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Perils of Keeping up With the Joneses

Perils of Keeping up With the Joneses

Perils of Keeping up With the Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses is a bad behavior observed in some people. By considering the much higher financial status of either their neighbors or friends, they try desperately to attain a similar status. The unmarried girl who looks at the financial status of other girls in the family or among friends, wishes that her future husband, and her wedding ceremony be exactly similar to theirs. Thus she insists on rejecting the marriage proposals of those who are not that well-off. She puts off the marriage so long that she feels obliged either to marry an old man or a widower. She might even prefer to adopt a celibate lifestyle. Even if she gets married when she is no longer an enthusiastic young woman, she is neither a patient wife nor a good mother to raise her children. Therefore keeping up with the Joneses is an obstacle to marriage, and an evil form of conduct.

In the verse 88 of Hijr and the verse 131 of Taha, the Holy Quran has prohibited gazing at the wealth of the rich and their life. Traditions from the holy Imams clearly state that those who are continually after the wealth of others, and hope to obtain it, are filled with envy and sorrow. One should have pure intentions for marriage, and should do it for God's sake. His/her goal should be to implement the Prophet's tradition, to have righteous children and to live under the shade of God's Mercy and Favor. Once marriage is based on these factors, it will be firmly established. God's blessings will then be manifested in such a marriage and spiritual gains will result.

Once the provisions for marriage are made, the relatives should help it take place and not improperly interfere in this divine affair. They should not ingratiate themselves, attempt to disunite, make unjust judgments or impede the marriage.

Expensive Nuptial Gift

The nuptial gift is an important, delicate and noteworthy issue in Islam. It is extremely undesirable to expect expensive nuptial gifts. Any property or action of some value can be considered as a nuptial gift. For example, a store, a garden, some land or building, cash or even teaching can be considered as nuptial gift.

Besides the verses of the Holy Quran, there are many credible traditions from the Prophet (Pbuh) or the Immaculate Imams which prohibit expensive nuptial gifts since they prevent young men from marrying and this will leave many young girls unmarried.

The Prophet (Pbuh) said:

The noblest woman in my nation is one with the most beauty and the least nuptial gift. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.103, p.347]

The Commander of the Faithful (Pbuh) said:

Do not set up expensive nuptial gifts since this will cause enmity. [Ibid]

Verily when a young fellow goes to propose marriage and faces unbearably high nuptial gift requirements, he gets disappointed and fails to marry, then he will despise the girl and her family. Such disappointment may lead him to corruption, his life will be wasted and his youth and enthusiasm will be irreversibly harmed.

Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said:

A woman's blessing is spending little and easy delivery, and her misfortune is heavy expenses and hard delivery. [Marriage in Islam, p.95]

The Prophet (Pbuh) said:

Do not establish expensive nuptial gifts, since money and wealth do not bring affection. It is God who establishes love. [Mojazat Nabovieh, p.182]

The Prophet (Pbuh) told a woman named Haola:

O' Haola, I swear by the same God who appointed me to Prophethood, that no woman who forces an expensive nuptial gift on her husband shall be saved from fiery chains that God shall place round her neck. [Marraige in Islam, pp.96-97]

An expensive nuptial gift requirement will force the youth to escape marriage and become involved in sin and corruption. Those who require it are partly responsible for such deviations and deserve God's punishment."

The Quran as a Nuptial Gift

Imam Baqir (Pbuh) said: "A woman came to the Prophet (Pbuh) and asked him to find her a husband. The Prophet (Pbuh) asked who is ready to accept her as his wife? A man got up and said; "I am ready." The Prophet (Pbuh) asked what would you give her as her nuptial gift? The man said: "I don't have anything." The Prophet said it is not possible to marry her without a nuptial gift, and repeated his proposal. However no one but the same man answered. The third time around he asked if the man knew any verses from the Quran. He replied in the positive. The Prophet (Pbuh) said he would marry him and this woman and the man must teach her whatever amount of the Quran that he knew."

Imam Reza (Pbuh) said:

Whenever a believer proposes to marry a girl from the family of his believing brethren and suggests to pay five hundred Durhams as the nuptial gift, and his offer is turned down for the reason that the amount is too low, then this is an oppression. It is then appropriate for God to deprive him of seeing the companions of Heaven with lustrous eyes.

It has been said that Um Saleem who was one of the noble women in the early days of Islam required the man who had come to propose marriage to her to become Muslim as her nuptial gift. She was the same woman who consoled her husband when their child died and did not let him become impatient. In reward for her patience, God granted her another child who became one of the friends of Imam Ali, the Master of the Monotheists.

A noble girl should note that if a well-matched suitor proposes marriage to her, and the family is too strict especially in regards to the nuptial gift, then she should politely and humbly discuss the issue: By telling them the known just truth, they should not be so strict. Low expectations are among the principles of morality of the Prophets and the Imams, and it is an outstanding attribute.

