Garments & Spouses
‘They are a clothing for you and you are a clothing for them.’ — Qur’an 2:187
The first I ever heard of this verse was an explanation that has stuck with me since. The speaker reminded us that clothes are the closest thing to our skin, there are no secrets between us and the clothes we wear. Similarly, our spouses are meant to be the most familiar people to us, our most intimate companions.
I was at a marriage workshop some weekends ago, and this verse was mentioned again. The speaker mentioned this verse and said that we should think about marriage the way we think about wearing clothes.
And off my mind went.
What are the reasons we wear clothes?
Modesty. Clothes conceal our privacy, just as our spouses should be the guardians of our private affairs. Like clothes protect our awra’ from being exposed to the world, marriage protects us from the temptations of zina, unlawful sexual relations.
Adornment. Clothes enhance our beauty. In a similar way, our spouses should be our better halves, bringing out the best in us and highlighting our finest qualities (while modestly concealing our flaws).
Part of an explanation I have heard for the famous ‘marriage is half of religion’ hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is that marriage is a dynamic in which our manners, character and mindfulness of Allah are truly put to the test. It is a binding physical, emotional, spiritual, financial and social contract, putting all our principles to the test. Hence, a successful marriage should highlight the excellence of our character in our dealings with our spouse.
God-consciousness. For believers, our specific dress code reflects the commandments of God and indicates our faith and adherence to His will. Similarly, navigating getting married and staying married should be a proof of principle.
And then I thought of fashion — a big reason we wear what we choose to wear is because of what is currently popular. I think of the pressure my peers face to have a spouse that can make for #couplegoals on Instagram, whether that is by a certain behaviour, or by appearance. Then I think of the fact that the believer’s fashion is timeless when it comes to hijab and modesty, and similarly, there are some types of people who are solid staples, throughout time. And plainly put, as trends come and go, not all fashion, and not all types of people (potential spouses) are pleasing to Allah.*
*Here is a video snippet on the matter that consolidated my thought of societal conditioning and pressure from online influences when it comes to choosing a partner, taken from a longer discussion that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Further, we have many criteria when we buy clothes. We think of how well they suit us, what kinds of places we can wear them to, and whether they are worth their price.
The sensible of us pick clothes that fit and flatter, that are good value for money, and are versatile. Both quality clothes and spouses should be chosen to be kept forever, with the intention of lasting long, and even if they wear out over the years, are made of a material that can be patched up and re-enhanced.
We pick clothes that fit us as we are, but also clothes that have a bit of stretch and give — we don’t settle for clothes that we expect to one day fit us magically.* Likewise, we pick a spouse that suits us as we are, but is willing to grow with us over time.
*Then again, an exception to this rule could be buying clothes that motivate us to reach a healthy weight or buying clothes that we one day aspire to have the confidence to wear. But at this point, we diverge slightly from the metaphor, as there is a difference between motivating yourself with an item of clothing and motivating yourself with a person you have committed to a relationship with. Now, this is very situation-dependent, and factors like mutual support, healthy behaviours, and commitment matter here…
I know I am definitely stretching the metaphor here, but think even of when we’re undecided about buying a certain item of clothing, and we ask for the opinion of a sibling, parent or friend.
We may be insistent on purchasing the piece, but end up being told firmly that it doesn’t suit us, as others can see us in ways we can’t see ourselves. On the contrary, we may not be the biggest fan of a certain item of clothing, but with the encouragement and trusted judgment of those around us, we take it and end up growing to love the piece over the years.
And here I digress from the metaphor and would like to gently remind to trust Allah’s plan, and to be open-minded and willing to listen to people who have your best interests at heart.
These reflections of mine are by no means a tafsir or interpretation of the initially stated verse from the Qur’an, rather they are a response to the prompt of thinking about marriage as we think about clothes, based on what I have seen and learned from those around me. I know I may have rinsed the life out of the metaphor, but I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps got some food for thought from my wandering mind.
Allah, Exalted and High, gives the best examples, for the insightful to understand.
‘And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.’ — Qur’an 30:21