Allah, most high, addressing His Messenger and all Muslims says:
‘Marry those among you who are single and those who are fit to marry
amongst those upon whom you have influence, man or woman alike.
If they lack the means, Allah will make them free from want out of His
grace. Allah is All-Knowing and His teasures are vast.”(24/32)
Thus, marriage, as well as helping people to get married is a duty in Islam and celibacy is forbidden.
Our Master and guide, the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, says:
“Marriage is my way, my sunnah, whoever does not follow it is not one of us.”
He also says:
“The woman is the half of the man.”
These halves become a whole only when they join in marriage. Yet half a fire can not make half of a bucket of water whole. Instead of making a whole they eliminate and destroy each other. This is the inportant factor in marriage, a couple who complete each other.
The Messenger of Allah says:
“One is tempted to marry for three reasons. One is either attracted because of the other’s beauty, or thinks of profiting from the other’s high position or riches, or because the couple enjoy each other’s company believing in the same things and having the same goals,and holding the same religious convictions. The one who marries for beauty will rarely see it, the one who marries for riches will rarely receive it, happy is the one who marries the one who shares the same life of devotion.”
Islam ordains for a successful marriage that the woman be younger, better looking, with lesser means than the man, that the man should be older, stronger both physically and in character, richer, more knowledgable than the woman. They both should have honorable parents and believe in God and be religious. It is agreed in the tradition that one should avoid marrying four kinds of people:
1. A man or woman who has aquired the reputation of being inconsistant, undependable, flippant, disloyal and immoral, even if they be otherwise attractive. The Prophet says: “Do not smell the roses which grow in a dung-heap.”
2. A person who is either a stinger or a spendthrift, who will not only throw away what is his, but also the property of his partner.
3. A person who is arrogant and acts superior because of his position, money or the fame of his family and ancestors.
4. Someone who is marrying a second time who still lives the memory of his first marriage.
A Muslim man can marry a believing Jew or Christian but a Muslim woman can only marry a Muslim man. Even if all indications promise a successfull future in marriage, one should reflect, consider all possibilities, inquire, investigate and certainly take one’s time to know one’s future partner, being careful to avoid the intimacy forbidden by the religion. Then take refuge in God and pray: “Rabbena ‘atina fiddunya haseneten . . .” Oh Lord give me the best in this world. When someone asked Hz. Ali, may Allah sanctify his secret, he said this meant a good wife (or husband) in this world.
According to our creed, Hanefiyya, a woman who is an adult and of sound mind can be asked her hand directly and does not need her parents approval. Yet the families blessing has always been considered necessary for a successfull marriage. According to the Shafii, Hanbelli and Maliki tratition, the guardian of the bride is the father, and, in his absence, the paternal grandfather, then her brother. It is obligatory that the guardian accept to give the bride away after the legally adult bride agrees to the marriage. The marriage ceremony must be public, followed by a feast. A saying of the Messenger of Allah clearly indicates that secret marriages are unlawfull in Islam. He says: “What indicates the lawfulness and meaningfulness of a marriage are the joyful sounds of music and songs at the wedding which everyone hears . . . “
According to the sunnah the ceremony of marriage vows is done in the following manner: (In countries where religious marriages are not considered legal, it is advisable that the couple marry first according to civil law, then have an Islamic wedding.)
Those whose presence is obligatory are the bride (or her legal proxy), the groom (or his legal proxy), the father of the bride (or legal guardian, a paternat male member of her family), two male witnesses or one male and two female wittnesses, the person who is performing the wedding, all of whom are to be muslims (except if the bride is a Jew or Christian -- ‘Ehli kitab’) The bride with her father on her side is placed to the left of the groom, the two witnesses stand behind all facing the Qiblah, with the person performing the marriage facing them. The guests stand behind the couple at a distance and everybody is asked to have their hands free and open with the fingers spread.
There are two “mihrs” obligatory dowerys, the first ‘mihri muajjal” is to be paid to her at the time of the wedding ceremony. The second, “mihri muejjel”, is to be paid if the wife is divorced or widowed. (This is usually calculated in gold and agreed upon pervious to the marriage vows.)
