“Whoever marries has completed half of his faith. So let him fear Allah regarding the other half.” (At-Tabarani)
This sounds quite easy but it in reality it is a very strong statement. The fact is, marriage contains half of the issues of life – it involves fulfilling the rights of Allah and rights of other people – the two partners and by extension, two families. It involves coming together on the basis of love, understanding, co-operation and mutual advice, keeping the ties of family, being patient and compassionate, and establishing a Muslim family in which children will develop Islamic character and personality to strengthen the society. This is a commitment not to be taken lightly. Marriage is indeed a blessed contract in which Allah has prescribed rules to be followed. Therefore, anybody who is seeking to get married should learn the ‘how’ in order to reap the benefits.
After it is clear that both parties are free of any hindrance that might render the marriage forbidden (i.e. they are not close relatives who are permanently forbidden to marry), the other essential conditions of a sound Islamic marriage are:
Offer and acceptance
For an Islamic marriage to take place, there must be an offer and acceptance and both parties (i.e. the prospective bride and groom) should be pleased with one another.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “No previously-married woman (widow or divorcee) may be married until she has been asked about her wishes (she should state clearly her wishes), and no virgin should be married without her permission.” They asked, “O Messenger of Allah, how is her permission given (because she will feel very shy)?” He said: “By her silence.” (Bukhari)
She may verbally accept or reject the offer, but if she remains silent, her silence will be taken to be consent. Therefore consent should be sought and given and it is not permissible for the guardian, whether he is the father or anyone else, to marry off anyone under his care without her consent.
This is demonstrated in the hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) “that a virgin girl came to the Prophet (SAW) and told him that her father had married her off against her objections. The Prophet (SAW) gave her the choice (either to remain married or to cancel it).” (Dawood)
The Wali is the one who does the contract on the woman’s behalf. It is not permissible under any circumstances to get married without a guardian, because the Prophet (SAW) said: “There is no marriage except with a guardian.” (Abu Dawood)
The seriousness of the impermissibility is explicit in another statement of the Prophet (SAW) when he said: “Any woman who gets married without the permission of her guardian, her marriage is invalid, her marriage is invalid, her marriage is invalid.” (Ahmad)
The presence of two witnesses is essential because the Prophet (SAW) said: “There is no marriage contract except with a guardian and two witnesses.” (Ahmad)
First of all, the two witnesses signify obedience to Allah and His Rasul (SAW). In addition, the wisdom behind it amongst other reasons, is that it indicates a marriage contract is not only connected to the rights of the parties involved but also to the rights of others, for example, if any children come as one of the fruits of the marriage, and a father were to repudiate his child, there would be people to testify to the occurrence of the marriage.
The Mahr is also referred to as Sadaaqi, Jointure or Dowry. In contrast to the widespread practice in some countries, the Mahr is the right of the wife, which is hers to take in its totality. It is not permitted for her father or anyone else to take it or for the wife’s family to pay the husband or for the wife not to be given anything at all. Allah explicitly states: “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr with a good heart…” (Surah An-Nisaa’:4)
Scholars of tafseer have commented on this ayah saying that “The man must definitely pay the dowry to the woman, and he should not resent it.”
Similarly, if the wife waives any part of the Mahr, the husband is permitted to take it, as Allah says “… but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).” (Surah An-Nisaa’: 4)
When Ali married Fatimah, Allah’s messenger (SAW) said to him “Give her something (as jointure)”. He replied, “I have nothing.” He said, “Where is your coat of mail?” (Abu Dawood)
Therefore the Mahr is not fixed, and it varies according to culture and class of the woman. It could be in the form of money, gold, ornaments, clothes, land or even teaching the memorisation of the Qur’an.