Love and Shariah, Friends or Foes?

Question and answer details
Love is an ultimate goal of life and sharing love and finding it with the person who is really suitable is real ultimate happiness. Love is a value that is reflected on ones daily manners, for you become more able to spread love around you and more tender and passionate even with others than the one you love. Yet, the Shariah of Islam does respect this and is very ruthless in how it punishes lovers if they share physical love. How can this punishment be regarded as ethical? When a person shares physical love he/she becomes much more relaxed, which is definitely reflected on your attitude towards everybody. You become more tolerant and capable of implementing virtues because you are happy, relaxed and satisfied. Yet, sometimes you are still young or any other reason stops you from being able to tolerate the burden and restrictions of the responsibility of a family. Why can't we be left to enjoy the beauty of peaceful love, with no burdens of a complicated family? How can you regard this prohibition and the ugly physical torture that takes place as a punishment to physical love as being ethical and part of the "ethical goals of Shariah"?
Jasser Auda

Salam Edwin,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

This is one area that the practices of Muslims were simply unfair to the Shariah.

Yes. Love is one of the most beautiful things that God created on this earth, and it is totally human to love someone and, therefore, to want to have a physical relationship with that person to express this love. Islam is NOT against that. Islam just REGULATES that!

What did Islam forbid? Islam did not forbid love! Islam forbade physical intimacy between unmarried couples. Why? Because Islam is balancing this value of love with another value, which is the cohesiveness and bond of the family, which is the unit of a good society, from the Islamic perspective. So, if a married man or woman commits adultery, Islam considers this act to be a "crime," because, even though it could be an expression of love, it is against the very core of the ideal family that Islam envisions.

On the other hand, if the lovers are unmarried, Islam does not forbid them to love each other, but it forbids them from expressing this love in a physical way outside marriage. Again, this ruling is trying to balance the value of love with the values of family and society. What if this physical relationship (I mean between unmarried couples) result in children, Islam asks? Is this fair to these children?

I would like to also mention that if the couple chooses not to have children for some time because of what you called "burdens of a complicated family," Islam is not against that. But at least, if it ever happens while the couple is married is much better than having these father-unknown children who suffer a great deal of injustice.

So, love is a great goal as you mentioned, but Islam is balancing this goal with other social and family goals.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Useful Links:

Where's the Love in the Quran?

Love That Lasts 

The Difference Between a Noble Sentiment and "Fake Love"

Love and Affection… in Ramadan?