This is the third in a series of articles on marriage. They are taken from the seminar Why Marriage Contracts & Agreements Matter by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.
In addition to meeting the elements of a meaningful marriage contract, other details should be carefully considered. Of these matters is the importance of having a written marriage contract, registering the marriage, avoiding secret marriages and having parental permission.
The Written Marriage Contract
Having the marriage contract in writing is significant. As is retaining it. The marriage itself is an oral contract which is a beautiful aspect but the contract is preserved through writing. The purpose of contracts is facilitated through writing.
The parties should also keep copies. This ties in with the value of having a proper officiator. Contact information of the witnesses should also be retained. A community may have many individuals similar to that of the witnesses and if the contact information is not kept it may not be known who the witnesses were.
Register Your Marriage
The best time to register your marriage is either before the Nikah or with the Nikah. Before, because some officiators do not have a Nikah license. One of the grave mistakes is putting it off. One should be wary of such delays. This is especially true for women as the husband may deny everything.
In many Muslim countries, it is a criminal offense for a scholar to conduct a marriage without it being registered. The court is based on procedure and process and having a marriage registered will be useful. Make sure to register in advance or upon marriage.
Non-Public Marriages: Don’t!
Marriage is a contract and it has associated Sunnas. Non-public marriages (a politically correct way of saying secret marriages) are haram. Secret marriages are haram at many levels. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) commanded “announce marriages.”
The Maliki position is particularly strict but everybody agrees that this is an essential Sunna. In certain situations, you could have a discrete wedding such that it is public within the family, amongst friends, etc. There are particular reasons why one may not publicize it extensively, but it must not be a secret marriage.
One of the reasons you cannot have a secret marriage has to do with the fact that the first people a marriage is kept secret from are often the parents. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said that “There is no marriage without the guardian.” According to a majority of Islamic scholars, marriage without the Wali is invalid.
There are details about whether the guardian has to conduct the marriage or if their approval is sufficient. Either way, their involvement is important. In the Hanafi school, a woman’s marriage without the approval of her father is valid but it is normally a major sin.
Can a man get married without the permission of their parents? In and of itself, yes. It is valid. It is not a condition for him to have parental approval but practically, how does this affect your relationship with your parents? Of the worst of sins is being bad to one’s parents, that is to wrong them in a manner that is recognized to be wrong.
Few things would cause parents as much grief as children getting married without permission. Therefore, for a man to get married without seeking the approval of their parents would normally be sinful.
Parents Cannot Refuse a Worthy Suitor
There is only a certain limited range of things that are suitable grounds for objection, otherwise, the parents are wrongdoers. What is the basic amount of providing a man has to be able to do? It is very limited. So one should learn what they are and take the means to convince one’s parents.
Almost all parents can be convinced as long as one has a plan and sticks to it.
Be pragmatic. Taking the means of ensuring the marriage is registered correctly and written is not a way of thinking ill of the other party. It is for protection. Be wise in dealing with parents. Avoid acting behind their backs to hold secret marriages. The marriage contract and procedures are so vital. They are the beginning stages of one’s married life so start on the right foot.