Will you give information about the conditions of a religious marriage contract? How is a religious marriage contract performed?

The Details of the Question

What verse or prayer is recited at the marriage ceremony and how is it performed?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to Islam, nikah (marriage contract) consists of a man and a woman (or their proxies) who have the capacity to marry and between whom there is no religious obstacle to marry, expressing their mutual consent to marry each other in the presence of witnesses (ijab and qabul) with words that cannot be interpreted or denied, such as “I have married you, I have accepted you as a wife/husband” in the presence of witnesses. (Ibn Nujaym, al-Bahr, 3/82-83)

This type of official marriage contract, which is performed as a result of the fulfillment of all conditions, is also religiously valid.

After the official marriage contract, people who get married can have a chapter from the Holy Quran and a supplication recited at home or in a suitable place and have the marriage contract performed. It is definitely good to pray for the established home to bring happiness and lead to good and healthy generations. It is also in accordance with our customs.

However, today, religious marriage without a civil marriage is not appropriate in terms of protecting the rights of women and children. As a matter of fact, the decree on Osmanlı Aile Hukuku (Ottoman Family Law) stipulated that the marriage had to be registered with the qadi of the city and the registration of the marriage was insisted on.

After this brief information, we will give the details:

Nikah is a contract and an agreement. There are some conditions for it. If any of these conditions is not fulfilled, the marriage will not be valid.

1. The presence of the couple to be married or the people to whom they have given power of attorney.

2. The statement of the spouses that they accept the marriage contract by saying “I have accepted”.

3. Announcement of the marriage. It must not be kept secret. This condition is according to Maliki madhhab.

4. The permission of the girl’s guardian. This is according to all madhhabs except Hanafi madhhab.

5. The presence of witnesses. The witnesses must be two sane men who have reached the age of puberty, or one man and two women. In other words, at least one man must be present as a witness.

As it is seen, a marriage contract without witnesses is not valid and a person cannot marry without witnesses.

Nikah and talaq, in other words, marriage and divorce are a religious institution; it is also considered among deeds of worship because its source is the Quran and hadiths. There are hundreds of verses and thousands of hadiths regarding the issue. Those verses both draw the boundaries of the institution of marriage and determine the responsibilities and obligations. In some verses, the issue is given in full detail. Hadiths, on the other hand, define, explain and teach all the details of the institution of marriage and family.

Likewise, the issue of marriage and talaq constitutes a separate chapter in Islamic law books. For example, one volume of Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen’s eight-volume “Hukuk-u İslâmiye ve Istılâhât-ı Fıkhiyye Kamusu”, a comprehensive work in Turkish, is allocated to this issue.

Let us read the meanings of some Quranic verses to help us understand the subject and to serve as an example:

“Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and he knoweth all things. Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah gives them means out of His grace...” (an-Nur, 24/32 and 33)

“Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters, sisters; father’s sisters, Mother’s sisters; brother’s daughters, sister’s daughters; foster-mothers (Who gave you suck), foster-sisters; your wives’ mothers; your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in,- no prohibition if ye have not gone in;- (Those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (an-Nisa, 4/23)

Nikah has its own conditions, which have been explained above. Until the Republican era, there were no such expressions as “religious marriage, civil marriage” in our country. When Islamic law was abolished and replaced by “civil” law adapted from the West, and when marriage contracts were assigned to municipalities, such questions came to the fore. However, in heavenly religions such as Judaism and Christianity, marriage ceremonies are still held in synagogues and churches, as they were in the past. In fact, the same thing holds true for Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said,

“Announce the marriage contract and perform it in mosques.”

The hadith above reminds us of this principle. When this procedure was taken away from mosques and moved to municipal marriage halls, the question of whether the marriage contract has a “religious” nature came to mind.

Since nikah has certain conditions, this issue is known by scholars and religious officials as a whole, and the marriage contract has been performed by scholars and imams. Therefore, the popular name for marriage is “imam’s nikah” in our country.

In fact, this procedure is not the work of an imam or a hodja. Every Muslim performs his/her deeds of worship by learning about them beforehand; similarly, he/she needs to start preparations for marriage (nikah) after researching and learning about marriage and its conditions and responsibilities; then, the parties will accept each other as husband and wife in the presence of witnesses and perform their marriage contract. In other words, there is no requirement for an imam to be present at the marriage contract, as in congregational prayer. The conditions are clear and the contract is made accordingly.

Is only an official marriage contract enough? Are those who have only a civil marriage contract considered married in the sight of Allah

Nikah is a religious institution and has certain conditions. If the same conditions and principles are present in a civil marriage, i.e., a marriage performed by a municipal official, the marriage contract is regarded as nikah. However, if the conditions and principles are not observed or even ignored, things will change and the marriage might be overshadowed:

In a civil marriage, the couple to be married clearly state that they are getting married. However, those statements must be definite and must not be possible to interpret differently.

 Another important point is that the witnesses must be Muslims and at least one of the two witnesses must be a man. However, in the secular system, it is sufficient for the witness to be Turkish citizens.

The parties to be married must not be milk siblings. However, this issue is not investigated in the official marriage, nor is it asked by the official.

A Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man. However, in the legislation in force, this issue is not taken into consideration, and the official performs the marriage contract even without asking about it.

If those drawbacks do not exist, official marriage can be sufficient for the marriage to be permissible. In fact, the essential condition of the marriage is that the parties accept each other as husband and wife in the presence of two witnesses.

However, the marriage contract within the framework of Islamic standards must not be neglected and must be performed.

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