Marriage

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An Iranian marriage: Two women wearing white chadors (usually from the relatives of the groom) holding a piece of fabric above the groom and the bride's head while they're waiting for the sigha to be read by the clergyman. And another woman is grinding two pieces of sugar above the fabric as a symbol of sweetness and happiness in their lives

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Nikāḥ (Arabic: "نکاح", English: "marriage") is a union of a male and a female under sharia conditions. When a male and a female get married, they become "halal" (halal here means that they can have sexual relationship) and morally and legally responsible to each other.

There are two kinds of nikah: 1- Permanent nikah which is the common and known marriage in almost all cultures and religions, and remains to the end of their lives or a divorce. 2- Temporary nikah (mut'a) which is only in Islam and it's time-limited.

In nikah, the man and the woman decide to marry with each other, but it is not enough; a specific "sigha" ought to be read by themselves or their lawyers. Any sexual relationship outside of marriage is severely forbidden in religions including Islam.

There are numerous and emphatic recommendations for marriage in the Qur'an and hadith. For example, the Prophet (s) stated that everyone who gets married in their youth, half (or two third) of their faith is protected, and characterized the 'azab (unmarried person who is under the pressure of sexual need) as the worst of his Umma (Muslims), and stated that anyone who refuses to marry is not a real follower of him, and believed that a fear of poverty and indigence is an irrational fear and amounts to be suspicious of Allah.

Marriage in Islam has a lot of rulings and is closely connected with subjects such as sexual intercourse, mahr (a mandatory payment, in the form of money or possessions paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage, that legally becomes her property), nafaqa (the financial support a husband must provide for his wife), inheritance, hidana (child custody), divorce, 'idda (the period a female must observe after the death of her husband or after divorce, during which she may not marry another male).

Significance

The Arabic term for marriage "نکاح" (transliteration: nikah) literally means to pair, and in the common sense in Islamic thought means matrimony which makes a male and a female "halal", and after that they will become legally and morally responsible to each other.

Every culture has its own especial rules, laws and customs for marriage. All these cultures are respected by Islam, as a hadith states: "Every nation has specific marriage customs and traditions".

To get married is admired in Islam and all the Muslims should help singles to marry. Especially parents are supposed to feel a great weight of responsibility for their children's marriage, and if the youths commit a sin because of being single, the parents have their share in the sin.

It is recommended to reduce the expenses of marriage, including mahr. And it's better to hold a simple ceremony. According to a hadith, high amount of mahr and high costs for living are the signs of the inauspiciousness of the wife. God did not act severely in rulings of marriage, and he asked people through Shu'aib's words, not to take the marriage hard.

The Qur'an states that the poverty and indigence should not prevent people from getting married, because Allah will enrich the poor out of his bounty.

Prophets forbade people from satisfying their sexual desires in irreligious ways such as masturbation, adultery, and homosexuality. In the Qur'an, Lot's people who did not follow the natural way of satisfying their sexual desires and condoned homosexual conduct, are called "transgressing" and "excessive" people. In other verses, irreligious ways of satisfying the sexual need are mentioned as indecency and evil way.

There were divergent kinds of marriage in the age of ignorance such as al-nikah al-maqt (which allowed a man to marry his father's widow or divorced wife), al-nikah al-khadan (Secret cohabitation by lovers without a contract and for an unspecified time), al-nikah al-shighar (an arrangement in which a person gives a female in his trust to someone who does the same, without either paying the mahr). All these kinds of marriage were forbidden in Islam.

Marriage is usually mustahab (literally "recommended" is an Islamic term referring to recommended, favored or virtuous actions) but in special circumstances it could have other rules. For example, it is wajib (obligatory) for the one who probably commit a sin for being single, and is haram (forbidden) for a male who has four wives, and is makruh (reprehensible) if the person does not have any sexual desire, and is mubah (neither encouraged or discouraged) if each of marrying and not marrying have the their own Islamic advantages.

In Qur'an

The root "زوج" (English: pair) and its derivatives are used more than 80 times, and the word nikah (Arabic: نکاح) and its derivatives are used 23 times in the Qur'an. Concepts such as talaq (divorce), zihar (a kind of divorce in ignorance era which was later abrogated in Islam), ila' (referring to the husband's oath of not sleeping with his wife to bother her), 'idda, mar'a (female) , ba'l (husband), nisa' (females), al-dhakar wa l-untha (male and female), ihsan (chastity), sidaq (mahr), ajr, mass (sexual intercourse), tahrim and ihlal are included in the broad subject of marriage. There are some objectives and benefits for marriage mentioned in the Qur'an:

  • Repose and inner calm;
  • Permanence of human race;
  • Bringing up good children;
  • Affection and mercy;
  • Satisfying sexual need;
  • Prevents committing sins;
  • The poor will be enriched out of Allah's bounty.

