Marriage in Islam
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In Islam, marriage is a legal contract (Literary Arabic: عقد القران ʻaqd al-qirān, "matrimony contract"; Urdu: نکاح نامہ / ALA-LC: Nikāḥ-nāmah) between two people. The bride is to consent to the marriage of her own free will. A formal, binding contract is considered integral to a religiously valid Islamic marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride. There must be two Muslim witnesses of the marriage contract. Divorce is permitted and can be initiated by either party. The actual rules of marriage and divorce (often part of Personal Status Laws) can differ widely from country to country, based on codified law and the school of jurisprudence that is largely followed in that country.
In addition to the usual marriage until death or divorce, there is a different fixed-term marriage known as zawāj al-mutʻah ("temporary marriage") permitted only by the Twelver branch of Shia Islam for a pre-fixed period. There is also Nikah Misyar, a non-temporary marriage with the removal of some conditions permitted by some Sunni Muslims, which usually amount to the wife waiving her right to sustenance from her husband.
- 1 History
- 2 Conditions
- 3 Marriage contracts and forced/un-consented marriages
- 4 Divorce
- 5 Relationships which prohibit marriage
- 6 Polygamy
- 7 In television
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
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Islamic marriages require acceptance, in Arabic: قبول qubūl, of the groom, the bride and the custodian (wali) of the bride. The contract of an Islamic marriage is concluded between the guardian (wali) of the bride and bridegroom, not between bridegroom and bride. The wali of the bride is normally a male relative of the bride, preferable her father. Guardian (wali) of the bride can only be a free Muslim. The bride normally is present at the signing of the marriage contract, but this is not mandatory.
The Wali mujbir (Arabic: ولي مجبر) is a technical term of Islamic law which denotes the guardian of a bride. In traditional Islam, the literal definition of "wali", which is "force", is used. But just as English words has multiple meanings under different context, so does the word "wali". In this context, it is meant that he silence of the bride is considered consent. In most schools of Islamic law, only the father or the paternal grandfather of the bride can be wali mujbir.
If the conditions are met and a mahr and contract are agreed upon, an Islamic marriage ceremony, or wedding, can take place. Nowadays the marital contract often is also signed by the bride, whereas technically it only requires verbal agreement by both parties, wali and bridegroom. The consent of the bride is mandatory even though in some areas of the world the local culture dictates it as not to be so if her wali,her father or paternal grandfather (wali mujbir), agrees to the marriage. Hadith the Islamic marriage is then declared publicly, in Arabic: إعلان, aa'laan, by a responsible person after delivering a sermon to counsel and guide the couple. It is not required, though customary, that the person marrying the couple should be religiously qualified. Bridegroom can himself deliver the sermon in presence of representatives of both sides if he is religiously so educated as the story goes about Imam Muhammad bin Ali around 829 CE and recently in Kashmir in 2013 by Muhammad Aasif bin Ali after more than eleven centuries. It is typically followed by a celebratory reception in line with the couple's or local customs, which could either last a couple of hours or precede the wedding and conclude several days after the ceremony.
The Qur'an tells believers that even if they are poor they should marry to protect themselves from immorality[Quran 24:33]. The Quran asserts that marriage is a legitimate way to satisfy one's sexual desire,. Islam recognizes the value of sex and companionship and advocates marriage as the foundation for families and channeling the fulfillment of a base need. Marriage is highly valued and regarded as being half of one's faith, according to a saying of Muhammad. Whether marriage is obligatory or merely allowed has been explored by several scholars, and agreed that "If a person has the means to marry and has no fear of mistreating his wife or of committing the unlawful if he doesn't marry, then marriage in his case is mustahabb (preferred)."
- The marriage contract is concluded between the guardian (wali) of the bride and the bridegroom.
