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.
Amazing! This shows the richness of the Arabic language and the beautifully described relationship that two partners should endeavour to uphold in a marriage. May Allah allow us to be garments for our spouses!