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You are here: Home > Myths & Misconceptions > Women in Islam > Marriage and Divorce

Marriage and Divorce: Two Sides of One Coin

marriage

SUMMARY

Marriage is a sacred institution for God’s worshippers.  It is a committed relationship between the individuals, not just to be recognized by civil authority, but specifically binding through the religious beliefs of God’s Submitter’s.  The couple needs to abide by the Quranic guidelines and specifications, thus the ensuing marriage becomes a blessing from God; a provision of tranquility and contentment, a provision of love and care:
[30:21]  Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.
[16:72]  And GOD made for you spouses from among yourselves, and produced for you from your spouses children and grandchildren, and provided you with good  provisions…

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Engagement

Marriage is a sacred institution which is not to be taken casually. An engagement period is required and serves as an extended time frame to establish if certain marriage criteria in the relationship can be met.  For example, the couple would need to determine if there is mutual attraction and if there is an absence of idol-worship in the potential spouse.  Having an engagement period gives us the chance to get to know if the other person is really the right one for us. We find in verses 2:235 and 17:32 that even if we are engaged to someone we are not allowed to meet with that person in private unless we have something righteous to discuss with them. Sexual relations are not allowed until after the wedding. A sexual friendship or arrangement would be considered adultery, and verses 4:16 and 4:24 demonstrate that it is a gross sin in Islam.

Parent's Approval for Marriage

God tells us in verses 29:8 and 31:14-15 of the Quran to honor our parents.  At other times God commands us not to make the slightest gesture of annoyance towards our parents (verses 17:23-24). Therefore, as an extension to this conduct of respect for the parent’s judgment, we learn from the Quran that parents are expected to give their daughters in marriage. This demonstrates that their consent is required otherwise they would not be expected to make judgments when giving their daughters in marriage.

[2:221] Do not marry idolatresses unless they believe; a believing woman is better than an idolatress, even if you like her. Nor shall you give your daughters in marriage to idolatrous men, unless they believe. A believing man is better than an idolater, even if you like him. These invite to Hell, while GOD invites to Paradise and forgiveness, as He wills. He clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may take heed.

It is important that the parents’ recommendations are tempered with the woman’s wishes, since a blessed marriage involves tranquility, contentment, and mutual attraction which can only be determined by the potential spouses. 

Dowry

Dowry is such an important requisite to the marriage, that it is mentioned throughout the Quran in nine verses.  In these verses (2:236, 2:237, 4:4, 4:24, 4:25, 4:127, 5:5, 33:50, 60:10) we learn that dowry is a pre-requisite for a marriage, it is to be paid by the husband to his wife, it should be equitable, the husband and wife can mutually make any adjustment to the dowry, and that forfeiting of the dowry does not apply to believers.   

Also, although one cannot find a specific statement in the Quran that payment of dowry should be made in cash, dowry appears to be something consisting of a liquid monetary value. It cannot be love, honesty, being faithful, etc., which are anyway traits of the righteous. If it were to be something that does not have monetary value, then verses 2:237 and 60:10 would be rendered inapplicable since one could not compensate with half or the forfeit of a non-monetary dowry.

Although one may get a feeling that there is an evasion of dowry in view of verse 4:4 – “You shall give the women their due dowries, equitably. If they willingly forfeit anything, then you may accept it; it is rightfully yours”; it is not actually absolving us of that responsibility. We find in verses 2:229 and 4:20-21 that it is on decision of the wife, and only to avoid hardship that the husband can receive back anything that he had given her.

The couple has to determine for themselves what an “equitable dowry” is.   It depends on the individuals involved and is flexible from case to case. This should not be abused for God will hold us responsible for our innermost intention.

The Marriage Ceremony

Two wedding ceremony formats which have been performed within the Submitter’s Community are provided below. It is by no mean obligatory or necessary to use them in the given order, form or shape.  There are no recommendations in the Quran regarding a specific format so it is totally up to the individuals involved.   It can be done in the name of God and in any format that suit each couple and each community.

 (1)
[1:1] In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
[1:2] Praise be to GOD, Lord of the universe.
[1:3] Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
[1:4] Master of the Day of Judgment.
[1:5] You alone we worship; You alone we ask for help.
[1:6] Guide us in the right path:
[1:7] the path of those whom You blessed; not of those who have deserved wrath, nor of the strayers.

[30:21]. Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.

