Islamic marriage contract

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An 1874 Islamic marriage contract.
A bride signing the nikah nama (marriage contract).

An Islamic marriage contract is an Islamic prenuptial agreement. It is a formal, binding contract considered an integral part of an Islamic marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride or other parties involved in marriage proceedings.


In Sunni Islam, a marriage contract must have at least two witnesses. Proper witnessing is critical to the validation of the marriage, also acting as a protection against suspicions of adulterous relationships.

In Shia Islam, witnesses to a marriage are deemed necessary, but in case are not available then the two parties may conduct the nikah between themselves.[1] It is also believed that temporary marriage, or Nikah Mut'ah (a type of contract which had more relaxed requirements) was prohibited in Sunni Islam, the necessity of witnessing was introduced by Sunni caliphs, specifically Umar, to ensure that no couples engaged in secret union.


Marriages are usually not held in mosques, (depending on the country and culture of both where the marriage happens and the parties involved) because typically men and women are separated during the ceremony and reception. Islam doesn't authorize any official clergy, so any Muslim who understands the Islamic tradition can be the official for the wedding. However, if a Muslim wedding is held in a mosque, then a marriage officiant, known as qadi, qazi or madhun (Arabic: مأذون‎), may preside over the wedding.[2]

Type and content[edit]

Among the stipulations that can be included in the marriage contract include giving up, or demanding, certain responsibilities.[3] The contract may also be used to regulate the couple's physical relationship, if needed.[citation needed]

The marriage contract can also specify where the couple will live, whether or not the first wife will allow the husband to take a second wife without her consent. The wife has the right to initiate divorce, it is called khula. She either gives back the dowry (mahr) or does not, depending on the reason for divorce. The man has the right to divorce. The marriage contract somewhat resembles the marriage settlements once negotiated for upper-class Western brides, but can extend to non-financial matters usually ignored by marriage settlements or pre-nuptial agreements.


One important purpose of the contract is to make sexual intercourse legal. This is supported by various Hadiths and quotations:

Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, #81:[4]

  • Narrated 'Uqba: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The stipulations [in the marriage contract] most entitled to be abided by are those with which you are given the right to enjoy the (women's) private parts."

Al-Mughni (by Ibn Qudaamah), Kitab al Nikah:[5]

  • ... the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) [said]: "The most deserving of conditions to be fulfilled are those by means of which sexual intercourse becomes permissible for you."

Cited in (Al Aqad,2014) the common problem of translation of marriage contracts is due to the varieties of word synonyms in the legal Arabic system which have no equivalence in the English system in terms of marriage contracts, such as; مهزٍ, شبكه, صداق. الخ , Mahr, Shabkah, Sadaq- (dowry), whereas, all of these examples attributed and affected by the culture and tradition of the Arabic language.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Witnesses for Marriage Archived 2005-11-10 at the Wayback Machine, 'Aalim Network QR
  2. ^ Vows & Toasts: Hundreds of Ways to Say I Do & Here's to You!. Sellers Publishing, Incorporated. 2014-05-14. ISBN 9781416207153.
  3. ^ al-Mughni of Ibn Qudamah Vol. 9, Page 483
  4. ^ Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, #81 Archived 2007-06-14 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Marriage: According to the Qur'an and Sunnah Archived 2012-02-14 at the Wayback Machine,
  6. ^ Al Aqad, Mohammed H. (2014). "Translation of Legal Texts between Arabic and English: The Case Study of Marriage Contracts". Arab World English Journal. 5 (2): 110–121.

External links[edit]