Islam gave a careful attention to cultivating the kind of balanced personality that’s able to have a healthy relationship with its surrounding nature, creatures, fellow humans (taking various forms and natures) and over and above with Allah.   Only an emotionally balanced personality is capable of enacting its full potential- that’s why it’s crucial to understand what makes a balanced personality, and by extension serves its needs; including the need to love and being loved. The kind of love bonding a man and a woman is at the heart of the natural human need for balance- and a critical cause of it- that’s why it’s wrapped in a quite sacred, social and religiously committing kind of relationship that is marriage. Love, romance, harmony and mutual respect is the foundation of marriage in Islam. “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.”- Quran (30:21) This noble verse sums up the Islamic notion of mutual love between a man and a woman in marriage, the only legal form of man-woman love relationship legalized and recognized in Islam. The ultimate levels of Romance is encouraged and explicitly highlighted in the fine teachings of Islam- and as manifested here already in the elegant use of the word “dwell” to describe how intimate and close a man can be to his wife and a woman to her husband. I can’t help but stop a bit on the fine choice of the word “dwell”- for Islam; marriage is a soul dwelling within another- what can Romance be better than that, a soul residing within another, taking home in another.. resting in another. Love and Romance and the status of Islam from the two has always been clouded with much claims and heresy all affiliating Islam and the Muslim character with harshness, obsolete pragmatism and lack if not absence of recognition for the need for love between a man and a women. And this is partially due to deliberate attempts to taint the image of Islam and Muslims as not paying a shred of care or recognition to the human natural need for affection and love- and partially due to pure misconception about the original teachings of Islam and the deal Muslim character. Islam went as far as viewing the good wife as one of the best comforts and blessings a man can have in worldly life… Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: “This world is a just temporarily conveniences, and the best comfort in this world is a righteous woman.”- Related by Imam Muslim. And in another instance in the Sunnah, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, listed the characteristics of a romantic life binding a man to his wife and a woman to her husband, read on… He, peace be upon him, once told Ibn Abbas: “Shall I tell you the most precious thing a man can have? It is a righteous wife: when he looks at her he is pleased, when he tells her to do something she obeys, and when he is away she is faithful and loyal to him.” Not just that, kindness towards the woman is also strictly emphasized in the Prophet’s teachings, for those who stereotype the Muslim woman as submissive, and the Muslim man as overbearing and harsh to listen and heed what Islam says about that… According to a report by Imam Muslim,  Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: “Woman was created from a rib. She will never be straightforward and consistent for you in any way. If you enjoy her (or your relationship with her), you will do so in spite of her crookedness. If you try to straighten her, you will break her, and her breaking is her divorce.” Can you sense the nobility and kindness stressed in this hadith?! Marriage is the womb carrying a healthy man-woman relationship, committing the two to one another, and safeguarding the feelings of each. Whereas outside marriage relationships downgrade both partners, not to mention the irrevocable emotional and social catastrophes they create. And that’s why Islam listed clear characteristics and sort of a law guarding a man-woman relationship to make it a fruitful marriage, where both partners get their share of love and tenderness that enables them maintain a balanced and wise personality capable of facing all life challenges, and over and above, exploring its true potential and making the best of it. Allah says in the Quran: “… Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity.”- Quran (4:19) Put your trust in Allah and His Divine law and you shall live happily without regrets. More on love and marriage in future episodes, so stay tuned… Wassalaam, Maha Youssuf