Marriage Contract and Agreement

By: Khalid Iqbal, founder Rahmaa Institute

In Islam marriage is a contract that should be given due diligence and importance for a better future life together. The couple spend so much time, money and energy in planning for the most memorable wedding day, but often fail to put effort into the most important aspect that will deal with future life and happy married life, Marriage Contract and Agreement. When done in good faith this contract and agreement will protect the following most important aspects of life:

1. Religion
2. Intellect
3. Life
4. Property
5. Honor

The marriage contract and agreement should be simple, written in clear language, is not coerced on either party or done under duress, does not have any wrong or ulterior motive, and most of all with “taqwa” of Allah in the heart.

Marriage Contract

Marriage contract is the Nikah document that defines critical elements related to marriage and life together. The purpose of the marriage contract is to uphold the law relating to religion (Shariah) and the law of the land. The contract and the agreement must reflect how the couple can pursue the good of this life and the hereafter. The essential elements of the contracts are as follows:

1. Mahr (Dowry) amount upfront and deferred, with terms of payments clearly defined for deferred mahr if any
2. Bride’s permission. This is a requirement for the wedding to go through to be valid. Without her clear consent the contract is null and void and the marriage cannot take place.
3. Wali (Guardian) for the bride. Normally, a woman’s wali is her father. If, for any reason, her father is unable to be her wali, her wali would then be her next closest blood relation: the grandfather, uncle, brother, son and so on.
4. Witnesses. At least two witnesses. Prophet Mohammad SWS recommended to choose witnesses who are pious and possess taqwa.
5. Wife’s right to divorce. Besides the essentials, it may include matters of importance to both that they feel may cause turbulence in their married life. One example is the right to divorce for women either unconditional or conditional right to divorce. Unconditional right to divorce gives the wife the right to divorce herself from the marriage without seeking a decision form a Qadhi, judge or Imam. In majority of the cases the bride puts certain conditions such as physical or other kind of violence, gambling, or drinking or second marriage without her consent that will give her the right to divorce herself from marriage.

Prenuptial Agreement

We recommend for the couple to discuss issues that are important for them and may come up during their married life. The discussion should be done in the spirit of love and mercy and to preserve the best of this life and the hereafter. One should not insist and dwell on negative issues that may or may not happen in married life. Among the few couples who discuss the agreement majority are done verbally. Some of the topics may include:

1. Children – When, how many, parenting styles, discipline styles, wife’s right to work after birth of the children, children’s faith in case of interfaith marriage.
2. Work and career – Perusal of career and right to work for wife.
3. Past debts – Who will be responsible for past pre-marriage debts, like student loans, car loans, credit card payments? Will that be the individual responsibility or will be joint couple responsibility.
4. Location – Where the couple is going to live, in multifamily setting, with the In-Laws or single family setting, What if the job requires to relocate to a different state or even country?
5. Dispute settlement – How to conduct themselves during a conflict (e.g. no abusive language, no physical violence, no unnecessary delay in dialogue, try to resolve through dialogue, etc.). How to proceed if the couple is unable to resolve the dispute between themselves.
6. Second marriage – Husband’s right for a second marriage.
7. Ownership – Personal ownership or joint ownership of things acquired prior to marriage and during the marriage. Keep in mind that a number of states dictate common property law. For Islamic ruling one should consult with a scholar or Imam.
8. Any other issue of significance on the mind of either.

For the couples interested in looking at sample marriage contracts please refer to the book titled
Your Islamic Marriage Contract by Hedaya Hartford.

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