http://www.jannah.org/sisters/marriage.

html An-Nikah The Marriage
__________________________ Mutual Agreement of Bride and Groom Marriage (nikah) is a solemn and sacred social contract between bride and groom. This contract is a strong covenant (mithaqun Ghalithun) as expressed in Quran 4:21). The marriage contract in Islam is not a sacrament. It is revocable. Both parties mutually agree and enter into this contract. Both bride and groom have the liberty to define various terms and conditions of their liking and make them a part of this contract. Mahr The marriage-gift (Mahr) is a divine injunction. The giving of mahr to the bride by the groom is an essential part of the contract. 'And give the women (on marriage) their mahr as a (nikah) free gift" (Quran 4:4) Mahr is a token commitment of the husband's responsibility and may be paid in cash, property or movable objects to the bride herself. The amount of mahr is not legally specified, however, moderation according to the existing social norm is recommended. The mahr may be paid immediately to the bride at the time of marriage, or deferred to a later date, or a combination of both. The deferred mahr however, falls due in case of death or divorce. One matrimonial party expresses 'ijab" willing consent to enter into marriage and the other party expresses 'qubul" acceptance of the responsibility in the assembly of marriage ceremony. The contract is written and signed by the bride and the groom and their two respective witnesses. This written marriage contract ("Aqd-Nikah) is then announced publicly. Sermon The assembly of nikah is addressed with a marriage sermon (khutba-tun-nikah) by the Muslim officiating the marriage. In marriage societies, customarily, a state appointed Muslim judge (Qadi) officiates the nikah ceremony and keeps

the record of the marriage contract. However any trust worthy practicing Muslim can conduct the nikah ceremony, as Islam does not advocate priesthood. The documents of marriage contract/certificate are filed with the mosque (masjid) and local government for record. Prophet Muhammad (S) made it his tradition (sunnah) to have marriage sermon delivered in the assembly to solemnize the marriage. The sermon invites the bride and the groom, as well as the participating guests in the assembly to a life of piety, mutual love, kindness, and social responsibility. The Khutbah-tun-Nikah begins with the praise of Allah. His help and guidance is sought. The Muslim confession of faith that 'There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His servant and messenger" is declared. The three Quranic verses (Quran 4:1, 3:102, 33:70-71) and one Prophetic saying (hadith) form the main text of the marriage. This hadith is: 'By Allah! Among all of you I am the most God-fearing, and among you all, I am the supermost to save myself from the wrath of Allah, yet my state is that I observe prayer and sleep too. I observe fast and suspend observing them; I marry woman also. And he who turns away from my Sunnah has no relation with me". (Bukhari) The Muslim officiating the marriage ceremony concludes the ceremony with prayer (Dua) for bride, groom, their respective families, the local Muslim community, and the Muslim community at large (Ummah) Marriage (nikah) is considered as an act of worship (ibadah). It is virtuous to conduct it in a Mosque keeping the ceremony simple. The marriage ceremony is a social as well as a religious activity. Islam advocates simplicity in ceremonies and celebrations. Prophet Muhammad (S) considered simple weddings the best weddings: 'The best wedding is that upon which the least trouble and expense is bestowed". (Mishkat) Primary Requirements 1) Mutual agreement (Ijab-O-Qubul) by the bride and the groom 2) Two adult and sane witnesses 3) Mahr (marriage-gift) to be paid by the groom to the bride either immediately (muajjal) or deferred (muakhkhar), or a combination of both Secondary Requirements 1) Legal guardian (wakeel) representing the bride 2) Written marriage contract ("Aqd-Nikah) signed by the bride and the groom and witnesses by two adult and sane witnesses

3) Qadi (State appointed Muslim judge) or Ma'zoon (a responsible person officiating the marriage ceremony) 4) Khutba-tun-Nikah to solemnize the marriage The Marriage Banquet (Walima) After the consummation of the marriage, the groom holds a banquet called a walima. The relatives, neighbors, and friends are invited in order to make them aware of the marriage. Both rich and poor of the family and community are invited to the marriage feasts. Prophet Muhammad (S) said: 'The worst of the feasts are those marriage feasts to which the rich are invited and the poor are left out". (Mishkat) It is recommended that Muslims attend marriage ceremonies and marriage feasts upon invitation. Prophet Muhammad (S) said: "...and he who refuses to accept an invitation to a marriage feast, verily disobeys Allah and His Prophet". (Ahmad & Abu Dawood) Printed with permission: Marriage and Family in Islam by Mohammad Mazhar Hussaini LIFE BEFORE: Purpose and Obligation 6 Etiquettes of Seeking a Spouse How to help Muslims get married, Tips for parents and Imams How ISNA Matrimonial Service works Whom to Marry: Selecting a Partner An-Nikah: The Marriage Ceremony LIFE AFTER: Ideal Muslim Husband: a review Muslim Women Working Outside the Home Tips for Better Husband and Wife Relationship

