What are the ingredients of a Muslim Marriage?

Did you know that Indian parents prepare girls from childhood to accept the fact that someday they will marry and go to other homes?

Since the parents play an active role in choosing a partner for their children, there are many requirements that the parents have and standards the other person must meet.  For a son, parents often look for a bride who is young enough to fit in with the family, someone who is healthy and can bear children.  For a daughter, parents will look for a husband whose family, education, and job are most suitable to the girl's background.  Nevertheless, that parents do consult with their children on choosing their partner.  

An Indian father considers finding a husband for his daughter to be one of the greatest obligations and duties of his life.  Therefore, this search for a husband could take many years and it consists of a lot of bargaining, especially if the family has a bad reputation.  Finding a husband can be problematic for a woman, especially if she is older, has a birth defect, or the boy's family wants a large dowry.

What is a "dowry" you ask?

moneyA dowry is a sum of money or property that the wife or her family gives to the husband and his family for marriage.  In essence, not only is the bride given away but a large sum of money is handed over to the groom's family.  The dowry is often paid in two parts, one part before the wedding to help with the costs of the wedding, and then later on in the future if necessary.  Sometimes the dowry can also be in the form of goods so the new couple will have things they need.  In the Muslim community, the dowry is called mehar. Often this money is for the bride and is used as security for the bride in case anything should happen in the marriage and it doesn't work out. Some families often demand a large sum of money and if it is not paid then the marriage will not be planned or the marriage may be terminated.

Necessities for a Muslim Marriage:

-In order to enter into a Muslim marriage in India, there must be an agreement beteween both families and this is confirmed with the acceptance of the proposal.  
-In order to marry under Muslim law one must be at least 15 years old.  With the onset of puberty it is believed that one can enter into marriage at this age.  
-The person who is entering into marriage must be sane and rational and they must give consent to the marriage.  If the person is unsound then a guardian must act on behalf of that person.

-There must be at least two witnesses in order for this marriage to be valid.

Other Facts:
-If the groom already has four wives (the maximum number allowed) then he may not marry.
-A Muslim man can not marry if he has a wife who is related to the bride as sister, aunt or niece.  (A Shia Muslim can marry marry his wife's aunt but not his wife's niece.)
-These relationships will cancel out a marriage and make it invalid: mother/son, grandmother/grandson, brother/sister, uncle/niece, nephew/aunt.
-If a wife becomes a widow then she must remain in seclusion for four months and ten days after the death of her husband.  This period of mourning after her husband's death is called Iddat.  
-If a wife is pregnant when her husband dies, then she shall remain in mourning until her delivery.
-If a wife dies, the husband does not have to experience Iddat, he can remarry immediately.
- Under Muslim law, a marriage can terminate by death or a divorce.
-The husband can dissolve the marriage if he chooses to but the wife can not file for divorce without her husband's consent.  If necessary, the woman can have her marriage terminated if she purchases it from her husband or by delegation (Tafweez).  Marriage can be dissolved under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 by judicial decree.


Wedding Rituals & Traditions