- A marriage should be conducted through a contract and a mandatory sum of wealth provided to the bride, which here refers to the mahr. Once a mahr has been ascertained with the realization that it is an obligation of a Muslim husband, the groom is required to pay it to the bride at the time of marriage unless he and his bride can mutually agree to delay the time of some of its payment. In 2003, Rubya Mehdi published an article in which the culture of mahr among Muslims was thoroughly reviewed. There is no concept of dowry as such in Islam, although mahr is often translated into English as dowry in the want of a more accurate word. A dowry as such is a payment to the groom from the bride's family, and is not an Islamic practice but borrowed from other religions into some Muslim cultures, notably in the Indian Subcontinent. Bride prices are also expressly prohibited.
- Another requisite of marriage is chastity. No fornicator has the right to marry a chaste partner except if the two purify themselves of this sin by sincere repentance.
- Marriage is permitted for a man with a chaste woman either Muslim or from the People of the Book (Arabic Ahl al Kitab, Jews, Sabians and Christians) but not to polytheists (or "idolaters": Yusufali translation or "idolatresses": Pickthal translation). For women, marriage to Jews, Sabians and Christians and to polytheists (Idolatry) (or "idolaters": Yusufali translation or "disbelievers": Pickthall translation) is prohibited. She is only allowed to marry a Muslim There is no express prohibition in the Qur'an or elsewhere about a Muslim woman marrying a kitabi (People of the Book). However, the vast majority of Muslim jurists argued that since express permission was given to men, by implication women must be prohibited from doing the same. The movement of Islamic jurists and imams that do not agree on this interpretation is growing.
- Spoken consent of the woman is only required if she is not a virgin and her wali is neither her father nor her paternal grandfather. But a virgin may not be married off without her permission and if she is too shy to express her opinion her silence will be considered as implicit agreement [Al Bukhari:6455]. The wali who can force a bride against her outspoken will into marriage is called wali mujbir, according to "The Encyclopaedia of Islam". If the woman was forced into a marriage, without the above mentioned conditions, according to the Hanafi school of Islamic law the decision can be revoked, when the bride comes of age. Binti Khudham says that when she became a widow, her father solemnized her marriage. She did not like the decision so she went to Muhammad, who gave her permission to revoke her marriage. Hence, forced marriages are against Islamic teachings.
Rights and obligations of spouses
According to Islam, both men and woman have rights over each other when they enter into a marriage contract with the husband serving as protector and supporter of the family most of the time, from his means [Quran 4:34]. This guardianship has two aspects for both partners:
- The husband is financially responsible for the welfare and maintenance of his wife and any children they produce, to include at a minimum, providing a home, food and clothing. In return, it is the duty of the wife to safeguard the husband's possessions and protect how wealth is spent. If the wife has wealth in her own capacity she is not obliged to spend it upon the husband or children, as she can own property and assets in her own right, so the husband has no right for her property and assets except by her will. A pre-marital agreement of the financial expectation from the husband is in the mahr, given by him to the wife for her exclusive use, which is included as part of his financial responsibility.
Several commentators have stated that the superiority of a husband over his wife is relative, and the obedience of the wife is also restrictive. The Quran advises men that if they are certain of a rebellious attitude by the woman, they should first admonish her, then refuse to share beds, and finally beat ("darab") her, according to Qur'an 4:34.(Today most Islamic scholars agree that it be without leaving a mark and not on the face). This refers to serious breaches of behaviour such as being promiscuous according to renowned 20th-century scholar Muhammad Hamidullah which is not expected from a dutiful wife, and not for simple disobedience to the husband. In explaining this, Ibn Abbas gives an example of striking with a toothstick.