Questions to ask a prospective husband
When choosing a partner, there are numerous issues which may lead to friction and conflict. Following the principle that prevention is better than cure, it seems

wise to air these issues before a match is finalized. Some of the issues may appear trivial or mundane, but the stuff of everyday life is also the stuff of arguments! Other issues are more serious, and may be indicative of the potential for a stormy and abusive marriage. Each marriage will have its ups and downs, but settling some of these matters may avoid the emergence of major, insoluble problems and consequent heartbreak. These are all questions that may be asked directly or else "researched" by observation, asking his relatives, members of the community, etc. The prospective bride may ask some of these questions when the couple meet, but many women may feel too shy to ask outright. Family or friends can also help with the research - in many Muslim countries, relatives of prospective partners often visit to check the person out! Asking/answering such questions is not gheebah or backbiting, and people should not hesitate to tell the truth when it concerns a possible marriage; the intent is to establish whether these two people are compatible. Avoiding a poor match will save all concerned from much heartache. At the same time, whether the marriage proceeds or not, any information thus gathered should be kept confidential - any "faults" uncovered should not be generally broadcast in the community! These suggested questions are derived from two sources: an article entititled "Spousal Abuse and its Prevention" by Br. Abdul Rehman in Islamic Sisters International, and the feedback I received during a workshop I led on "Choosing a Marriage Partner" at the ISSRA Conference on Health and Social Issues, Toronto, May 25, 1996.

The Big Issues:
(1) What makes him angry and how does he deal with his anger? Does he blame everybody but himself? Does he stop talking to the person involved? Does he bear grudges ("I'll get him back one day!") Has he ever physically or mentally abused anyone with whom he was angry? Does he get angry when those who may be wiser disagree or suggest an alternative point of view? Does he ever forgive those with whom he was angry? (2) How does he behave during a crisis?

Does he blame everyone except himself? Does he become hostile towards an uninvolved member of an ethnic group which is known to abuse followers of Islam? What steps does he take to face and deal with pressure? Does he remain optimistic that things will get better, and that after every difficulty comes ease? (3) How does he feel about women's rights in a Muslim home? Did he ever observe abuse from his father towards his mother? Did he ever act to prevent abuse at home? How? Did he believe that his father was always right? Does he believe that all women deserve abuse? How does he make decisions? Does he rely on his own wisdom? Does he consult with close friends? Will he be willing to consult with his spouse on any decision? Does he stick firmly to his decisions? (4) How does he deal with money matters? Does he save his money for the future? Does he give money to charities? When he decides to buy something, will he consult his spouse in making the decision? How does he describe his own spending and attitude towards money? (5) What does he expect from his wife and children? How would he react if his expectations are not met? What is his vision of family life? Would he pitch in and co-operate in family chores and the upbringing of children?

Would he be willing to change to accommodate your views? (6) What are his family like? Are his family religious, or will you be the only one in hijab? Does their approach to Islam differ from yours - will you be the only "fundamentalists" in a family whose Islam is more "traditional"? If this is a mixed match, are his folks open to outsiders, or will you face clannishness and exclusion? (7) What is his medical background? (Many Imams in the US are now refusing to conduct Nikah until they see proof that the couple have undergone blood tests and been given a clean bill of health) Has he ever had an AIDS test, and what was the result? Is there any history of major illness in his family? (8) What are his views on education of women and children? Will he allow you to continue and/or return to education? What are his views on education and schooling of children? If you have strong views on Islamic schools, home schooling, etc., find out if his views coincide with yours. Will he take part in the children's upbringing and education? Will he teach them Qur'an? (9) Where does he want to live? Does he want to settle in the country where you now live? Does he want to return to his homeland? Does he want to move to a new country altogether? Will the family have to move frequently because of his profession? Will he take your feelings into account when deciding where to live? Does he aspire to a large and luxurious home, or will he settle for less? Does he want to live in the heart of the city, in the suburbs, or in an isolated rural setting?