The Prophet (Pbuh) established a model for all our nation when he designated a small nuptial gift for his noble daughter, who is the Lady of all Women. How awful is it for families not to follow their dear Prophet's example in regards to their own affairs, especially in marriage.


The Divine and Islamic Conditions for Marriage

Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among your slaves, male or female. [Holy Quran: Nur 24:32]

Religion and Piety

The revered religion of Islam is in fact a system supplied with beliefs, morals and practical matters. Religious faith in Islam consists of joining up of the heart with God and belief in the Day of Judgment; the angels; the Prophets and the Glorious Quran. Morality in Islam consists of humbleness; humility; etiquette; patience; submissiveness; fortitude; tolerance; perseverance; kindness; compassion; good will; having mild disposition; chastity and sincerity; justice, helpfulness; and generosity. Action in Islam consists of prayer; fasting; the Hajj(the Holy pilgrimage to Mecca); paying alms and the one fifth levy; enjoining the good and forbidding the evil; Jihad[1]; taking God as a friend and dissociation from evil; being good to one's parents; and observing the rights of those whom one encounters.

Of course, the three above-mentioned matters are not all the matters of Islam, but rather examples of the perfect, comprehensive, universal religion of Islam which is responsible - in all of life's affairs - for the welfare of people in this world and in the Hereafter. Actually, religion is the sun and guiding light in life; the guide towards God; and the improver of man in this world and in the Hereafter. There is no worthier jewel in the treasury of God's Creation than religion: the religion propagated by all the Prophets, the Imams, the Saints. It is the religion in which whoever becomes adorned with, puts on a semblance of God, having opened up all the doors of prosperity to himself. Whoever keeps his distance from Islam will have opened all the doors of misfortune for himself.

Religion and piety hold the same worth before God. Beautifying one's self with God's religion results in the best person, the most outstanding creature and an incomparable or matchless living being in Creation.

Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of the creatures. [Holy Quran: Baiyina 98:7]

If one adorns himself with the attributes of a believer mentioned in the Glorious Quran and religious traditions, this will result in an acceptable believer expressed in the following terms: "being humble in prayer; protesting against false and futile talk; paying the alms tax; protecting the private parts of the body from forbidden acts; protecting whatever has been entrusted to you; keeping one's promise or oath and guarding one's prayers."

Those who humble themselves in their prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are active in deeds of charity; who abstain from sex except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, - for (in their case) they are free from blame, but those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors; - those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants; and who (strictly) guard their prayers; [Holy Quran: Muminun 23:2-9]

We may add the following : being humble on earth; encountering the ignorant with a healthy mind; spending the night in prostration and standing; praying for being saved from the Wrath; not being extravagant when helping the needy; avoiding envy; being moderate; avoiding association of other gods to be partners with God; murder and fornication; avoiding false, oppressive witnessing; forgiving vain talk through nobility; taking a good look at God's signs; praying for the wife and the children; and praying to lead the righteous.

Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord prostrate and standing; those who say, "Our Lord! avert from us the Wrath of Hell, for its Wrath is indeed an affliction grievous, - evil indeed is it as an abode, and as a place to rest in"; those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes); those who invoke not, with God, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred, except for just cause, nor commit fornication; - and any that does this (not only) meets punishment (but) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubles to him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy.- unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for God will change the evil of such persons into good, and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, and whoever repents and does good has truly turned to God with an (acceptable) conversion;- those who witness no falsehood, and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honorable (avoidance); those who, when they are admonished with the Signs of their Lord, droop not down at them as if they were deaf or blind; and those who pray, "Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous. [Holy Quran: Furqan 25:64-74]

The Commander of the Faithful (Imam Ali) stated: Among the characteristics of a believer we can state that he is not attached to financial affairs; his efforts are mainly geared to religiousness; his nobility is in contentment; and his efforts are for the Hereafter. His good deeds are increased; his ranks are elevated; and he is approaching deliverance and prosperity. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.1, p.333]

He also said: A believer is one who is continually remembering God; thinks a lot; is thankful for all the blessings; and perseveres in the face of hardships. [Ibid]

Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said: A believer is one whose total income is legitimately earned; is good-tempered; is not deceitful; donates some of his extra income; and avoids excessive talk. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.67, p.293]

We can see the following points in the traditions regarding the worth of the believers. Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) has been narrated as having said:

A believer's honor and respect is greater than that of the Ka'ba. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.1, p.330]

The fifth Imam (Pbuh) said:

A believer is well-known in the Heavens in the same manner that a man knows his wife and children. And verily a believer is closer to God than the Archangel. [Ibid]

The Prophet (Pbuh) said: God, Majestic is His Praise, says: I swear by My Honor and Majesty that I have not created any creature among My Creation that is dearer than a believer. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.71, p.158]