Love has given you wings,
And your journey begins today,
(Bride) and (Groom), wherever the wind may carry you,
You will stay side by side, day after day.
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.
May God's blessings surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years, May happiness be your companion, on this earth and in the Hereafter, and your days together be good, righteous and long upon the earth.
Officiant:
I ask you now in the presence of God and this congregation to declare your intent.
Will you, (Bride), have this man to be your husband, to live together in a holy marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?
Bride: I will
Officiant:
Will you, (groom), have this woman to be your wife, to live together in a holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
Groom: I will
The Blessing of the Rings;
The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual bond which unites two loyal hearts in endless love. It is a seal of the vows (groom) and (bride) have made to one another. Bless O God these rings, that (bride) and (groom), who give them, and who wear them, may ever abide in thy peace. Living together in unity, love and happiness for the rest of their lives
The Exchange of rings:
(bride's name), I give you this ring as a symbol of our vows, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you. In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful. With this ring, I thee wed.
(groom's name), I give you this ring as a symbol of our vows, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you. In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful. With this ring, I thee wed.
Declaration of Marriage:
In as much as you have each pledged to the other your lifelong commitment, love and devotion, I now pronounce you husband and wife, In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.
Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.
"Our Lord, direct us to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon us and upon our parents, and to work righteousness that pleases You. Let our children to be righteous as well "(46:15),
"...and admit us an honorable admittance and let us depart an honorable departure. Grant us from You a powerful support "(17:80).
"...and shower our parents with Your mercy for they have raised us from infancy" (17:24).
"Our Lord, let our spouses and our children be a source of joy for us, and keep us in the forefront of the righteous" (25:74).
"Grant us what you promised us through Your messengers and do not forsake us on the Day of Resurrection. You never break a promise "(3:194).

 

(2)  Shared by Dr. M. Ahmad at a Submitter’s Conference: 
In Name of God Most Gracious Most Merciful
There is no other god besides God

Salamun Alaykum, Peace be upon you.
We are gathered here to witness the marriage of (name of groom), son of (father’s name) and (name of bride), daughter of (father’s name).  We will read the English translation of some verses from the Quran, The Final Testament from God to Mankind:
God is our creator
[25:54] He is the One who created from water a human being, then made him reproduce through marriage and mating. Your Lord is Omnipotent.
 
God commands us to encourage marriage to discourage immorality
[24:32] You shall encourage those of you who are single to get married…
[5:5] …You shall maintain chastity, not committing adultery, nor taking secret lovers…
God is our provider and marriage is one of the provisions of God to us.
[51:58] GOD is the Provider, the Possessor of all power, the Supreme.
[24:33] Those who cannot afford to get married shall maintain morality until GOD provides for them from His grace…
God tells us that mutual attraction and dowry is required for marriage
[4:24]... Thus, whoever you like among them, you shall pay them the dowry decreed for them. You commit no error by mutually agreeing to any adjustments to the dowry. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
Marriage is a very sacred relationship between two souls
[30:21]  Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.
[2:187]  ...They are the keepers of your secrets, and you are the keepers of their secrets…

This very sacred relationship between two souls requires a solemn pledge. What does God mean by a solemn pledge? God cites the example of Jacob when he made a solemn pledge with his eleven sons before he sent their half brother with them to see Joseph in Egypt.
[12:66] He said, "I will not send him with you, unless you give me a solemn pledge before GOD that you will bring him back, unless you are utterly overwhelmed." When they gave him their solemn pledge, he said, "GOD is witnessing everything we say."
God also took a solemn pledge from the prophets
[33:7] Recall that we took from the prophets their covenant, including you (O Muhammad), Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary. We took from them a solemn pledge.
[3:81] GOD took a covenant from the prophets, saying, "I will give you the scripture and wisdom. Afterwards, a messenger will come to confirm all existing scriptures. You shall believe in him and support him." He said, "Do you agree with this, and pledge to fulfill this covenant?" They said, "We agree." He said, "You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you."
God is always a witness in a solemn pledge. We learn that a solemn pledge has to be undertaken with the utmost sincerity as God knows what is in our innermost thoughts.
[64:4] He knows everything in the heavens and the earth, and He knows everything you conceal and everything you declare. GOD is fully aware of the innermost thoughts.