The father of the bride or the guardian addresses the groom saying: “Bismillah welhamdu lillah wessalatu ala residillah, I give you so and so (the bride), the daughter of so and so (the father) and accept the mihri muajjal (of so many pieces of gold) to be given now and the mihri muejjel (of so many pieces of gold) promissed.”
The groom then responds, “I accept thee conditions and take your daughter as my wife.”
Then the person presiding over the wedding ceremony puts the amounts of mihr in the marriage certificate, which contains the name of the bride as the daught of her father and her address, the name of the groom and the son of his father, the date, the place, the name of the person presiding and the names of the witnesses.
The person presiding then begins the ceremony by leading the couple to repent their past wrongs by reciting, with their repeating: “Estaghfirullah x 3, estaghfirullah al Azim, al Kerim, elleze, la ilahe illahu, al Hayy, al Kayyuma wa etubi ileyh. Tawbata abdin zalimin li nafsihi la yemliku li nafsihi mawtan wel hayaten nushura.” Oh, Lord forgive our sins which we committed knowingly and unknowingly, and protect us from sinning in the future. Then he leads the couple and everybody present to repeat the confirmation of faith: “Amentu billahi wa melaiketihi wa kutubihi wa rasulihi wal yawmil ahiri wa bil kaderi, hayrihi wa sharrihi min Allahi taala, wal baasu ba’del mawt. Hakkun ash’hadu enlailha illallah wa ash’hadu anna Muhammeden abduhu wa rasuluhu.”
Then he addresses the couple saying: “I, so and so am charged to conduct this marriage by the order of Allah, most high, in accordance to the sunnah of our Master the Prophet Muhammed, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him and by the rule of our imam, Abu Hanifa. It has been agreed between you that (so many ) pieces of gold be paid as “mihri muajjal” and (so many) pieces of gold as “mihri muejjel” be promised.” Then addressing the bride (who is covered) he says: “Miss so and so, the daughter of so and so (the father), do you take so and so, the son of so and so (the father), as your lawful husband?” When she answers in the affirmative, he repeats thesame question two more times. Then he turns to the groom and says: “So and so, the son of so and so, do you take Miss so and so, the daughter of so and so, as your lawful wife?” And when he answers in the affirnative, the question is repeated two more times.
Then he says: “In the presense of two witnesses, Mr. so and so and Mr so and so and the rest of those present, I declare this couple to be married, may Allahu Teala bless them with a long, happy and devout life.” And he recites the following prayer:
“Euzu billahi minesh-sheytan errajim, bismillah irrahman irrahim. Elhamdu lillahi Rabbil alemin, essalatu wasselamu ala seyyidina Muhammedin wa ala Jamiil enbiyai wal mursalin wa ala alihi wa sahbihi ajain. Kal Allahu teala fi kitabli kerim, bismillah irrahman irrahim, wa ankihul eyama wassalihina min ibadikum wa imaikum in yekunu fukrae yughnihimu ‘llahu min fadhlik. Saallahu wasiun alim.” (Surah Nur/32)
“Sadakallahul azim. Wessalatu wesselamu ala seyyidena Muhammedin illezi kala fi hadisih, ‘Annikahu sunnati, femin raghiba an sunnati, fileyse minni.’ Sadaka Resullallah.”
“Oh erhamerrahimin, bless these two servants of yours who have become one, in this world and in the hereafter. Protect their souls , their minds, their bodies and their faith against evil. Increase in abundance their sustenance. May their love for You, for Your Beloved Muhammed Mustafa and for each other ever increase. May they and their projeny serve You, Islam, muslims and all humanity, (etc.) Wa salli ala ashrafi jamiil enbiyai wal mursalin walhamdulillahi rabbil alemin, kabuluddua, bi hurmati Sultani Anbiya Al Fatiha . . . “
After this ceremony sweets are distributed to the guests. The couple kiss the hands of their parents and elders, congratulations of the guests are accepted, and finally the groom in front , the bride behind him, do two cycles of prayer of thanks.
It is also sunnah to offer a feast and festivities with plenty of meat dishes and, later, music.
May this brief information help young muslims in planning their own marriages and in helping others in their matrimonials. Amin.