Process of Islamic Marriage

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Process of Islamic Marriage

Islam has long held marriage in high esteem, venerating the union of a man and woman for religious, moral and social reasons. As for the Muslim marriage process itself, a bride and groom will participate in three principal ceremonies: the nikah, the dukhlah and the walimah.

Islamic marriages require acceptance, in Arabic: قبول‎, qabuul, of the bride and groom of each other. The tribal and cultural practices of some Muslims of marrying their spouse, sight unseen, is permitted as is marriage by proxy but not a practice encouraged in Islam.
If the conditions are met and a mahr and contract are agreed upon, an Islamic marriage ceremony Nikah, or wedding, can take place. The nikah is a brief ceremony that legally binds the bride and groom as husband and wife. During the ceremony, which involves an imam, the groom, two witnesses, and the bride's guardian, the imam delivers a khutbah sermon and sanctions the betrothal. The groom signs a wedding contract and agrees to his bride's dowry, or mahr. In the fourth section of the Koran, the prophet Mohammad lays down the commandments for this dowry. The Koran states that, when grooms select brides, they "shall pay them the dowry decreed for them," though the dowry may later be adjusted (4:24).
Nowadays the marital contract is signed by both parties, whereas technically it only requires verbal agreement by both parties, the consent of the bride if she happens to be a virgin is given by silence, as per Hadith[Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim] 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. 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 the only legitimate way to satisfy one's sexual desire[Quran 24:32]. 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 their spouse or of committing the unlawful if he/she doesn't marry, then marriage in this case is preferred."

Literally it means “sending off”. This term is used in Indio-Pakistan area. In Shari’ah it is called “Zifaf”. In Arab countries it is commonly called “Dukhul” or “Dukhlah”. It means the consummation of marriage. Now the spouses can be alone and can have their intimate conjugal relations. Rukhsati takes place after the Nikah. After Rukhsati the spouses begin living together as husband and wife. In most cases the Rukhsati takes place within a few hours after Nikah, but sometimes families postpone the consummation of marriage or Rukhsati for a later time. They may do it for various social or personal reasons. Sometimes the consummation is delayed because the family wants to have a big party to invite many relatives and friends to celebrate their marriage. Sometimes couple decide to delay consummation because one or both spouses want to finish their studies or would like to make better arrangement for their residence etc. There could be many reasons for the postponement of consummation and it could be for few months or years. This is permissible in Islam.

In Islam, a mahr (in Arabic: مهر‎; also transliterated mehr, meher, or mahrieh) is a mandatory required amount of money or possessions (usually a combination of the two), paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage, for her exclusive use. While the mahr is often money, it can also be anything agreed upon by the bride such as jewelry, home goods, furniture, a dwelling (the husband is already required to provide a home for his wife, but in this case she would retain ownership of it and he would pay for it), or even a viable business that is put in her exclusive ownership and can be run entirely by her if she chooses.
Mahr (donatio propter nuptias in Latin law) is often mistranslated into English (as in the Quran translations below), from a translator's lack of knowledge of the true meaning of the word dowry, or is mistranslated into the word gift. The mahr is not a gift, but a mandatory requirement for all Muslim marriages. [Asifa Quraishi & Frank E. Vogel eds., 2008]
The terms "dowry" and "bride price" are sometimes used to translate mahr, but these are misleading. There is no concept of dowry in Islam. The term dowry (Latin, dos dotis) is inaccurate, as strictly speaking it is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage, usually provided by her parents or family. In Islamic marriages, such assets brought into the union by the wife may only be accepted by the husband after the mahr has been paid by him to her.
In the event the marriage contract does not contain an exact, specified mahr, the husband must still pay the wife a judicially determined sum, typically based on the mahr amount that women of equivalent social status receive. [PEARL & MENSKI, supra note 11, ¶ 7-16, at 180] The requirement of a mahr is mentioned several times in the Quran and Hadith and although there is no maximum limit, it is at a minimum an amount that would be sufficient for the woman to be able to survive for a while if her husband dies or they divorce.
The mahr may also be paid to the bride in parts with prior mutual agreement. In such an agreement, an amount is given by the groom to the bride at the signing of the marriage contract, also called a mu'qadamm (in Arabic: ‎; مقدم, literally translated as forepart presented), and the latter portion postponed to a date during the marriage, also called a mu'akhaar ( in Arabic: ‎ مؤخر, literally translated as delayed), with various Romanized transliterations of mu'qadamm and mu'akhaar accepted. Such an agreement does not make the full amount of the mahr any less legally required, nor is the husband's obligation to fulfill the agreement waived. To note, the husband's fulfillment of the mahr is not remove or lessened as he fulfills his obligations to reasonably house, feed, or cloth the wife and any children produced from the union during the marriage.

Posted: 2013-07-21

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