Idiots Guide To Marriage in Islam

Shaykh Salim Ghisa

What is the purpose of marriage in Islam? What are the benefits?

Marriage is a bond that makes it permissible for a man and a woman to have an intimate relationship. This would then allow a child to be born from that relationship and to have its name linked to both the mother and the father.

Can a boy/girl choose her own marriage partner?

Yes a boy or girl can chose their own marriage partners so long as it meets the criteria of Shariah (Islamic law). This means that they should be Muslim and their beliefs should not be of those that take them out of the fold of Islam. (1)

Do you need the consent of your parents to get married?

For marriage to be permissible, consent from one’s parents is not necessary, however, for it to be a success, it is better to obtain permission from one’s parents.  The reason for this is that in some situations parents may want to force their child to marry someone and if she denies, they may refuse to marry her elsewhere and this is not correct. (2)

Are love marriages allowed in Islam?

Love marriage refers to when a person has either become attracted to a potential partner or has proposed to someone. Islam does not allow pre martial dating or any room of physical contact prior to marriage. If they fear that it is possible that they may commit sin, they should arrange for a marriage to take place.  

Parents should not refuse unless they have a valid reason to oppose which is for their children's benefit. The Prophet of Allah said ‘If there comes to you one with whose religion and attitude you are satisfied, then give your daughter to him in marriage, for if you do not do so, fitnah and mischief will become widespread on earth’.  (Tirmidhi 2/274).

What is the difference between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage?

An arranged marriage is one in which the parents, relatives or members in the community introduce a male or female to a potential spouse. From that point on it is up to the children to make a decision and have the final say. This type of marriage is allowed and recommended. On the other hand, forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both of the parties is married without his or her consent or will. This violates principles of freedom and this type of marriage is a sin.

Can parents force their children to marry against their wishes?

Forced marriages are forbidden in Islam and are regarded as a sin because consent from both parties has not been given. If one of the partners refuses to be married then the marriage cannot take place.

Some parents use emotional blackmail to force their children to marry their cousin from back home- surely this is not right?

Parents should not emotionally blackmail their children into such a marriage. Parents have been entrusted to guide, look after their children and to search for a suitable partner which is in their best interests. When parents desire to have their children married in their home country, they should not be doing it for personal gain. 

What should we look for when choosing a marriage partner?

The Prophet of Allah (S) said "There are four things a person looks for when they want a partner; Wealth, Beauty, Lineage and Religion, Choose religion and you will be successful". Therefore, when looking for a partner, ensure they have an attachment to Islam and are practising Muslims.

Are you allowed to marry your cousins?

Cousin marriages are allowed. However some scholars have recommended against it. Major figures such as Imam Ghazali (citing Sayyidina Umar, no less) have cautioned against excessiveness in this - precisely because it ‘weakens the offspring.’  [Ghazali: Ihya XII]

What are the rituals or customs of marriage?

The Nikah is mandatory and to feed the guests from the groom’s side is Sunnah. Other practices such as music and dancing are all Haram. Cultural customs such as a henna party, hiding the groom’s shoes and lighting candles are only allowed if they are not against Islam.

What is the nikah?

The nikah is the essence of marriage whereby a girl gives permission to her guardian (Wali) and this permission is obtained by an Imam who then asks for the boys consent and acceptance. If it is accepted and heard by atleast two Muslim male witnesses then that marriage will be approved. The Nikah does not need to be a written contract and a verbal contract is suffice. However to enable absolute proof, it would be better to have a written contract.

What is the purpose of the waleemah and how should it be performed?

Organising a banquet (Walima feast) was a tradition before the advent of Islam and was carried out by the Prophet (S) and thus, became a Sunnah. He therefore, organised a Walima for his wedding with Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) and then also organised Walima’s with his other wives. (3)

What is dowry?

Dowry is anything of value which can be money, gold, or valuable goods. It is given to the bride from the groom and it is an obligatory act and also known as Mahr. The minimum Mahr value is 10 dirhams which is the equivalent of approximately £25. However, asking for money as a way of blackmailing or obtaining financial income is all Haram.  If the boy’s family is asking for money then this is unacceptable.

Are honeymoons allowed in Islam?

Honeymoons allow a married couple to have some time to get to know each other better and to create a bond. Although, honeymoons are not an act that is known within the Muslim way of life, it speeds up time spent with each other and allows for privacy which is regarded as a good deed and for that reason is encouraged. 

What is the key to a successful marriage?

Mutual love, a healthy communication and respect from both partners.

Allah says in the Quran ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means (4:34).

What are the rights and responsibilities of the husband and wife?

There are many rights and responsibilities but ultimately the husband has a right to be respected and obeyed. The wife has a right to be protected and looked after. More importantly both have a duty to keep each other happy.

Is it the wife’s responsibility simply to cook, clean and produce kids?

The wife's role is to ensure that she fulfils her duties in and out of the home, just like the husband has a similar role. The husband also can help with cooking, cleaning and maintaining the welfare of the children and the Prophet of Allah also used to do the household chores.

