During the Early Middle Ages, as Islam spread throughout the world, a rivarly developed between the Muslim and Christian worlds. One that played out on the battlefields as well as in society. St. John Chrysotom wrote about the relationship between Christian spouses in his work, Homily on Christian Spouses. Muslim historians Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali and Ihya’ Ulum also wrote on the subject of marriage, but from the Islamic perspective, basing their teachings on the Qur’an. By the date specified in the course calendar, read the following passages, and then, based on the readings below, as well as readings in the textbook, The Human Record, and course content, apply what you have learned about Christianity and Islam to answer the following questions. Be sure to respond to at least two of your classmates posts. Most important, refer to the passages you see below in a manner that supports your points about the two religions’ ideas about marriage and relationships. (The point of the exercise is not to argue which religion is better!) How does the marriage bond differ between Christianity and Islam? Are wives perceived the same way in both religions? If marriage is a mirror of religion, what does it reveal Christianity and Islam to be? St. John Chrysotom: “There is no relationship between human beings so close as that of husband and wife, if they are united as they ought to be….The power of this love is truly stronger than any passion; other desires may be strong, but this one alone never fades. Unnoticed by us, it attracts the bodies of men and women to each other, because in the beginning woman came forth from man, and from man and woman other men and women proceed. He permitted Adam to marry Eve, who was more than sister or daughter; she was his own flesh!. He did not, on the one hand, fashion woman independently from man, otherwise man would think of her as essentially different from himself. Nor did He enable woman to bear children without man; if this were the case she would be self-sufficient. Instead, just as the branches of a tree proceed from a single trunk, He made the one man Adam to be the origin of all mankind, both male and female, and made it impossible for men and women to be self-sufficient. The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together…why else would he say, Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord? Because when harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order…benefits, both for families and states, are thus produced. You have seen the amount of obedience necessary; now hear about the amount of love necessary. Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse. One’s partner for life, the mother of one’s children, the source of one’s every joy, should never be fettered with fear and threats, but with love and patience. What kind of marriage can there be when the wife is afraid of her husband? What sort of satisfaction could a husband himself have, if he lives with his wife as if she were a slave, and not with a woman by her own free will? Suffer anything for her sake, but never disgrace her, for Christ never did this with the Church. A wife should never nag her husband: “You lazy coward, you have no ambition! Look at our relatives and neighbors; they have plenty of money. Their wives have far more than I do.” Let no wife say any such thing; she is her husband’s body, and it is not for her to dictate to her head, but to submit and obey. “But why should she endure poverty?” some will ask. If she is poor, let her console herself by thinking of those who are much poorer still. If she really loved her husband, she would never speak to him like that, but would value having him close to her more than all the gold in the world Treating women well and bearing their ill treatment is required for marriage…God said, “keep them good company”.…One should know that treating one’s wife well does not only mean not harming her; it also means to endure ill treatment and be patient when she gets angry and loses her temper, a method the Messenger [Muhammad] used to forgive his wives who argued with him… A’ishah, [wife of the prophet] once got angry and said to the prophet, “You who claims to be the Prophet of God!” The Messenger of God smiled and tolerated her in the spirit of forgiveness and generosity…It is believed that the first love story in Islam was that of the Prophet Muhammad and A’ishah… Anas Ibn Malik [a ninth century chronicler] reported that the Prophet was the most compassionate person in matters concerning women and children. “Respond to harshness by teasing, joking, and kidding them, for it is certain this softens women’s hearts. The Prophet said, ‘The people with the most perfect faith are those with the best ethics and those who are the kindest toward their families.’ Umar [a friend of the Prophet] once said: ‘One should always be like a child with his family, but when they need him they should find [in him] a man.”
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