In Hadith

There are a lot of excellence gained by, and recommendations for marriage in hadiths as following:

  • Marriage is the greatest divine gift and blessing after being a Muslim;
  • It is the tradition of the Prophet (s);
  • It is more recommended in youth;
  • Low mahr is important;
  • Marriage is the most beautiful construction for Allah;
  • The prayer of a married person is seventy times more valuable than the prayer of a single person;
  • Marriage is the cause of increase in rizq;
  • Couples are recommended to be sensual in their privacy;
  • Serving the spouse has many rewards and brings about God's forgiveness for sins;
  • Keeping the balance in the relationship with the spouse (so the relationship wouldn't get cold and become a routine);
  • Being respectful to the spouse raises one's own respect and value;
  • The deeper affection for the spouse, the higher degree of faith;
  • There should not be any compulsion in choosing a spouse;
  • It is recommended that husband tries to show his love to his wife through nice words;
  • If the husband is wealthy, he must not be thrifty or stingy towards his family;
  • Spending time with family is valuable and Allah would reward for it;
  • It is recommended that wife obey husband's words;
  • Getting married ought not to be postponed;
  • The 'azabs (English: singles) are the worst of the Umma.

Varieties of Nikah

Nikah is divided into three kinds:

Permanent Nikah

Permanent nikah is the common marriage in which male and female are called married after marriage proposal, determination of the mahr (the male and the female need to make and agreement on this before the marriage), and reading sigha. Before reading the sigha, the male and the female are not husband and wife, but after reading it, they become husband and wife, even if they don't live in the same home yet.

Temporary Nikah

Main article: Mut'a

Temporary nikah or mut'a, is a time-limited marriage in which a male and a female become husband and wife for a limited period of time on which they agree beforehand, by reading sigha after an agreement on a specified mahr.

Permanent nikah and the temporary one share most rulings; therefore in mut'a also, the man and the woman are called zawj (husband) and zawja (wife), and the child born from this kind of marriage is religiously and legally treated exactly the same as the child born from the permanent marriage. For example, it is wajib for the father to pay the child's nafaqa (expences), and the child inherit from the parents.

However, there are some differences as well. In this type of marriage, the husband is not legally responsible for nafaqa such as providing food, clothing, house and other daily necessities for the wife. And the wife doesn't need any permission from husband to go out of her house.

To end the temporary marriage does not require a divorce. It automatically finishes in these two cases:

  • When the duration of the contract on which the couples had agreed before, is over;
  • If the husband gives over the remaining time of the contract before its expiration.

In both cases, the contract terminates and the female ought to undergo 'idda under certain terms.

Temporary nikah has been a disputable social theme, and even though it's allowed in Islam, some disapprove of it because of some misuses.

Milk al-Yamin

Milk al-yamin is to marry a female slave. and it has two types:

  1. The master is the owner of the slave: the sexual relationship between the master and the slave is jayiz (allowed), unless the slave is married;
  2. The master can makes his/her slave mubah for another person; which is called tahlil in fiqh.

As there is many situations in which slaves are freed in Islam, there has been no slave in most of the Islamic societies for centuries.

'Aqd al-Nikah (Marriage Contract)

Nikah begins with an 'aqd. Male and female are not married before reading sigha and have to adhere to all the principles of two non-mahrams, otherwise they would commit a sin.

'Aqd al-nikah is valid if some conditions are satisfied:

  1. Qasd al-insha' (intention to pronounce a male and a female, husband and wife);
  2. Paying attention to the content of the 'aqd;
  3. Muwalat (ijab and qabul ought to be done successively and without delay);
  4. Tanjiz ('aqd must be irrevocable and not be conditional);
  5. Pronouncing the words of 'aqd correctly.

Getting engaged doesn't make a male and a female halal, and the rulings of married couples are not applied on the two persons who are only engaged without the marriage 'aqd.

The male and the female are the only ones who should make the final decision about their marriage. However, most of the jurists believe that the girl needs her father's permission (or her grandfather's in the case that her father is not alive) if she's getting married for the first time.

Prohibited Cases

Nikah could be haram sometimes; either permanently or temporarily. The following shows in which cases nikah is permanently or temporarily haram:

Prohibited Marriage Explanation
Seven members of consanguineous relatives Mother, daughter, sister, father's sister, mother's sister, brother's daughter, sister's daughter
Rida' It is a technical term from Islamic jurisprudence meaning the milk-suckling which produces permanent relation between the sucking newborn and the breast-feeding woman. All the seven members mentioned above are produced by rida' as well.
In-law mahrams Mother-in-law, father-in-law's mother, mother-in-law's mother, and so on, wife's daughter, son's wife, wife's sister, step-mother
Being married or to undergoing 'idda It's haram to marry a woman who is married or has recently got divorced and her 'idda is not finished yet,
Committing adultery with a married female or with a female who is undergoing rij'i 'idda [Note 1] Marriage would become eternally haram in such case.
After the third divorce A divorced couple can marry each other again, but if they get divorced three times, their marriage would become forbidden; unless the woman marries another man and gets divorced, in such a case she can marry her first husband again.
Having more than four wives by permanent nikah Man is not allowed to have more than four wives by permanent marriage at the same time, but he can have more wives by temporary marriage.
To marry a Kafir (unbeliever)
To marry Ahl al-Kitab (People of the book i.e. Christians and Jews) Muslims are not allowed to marry non-Muslims, but there is only one exception; Only Muslim males could marry Ahl al-Kitab females temporarily.

