Marriage in Islam
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In Islam, marriage is a contract (Literary Arabic: عقد القران ʻaqd al-qirān, "matrimony contract"; Urdu: Nikahnama) between a man and the wali of a woman, who gives her to the husband to be his wife. 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 even though divorce is very easy for the man (talaq) and very difficult to obtain for the woman (khula). 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 Twelvers (a branch of Shia Islam) for a pre-fixed period. In Sunni Islam recent scholars allows the practice of temporary marriage, which has a different term called Nikah Misyar, however most of the classical scholars do not allow this form of marriage.
- 1 History
- 2 Background
- 3 Conditions
- 4 Rights and obligations of spouses
- 5 Marriage contracts and forced/un-consented marriages
- 6 Forced marriages and international human rights responses
- 7 Mahr, dowry and gifts
- 8 Divorce
- 9 Khula
- 10 Spousal support and mahr
- 11 Relationships which prohibit marriage
- 12 Prohibitions based on consanguinity
- 13 Prohibitions based on suckling
- 14 Prohibitions based on marriage
- 15 Prohibited marriage partners
- 16 Polygamy
- 17 In television
- 18 See also
- 19 References
- 20 External links
Marriage was a Sunnah (custom) of earlier prophets which the Islamic Prophet Muhammad re-instituted and passed on to his ummah or community. Another Arabic word for marriage is nikah (in Arabic: نكاح nikāḥ), which can be used to mean "sexual intercourse", especially in contemporary use.
Islamic marriages require acceptance, in Arabic: قبول qubūl, of the groom and the custodian (wali) of the bride. The bride normaly is present at the signing of the marriage contract but this is not mandatory.
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 if she happens to be a virgin is not mandatory if the wali is her father or paternal grandfather (wali mujbir). 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. 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 proceed 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, another legal way for the man is to have sexual relationships with slave girls he owns. 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 Islam jurists and imans 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.
- The husband provides physical strength and honour but not sexual fidelity, as he may have additional wives up to three more wives plus sexual relationships with an unlimited number of females slaves he owns. In return, the wife is to guard the secrets of her husband, be honourable, loyal, and conjugally faithful.
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 (a very tiny piece of wood, incapable of creating any pain).
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]
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 force the bride into the marriage even against her proclaimed will. A wali other than the father or the paternal grandfather of the bride, then called wali mukhtar, needs the consent of the bride. If the bride is silent consent is assumed.
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]
Forced marriages and 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.
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.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2013)|
Marriage is regarded as sacrosanct in Islam with specific terms outlined in a contract with the standard elements of offer, consideration, and acceptance. The Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) states that only the husband has the exclusive power to divorce any of his wives by way of (Talaq) whereby the husband simply says “I divorce/talaq you” to immediately end the marriage from that moment on. The Fiqh stipulate no requirements that the husband must first meet in order to divorce, thereby allowing the husband to divorce any of his wives in an Islamic marriage for any reason or for no reason without a need for his wife's approval or consent or an application to the Islamic court.
Without her husband's explicit consent to the divorce, the only way a wife can obtain dissolution of a Muslim marriage is through a special annulment Fasakh from a religious court on very limited grounds (husband's cruelty, desertion and maltreatment), which includes payment of court fees and an intervention by a religious judge (kadhi). It is recommended in the Hadith that divorce should only be resorted to when there is no chance of reconciliation.
Divorce may be instituted unilaterally by the husband. It can be revocable or irrevocable. 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.
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. Divorce requires the consent of the husband, but commonly failing which in such circumstances the woman may seek a Sharia (an Islamic law) court judge (qadi), or (in non-Islamic countries) a recognized community panel, to grant the divorce. While similar to Judaic law, where the wife has the right to sue for divorce in a rabbinical court in the absence of a Get, but unlike Judaism where the husband has unilateral right to refuse, a Muslim woman may petition an Islamic judge to grant her a divorce, overruling the husband's refusal, if his refusal is unreasonable and not in accordance with Islamic tenets. 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.
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.
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.
- 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 real son's wife
According to sharia law, Muslims men are allowed to practice polygamy. According to the Qur'an, a man may have up to four legal wives at any one time plus an unlimited number of female slaves he may use as concubines; the restriction on the number was not customary before the advent of Islam in Arabia.
The 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)
- 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)
- 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
- 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, 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
- Kecia Ali, Sexual Ethics & Islam, Oneworld Publications, Oxford: 2006. p.26
- Indian Muslim Woman Divorce Act 1986
- [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)