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Islamic marriage contract

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Title: Islamic marriage contract  
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Subject: Islamic marital jurisprudence, Islamic sexual jurisprudence, Fiqh, Marriage in Islam, Riba
Collection: Fiqh
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Islamic marriage contract

An 1874 Islamic marriage contract.
A bride signing the nikkah nama (marriage contract).

An Islamic marriage contract (Arabic Katb el-Kitab, Hebrew Ketubah, Urdu Nikah-Nama) is an Islamic prenuptial agreement. It is a formal, binding contract considered an integral part of an Islamic marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom and bride or other parties involved in marriage proceedings.


  • Witnessing 1
  • Type and content 2
  • Purposes 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In Sunni Islam, a marriage contract must have two male witnesses, or, in the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, one man and two women, if a second male is unavailable. Proper witnessing is critical to the validation of the marriage, also acting as a protection against suspicions of adulterous relationships. The importance of this is demonstrated in a narration in which a case was brought before the second caliph Umar concerning a marriage which had been witnessed by only one man and one woman (i.e. the participants); he responded: "This is a secret marriage and I do not permit it. Had I been the first to come upon it, I would have ordered them to be stoned."[1]

In Shia Islam, witnesses to a marriage are deemed necessary, but in case are not available then the two parties may conduct the nikah between themselves.[2] It is also believed that temporary marriage, or Nikah Mut'ah (a type of contract which had more relaxed requirements) was prohibited in Sunni Islam, the necessity of witnessing was introduced by Sunni caliphs, specifically Umar, to ensure that no couples engaged in secret union.

Type and content

While it is customary for marriage contracts to be written down, particularly when the bride and groom wish to make any stipulations, classical jurists required only oral offer and acceptance for the contract's validity.

Among the stipulations that can be included in the contract include giving up, or demanding, certain responsibilities.[3] The contract may also be used to regulate the couple's physical relationship, if needed.

The marriage contract can also specify where the couple will live, whether or not the first wife will allow the husband to take a second wife without her consent, whether or not the wife has the right to initiate divorce, and other such matters. The marriage contract somewhat resembles the marriage settlements once negotiated for upper-class Western brides, but can extend to non-financial matters usually ignored by marriage settlements or pre-nuptial agreements.


One important purpose of the contract is that which makes sexual intercourse legal. This is supported by various Hadiths and quotations:

Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, #81:[4]

  • Narrated 'Uqba: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The stipulations [in the marriage contract] most entitled to be abided by are those with which you are given the right to enjoy the (women's) private parts."

Al-Mughni (by Ibn Qudaamah), Kitab al Nikah:[5]

  • ... the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) [said]: "The most deserving of conditions to be fulfilled are those by means of which sexual intercourse becomes permissible for you."

Cited in (Al Aqad,2014) the common problem of translation of marriage contracts is due to the varieties of word synonyms in the legal Arabic system which have no equivalence in the English system in terms of marriage contracts, such as; مهزٍ, شبكه, صداق. الخ , Mahr, Shabkah, Sadaq- (dowry), whereas, all of these examples attributed and affected by the culture and tradition of the Arabic language.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Malik's Muwatta, 28.11.26
  2. ^ Witnesses for Marriage, 'Aalim Network QR
  3. ^ al-Mughni of Ibn Qudamah Vol. 9, Page 483
  4. ^ Sahih Bukhari, Book 62, #81
  5. ^ Marriage: According to the Qur'an and Sunnah,
  6. ^ Translation of Legal Texts between Arabic and English: The Case Study of Marriage Contracts, Mohammed H. al Aqad.

External links

  • Articles / Knowledge on Marriage within Islam at
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