Day-to-day matters
Some of these are individual preferences - what may deeply concern some may not even be an issue to others, but if you have some strong feelings on a matter, it is better to get it out into the open before you make a commitment: (1) Food: Do you agree on the "halal meat" issue - some people will only eat halalslaughtered meat, whilst others will eat any "meat of the Jews and Christians" as long as it's not pork. Does he insist on only eating the food of his own ethnic group, or are his tastes more eclectic? Will he insist on having every meal cooked from scratch, or will you be able to have convenience food or take-away on busy days? Does he have some strong preferences for meat, or will you "go vegetarian" some days? (2) Smoking: Does he smoke? Do any of his family or friends smoke? Will he let people smoke in your non-smoking home? (3) Going Out: How does he feel about women going outside the home? studying outside? working outside? Will he want to "check out" your friends and only let you visit those of whom he approves? How does he feel about women driving? (4) Pets: Are either of you very keen to keep pets at home? Do either of you have any allergies, dislikes, or phobias when it comes to animals?

Taken from Bent Rib: A Journey through women's issues in Islam by Huda alKhattab ------------------------------------------------------------100 Premarital Questions 1. What is your concept of marriage? 2. Have you been married before? 3. Are you married now? 4. What are you expectations of marriage? 5. What are your goals in life? (long and short term) 6. Identify three things that you want to accomplish in the near future. 7. Identify three things that you want to accomplish, long term. 8. Why have you chosen me/other person as a potential spouse? 9. What is the role of religion in your life now? 10. Are you a spiritual person? 11. What is your understanding of an Islamic marriage? 12. What are you expecting of your spouse, religiously? 13. What is your relationship between yourself and the Muslims community in your area? 14. Are you volunteering in any Islamic activities? 15. What can you offer your zawj (spouse), spiritually? 16. What is the role of the husband? 17. What is the role of the wife? 18. Do you want to practice polygamy? 19. What is your relationship with your family? 20. What do you expect your relationship with the family of your spouse to be? 21. What do you expect your spouses relationship with your family to be? 22. Is there anyone in your family living with you now? 23. Are you planning to have anyone in your family live with you in the future? 24. If, for any reason, my relationship with your family turns sour, what should be done? 25. Who are your friends? (Identify at least three.) 26. How did you get to know them? 27. Why are they your friends? 28. What do you like most about them? 29. What will your relationship with them after marriage be? 30. Do you have friends of the opposite sex? 31. What is the level of your relationship with them now? 32. What will be the level of your relationship with them after marriage? 33. What type of relationship do you want your spouse to have with your friends? 34. What are the things that you do in your free time? 35. Do you love to have guests in your home for entertainment? 36. What are you expecting from your spouse when your friends come to the house? 37. What is your opinion of speaking other languages in home that I do not understand? (with friends or family) 38. Do you travel? 39. How do you spend your vacations?

40. How do you think your spouse should spend vacations? 41. Do you read? 42. What do you read? 43. After marriage, do you think that you are one to express romantic feelings verbally? 44. After marriage, do you think that you want to express affection in public? 45. How do you express your admiration for someone that you know now? 46. How do you express your feelings to someone who has done a favor for you? 47. Do you like to write your feelings? 48. If you wrong someone, how do you apologize? 49. If someone has wronged you, how do you want (s)he to apologize to you? 50. How much time passes before you can forgive someone? 51. How do you make important and less important decisions in your life? 52. Do you use foul language at home? In public? With family? 53. Do your friends use foul language? 54. Does your family use foul language? 55. How do you express anger? 56. How do you expect your spouse to express anger? 57. What do you do when you are angry? 58. When do you think it is appropriate to initiate mediation in marriage? 59. When there is a dispute in your marriage, religious or otherwise,how should the conflict get resolved? 60. Define mental, verbal, emotional and physical abuse. 61. What would you do if you felt that you had been abused? 62. Who would you call for assistance if you were being abused? 63. Do you suffer from any chronic disease or condition? 64. Are you willing to take a physical exam by a physician before marriage? 65. What is your understanding of proper health and nutrition? 66. How do you support your own health and nutrition? 67. What is you definition of wealth? 68. How do you spend money? 69. How do you save money? 70. How do you think that your use of money will change after marriage? 71. Do you have any debts now? If so, how are you making progress to eliminate them? 72. Do you use credit cards? 73. Do you support the idea of taking loans to buy a new home? 74. What are you expecting from your spouse financially? 75. What is your financial responsibility in the marriage? 76. Do you support the idea of a working wife? 77. If so, how do you think a dual-income family should manage funds? 78. Do you currently use a budget to manage your finances? 79. Who are the people to whom you are financially responsible? 80. Do you support the idea of utilizing baby sitters and/or maids? 81. Do you want to have children? If not, how come? 82. To the best of your understanding, are you able to have children?

