Islamic law regarding marriage
Allah has commanded the Muslims to marry:
“And marry those among you who are single….” (24:33)
In Islam, marriage is essentially a contract. However, the distinction between sacred and secular was never explicit in Islam. Any action or transaction in Islam has religious implications. It is not quite accurate, therefore, to designate marriage in Islam simply as a secular contract. The appropriate designation of marriage could be a “Divine Institution”.
For a valid marriage, the following conditions must be satisfied:
- There must be a clear proposal.
- There must be a clear acceptance.
- There must be at least two competent witnesses. This is necessary to exclude illicit sex and to safeguard legitimacy of progeny. It is recommended that marriage should be widely publicized.
- There must be a marriage gift, little or more, by the bridegroom to the bride.
Dowry or marriage gift by bridegroom to the bride is a symbolic expression of the groom’s cognizance of the economic responsibilities of marriage and of his readiness to assume all such responsibilities subsequent to marriage. Dowry is not any price paid either to wife or family of the wife. The general principle is that dowry should be estimated according to the circumstances with emphasis on moderation. The Prophet (Sm) is reported to have said that the most blessed marriage is that which is least costly and most easy.
It is permissible for a Muslim man to see the women to whom he intends to propose marriage before taking further steps so that he can enter into the marriage with full knowledge. This has been permitted in Islam to avoid further misunderstanding. The Prophet (Sm) has said, “When one of you asks for woman in marriage, if he is able to look at what induce him to marry her, he should do so.” (Narrated in the book of tradition of Abu Daud)
However, it is not permitted in Islam for a man to be alone with a woman in the name of selection of spouse.
It is the girl’s right to make decision concerning her marriage and her father or guardian has no right to over-ride her objections or ignore her wishes. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “A woman who has been previously married has more right concerning her person than her guardian and a virgin’s consent must be asked about herself, her consent being her silence.” (Narrated in the books of tradition of Bukhari and Muslim)
It is permanently prohibited for a Muslim to marry a woman of the following categories:
- Father’s wife, whether divorced or widowed,
- The mother including grand mothers,
- The daughter including grand daughter,
- The sisters including half and step sisters,
- The paternal aunt, whether real, half or step sister of the father,
- The maternal aunt, whether real, half or step sister of mother,
- The brother’s daughter and
- The sister’s daughter.
These restrictions have been imposed by Allah in his wisdom to increase trust among close relations by prohibiting incestuous relations, increase love and affection among close relations, expand family ties beyond close circle etc.
In Islam marriage is also prohibited with foster mother who has suckled him during the period of weaning and with foster sisters, foster aunt and foster nieces.
Islam has also prohibited marriage with mother in law, the stepdaughter, and the daughter in law. Islam has also forbidden having two sisters as co-wives.
It is also prohibited to marry a woman who is a Mushrik that is who worships idols or associates other deities with Allah. Allah says in His book, the Quran,
“And do not marry Mushrik women until they believe.” (2:221)
It is however lawful for Muslim men to marry chaste women (that is women of virtue and character) from among the Jews and the Christians. Allah says in His Book,
“(And lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women form those who were given the scripture before you.”(5:5)
“It is not permissible for Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men.” (2:221 and 60:10)
Allah has been more kind to the women and has not put on her extra stress and probable difficulties in living with a husband of another faith.
Islam has allowed man to marry more than one woman but has put serious restrictions on this. It requires agreement of the new wife, his ability to maintain more than one wife, equality among the wives, etc. It is for this reason that very few Muslim men marry more than one woman. Islam has allowed this to man to curb illicit sex. Illicit sex is a very degenerating thing for humanity and leads to debasement of women through prostitution. Islam has totally rejected prostitution.
Islamic law regarding marriage is easy, practical, rational and in keeping with human nature. Humanity can only benefit by following these regulations in true spirit.