Women are also reminded that in case the husband is not fulfilling his responsibilities, there is no stigma on them in seeking divorce [Quran 4:128]. The Quran re-emphasizes that justice for the woman includes emotional support, and reminds men that there can be no taking back of the mahr or bridal gifts given to women. In unfortunate cases where the agreement was to postpone payment of the mahr, some husbands will bully their wives and insist on the return of what he gave her in order to agree to the dissolution of the marriage, this is un-Islamic and cruel. "Where the husband has been abusive or neglectful of his responsibilities, he does not have the right to take his wife’s property in exchange for her freedom from him. Unfortunately most couples refuse to go to the judge and binding arbitration for these issues even though the Quran says: “And if you fear a breach between them, then appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they (the arbiters) desire reconciliation, Allah will affect it between them. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” [4:36]
Mahr, dowry and gifts
Mahr (donatio propter nuptias  in Roman Law, Latin = gift because of marriage) is often mistranslated into English as dowry or gift, as in the Quran translations below, due to a translator's lack of understanding of the true nature of a dowry, and the nonobligatory nature of a gift. The mahr is not a gift, and is a mandatory requirement for all Muslim marriages whereby an amount of money or possessions is paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage for her exclusive use. The mahr does not have to be money, but it must have monetary value. Therefore "it cannot be love, honesty, being faithful, etc., which are anyway traits of righteous people." If the marriage contract fails to contain an exact, specified mahr, the husband must still pay the wife a judicially determined sum.
Mahr is mentioned several times in the Quran and Hadith, and there is no maximum limit to the amount the groom may pay as mahr, but at a minimum it is an amount that would be sufficient for the woman to be able to survive independently if her husband dies or they divorce.
The term dowry (Latin, dos dotis) is inaccurate as strictly speaking it is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage, usually provided by her parents or family. In Islam, bride prices and dowries are forbidden. Any assets brought into the union by the wife may only be accepted by the husband after the mahr has been paid by him to her.
With prior mutual agreement, the mahr may also be paid in parts to the bride with an amount given by the groom to the bride at the signing of the marriage contract, also called a mu'qadamm (in Arabic: ; مقدم, literally translated as forepart presented), and the later portion postponed to a date during the marriage, also called a mu'akhaar ( in Arabic: مؤخر, literally translated as delayed). Various Romanized transliterations of mu'qadamm and mu'akhaar are accepted. Such an agreement does not make the full amount of the mahr any less legally required, nor is the husband's obligation to fulfill the agreement waived or lessened while he fulfills his obligations to reasonably house, feed, or cloth the wife (and any children produced from the union) during the marriage.
Quran [4:4] "You shall give the women their due dowries, equitably."
Quran [5:5] "Today, all good food is made lawful for you. The food of the people of the scripture is lawful for you. Also, you may marry the chaste women among the believers, as well as the chaste women among the followers of previous scripture, provided you pay them their due dowries. You shall maintain chastity, not committing adultery, nor taking secret lovers. Anyone who rejects faith, all his work will be in vain, and in the Hereafter he will be with the losers"
Quran [60:10] "O you who believe, when believing women (abandon the enemy and) ask for asylum with you, you shall test them. GOD is fully aware of their belief. Once you establish that they are believers, you shall not return them to the disbelievers. They are not lawful to remain married to them, nor shall the disbelievers be allowed to marry them. Give back the dowries that the disbelievers have paid. You commit no error by marrying them, so long as you pay them their due dowries. Do not keep disbelieving wives (if they wish to join the enemy). You may ask them for the dowry you had paid, and they may ask for what they paid. This is GOD's rule; He rules among you. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise."
Spousal support and mahr
Another general confusion among people is the idea that, in the case of divorce, the Mahr is the only thing the wife is entitled to. This is clearly not so when there are children involved as the husband has a duty to provide for their support and maintenance until they are weaned as stated in the Quran, but nowadays courts in many Muslim countries can extend this until the children finish their education. Modern movement is to seek financial support for the woman as well, if she is unable to maintain herself by working due to age, or commitments of child rearing, or disability. The wife is entitled to an equitable financial support from the husband determined by a judge in a court of law. Some Muslim feminist in Western countries have been inclined to argue from the verse “For divorced women a provision in kindness: a duty for those who ward off (evil)” Qu'ran [2:241], that this requires husbands to support the wife financially if, for example a wife spent years of her life supporting (financially and otherwise) a husband while he is studying and/or sponsoring his migration or citizenship, then a divorce takes place and the husband thinks that all that he owes her is the postponed Mahr. It is however not the general Muslim interpretation of that verse, as the verse itself implies it is a duty to those who do not want to stray into sin by being mean or cruel, not a stated requirement.