How a Marriage Contract Annuls

The end of marriage is different in the two types of marriage:

Permanent marriage: 'aqd of permanent nikah is annulled under the following conditions:

  • Getting divorced;
  • Passing away of one of the couple;
  • Irtidad (conscious abandonment of Islam) of one of the couple;
  • If one of the couple who were not Muslim before the marriage, becomes Muslim (under certain circumstances);
  • Li'an: in the case that the husband accuses his wife of committing adultery. If the husband doesn't have enough evidence to prove his wife's sin, the husband and the wife curse each other in a special way in the court. Then the husband takes an oath that his wife committed adultery. And the wife in response to her husband, takes the same oath that her husband is not right and denies the accusation. After li'an, the marriage is over and the man and the woman can never marry each other again.

Temporary marriage: This marriage is annulled by the above-mentioned conditions (except divorce) with two additions:

  • When the duration of the 'aqd (contract) ends
  • The husband disregards the remaining time of the marriage (this is the divorce in mut'a)

Rights

There are some rights for both husband and wife, as the Qur'an states:

Since the male and the female are members of the society, both have similar civil rights, but each has many different rights within the family due to different roles and positions they have as a husband or a wife. In other words, they have different duties and responsibilities, therefore they have different rights. Every institution, including the family, needs a manager, and in Islam the husband is supposed to undertake such a responsibility. The Qur'an states that Allah made men in charge of women, but does not state that Allah made the males superior to the females. Human society, in fact, is a system in which every member has their own duties and responsibilities; So is the family.

Wife's Rights Husband's Rights Mutual Rights

1. Mahr: It is recommended for the female not to put it high.
2. Nafaqa
3. Sexual relationship

1. Divorce
2. Istimta' (derive sexual benefit from the wife)
3. To be obeyed by his wife about matters such as going out of the house or having guest at home
4. 'Idda

1. To care about religion and each other's morals.
2. To be cheerful and dispel gloom.
3. Inheritance

According to Risalat al-huquq (Treatise of Rights), Imam al-Sajjad (a) introduces some of the rights of husband and wife as following:

  • Never forget that your wife is a gift from Allah and is the cause of your repose and inner calm, so thank Allah for this divine gift and express your appreciation by being good-tempered with her and by honoring her and tolerate her mistakes and bad behaviors.
  • Wife's right is that you behave kindly towards her and to be quite fond of her, and make her and yourself calm in satisfying sexual needs.
  • Husband's right is that the wife succors her husband and acknowledges him as long as there is no sin;
  • it is a great right that wife is obliged not to violate.

In another hadith, the husband's jihad is to fight in the battle field, and the wife's jihad is to care about the husband and tolerate his petulance.

One of the problem that it could happen between husband and wife's is nushuz (violating rights of each other). If such problem happens, the Qur'an suggested a process in which the family should solve the issue.

Choosing a Spouse

There is no certain way of proposal or choosing a spouse in Islam. Each of the male and the female can propose to another, but normally in many societies the male is the one who does the proposal. However, it the case of 'aqd the female (or her lawyer) starts reading the first part of sigha which should be followed by reading the second part by the groom (or his lawyer).

Some Criteria

Although, people are free about how to choose their spouse, but there are some criteria mentioned in hadiths which suggest a way for finding a proper person to marry with. These criteria are as follows:

  1. Being religious, not only in words, but also in practice. Especially it is forbidden to marry someone who drinks alcohol or commits adultery.
  2. Being good-tempered. There is a narration about someone who asked Imam 'Ali b. Musa al-Rida (a): "someone proposed to my daughter but he is bad-tempered. Should I agree with their marriage?" Imam (a) replied: "If he is so, do not agree".
  3. Family honor.
  4. Kufwiyya (similarity): It's been said that the more the couples are similar in their characteristics, the stronger their marriage bond will be.

There are also some other factors relating to one's taste or status, but they fall into the second category of importance, such as beauty, similarity in race, financial status, and so on.

In the Hereafter (Heaven)

According to The Qur'an, men will have wives in the Heaven and their wives will be either from hur al-'in or from pious heavenly females. If both husband and wife are heavenly and they wish to keep living together in the Heaven, they would remain couples. In the Qur'an the heavenly females are described as beautiful, loving, virgin, good-tempered, eternal, and of the same age with their husband in the Heaven.

Notes

  1. It is concerned a kind of divorce that is called Rij'i i.e. the male, after divorce, can marry her again, without a need to read the 'aqd again.

References

  • This article is mainly taken from ازدواج in Farsi WikiShia.