83. Do you want to have children in the first two years of marriage? If not, when? 84. Do you believe in abortion? 85. Do you have children now? 86. What is your relationship with your children now? 87. What is your relationship with their other parent? 88. What relationship do you expect your spouse to have with your children and their parent? 89. What is the best method(s) of raising children? 90. What is the best method(s) of disciplining children? 91. How were you raised? 92. How were you disciplined? 93. Do you believe in spanking children? Under what circumstances? 94. Do you believe in public school for your children? 95. Do you believe in Islamic school for your children? 96. Do you believe in home schooling for your children? 97. What type of relationship should your children have with non-Muslim classmates/friends? 98. Would you send your children to visit their extended family if they lived in another state or country? 99. What type of relationship do you want your children to have with all their grandparents? 100. If there are members of my family that are not Muslim, that are of different race or culture, what type of relationship do you want to have with them?

Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him) - A Short Biography His name was unusual and incomplete. Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him) means "small grown". It is the diminutive form of the word "Jalbab". The name is an indication that Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him) was small and short. More than that, he is described as being "damam" which means ugly, deformed, or of repulsive appearance. Even more disturbing, for the society in which he lived, Julaybib's lineage was not known. There is no record of who his mother and father were, or to what tribe he belonged. This was considered a serious disability in his society. Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him) could not expect any compassion, protection, or support from a society that placed a great deal of importance on family and tribal connections. In this regard, all that was known of him was that he was an Arab and that, as far as the new community of Islam was concerned, he was one of the Ansar. He was shunned in his society. As an example, Abu Barzah, of the Aslam tribe, prohibited him from entering his home, and he told his wife: "Do not let Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him) enter among you. If he does, I shall certainly do something terrible to him."

Was there any hope for Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him) to be treated with respect and consideration? Was there any hope for him to find emotional satisfaction as an individual and as a man? Was there any hope for him to enjoy the relationships which others take for granted? And in the new society emerging under the guidance of the Prophet, was he so insignificant as to be overlooked in the preoccupation with the great affairs of state and in the supreme issues of life and survival which constantly engaged the attention of the Prophet((Peace be on him) ? Just as he was aware of the great issues of life and destiny, the Prophet (Peace be on him), who is mercy for all humanity, was also aware of the needs and feelings of his most humble companions. With Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him) in mind, the Prophet ((Peace be on him) went to one of the Ansar and said: I want to have your daughter married. "How wonderful and blessed, O Messenger of Allah, and what a delight to the eye (this would be)," replied the Ansari man with obvious joy and happiness. I do not want her for myself, added the Prophet ((Peace be on him) "Then for whom, O Messenger of Allah?" asked the man, obviously somewhat let down. For Julaybib , said the Prophet ((Peace be on him). The Ansari must have been too shocked to give his own reaction so he replied: "I will consult with her mother." And off he went to his wife. "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah (Ta’ala) bestow peace and blessings upon him, wants to have your daughter married", he told his wife. She was thrilled. "What a wonderful idea and what a delight to the eye (this would be)," she said. "He does not want to marry her himself, but he wants to marry her to Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him)," he added. She was flabbergasted! "To Julaybib? No, never to Julaybib! No, by the Living Allah, we shall not marry (her) to him." she protested. As the Ansari was about to return to the Prophet ((Peace be on him) to inform him of what his wife had said, the daughter, who had heard her mother's protestations, asked: "Who has asked to marry me?" Her mother told her of the Prophet's request to marry her to Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him). When she heard that the request had come from the Prophet (Peace be on him), and that her mother was absolutely opposed to the idea, she was greatly perturbed and said: "Do you refuse the request of the Messenger of Allah (Ta’ala)? Send me to him, for he shall certainly not bring ruin to me." This was the reply of a truly great person who had a clear understanding of what was required of her as a Muslim. What greater satisfaction and fulfillment can a Muslim find than in responding willingly to the requests and commands of the Messenger of Allah (Ta’ala)! Truly, this companion of the Prophet ((Peace be on