The application of financial support from the man (when there are no children involved) is only when he has chosen unilaterally to divorce the wife and not when wife wants a divorce by petitioning for Khula. In such situations the wife is required to forfeit all or part of the postponed Mahr and/or return the advanced Mahr as part of a divorce settlement. Husband may also demand return of other gifts and expenditure during the course of the marriage (apart from that he was obliged to provide such as food, clothing, shelter etc.), in order to release the woman from the marriage bond. If however the husband had been abusive or neglectful of his responsibilities, he does not have the right to take his wife’s property in exchange for her freedom from him, and courts will enforce the woman's right to keep her own property.
Marriage contracts and forced/un-consented marriages
||This article improperly uses one or more religious texts as primary sources without referring to secondary sources that critically analyze them. (March 2013)|
The marriage contract is concluded between the wali, or guardian, of the bride and bridegroom, not between bridegroom and bride. The wali of the bride can only be a free Muslim. The wali of the bride is normally a male relative of the bride, preferably her father. If the bride is a virgin, the wali mujbir, that is her father or paternal grandfather, can not force the bride into the marriage even against her proclaimed will; according to most scholars.
The notable exception to this is the Hanafi school, (the first and still largest of the four classical schools of Islamic thought) which holds that a bride's permission is required if she has reached puberty. They also hold that if a bride was forced into marriage before reaching puberty; then upon attaining puberty, she has the option to nullify the marriage if she wishes. A wali other than the father or the paternal grandfather of the bride, then called wali mukhtar, needs the consent of the bride according to the majority of scholars. If the bride is silent about the issue, i.e. her wali expressed his intention to marry her off to a certain man, and she did not object to it; then consent is assumed via her lack of objection.
For all schools of Islamic jurisprudence the systematization of their school is the guideline for their decision, not single hadiths, that liberal Muslims often cite. Two of these hadiths are the following:
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said: "A non-virgin woman may not be married without her command, and a virgin may not be married without her permission; and it is permission enough for her is to remain silent (because of her natural shyness)." [Al-Bukhari:6455, Muslim & Others][full citation needed].
It is reported in a hadith that A'ishah related that she once asked the Prophet : "In the case of a young girl whose parents marry her off, should her permission be sought or not?" He replied: "Yes, she must give her permission." She then said: "But a virgin would be shy, O Messenger of Allaah!" He replied: "Her silence is [considered as] her permission." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, & Others][full citation needed]
Source: 'Al-Masaa’il Al-Maardeeniyyah' by: Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah[full citation needed]
International human rights responses
Children in some Muslim sub-cultures who defy their parents' wishes may in practice, suffer penalties supported by the community. International awareness, campaigns and organizations such as the U.K.'s Forced Marriage Unit have recognized the severity of this human rights issue and their rescue and support services extend beyond the borders of U.K. territories. Some countries have instituted prison time for parents who try to coerce their children into such unions.
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Marriage is regarded as sacrosanct in Islam with specific terms outlined in a contract with the standard elements of offer, consideration, and acceptance. Divorce may be instituted unilaterally by the husband or the wife. It can be revocable or irrevocable. In the case of a male divorcing a female, in a revocable divorce, a waiting period of three menstrual cycles begins, during which the husband may take back his wife. There are many Hadiths requiring that divorce is not uttered sequentially three times but separated by a month between each utterance to provide opportunity for reconciliation. Majority of Islamic schools of jurisprudence (fiqh), do not regard a divorce as valid if this requirement is not followed, however others such as Hanafi discourage such practice but accept as binding if a triple divorce is said sequentially at one time. Almost all divorces in modern times, irrespective of fiqh (jurisprudence) followed, go through a court.