Today we will witness a solemn pledge between (name of groom) and (name of bride). I ask you now in the presence of God and this congregation to declare your intent
Addressing bride: (name of bride), do you accept (name of groom) as your husband with the dowry you have mutually agreed upon?
Bride says: Yes
Addressing groom: (name of groom), do you accept (name of bride) as your wife?
Groom says: Yes
Groom says: [17:96] …"GOD suffices as a witness between me and you…"
Bride says: [17:96] …"GOD suffices as a witness between me and you…"
Bride signs the document and then groom signs the document and hands over the dowry envelope.  Two witnesses sign the document.   The couple exchanges rings.
 
In as much as you have each pledged to the other your lifelong commitment, love and devotion, I now pronounce you husband and wife, In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.
Those, whom God has joined together, let us all pray:
[46:15] "Our Lord, direct us to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon us and upon our parents, and to work righteousness that pleases You. Let our children to be righteous as well"
[17:80]"...and admit us an honorable admittance and let us depart an honorable departure. Grant us from You a powerful support"
[17:24]"...and shower our parents with Your mercy for they have raised us from infancy"
[25:74]"Our Lord, let our spouses and our children be a source of joy for us, and keep us in the forefront of the righteous"
[3:194]"Grant us what you promised us through Your messengers and do not forsake us on the Day of Resurrection. You never break a promise"

Marriage: An Understanding from Quran

First and foremost when choosing a spouse, it is important to implore God to guide you to do what is most pleasing to Him. God tells us in verses 2:186, 4:32, 6:41, and 40:60 that He is the only One who answers our prayer, if He so wills.

The Quran is very clear about all rules dealing with whom we can or cannot marry. Anything not specifically prohibited in Quran must be considered permissible. God even encourages marriage to discourage immorality.


[24:32] You shall encourage those of you who are single to get married. They may marry the righteous among your male and female servants, if they are poor. GOD will enrich them from His grace. GOD is Bounteous, Knower.

The following categories are permissible for marriage:  The chaste among the believers and from the followers of previous scripture; those with whom dowry has been observed; cousins related through blood; believing slave women upon permission of their guardians and who are freed through the marriage; divorcees; divorced spouses of an adopted child (non-blood related); and believing women of enemies who seek asylum.
These stipulations are specified and detailed in verses 5:5, 33:50, 33:51-52, 4:25, 33:37, 60:10, 60:11-12.

The following categories are forbidden for marriage: Idol-worshippers; adulterers; incestuous relationships which includes parents, daughters and sons, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, your nursing mothers, children that have nursed from the same woman, the parent of your spouse, or a child of your spouse; an ex-spouse of your parent; or currently married women.
These prohibitions are specified and detailed in verses 2:221, 5:72-74, 24:3, 4:23, 4:22, 4:24, 33:50-53

[33:52] Beyond the categories described to you, you are enjoined from marrying any other women, nor can you substitute a new wife (from the prohibited categories), no matter how much you admire their beauty. You must be content with those already made lawful to you. GOD is watchful over all things.
(See also 33:50-53)

The basic ground rules for marriage are detailed in the Quran.  Both people must be single.  God discourages polygamy, it is allowed only under very specific circumstances.  Recent divorcees or widows/widowers must observe an interim waiting period before proceeding with marriage. An engagement period must be observed.  There must be mutual attraction and a dowry.  The dowry is to be acceptable to both parties and paid by the man to the woman accordingly, and can not be retracted by the man.  The marriage needs to be fair and equitable to all concerned parties (this includes children from previous marriages), and the parents’ consent should be sought.

 The following verses from the Quran specify the issues mentioned above:  2:228, 2:226-2:242, 65:1-2, 4:127, 33:49, 2:234,  2:235-237, 28:27, 33:5, 4:5-6, 4:4, 4:24-25, 5:5, 33:50, 60:10, 2:236, 2:237, 2:235, 4:127-128, 4:3, 4:20, 4:21.

Additional Quranic Verses Regarding Marriage

God tells us about Moses’ marriage which includes parental consent:
[28:26] One of the two women said, "O my father, hire him. He is the best one to hire, for he is strong and honest."
[28:27]. He said, "I wish to offer one of my two daughters for you to marry, in return for working for me for eight pilgrimages; if you make them ten, it will be voluntary on your part. I do not wish to make this matter too .difficult for you. You will find me, GOD willing, righteous."