him), even though we do not know her name, set an example for all of us to obey the Quranic command: Whenever Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, it is not for a believing man or woman to claim freedom of choice in so far as this matter is concerned. And he who disobeys Allah and His Messenger ((Peace be on him) has, most obviously, gone astray. [Al-Ahzab 33:36] This was revealed in connection with the marriage of Zaynab bint Jahsh and Zayd bin Harithah, which was arranged by the Prophet ((Peace be on him) to show the egalitarian spirit of Islam. Zaynab, at first, was highly offended at the thought of marrying Zayd, a former slave, and refused to marry him. The Prophet ((Peace be on him) prevailed upon them both and they were married. The marriage however ended in divorce and Zaynab was eventually married to the Prophet ((Peace be on him) himself. It is said that the Ansari girl read the verse to her parents and said: "I am satisfied, and submit myself to whatever Allah's Messenger ((Peace be on him) deems good for me." The Prophet ((Peace be on him) heard of her reaction and prayed for her: `O Lord, bestow good on her in abundance and make not her life one of toil and trouble.' It is said that among the Ansar, there was not a more eligible bride than her. She was married by the Prophet ((Peace be on him) to Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him), and they lived together until he was killed. He went on an expedition with the Prophet ((Peace be on him), and an encounter with some mushrikin ensued. When the battle was over, the Prophet ((Peace be on him) asked his companions: Have you lost anyone? They named their relatives or close friends who were killed. Another group answered that they had lost no close relative whereupon the Prophet ((Peace be on him) said: But I have lost Julaybib. Search for him in the battlefield. They searched and found him beside seven mushrikin whom he had struck before meeting his end. The Prophet ((Peace be on him) stood up and went to the spot where Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him), his short and deformed companion, lay. The Prophet of Allah stood over him and said: He killed seven and then was killed? This man is of me and I am of him. He repeated this two or three times. The Prophet (Peace be on him) then took him in his arms and it is said that he had no better bed besides the forearms of the Messenger of Allah. The Prophet (Peace be on him) then dug for him a grave, and himself placed him in it. The Prophet of Allah did not wash him, for the one slain in the Way of Allah is not washed before burial.

Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him) and his wife are not among the companions of the Prophet (Peace be on him) whose deeds of obedience and valor are well known. The little that is known about them demonstrates how the meek and the humble were given hope and dignity by the Prophet ((Peace be on him) where once there was only despair and self-debasement. The attitude of the unknown and unnamed Ansari girl, who readily agreed to be the wife of a physically unattractive man, reflected a profound understanding of Islam. It reflected the effacement of personal desires and preferences, even when she could have counted on the support of her parents. It reflected a total disregard for social norms and pressures. It reflected, above all, a ready and unshakable confidence in the wisdom and authority of the Prophet ((Peace be on him) in submitting herself to whatever he deemed good. This is indeed the attitude of the true believer. In Julaybib (May Allah be pleased with him), there is the example of a person who was regarded as a social outcast because of his mere appearance. Given confidence by his faith in Allah, the Glorious, and encouragement by the noble Prophet ((Peace be on him), he was able to perform great acts of courage and was blessed by the most virtuous death a believer could ever hope for - death fighting in the Way of Allah, the Supreme. This led to the commendation which should be the desire of every believer: the commendation of the Prophet ((Peace be on him) of Allah: He is of me, and I am of him.

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect." (Qur'an 30:21) In the Qur'an, the marriage relationship is described as one with "tranquility," "love" and "mercy." Elsewhere in the Qur'an, husband and wife are described as "garments" for each other (2:187). Garments offer protection, comfort, modesty, and warmth. Above all, the Qur'an describes that the best garment is the "garment of God-consciousness" (7:26). Muslims view marriage as the foundation of society and family life. In a practical aspect, Islamic marriage is thus structured through legally-enforceable rights and duties of both parties. In an atmosphere of love and respect, these rights and duties provide a framework for the balance of family life and the fulfillment of both partners.

While these are the Islamic ideals, we all need help achieving them sometimes. See these online articles for further ideas and support for your marriage.

Back to Path to Islam ...

