Sheikh Nâsir b. Muhammad al-Mâjid
""
Printer-friendly versionSend to friendPDF version
Allah says: “And let those who do not find the means to marry keep chaste until Allah enriches them out of His grace.” [Sûrah al-Nûr : 33]

This verse of the Qur'ân comes in the context of a broader discussion about abstinence from extramarital sex and about the importance of avoiding all things that can make a person fall into the sin of fornication. Likewise, a way is recommended for us to protect ourselves from this sin – we are exhorted to get married and to make a sincere effort to do so.

Allah says, in the preceding verse: “And marry those among you who are single and the pious of your slaves and maid-servants. If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His grace. Allah is of ample means, Aware.” [ Sûrah al-Nûr : 32]

Here, Allah is addressing Muslim society as a whole, telling it to make every effort to get its menfolk and womenfolk married, to facilitate marriage and remove impediments to it. Allah also prohibits society from construing poverty as a justification to prevent marriage. Indeed, Allah promises that He will enrich them out of His bounty, and Allah's promise is true.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are three who are entitled to Allah's assistance: the one fighting in Allah's cause, the slave seeking to earn his liberty, and a person getting married to preserve his chastity.” [ Sunan al-Tirmidhî (1655) with a sound line of transmission]

Though Allah has commanded marriage and has promised that those who get married will be provided for, there will still be men and women who at a given time will find it difficult to get married. Therefore, Allah directs them to keep chaste until He prepares for them an opportunity to get married.

Keeping chaste means for a person to do what is in his power to avoid falling into sexual iniquity. It requires a person to keep away from situations where he could easily succumb to temptation and to deliberately shun possible opportunities for sin.

As for “those who do not find the means to marry”, they are all the people who desire to get married but who cannot find the means to do so. Ibn `Atiyyah writes in his famous commentary of the Qur'ân entitled al-Muharrar al-Wajîz :
In this verse, Allah addresses all those who find difficulty in getting marriage and cannot find a way to do so, regardless of the reason for the difficulty, and commands them to keep themselves chaste.
In this context, then, the “grace” that Allah is promising is broad in its meaning, encompassing everything that can facilitate marriage and make it a reality. Men and women are addressed equally by this promise.

This is Allah's advice to all those among us who are single, and those who are young especially should take heed. We should understand that the order to “keep chaste” requires two things from us, both of which are alluded to in these verses of the Qur'ân. The first of these is to keep away from bad influences and from places that promote and encourage vice. A person needs to be on his guard against the opportunities for sin that come his way. Everything that inflames the passions must be avoided at all costs.

The second thing that a person must do to keep chaste is to work hard to get married and protect his chastity through marriage. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O assembly of young people! Whoever among you has the wherewithal to get married should do so, for it will help him to lower his gaze and protect his chastity. And whoever cannot marry should fast, for fasting diminishes sexual desire.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1905) and Sahîh Muslim (1400)]

Marriage should be sought by all means that are respectable and lawful, and that do not expose a person to indignity or suspicion. A young woman, therefore, should pursue marriage through the mediation of her family, through the help of her close relatives, both male and female, whose piety and good opinion she trusts.

Finally, we should be reminded of Allah's promise to all those who fear Him. Allah says: “Whoever fears Allah, He will prepare for him a way out and provide for him from whence he least expects it. And whoever places his trust in Allah, Allah is sufficient for him.” [ Sûrah al-Talâq : 2-3]

Allah says: “And whoever fears Allah, He grants him ease in his affairs.” [ Sûrah al-Talâq : 4]