The most important consideration in our relationships with spouses or any family members for that matter is explained in the following verses: 

 
[9:23] O you who believe, do not ally yourselves even with your parents and your siblings, if they prefer disbelieving over believing. Those among you who ally themselves with them are transgressing.
[9:24]  Proclaim: "If your parents, your children, your siblings, your spouses, your family, the money you have earned, a business you worry about, and the homes you cherish are more beloved to you than GOD and His messenger, and the striving in His cause, then just wait until GOD brings His judgment." GOD does not guide the wicked people.
In other words, our relationships must never take precedence above God and His guidance and commandments in the Scripture.

[25:74] And they say, "Our Lord, let our spouses and children be a source of joy for us, and keep us in the forefront of the righteous."
[40:8] "Our Lord, and admit them into the gardens of Eden that You promised for them and for the righteous among their parents, spouses, and children. You are the Almighty, Most Wise.
[30:21] Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.

What is an Appropriate Age for Marriage?

A rumor about the Prophet Mohammad which can be found in the Hadith books (man-made teachings that are wrongly attributed to God) is that Muhammad married his wife Aisha when she was six and consummated that marriage when she was nine!  However, a six year old child is incapable of making crucial decisions for marriage such as taking the solemn pledge, ascertaining mutual attraction, agreeing to/adjusting the dowry, and determining whether the potential spouse is an idol worshipper. Furthermore, marriage involves taking serious responsibilities concerning the upbringing of the family, of which the child would be incapable. This means that the stories about Aisha's marriage at the age of six are lies that completely contradict the Quran. When we hear that the Prophet Mohammad married Aisha at six or nine or any ridiculous age like that, we need to remember that Mohammad was a striving believer and therefore, would have followed the recommendations in the Quran.  This means that he would not have married an immature child, and also that this tale is a big lie.


[29:68]  Who is more evil than one who fabricates lies and attributes them to GOD, or rejects the truth when it comes to him? Is Hell not a just retribution for the disbelievers?
 
[24:12] When you heard it, the believing men and the believing women should have had better thoughts about themselves, and should have said, "This is obviously a big lie."
[24:15] You fabricated it with your own tongues, and the rest of you repeated it with your mouths without proof. You thought it was simple, when it was, according to GOD, gross.
[24:16] When you heard it, you should have said, "We will not repeat this. Glory be to You. This is a gross falsehood."

Then, the question remains; what is an appropriate age for marriage?  We do not find a specified age requirement in the Quran.  The true believers accept, without hesitation, God's assertion in verse 6:38“…We did not leave anything out of this book.'' Therefore if something cannot be found in the Quran, it is only because God knows it is not important for us to have detailed.  God had already established the standards that marriage can happen when the individuals involved have reached maturity.  God made the religion easy for us (verse 5:6), and thus, out of His Mercy, left it up to us to decide what the appropriate age would be for the individuals involved, since we live in different communities with distinct customs and traditions. God knows, and we know that each individual and community is unique and maturity will be reached at varying ages, not at one assigned age.

Temporary Marriage (Muta) is Not Allowed in Islam

Temporary marriage, or Muta, is not permitted in Islam. The verses that are twisted in order for some to justify “temporary” marriage are verses 4:24 and 4:25, and of which actually contain no reference to a temporary marriage.   Temporary marriage that is permitted in some so-called "Muslim" countries is no more than prostitution which is strongly condemned by God in the Quran. Marriage is a sacred relationship, and there are no special short term marriages described in the Quran. As we see in this article, marriage is a serious matter not to be taken lightly and nowhere in the Quran can we find marriage intentions which include a prearranged ending date to the relationship, where the short-term agreement would become prostitution, depriving the woman of legal rights, and wrongfully freeing the man of marriage obligations.

 A marriage relationship that is temporary does not have God's approval. God does not advocate divorce, but God has in His infinite Grace and Mercy specified laws for divorce. For ending a marriage one has to go through very detailed procedures including attempts at reconciliation and arbitration, there are no 2 ways about this.

Rights of Those Placed in Your Care (Ma Malakat Aymanukum)

One of the most abused expression in the Quran is the statement about "Ma Malakat Aymanukum", which translates word for word as "What your right hand possesses". Abuse of this term leads some corrupted scholars to state that sexual relations with MMA are a right that belongs to the caretaker.  MMA are people who depend on a caretaker for the fulfillment of basic needs such as living requirements and security.  Also, MMA is not just women, but can be men or women, old or young, and boys or girls.  The Quran teaches us that the MMA should be treated with respect as a part of our family and given rights, in other words they can never be treated as sex objects. 