Being Matched

Now that we have introduced the necessity of religion and piety, it should be noted that one of the most important conditions for marriage is that the couple should be well-matched. What is meant by being well-matched is that the couple who wish to get married must have some outward and inward similarities. The most important similarity is in their piety. That is according to the holy divine culture, they must both be religious. As the Holy Quran states:

And women of purity are for men of purity. [Holy Quran: Nur 24:26]

God's book states:

 Marry women of your choice. [Holy Quran: Nisaa 4:3]

The first stage of this purity of men and women is their inward purity, that is, belief in God, the Hereafter, the Prophethood, the Quran, the angels and having divine morality. Therefore a believing Muslim man does not have the right to marry non-Muslim, unbelieving women. If such a forbidden marriage takes place, then their children are considered to be born in sin. In the same manner a Muslim believing woman does not have the right to marry an unbelieving man, and their marriage is considered illegitimate, as are their children. Believing men or women are not matched with unbelieving men or women. Should such a forbidden marriage take place, both sides are exposed to Eternal Torture.

The Glorious Quran has seriously advised against the marriage of a believing person with an unbeliever:

Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: a slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allure you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: a man slave who believes is better then an unbeliever, even though he allure you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the fire. But God beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of Bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His signs clear to mankind: that they may celebrate His praise. [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:221]

Therefore you must be careful not to let your believing daughters marry with a young fellow who is ignorant and does not have faith. Likewise, do not choose a girl who denies divine principles to marry your believing noble son. The first and foremost condition for the marriage of a couple is their faith. Thus two believing, chaste, and shining lights will join, the fruit of which will be good children. Do not think that being handsome, wealthy or of a high status for an unbelieving man, or likewise in a woman who is not adorned with the truth can bring prosperity, health, happiness and continuity of a mutual life. It is necessary for the families not to be too strict about finding the best match. When the two sides are nearly matched in terms of faith, morality and Islamic practices, and looks and posture, then they are considered to be a good match for each other by the Holy Shariat. Consider the following traditions regarding being matched:

Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said: A woman who is chaste and is financially easy to live with is your best match. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.372]

The Prophet (Pbuh) said: If a courter proposes to marry your daughter and you are sure about his religiousness and trustworthiness, then provide the means for such a marriage. Prohibiting marriage of a well-matched couple may lead to sedition and great corruption on the Earth. [Ibid]

In another tradition the Prophet (Pbuh) said: Marry your daughter off to one whose morality and religiousness satisfies you. Should you prevent such a marriage, you have caused a great corruption and sedition on the Earth. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.373]

Yes, in fact the cause of self satisfaction, homosexuality, fornication, nervous problems, and psychic ailments of many young men and women is being too strict in regards to marriage; creating obstacles; insisting on wrong customs and traditions followed by imposing hard conditions; and expecting beauty, position and wealth by the families. And in fact the end results of all this will directly affect the parents, the relatives and those families who are too strict in regards to marriage, both here and in the Hereafter.

The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Provide the means for the wedding of well-matched couples. And marry with people who are a good match for you, and prepare them to marry you to bring forth good children. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.375]

The essential ingredients of a well-matched couple are faith, morality, trustworthiness and righteousness. It is the moral duty of the parents and the family to prepare the grounds for the marriage of a well-matched couple. This can be speeded up by being more lenient, not imposing ungodly conditions and avoiding unethical traditions. In this way the parents and the family can earn the blessings, pleasure and kindness of God.

Imam Baqir (Pbuh) said:

The greatest tragedy is when a young believing man proposes marriage to your daughter and you respond in the negative because he does not have the same financial status as you do. [Marriage in Islam, p.32]

Prejudices related to the family, city or tribe should be considered detrimental in marriage as such prejudices are rejected in the divine religion. So do not consider being poor or rich; coming from this city or that one; belonging to this tribe or that one as the criteria for marriage. All men and women are the offspring of one couple (Adam and Eve) and no one has any especial privileges over others except that due to being more pious and virtuous.

Imam Sajjad's Views on Being Matched

Hazrat Baqir (Pbuh), the fifth Imam said: In one of the way-stations during Hajj, my noble father Imam Zayn al-Abideen (Pbuh) encountered a lady whose good temper attracted him. He inquired if she was married, and was told that she was not. Then my father proposed to marry her without investigating about her family, and this proposal led to marriage.

