We've all either recited or at least heard the famous verse in Surah al-Baqarah:
"They (women) are garments for you (men) and you are garments for them." [2:187]
What is peculiar about this verse is why Allah chose the word 'libas' (garment) to describe the relationship between the man & woman in the marriage. I used to wonder the same until I read the commentary on this verse.
The word 'libas' in Arabic refers to something which you cover yourself with. This is clear in Surah al-A'raf when Allah says:
"We have bestowed upon you libas (clothing) so that you may conceal yourselves, and as an adornment" [7:26]
He also says in a different context:
"It is He who made the night as a libas (cover)" [25:47] because the night fully envelopes and covers the sky with its darkness.
So to fully understand the verse in Surah al-Baqarah, one must understand the function of a garment or covering. A garment is worn to cover your faults and blemishes. A garment is worn to guard your modesty. A garment keeps you warm and is supposed to be comfortable to wear. A garment is always attached to you. And without the garment you would feel bare and incomplete.
Now when you look at the role of the husband & wife in the establishment of marriage, we can apply a similar understanding. A spouse covers your faults and keeps you warm. A spouse makes you comfortable and is a means of guarding your modesty. A spouse is always attached to you, and without your spouse you would feel incomplete.
To go even further, garments sometimes don't always fit perfectly. It requires some work and adjusting to get it there. Likewise, your partner isn't always going to be the 'perfect fit' from the very beginning, but with some adjusting over time, you can both achieve that 'tailored fit' whereby you find comfort in one another.
This not only shows the richness of the Arabic language, but also the beautifully described relationship that two partners should endeavour to uphold in a marriage.
May Allah allow us to be garments for our spouses!
Author: Shabbir Hassan
Shabbir Hassan is an Imam, speaker & poet. He is the founder of @TheNikahCo, the UK's leading bespoke Nikah service provider, and spiritual facilitator for @FaithSpaceUK. He is also the host for the IlmFeed Podcast. You can follow him on social media @shabbirhsn.