Divorce at the behest of the wife is known as khula (Arabic: خلع khulʻ , "extraction"), or release from the marriage or commencement of separation from her husband. Women are reminded that in case the husband is not fulfilling his responsibilities, there is no stigma on them in seeking khula (Qur'an 4:128). See Rights and obligations of spouses. A women in some circumstances may seek a Sharia (an Islamic law) court judge (qadi), or (in non-Islamic countries) a recognized community panel, to grant the divorce, or may do so unilaterally in most Muslim countries today. This authority of the judge or panel is subject to certain criteria which differ amongst the jurisprudence schools (fiqh), and is subsequent to attempting reconciliation between the parties failing, or further arbitration to seek an amicable solution with voluntary proclamation of triple divorce by the husband has also failed. Ultimately the judge has authority to grant the divorce subject to the wife and husband fulfilling certain requirements to reach an equitable solution.
Relationships which prohibit marriage
In certain sections of the pre-Islamic Arab tradition, the son could inherit his deceased father's other wives (i.e. not his own mother) as a wife. The Qur'an prohibited this practice.
Marriage between people related in some way is subject to prohibitions based on three kinds of relationship. The following prohibitions are given from the male perspective for brevity; the analogous counterparts apply from the female perspective; e.g., for "aunt" read "uncle".
Prohibitions based on consanguinity
Seven relations are prohibited because of consanguinity i.e. kinship or relationship by blood, viz. mothers, daughters, sisters, paternal aunts, maternal aunts and nieces (whether sister's or brother's daughters). In this case, no distinction is made between full and half relations, both being equally prohibited. Distinction is however made with step relations i.e. where both the biological mother and father of a couple wishing to marry are separate individuals for both parties, in which case it is permitted. The word "mother" also connotes the "father’s mother" and "mother’s mother" all the way up. Likewise the word "daughter" also includes the "son’s daughter" and "daughter’s daughter" all the way down. The sister of the maternal grandfather and of the paternal grandmother (great aunts) are also included on equal basis in the application of the directive.
Prohibitions based on suckling
Marriage to what are sometimes described as foster relations in English are permitted, although the concept is not the same as implied by the English word. The relationship is that formed by suckling from the breast of a wet nurse, this is what is meant by "fosterage" in Islam as in the quotation below. In this case the infant is regarded in Islam as having the same degree of affinity as in consanguinity and therefore prohibited in marriage when he grows up to those related to the wet nurse by the same degree as if to his own mother.
Hadith reports confirm that fosterage does not happen by a chance suckling, it refers to the first two years of a child's life before it is weaned Islahi writes that "this relationship is established only with the full intent of those involved. It only comes into being after it is planned and is well thought of"
Prohibitions based on marriage
The daughter-in-law is prohibited for the father, and the mother-in-law, the wife’s daughter, the wife’s sister and daughters of the wife's siblings (nieces), the maternal and paternal aunts of the wife are all prohibited for the husband. However, these are conditional prohibitions:
- Only the daughter of that wife is prohibited with whom one has had conjugal contact.
- Only the daughter-in-law of a real son is prohibited.
- The sister of a wife, her maternal and paternal aunts and her brother's or sister's daughters (nieces) are only prohibited if the wife is in wedlock with the husband.
Prohibited marriage partners
- His mother
- His step-mother (this practice continues in Yoruba land in Nigeria, where in some cases the eldest son inherits the youngest wife of his father)
- His grandmother (including father's and mother's mothers and all preceding mothers e.g. great grandmothers )
- His daughter (including granddaughters and beyond )
- His sister (whether full, consanguine or uterine)
- His father's sisters (including paternal grandfather's sisters)
- His mother's sisters (including maternal grandmother's sisters)
- His brother's daughters
- His foster mother
- His foster mother's sister
- His sister's daughter
- His foster sister
- His wife's mother
- His step-daughter (i.e. a daughter by a former husband of a woman he has married if the marriage has been consummated. However, if such a marriage was not consummated, there is no prohibition)
- His biological son's wife
- Any person of the same sex
According to sharia law, Muslims are allowed to practice polygyny. According to the Qur'an, a man may have up to four legal wives at any one time the restriction on the number was not customary before the advent of Islam in Arabia.
