain woman, it means he married her, and if he says a man (N) his wife, it means he has sexual intercourse with her.” The word can also be used metaphorically as with expressions: the rain (N) the ground, or, the sleep (N) the eyes, or, the seed (N) the soil, or, the pebble (N) the camel’s hoof. When it was used in the context of marriage it is because sexual intercourse is the purpose of marriage. It is necessary in marriage to “taste the honey” (an Islamic expression meaning literal intercourse). This is the how the word has generally been used in the Quran except in the verse that says, “Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of (N)” – Sura 4: 6. In that instance it pertains to the age of puberty. The Shafia and Hanafi schools of jurisprudence assert that the word nikah when used as a fact conveys that sexual intercourse has occurred. And when used as a figure of speech it denotes marriage. The reason for this variance is because it is offensive to mention the word “intercourse,” so a metonymic word is used to substitute it.
- The legal act of marriage is nikah which is also called “aqd” meaning binding in a knot. The act of divorce is talaq which means being freed from the knot. In the sense of being free we use it in Urdu word mutlaq taken to mean totally. The Arab word for woman is nisaa. But the Arabic word for marriage is nikah which comes from the root “nkh” meaning mixing something well. – Daily Times, Khaled Ahmed Jan 2003
Prof. Hasan Nagar, PhD. Arabic Literature and Prof. of Arabic at ISTAC, IIUM in KL says that Sudanese Muslims do not use the term because of its vulgar connotation, and that Arabs don’t either because its use commonly refers to fornication or zina (Jan. 2010).
The word normally translated as marriage, and correctly so in Arabic is Zawaj, which literally means “joining.” This word is found in the following verses of Al’Qur’an:33:37,4:3;24:3;33:53; 2:221,230,232,235&237; 4:6,22,25 & 127; 24:3, 27, 32, 33, 60 & 127; Sura 33: 49 & 50.
Using the phallic “N” word, Nikah, is therefore similar to using the “F” word [which originally meant war in English]. I think it is safe to say that its use reinforces the concept that a wife’s primary role is that of a sex object created by Allah SWT for the sole purpose of satisfying the husband’s sexual appetites. In other words, its literal use is akin to saying: “I am getting F—ed or sexually conjugated tomorrow” instead of “I am getting joined to a woman in holy matrimony tomorrow.” Marriage, the word in English by the way, literally means to “join together” or “combine harmoniously” according to the Oxford Dons.
The word Nikah ‘literally’ refers to the physical play of male and female genitals in addition to little more than in vivo fertilization attempts. Of course you can stretch it romantically by means of the intertwining connotations stated above, but the irrepressible vulgar connotations still govern the essence of its use. It is hardly tawhidic in scope and represents a reductionist approach to the science of matrimony. Therefore, it appears to me – as devil’s advocate and an outsider of course – that religious do-gooders amongst variegated misogynist cultures duly ritualized the word as a legal contract covering the sale of their daughter’s sexual service as long as the purchaser houses, feeds, clothes and desires to keep using her. Certainly I’m overstating the case of its usage, even with the adjective misogynist, but the implications are there and the question remains: Is this all there is to Nikah? The essential answer is, unfortunately, “yes” in the minds of far too many Muslim men; that is, if you judge by attitudes, behavior and the endless trails of broken homes, abused women, children and abandoned charges. But this only partially explains the degradation of Muslim marital relations and society.
The power of a word [including it’s very sounding out] to affect physical reality is well known among Hermeticists who use their terms accurately and according to clear definitions in order to obtain the desired magickal result, which is most always a manipulation of reality that avoids the natural norm. Well, it seems the cunning fools who decided on Nikah Contracts instead of Zawaj Covenants have achieved the goal of Islam’s deviant reformation and gender war of division, and have thus created the two largest extant sects among Muslims: male-ites and female-ites. Muslims seem to be freely signing the contracts repeatedly and even take great pride in tearing them up in the hunt for serial Nikah trophies. Time for change I think.