Marriage is one of the pivotal institutions in Islam and therefore one of the most explicitly regulated. Young men are strongly enjoined to marry as early as possible, as a safeguard against irregular and therefore socially disruptive relationships, and also to enable themselves to reach maturity and stability in their lives. It is stated in hadith that, ‘When the servant marries he completes half of his religion, let him thereafter fear God in the remaining half.’ Another well-known hadith explains how one should choose his spouse-to-be stating that there are four reasons why a woman is desired in marriage: wealth, social status, beauty and piety. The hadith then goes on to exhort men to give piety priority over all other reasons, since a pious wife is an effective helper on the road to the hereafter, whereas a worldly one is at best a distraction and at worst an actively nefarious influence. She may, for instance, put her husband under constant pressure to provide her with luxuries he can ill afford, thereby driving him to fall into dishonest acts such as embezzlement or bribery. It is in this sense that the Qur’an warns: O believers, Verily some of your wives and your children are your enemies, therefore beware of them! (64:14)
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