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Marriage in Islam

In Islam, marriage is a contract (Literary Arabic: عقد القران ʻaqd al-qirān, "matrimony contract"; Urdu: نکاح نامہ‎ / ALA-LC: Nikāḥ-nāmah) between a man and the wali of a woman, who gives her to the husband to be his wife. 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.

 

Background

Islamic marriages require acceptance, in Arabic: قبول‎ qubūl, of the groom and the custodian (wali) of the bride. The bride normally 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 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 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,. 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)."

 

Conditions

The Qur’an outlines some conditions for a marriage to take place [Quran 4:24]:

  • 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.




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