The following is a description of the five categories of MMA in the Quran:

The first category of MMA is “What you already have” and is the category of women who were already married to their husbands whose marriages do not follow the Quranic rules because their marriage occurred before the revelation of the Quran or before their conversion to Islam. This category is found in verses 4:3, 33:50, and 33:52.  In this case, if you already have a wife or wives from a category that became prohibited, you should keep them as spouses. God specifies that He does not want to break up an established marriage.

The second category of MMA is “What is rightfully yours”.  God specifies in this category that sexual relations are allowed with EITHER their spouses OR MMA.  This leaves no doubt that God is not allowing for sexual relations outside of marriage.  This category of what is rightfully yours includes marriages without proper paperwork or community authorization.  This category is found in verses 70:30 and 23:6.  This category of marriage falls under “common law” designation in the United States. 

The third category of MMA is referring to slaves. Although the Quran advocates the freeing of the slaves in every possible occasion, slavery does exist in some places even today. Slaves are protected and not considered sexual partners outside a lawful marriage. This category is described in verses 4:25 and 24:33.  In this verse, God clarifies the status of MMA as being honorable women who may marry believing men after getting permission from their guardians. If these slave women were considered sexual partners of their guardians, then God would not allow them to be offered in marriage. Also, God asks them to MAINTAIN their moral behavior. This verse clearly shows those slave women (MMA,) are not the sexual partners of their guardian.

The fourth category of MMA is servants.  This category is described in verses 24:31, 33:55, 24:58, 4:36, 16:71, and 30:28.  Verse 24:31 describes male servants of believing women, the same category of MMA as women servants.  The verse starts by asking the believing women to maintain their chastity, and so the laws of God regarding treatment of MMA apply to all genders without discrimination.  It is the bias of the corrupted scholars that give permission to the men to have sex with his MMA, while neglecting the fact that God states that there are male MMA of women believers.  These fabricated laws have no basis, as God prohibits sexual relations with MMA outside of marriage for both men and women alike.  Also, in verse 24:58, your MMA (servants) do not have the permission given to your spouse (sexual partner) of freely entering your sleeping quarters. Had these MMA servants, been considered your sexual partners, such permission would not be necessary.

The fifth category of MMA is a special category of women who leave their disbelieving husbands during wartime and join the believers’ camp.  This category is also protected in the Quran and not exempted as sex slaves. They must be treated like any free woman, asked for permission for marriage and given dowry payments that apply to a legal marriage. This is clarified in verses 4:24 and 60:10.

Divorce: Or Must it be 'Till Death Do Us Part?'

From a reading of the Quran we learn that God does not favor divorces and in fact encourages the continuation of marriage. God commands us to not break existing marriages if a couple finds themselves in a prohibited category for marriage, as detailed in verses 4:22-23. Divorce must be resorted to only in exceptional circumstances.

The laws relating to divorce together with the relevant verses from the Quran are given below:

First:  Appoint an arbitrator (verse 4:35).
Second:  Wait for a four month cooling off period before divorce (verses 2:226-227). 
Third:  If the estranged couple chooses separation they must proceed with it equitably. There must be two equitable witnesses who witness the divorce before GOD (verse 65:2).
Fourth:  For those who consummated the marriage, the divorced women are to observe an interim period before moving on (verses 2:228, 65:4-5, 2:234, 2:235).
Fifth:  The woman should be compensated equitably and left to go amicably (verses 33:49, 65:7, 2:240-241, 2:236, 2:237), or allowed to live in the same home amicably (verses 2:231, 65:6).
Sixth:  Divorce can be retracted twice (verses 2:229, 2:232, and 2:230).  If the couple divorces for a third time, it is unlawful for them to remarry until she has tried marriage with another man and divorced.  This makes it clear that the divorce is not just words spoken on a whim and thus the couple is deterred from taking divorce lightly.

A special case involving divorce is if there is a baby during the interim waiting period, then the interim does not end until birth, then there are other special considerations after birth such as the father’s wishes regarding the care of the baby (verses 65:4, and 2:233).  Also, another special case involving divorce is if a believing woman is seeking asylum from an enemy camp, or if your wife wishes to defect to the enemy camp then it should be granted along with the return of dowry (verse 60:10).

The Quranic verses informing us about divorce make it clear that because marriage is a sacred institution, divorce should not be taken lightly.

 

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