Etiquette of Marriage

How To Understand this Verse of the Qur’an (30:21) about Marriage?

Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalamu Aleikum,

I see this verse referenced sometimes and wonder about its meaning:

Another of His signs is that He created spouses from among yourselves for you to live with in tranquillity: He ordained love and kindness between you. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect (30:21).

Can you give me some explanations regarding it?

Answer: Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

A Divine Sign

Imam al-Baghawi says that one of God’s signs is that He has placed love and mercy between the spouses; they love and show each other mercy, and nothing is more beloved to each than the other. This is the case despite there having been no relation between them previously, and no reason for them to be together. This is a sign of the power of God.

‘From Among Yourselves’

The exegesis of ‘from among yourselves’ that appears to be most current in Tafsir literature is that it means ‘like you’, i.e. in type, form and species. This is similar to other Qur’anic usage of ‘from yourselves’ to mean ‘like you’; for example, “a prophet from among yourselves” (3:164) means ‘like you’.

How is this a Blessing?

This similarity in kind is a blessing because if this weren’t the case, people would need to seek out friendship and comfort with other species. They would then be unable to live in tranquility, because they would not enjoy the same degree of familiarity, safety, happiness, love and mercy that spouses show each other, and their hearts would not incline to each other.

Is this Unique to Humans?

Ibn ‘Ashur points out that the foregoing might not appear to be too special, because it also holds true for numerous other species. However, he argues that what is distinct about humans in this regard is their ability to recognize and consider this blessing, and how it affects and could have affected their lives.

Choosing a Spouse who is Similar to You

Finally, while the literature largely considers the general meaning of the verse, it remains important for people to reflect on the general meaning and how it can be applied personally to their lives. On that note, one of the ways to ensure one lives in tranquility, as you’ve mentioned, is to choose a spouse who holds shared values, and is, generally speaking, similar in personality, intellect and religion.

Sources: Ma’alim al-Tanzil; al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwir; Adwa’ al-Bayan

Shuaib Ally

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Cover photo by Azlan DuPree.