How Can I Formulate a Marriage Contract to Prevent My Husband from Taking a Second Wife?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I am thinking of marriage and want to protect myself and my children from another marriage. Where can I get a marriage contract for someone who follows Shafi‘i School?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him. Amin.

Having a marriage contract as a formal document is not a sacred law requirement or recommendation. The rights Sacred Law gives each spouse are enshrined within Sacred Law (Kitab al-Nikah) and built into the standard verbal contract, which is sacred and binding.

If you choose to write a contract, we advise that you do so in consultation with Sacred Law and secular law experts and in consultation with your prospective groom. There is no standard written contract since the original form of the marriage contract is verbal in Sacred Law, though it is Sunna to write it. Adding a monogamy clause is permissible but not enforceable, and Allah knows best.

What is a Marriage Contract?

In Sacred Law, the marriage contract is the spoken form (offer and acceptance) between the bridegroom and the wife’s guardian, not necessarily a written document. However, it is Sunna to write it.

Monogamy and Other Extraneous Clauses

According to the renowned contemporary Shafi‘i Jurist Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, “Extraneous conditions added to the marriage contract, such as that the husband observes monogamy or the like, are not binding, being meaningless, though they do not invalidate the marriage agreement, which remains effective.” [Keller, Reliance of the Traveller]

Based on the above, a wife who wishes to do so may (though we don’t necessarily advise this) agree with her husband that he would remain monogamous while you are married. This may be added to a marriage contract, but it would be a gentleman’s agreement and not enforceable by Law. Though there are other considerations, this kind of contract should be created with the guidance of qualified and reliable scholars, and Allah knows best.

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.