Marriage a Unique Institution: A Qur`anic Study

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By: Rahim Nobahar•

The main argument of this article is that, according to Qur`anic teachings, the institution of marriage cannot be superseded by any other form of sexual relationship. The holy Qur`an in many verses, encourages marriage, and explains its positive functions in human life and society. Many other verses also reject the possibility of any other alternative to marriage.
Marriage has several functions; among them is satisfaction of the sexual instinct and desire. We may imagine other ways of meeting this need, such as sexual relationship between men, between women, between a man and a woman out of wedlock or sexual self-satisfying. All of these, however, are seemingly rejected by holy Qur`an.
Homosexuality relationships among men has been described by the Qur`an as impure, sinful, unnatural and an oppressive behavior according to which the actors are ignorant individuals who deny the teachings of prophets and messengers of God. Moreover, the Qur`an regards this behavior as disruption to human natural reproduction.
Regarding the second way, some interpreters of the Qur`an believe that two verses in Qur`an reject the sexual relationship between women. They refer to certain ahadith to support their claim.
Considering sexual relationship out of wedlock as fornication, the Qur`an clearly prohibits such behavior.
Also the Qur`an implicitly prohibits any kind of sexual self-satisfying.
The Holy Qura`n challenges these phenomena through moral censure. Indeed, the basis for the prohibition of the above actions, according to Qur`an, is their inherent moral wrongness rather than factors such as social deficiencies and hardships or public health. So, even if we can control such consequences with the help of knowledge and technology, the inherent evil of these acts remains.
Another function of the marriage is, of course, reproduction. Fornication as an alternative in this regard has explicitly been rejected in many Qur`anic verses.
Another alternative to marriage might be “Assisted Reproduction Technology” (ART) which the holy Qur`an does not reject in cases where it does not involve any forbidden matter. So it seems that the Qur`an does not prohibit this procedure. Almighty God, however, in many verses mentions the natural procreation process and even praises himself for creating this process. Whether it is wise to manipulate such a process or not, is a question that needs further study and deliberation. I believe that before permitting such changes in the natural process of procreation -when it is a general change and not limited to necessary cases- we should be sure of all certain and even probable harms threatening the family as the nucleus of human society.
The other function of the marriage is to provide tranquility to married couples in their lives. Such a spiritual situation cannot be obtained by any other form of sexual relationship. Marriage therefore is not only to provide a material and physical need, but also a spiritual unification that has a great impact on both the worldly life and the life hereafter of the couples.

•Shahid Beheshti University, Faculty Of Law ; and Biotechnological Law and Medical Ethics Group in The UNESCO Chair For Human Rights, Peace and Democracy, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran. This abstract is presented in the International Conference on marriage and its alternatives, jointly held by Al-Mahdi Institute and Department of Theology of Birmingham University, Birmingham, UK.

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