Marriage in Islam: Considered from a Legal Point of View
by Dr. Ahmad Shafaat (1984) From a legal point of view Islam views marriage as an 'aqd or contract. Like any other contract the marriage contract requires full and free consent of the parties concerned. The parents or guardian of any of the parties may give advice, choose a marriage partner or use persuasion, but the final decision to enter into a marriage must be the result of a free choice on the part of each partner, even though this freely made choice may consist of nothing but accepting the choice of one's parents or guardian. This right of free choice is fairly well recognized in the case of men but (unfortunately) not in the case of women. In the Holy Qur'an we read: "Do not inherit women against their will" (4:19) And in Hadith we find traditions like the following: "Khansa bint Khidhan who had a previous marriage, related that when her father married her and she disapproved of that, she went to the Messenger of God and he revoked her marriage." (Bukhari, Ibn Majah) "A [girl who was not married] came to the Messenger of God and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet allowed her to exercise her choice." (Abu Da'ud, on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas) Just as any adult can enter into any legal contract, so also any adult man or woman can arrange his or her own marriage, provided that during the process of arranging the marriage there is no sexual contact, in other words, there is no dating in the North American style. It is well known that Khadijah, the Prophet's first wife arranged her own marriage with the Prophet. It is true that this happened before Muhammad received prophethood. But if an arrangement by a woman of her own marriage were so shameful in the eyes of Allah as it is in the eyes of some Muslims, then He would have somehow prevented His Messenger from such a marriage. Moreover, there are some ahadith which show that even after receiving prophethood Muhammad did not disapprove of women arranging their own marriage.We quote here one such hadith: "A woman came to the Messenger of God and offered herself to him (in marriage). When she had stood for a long time (without receiving an answer) a man got up and said: Messenger of God! Marry her to me if you have no need of her. He asked the man if he had anything to give her as dower (marriage gift), and when he replied that he had nothing but the lower garment he was wearing, the Prophet said: Look for something, even though it be an iron ring. Then when the man had searched and found nothing, God's Messenger asked him whether he knew anything of the Qur'an. When the man replied that he knew Surah so and so and Surah so and so, God's Messenger said: Go away, I give her to you in marriage. Teach her some of the Qur'an." (Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Sahl bin Sa'd) In this hadith a woman is arranging her own marriage but the Prophet does not rebuke her or admonish her in any other way. Thus while it may not be the best thing for a woman to do, she can if she wishes, make a marriage proposal for herself without being blameworthy in the eyes of God.

What are the terms involved in the marriage contract? This contract involves two things: First, a gift from the husband to the wife, which may be a sum of money, an object of some value such as a ring or such non-material things as acceptance of Islam or teaching a part of the Qur'an(1). Second, a commitment from both parties to try to make life physically comfortable for each other and to provide emotional, psychological and spiritual happiness to each other, with the responsibility for taking care of economic needs generally falling on the shoulders of the man.(2) At the time of the marriage both partners should have the fullest possible intention of keeping the marriage commitment for life, although under some extreme circumstances it may perhaps be possible to enter into a marriage contract on a temporary basis.(3) Even though the marriage commitment is for life, should it so happen that after marriage the two partners find it impossible to live together the Islamic law provides for the termination of the marriage contract. The termination of the marriage contract can be initiated by any party which has decided that the other party cannot or will not satisfactorily fulfill the commitment implicit in the marriage contract, namely, to provide enough physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual happiness. It is evident that the judgment as to whether a marriage partner is getting enough satisfaction out of his or her marriage is a subjective one and therefore belongs entirely to the partner himself or herself. Consequently, for the dissolution of marriage Islam does not require that a partner prove to some authority such as a court that there has indeed been a failing on the part of the other partner in the fulfillment of his or her marital obligations. It is enough for the dissatisfied partner to say that he or she can no longer love or respect the other partner to be able to continue living with him or her. Third parties such as relatives, the community, etc. can and indeed should (4:35) get involved at some stage of marriage difficulties and try to prevent the break-up of the marriage through counseling, etc.; but they cannot oblige any marriage partner to remain in the marriage bond, as for example the catholic church or the Hindu tradition that obliges couples to remain tied in marriage until one of the partners dies. A man can on his own dissolve the marriage by following a prescribed procedure, the details of which need not concern us here. A woman can dissolve the marriage by asking the husband to divorce her and if he refuses can go to court which should arrange the terms of dissolution as regards to compensation and order the husband to dissolve the marriage.(4) To avoid this procedure the woman can include in the marriage contract the condition that she can dissolve the marriage without having to go to court. The party which initiates the divorce may have to pay some compensation to the other party. This compensation may be the return of the marriage gift in the case of a woman initiating the divorce(5) and payment of an alimony in the case of a man taking that step.(6) Again, the details of these matters are out of the scope of this article. The degree by which the husband has greater right In the above outline of the legal view of marriage in Islam, man and women are completely equal partners except in the following respects:

