Islamic Marriage

In Islam, marriage is a social and legal relationship intended to strengthen and extend family relationships. Islamic marriage begins with a search for an appropriate partner and is solemnized with an agreement of marriage, the contract and the wedding party. Islam is a strong advocate of marriage, and the act of marriage is considered a religious duty through which the social unit — the family — is established. Islamic marriage is the only permissible way for men and women to engage in intimacy.

A Uyghur couple dance at their wedding in Kashgar, China.

When searching for a spouse, Muslims often involve an extended network of friends and family. Conflict arises when parents don’t approve of the child’s choice, or parents and children have different expectations. Perhaps the child is averse to marriage altogether. In Islamic marriage, Muslim parents are not allowed to force their children into marrying someone against their will.

Muslims take very seriously the decision of whom to marry. When it’s time for a final decision, Muslims seek guidance from Allah and Islamic teachings, and advice from other knowledgable people. How Islamic marriage applies to practical life is also key in making a final decision.

An Islamic marriage is considered both a mutual social agreement and a legal contract. Negotiating and signing the contract is a requirement of marriage under Islamic law, and certain conditions must be upheld in order for it to be binding and recognized. Nikah, with its primary and secondary requirements, is a solemn contract.

The public celebration of a marriage usually involves a wedding party (walimah). In Islamic marriage, the family of the groom is responsible for inviting the community to a celebration meal. The details of how this party is structured and the traditions involved vary from culture to culture: Some consider it obligatory; other only highly recommend it. A walimah does not usually involve lavish spending when that same money could be more wisely spent by the couple after marriage.

After all the parties are over, the new couple settles into life as husband and wife. In an Islamic marriage, the relationship is characterized by safety, comfort, love, and mutual rights and responsibilities. In Islamic marriage, a couple makes obeying Allah the focus of their relationship: The couple must remember that they are brothers and sisters in Islam, and all of the rights and duties of Islam also apply to their marriage.

After all the prayers, planning and festivities, sometimes the life of a married couple doesn’t turn out the way it should. Islam is a practical faith and offers avenues for those who find difficulty in their marriage. The Quran is very clear on the subject of couples partnered in Islamic marriage:

“Live with them in kindness; even if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good.” (Quran, 4:19)

As with every religion, Islamic marriage is referred to by and in its own terms. In order to fully follow Islam’s strictly defined rules on marriage, a glossary of terms regarding Islamic rules and regulations must be understood and followed. The following are examples.


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