One of the Ansar who became informed of this issue could not stand this simple marriage. He thought that she may not belong to a noble family, and this may cause problems for the fourth Imam. He spent some time investigating about her and finally found out that she belonged to the Shayban tribe. He came to the fourth Imam and told him that thanks God she is from a well-known, noble family. The Imam told him that he thought the man was wiser than that. He told him "Do you not know that God the Almighty removed all inferiorities and compensated for all defects by Islam. He replaced inferiority with nobility. Now, no matter what the social status of a Muslim is, he/she is not inferior but is respectable. The inferiorities belong to the Age of Ignorance."[Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.374]

Therefore being of the same tribe, dwelling in the same town or having the same amount of wealth do not mean being well-matched. As decreed by Islam there exist no privileges for the Arabs over the Persians; the whites over the blacks; the Qurayshy over the non-Qurayshy. All that counts is piety. If a Muslim couple have faith, piety, morality, trustworthiness, chastity, purity and health, then they are well-matched. This is true even if one is an Arab and the other one is a Persian; one lives in a city and the other one is a villager; one is rich and the other is poor; one is white and the other is black; one belongs to a noble family and the other one does not.

Ali, the son of Isbat wrote a letter to Imam Javad (Pbuh) and stated that he had not been able to find people that match him in faith and morality to marry off his daughters to. The Imam responded by writing: "I realized what you wrote regarding your daughters. May God bless you with His Mercy and Kindness. You need not be so careful in regards to your daughters. The Prophet (Pbuh) has recommended us to accept a courter's proposal to marry our daughters should his morality and religiousness be acceptable. Else sedition and great corruption would occur on Earth." [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.373]

Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) told a man called Abraham: "No believer has ever gained any profit more dangerous than wealth. The danger of wealth is worse than that of two vicious wolves which attack a flock of sheep lacking a shepherd. What do these wolves do with the sheep?" He answered: "Nothing but a great loss." The Imam said: "That is right. The least danger of wealth is that a Muslim might come to propose to marry your daughter and you reject him for not being wealthy."

Those Whom You Should not Let Your Daughters Marry

It is stated in divine books that man is entrusted with children who are God's blessing and kindness. To safeguard this "trust" we must attend to their moral and religious education and choose a pure and good spouse for them to marry. The woman who gets married and goes to her husband's home will be influenced by her husband, his family and his home. In that environment she will be asked to do things by her husband. The house she goes to must be a divine home with a believing family. Her husband must be reasonably well-mannered and good-tempered, too. It is for this reason that the divine religion has strictly forbidden marrying your daughters to those who do not fulfill Islamic conditions. The Prophet (Pbuh) has been narrated as saying: Marriage is a form of obedience, that is once you marry your daughters off to someone, you in fact make her obedient to him. Therefore you must all be very careful as to whom you entrust your daughters to. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.103, p.371]

It is not permitted to marry off your daughters to one who does not adhere to religion, divine decrees and just beliefs. Such a person is considered to be corrupt according to the divine book. It is not permitted to marry off your daughters to one who is ill-tempered, haughty, jealous, greedy, and vulgar. It is neither permitted nor humane to marry off your daughters to an ignorant, stupid, unwise man who cannot run his life and causes a lot of problems for the woman. It is strictly forbidden to marry off your daughters to an alcoholic who is so base that he does not abstain from what God has forbidden. Now consider the very important traditions in this regard.

One who marries off his dear noble daughter to an irreligious man, will be cursed a thousand times a day. [Marriage in Islam, p.55]

Husayn, the son of Bishar wrote to Musa the son of Jaffar (Pbuh) "One of my relatives who is ill-tempered has requested to marry with my daughter". The Imam responded "Do not marry her to him if he is a wrong doer." [Bihar al-Anwar, v.103, p.235]

Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) strictly forbade marrying off one’s daughters to fools and the ignorant ones - who cannot be trusted in social and personal affairs and those who cannot be entrusted with property- based on verse 5 of the Chapter Nisaa of the Holy Quran. [Marriage in Islam, pp.54-55]

The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Should anyone, who is now informed by me - as the Messenger of God - that drinking alcoholic beverages is forbidden, drink and go to propose marriage to the daughter of a family, he deserves no response. [Ibid]

Hazrat Reza, the eighth Imam (Pbuh) said: Be wary of marrying your girls off to those who drink, as this is like giving a virgin for fornication. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.79, p.142]

Verily those who do not adhere to God's obligatory acts, will not avoid sexual deviations. Those who do not have good morality, and are ill-tempered; and those who do not have a right mind and intellect; and those who are so weak that they cannot stop drinking alcoholic beverages are not suited to be entrusted with a believing pious young woman who is entrusted to us by God. If so, not only will the young woman will be spoiled, but her children too will be influenced by the man’s ill effects. This fact has been stated by the sixth Imam (Pbuh) before man came to realize it through science. The effects of illegitimate acts show up in the offspring. [Vasa'il. v.17, Chapter 1, p.81, Tradition 22043]

[1] the holy war fought by Muslims against those who reject Islam

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All of these articles have saved me a lot of heaadhces.
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2011-09-13 01:52:25