Unlike some other religions that consider celibacy a great virtue and a means of salvation, Islam considers marriage to be one of the most virtuous and approved of institutions. There is no monasticism in Islam. Further, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urged all those who can afford to provide for a wife to marry, as marriage is the legal means by which to avoid lewdness and immorality. Since family is the basic unit of society, Islam lays great emphasis on the family system and its values. The basis of family is marriage. Islam prescribes rules to regulate family life so that both the spouses can live in tranquility, security and love. Marriage in Islam has aspects of `ibadah (worship) of Allah (God) in the sense that it is in accordance with His commandments that a husband and wife should love and help each other and rear their children to become true servants of Allah (God). Marriage in Islam is a social contract that requires the consent of both parties. Neither the bride nor groom can be forced into a marriage. The man must give the bride a dower or gift called “mahr”. This is usually money, but it can be any gift according to his means. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) even allowed one of his poor Companions to marry a woman with his mahr being a promise to teach her some verses of the Qur’an. The dower goes to the bride, not her family, and she has the total right to decide what to do with it. Thus it is not, as some critics have said, a “bride price”. The man also has the total responsibility to pay the household expenses. Even if a woman is wealthy, she does not have to spend any of her money on the maintenance of herself or the couple’s children. In fact, many Muslim women do work outside the home. They can contribute to the household budget if they choose, and they receive the Heavenly reward for giving charity, but they are not required to do so. Every group needs a leader, and Islam gives that responsibility to the husband because he is the breadwinner. He should consult his wife on family matters, but the final decisions are his. The wife should lovingly obey her husband, even when she disagrees, to keep peace in the family and to win the pleasure of Allah (God). That does not mean that she is his slave and must wait on him hand and foot. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself helped his wives with housework. Furthermore, if a woman had a servant before marriage, she has the right to have a servant at her husband’s expense. A man and woman should enter into marriage with the intention of it being permanent, and Islam has many teachings on how husbands and wives should deal with each other lovingly. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the woman has the right to choose her husband; Islamic law does not permit her to be forced into any marriage. The wife also has the right to retain her family name and to keep and manage her own money from her work, inheritance, investments, gifts or other sources. It is her right to keep her money separate from her husband’s, and he has no right to it. While men and women should enter into marriages with the intention of it being permanent, Islam recognizes that people do sometimes make poor decisions or change. Thus, divorce and remarriage are allowed as a last resort after estranged couples have attempted to reconcile their differences with the help of family or other counselors.
Source : Islam Online