Can a wife work?

Working is not something that Islam would disapprove of and it is allowed as long as the work does not compromise her safety and modesty. Also by working, the children should not be neglected. Islam gives the wife a unique right that any money earned by her belongs to her, alone.

Should the wife live with her in-laws or live separately with her husband- what does Islam say about this?

A wife has a right to live separately and have her independence. However, women should understand that the in-laws are her husband’s parents and they should be looked after too. A husband cannot force his wife to live with his parents and if this is the case then he should gain consent and agree to this prior to the marriage and if the wife agrees then this is fine otherwise they should think whether the marriage would be suitable for one another.

What Islamic advice can you give to a husband and wife if they have a serious disagreement or issue between them?

They should try and understand each other's requirements and use Islam as a way of moving forward. If they can’t do this themselves, they should use a mutual party who has an insight into Islam and is respected by both parties to try and resolve the matter.


  1. Also, in case of a girl, she should not be in a marriage or still be within her iddat period (probationary period after divorce or death of a previous husband).
  2. Abdullah ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘A non-married woman (virgin or non-virgin) has more right in managing her own affairs (i.e. marriage) than her guardian and a virgin’s consent must be sought concerning herself and her silence implies her consent’. (Sahih Muslim: 4121).
    Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) would strongly advise against marrying without the guardian’s approval, but if someone was to go ahead and marry, he would consider their marriage to be valid. (Kanz al-Ummal: 45775).
    According to the Hanafi school of thought, a Wali (guardian) should be appointed on behalf of the bride but is not necessary for the Nikah to be valid (See Hidayah and Qudoori). Also, a substitute Wali can be appointed (a close relative or even the Imam). 
  3. The Prophet (S) said: ‘Giving a banquet on the first day is rightful; on the second day, it is nice but giving a banquet on the third day is an outward show and propaganda’. (Abu Dawood 2/307). Moreover, poor people should be invited to such occasions along with the rich. For the feasts where the poor are not invited, the Prophet said: ‘The worst banquet of all is the one to which rich people are invited while the poor are not’. (Ibn Majah: 1913). Furthermore, the Prophet (S) gave advice to the believers on this issue.  When he heard Abdurrahman bin Awf was getting married, he advised him: ‘Arrange a banquet even if it is only one sheep’s meat’. (Sunan Ibn Majah: 1907).


Good article.


Thank you for this. One question:


If a sister is..told to marry a brother, who she isn't necessarily happy with - do you think it's possible that, with time, eventually, their marriage can be successful and happy? 

Or do you think that if at the start, there is...awkwardness and dissatisfaction,then the marriage can never be a success?


Thank you in advance.


if you want to ask a scholar then you'd have to either email the Editor or use the text service. here its mostly going to be users replying.


i think it might be okay. as long as Allah and Islam are kept at the forefront and she's marrying for THOSE reasons, Allah will never let His servant down.

isnt it natural to have some awkwardness? after all..when one get married, you hardly know the person and now you have to leave with them...


always make istikharah, cnt repeat that enough.

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Yes, I think I will have to contact the editor.

Thank you for your advice though. Smile


Just a peaceful life, for example.

If the sister accepted the marriage, but purely for the sake of Almighty Allah and that He, Al-Hadi,will guide her through it. And, if she strongly, strongly, strongly believed that "good women for good men, and bad women for bad men." > I guess what I'm asking is..for the sister, is it going to be worth it? Is it worth taking the risk?

Of course, I am aware that no'one is the knower of the unseen, but we have our perceptions... if she takes the risk, will it be worth it for her..?




depends how big the risk is. also as you've clearly said "good men for good women". so she must look as far as she can see, if he a "good" man. if yes, then inshaaAllah Allah will never let her down. she must also figure out if this is just normal apprehension or a gut feeling that's telling her something is wrong.

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

In my opinion the reasons a girl or guy isnt unhappy is important. If they are things that can change that fair enough, after they have seeked advice from those they trust, and done istikhara it should be fine. Well the result of istikhara should always be followed obviously. But first u gotta think about it yourself and get counsel.

If their issue is something like money or education perhaps the person has to re-think their priorities. Allah gives wealth and cam take it away, and education, well maybe it's not as important as if the person's character is good and maybe they could learn/continue learning afterwards. These are just two examples.
Also feeling 'awkward' at first isn't really a reason because get married by couple Islamically, following the rules regarding it then they wouldn't know the person THAT well, as say in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, so it may be a little awkward at first but that is something that the couple should get past as they spend more time together.

However if they have a bad character, Islam doesn't hold much importance for them etc then it is a big problem and a person shouldn't feel bad for not accepting the marriage.

Also Allah doesn't want a person to be forced into a marriage. You should not feel bad for not liking someone, obviously there has to be some initial attraction otherwise the Hadith mentioning the things to look for in a marriage partner wouldn't mention those 4 things.

And if both people are not committed to the relationship it won't work...and if one isn't particularly happy in the first place then can be tricky.

"How many people find fault in what they're reading and the fault is in their own understanding" Al Mutanabbi