The husband is required to treat all wives equally. If a man fears that he will not be able to meet these conditions then he is not allowed more than one wife.
"If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or that which your right hands possess. That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice." (Qur'an 4:3) Yusuf Ali translation.
A bride-to-be may stipulate in the marriage contract her conditions such as monogamy.
Polyandry is strictly forbidden under sharia law, that is a woman may not have more than one husband, which is regarded as unacceptable because it could create difficulty in determination of paternity and hence responsibility of upbringing of children and inheritance. In addition, each husband would need to wait for his turn to have a child with his wife, as she cannot carry more than one man's baby at a single time. The Qur'an also recommends a woman nurses her child for two years before having another.
"The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years..." (Quran 2:233) Yusuf Ali translation.
- Zawāj mutʻah ("pleasure marriage"; a fixed-term marriage)
- Mahr (marriage payment; a concept overlapping with dowry)
- Divorce (Islamic) (unilateral divorce at behest of husband)
- Khula ("extraction"; a dissolution of marriage at behest of wife)
- Nafaqah ("expense"; financial obligations of the husband)
- Walima (marriage banquet offered by groom day after signing of marriage)
- Cousin marriage in the Middle East
- Hasso, Frances S. Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2011)
- Chapter: Seeking permission of a previously-married woman in words, and of a virgin by silence
- Chapter: The father or the guardian cannot give a virgin or matron in marriage without her consent
- The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Vol. VIII, p. 27, Leiden 1995.
- Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim
- Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 5, 400.
- [Quran 24:32]
- Introduction to Islam by Dr. Muhammed Hamidullah
- [Quran 24:3]
- Abu Da’ud, Sunan, vol. 2, 227, (nos. 2051-2052)
- [Quran 2:221]
- [Quran 60:10]
- Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 1201, (no. 6968)
- Muslim, Al-Jami' al-sahih, 596, (no. 3476)[broken citation]
- Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 919, (no. 5138)
- Toronto Globe and Mail: Honour killings ‘un-Islamic,' fatwa declares in wake of Shafia trial
- [Quran 2:228]
- Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 291-292
- Kecia Ali, Marriage in Classical Islamic Jurisprudence: A Survey of Doctrines, in THE ISLAMIC MARRIAGE CONTRACT: CASE STUDIES IN ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW 11, 19 (Asifa Quraishi & Frank E. Vogel eds., 2008).
- PEARL & MENSKI, supra note 11, ¶ 7-16, at 180.
- The Islamic Institution of Mahr and American Law by, Richard Freeland, Gonzaga University, http://www.law.gonzaga.edu/academic-program/Files/GJIL/Volume4/Vol4-TheIslamicInstitution.pdf
- Indian Muslim Woman Divorce Act 1986
- The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Leiden 1995, tome 8, page 27 b, article Nikāḥ: "The wali can only give the bride in marriage with her consent, but in the case of a virgin, silent consent is sufficient. The father or the grandfather, however, has the right to marry his daughter or granddaughter against her will, as long as she is a virgin (he is therefore called wali mudjbir, wali with power to coercion); the exercise of this power is, however, very strictly regulated in the interests of the bride."
- Kecia Ali, Sexual Ethics & Islam, Oneworld Publications, Oxford: 2006. p.26
- [Quran 4:22]
- Ghamidi, Javed Ahmad. Mizan: A Comprehensive Introduction to Islam (in Urdu (tr: English)). Lahore: Al-Mawrid.
- Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 616, (no. 3590)
- Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 912, (no. 5102)
- Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 619, (no. 3606)
- "Every relationship which is prohibited (for marriage) owing to consanguinity is also prohibited owing to fosterage"Malik ibn Anas, Al-Mu’atta, 395-396, (no. 1887)
- Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 275.
- Malik ibn Anas, Al-Mu’atta’, 341, (no. 1600)