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

An Islamic marriage contract is considered an integral part of an Islamic marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the husband and wife or other parties involved in marriage proceedings under Sharia. Whether it is considered a formal, binding contract depends on the jurisdiction. Islamic faith marriage contracts are not valid in English law, [1] nor American Law. Because of this, some Islamic Marriage Officiants will only officiate a marriage after the couple had been legally married in court.


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 not necessary.[2] 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. In Sunni Islam, there is no 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.[3]


The rights of women proceeding the Advent of Islam[4] as changed drastically to where they stand in society in the twenty first century. Prior to the Advent of Islam, men were allowed to marry or divorce whenever they pleased leading to a number of problems within the society. The current status of marriage in Islam, however, is seen at equal and fair to both men and women and signals the start of family.

The Quran states that you should love your husband or wife, however, divorce is not forbidden. The lifestyles men and women go through following a divorce are very different, women must participate in a period of abstinence and remain single for a period of time. This period of abstinence and being single allows for the father, if the wife was pregnant before the divorce, to know if the unborn child belongs to them or not.[5]

Type and content

Among the stipulations that can be included in the marriage contract include giving up, or demanding, certain responsibilities.[6] 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:[7][8]

Al-Mughni (by Ibn Qudaamah), Kitab al Nikah:[9]

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: مهر, شبكه, صداق - Mahr, Shabkah, Sadaq- (dowry), whereas, all of these examples attributed and affected by the culture and tradition of the Arabic language.[10]

Interfaith marriage

Interfaith marriage has been a growing concept in the past few years however according to the Quran, Muslim women should only marry Muslim men and without doing so can lead to problems within and outside of the families. Though Muslim men are technically permitted to wed Muslim, Christian, Jewish (and according to a minority view Zoroastrian women]], AKA the Ahl-al-Kitab (People of the Book), it is heavily discouraged to the point that some scholars (majoritically of the Hanbali School of Fiqh (Jurisprudence)) have ruled that this permission applies only in Dar-ul-Islam (a community where Islam is dominant and Islamic values are present). Even in these marriages, there are several restrictions (such as the children being brought up Muslim), and often makes such a marriage impractical.

One main problem with interfaith marriage as seen in the Islamic community is the fear that one might abandon their faith or their children will not grow up in it.[11] Another issue that can arise is the conflict directly between the two married individuals if their religious traditions get in the way of the other, leading to a debate of which religion should be the more prominent one in the relationship.

See also


  1. ^ The Guardian Islamic faith marriages not valid in English law, appeal court rules, 14 February 2020
  2. ^ "Marriage in Shia & Sunni Law- an Basic Outline". 29 November 2020.
  3. ^ Vows & Toasts: Hundreds of Ways to Say I Do & Here's to You!. Sellers Publishing, Incorporated. 2014-05-14. ISBN 9781416207153.
  4. ^ "Malaysia - the advent of Islam | Britannica".
  5. ^ El-Ali, Leena (2021). No truth without beauty: God, the Qur'an, and women's rights. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 179–197. ISBN 9783030835828.
  6. ^ al-Mughni of Ibn Qudamah Vol. 9, Page 483
  7. ^ "Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, #81". Archived from the original on June 14, 2007.
  8. ^ "Sahih Bukhari Vol. 4". Academia. Retrieved 12 Jul 2020.
  9. ^ Marriage: According to the Qur'an and Sunnah Archived 2012-02-14 at the Wayback Machine,
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "When Muslims Intermarry". The Interfaith Observer. Retrieved 2021-11-23.