1) Both parties make the equal responsibility to provide physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual happiness to each other, but men generally have the added responsibility to provide for the economic needs of the wife. 2) In case the husband initiates divorce, he is obliged by religious law to pay some maintenance expenses (2:241). This prescribed alimony belongs to the wife by right. However, when the woman initiates the divorce she does not pay any compensation to the husband as requirement of religious law; she need at most return part of what she received from the husband as dower if such payment is helpful in an amicable settlement. (2:229) 3) A man can divorce his wife on his own while a woman needs to go through court or introduce into the marriage a clause giving her the right to divorce her husband. In regard to the above differences the Holy Qur'an says: "And (wives) shall have rights similar to those (the husbands have) over them, in accordance with justice, (except that) husbands' rights are a degree greater." (2:228) "Husbands are guardians (qawwamun) of wives because God has favoured some more than others and because they (i.e. husbands generally) spend out of their wealth." (4:34) The first of the above two Qur'anic statements occurs in a long passage dealing with divorce and should be understood in relation to that context. The degree by which husband's rights are greater should therefore be understood as the degree by which the husband is freer than the wife to break the marriage bond. This, however, is not a very big degree since as stated earlier the wife can get out of the marriage bond whenever she wants to, practically without giving any reason. It is only that she has to follow a more indirect procedure. The second Qur'anic statement refers to the greater responsibility husbands generally have as protectors and providers of women and to the greater say this gives them in making decisions. The fact that husbands' rights are a degree greater does not effect the claim that in Islam men and women have equal rights, since men's greater rights within the marriage relationship do not mean that men also enjoy greater rights outside that relationship and since within the marriage relationship men's greater rights are completely justified by their greater responsibility. We must remember here that whenever we talk about members of a society having equal rights it is never precluded that members of that society cannot freely enter into terminable arrangements in which some take greater responsibility and therefore also have greater rights. Equality of rights can only be asserted on the assumption of equality of responsibility. This principle sometimes works in favour of women. For example, as mothers women give much more to children than do men as fathers and so Islam recognizes greater rights of mothers over children than of fathers except where economic considerations demand otherwise.

Notes
(1)

See the hadith quoted earlier in which the dower for marriage consists of the husband teaching a portion of the Holy Qur'an to the wife. In the following hadith it consists of the husband accepting Islam: "Umm Sulaym had become a Muslim before Abu Talha and when he asked her in marriage she said: "I have become a Muslim. so if you also become one I shall marry you." Abu Talha accepted Islam and that was the dower arranged between them." (Nasa'i on the authority of Anas) This hadith also supports the view that men and women can arrange their own marriage.
(2)

See Qur'an 4:34. The wife can, however, with her own free will choose to share part of the economic burden. Khadijah helped the Prophet and Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr, helped her poor husband Zubayr.
(3)

This is the shi'a view. Sunni traditions admit that temporary marriage was at some point in time allowed in Islam but say that this was later forbidden.
(4)

See Qur'an 2:229 in the light of the following hadith:

"The wife of Thabit bin Qays came to the Prophet and said, "Messenger of God, I do not reproach Thabit bin Qays in respect of character or religion but I do not want to be guilty of kufran regarding Islam (meaning that she did not like him enough as a marriage partner and so was afraid she might not give him the respect and love due to a husband)." God's Messenger asked her if she would give back to Thabit his garden, and when she replied that she would, he told him to accept the garden and declare the divorce." (Bukhari, Nasa'i, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Bayhaqi, on the authority of Ibn Abbas) (5) See the hadith quoted in the previous note. The wife is not obligated by religious law to pay the compensation and need only do so as part of a settlement with the husband. (Qur'an 2:229)
(6)

"For divorced women a reasonable maintenance (should be provided). This is a duty on the righteous." (Qur'an 2:241)

First published in Al-Ummah, Montreal, Canada in 1984. Copyright, Dr. Ahmad Shafaat. The article may be reproduced for Da'wah purpose with proper references. [Family and Marriage] [Mainpage] [What's New?]