Marriage is considered sacred and way of life in Islam. Celibacy is prohibited in Islam. Prophets have led Islam by example. They have married and have fulfilled all the marital obligations. Marriage is termed as Nikaah in Islam. Muslim bride and bridegroom need to sign a contract accepting each other as dutiful husband and wife. This contract is referred as Nikahnaama. Nikahnaama is signed by the bride and bridegroom along with two witnesses and the Maulvi Saab. Two witnesses are often the Walis or the fathers of the bride and the groom. The Nikahnaama outlines the rights and duties of the husband and the wife.
Overview of Islamic Marriages
Islamic marriages are celebrated with spiritual fervor. The groom’s family approaches a Maulvi and asks him to propose the marriage the bride’s family. Bride’s family seeks acceptance of the bride for the proposal. After acceptance, the Maulvi seeks blessings of the Almighty to unite the bride and groom as the couple. After seeking the blessings, the date of marriage is decide. Many Islamic families have a pre-marital agreement called Mangni or engagement to mark the sealing of the relationship. There are certain rituals like Mehndi, Haldi etc that are performed before the marriage. Maulvi asks for acceptance of bride for the proposal and she responds by saying Qubool hai. After signing of the Nikahnaama, the couple is seated among the guests and is asked to read the holy verses together. Reception or the Walima may be held next day. Islamic marriages are generally spread over three days including the pre-wedding and post wedding rituals. Some weddings may be spread over a week or so depending on the number of rituals incorporated in the Nikaah. Husband is said to assume the role of a protector and the provider of the family whereas the wife should maintain the husband’s house and serve him dutifully and loyally.
Conditions for Marriage
Islam prescribes certain conditions for conducting a rightful Nikaah. Let us look at some of the important conditions laid down by Islam before concluding a marriage ceremony.
- Contract: marriage has to be solemnized through a binding contract. This contract shall be detailed and shall explain the roles and responsibilities of the future husband and wife. The most important part of the Nikahnaama is the ‘rakhm-e-Mahr’. Mahr refers to the amount paid by the bridegroom to the bride. This amount is obligatory for every Muslim husband. Payment of partial Mahr can be delayed based on the explicit consent of the bride. The groom has no right to ask for the amount of Mahr back in case of future Talaq or separation.
- Mahr: Mahr is extremely important in every Islamic marriage. There is no limit to the amount that may be paid as a Mahr, however the minimum amount of Mahr should be sufficient enough for independent survival of the bride, in case she gets divorced or her husband passes away.
- Women’s choice of partner: Muslim women are forbidden to get married to a Muslim man. A man should embrace Islam as a religion if he wishes to get married to a woman of Islamic virtue.
- Men’s choice of a partner: Muslim men can get married to a Christian, Jew, or a sabian woman. Marrying a woman who is a polytheist is forbidden by Islam.
- Parties to marital contract: Nikahnaama has to be concluded between the bridegroom and the guardian of the bride. Generally the father or the paternal grandfather of the bride has right to conclude the marital contract on her behalf.
- Dowry: Islam prohibits and condemns the concept of dowry. Dowry refers to the amount paid to the groom by the bride’s family. Giving dowry to the groom is considered to be a shameful act.
- Wali Mujbir: Wali Mujbir refers to forced marriage against the outspoken will of the bride. A bride has all the rights to revoke such a marriage. Marriage can be revoked by intervention of a Kazi or a Maulvi.
- Silence= acceptance: Islamic faith also states that a virgin bride’s silence will be considered as her acceptance to the marriage. The belief behind this concept is that a virgin would be shy to give her explicit consent and hence her silence should be considered worthy of her acceptance.
Polygamy and Islam
Polygamy: Islam permits polygamy. In other words, a man can have up to four wives at any given point of time. The core reason behind permitting polygamy was to make life easier for widows and orphans who were finding it difficult to maintain themselves in the society. A capable man could get married to a widow or an orphan and give her the life of respect and love. There are certain conditions that a man needs to fulfill before he enters a polygamous marriage.
- Husband should be in the position to provide for all the wives equally.
- Husband should be in the position to treat all wives equally.
- Polygamy can only happen when society is unable to maintain the widow or the Orphan.
Polyandry: Islam does not permit polyandry. In other words, a Muslim woman cannot have multiple husbands at any given point of time. Polyandry can lead to confusion with regards to upbringing of children and time spent with the husband hence polyandry is forbidden for Islamic women.
Islam forbids certain marriages. These marriages fall in two types.
- Restrictions based on religion: A Muslim man can get married to a Muslim woman or a woman of Christian faith, Jewish faith or a Sabian faith. A Muslim woman is prohibited from getting married to a person of non-Islamic faith. Marrying a polytheist is forbidden in Islam.
- Restrictions based on relationship: Marriages based on blood relationship are forbidden. A man cannot get married to his mother, daughter, maternal aunt or paternal aunt, foster sister, foster mother, niece, step- daughter, all married women and daughter–in-law. A woman cannot get married to paternal uncle or maternal uncle, son, father, foster brother, father-in-law, son-in-law, stepson or foster mother’s husband
Islam does not forbid marriages between cousins.