Islamic Marriage Is a Legal Agreement, Known as Nikah

Solemnization of bride and groom
The marriage contract is an extremely important part of Muslim culture. runner of art / Getty Images

"In Islam, the marriage between a bride and groom is a legal contract, known as Nikah. The Nikah ceremony is one part of several steps of a marriage arrangement considered ideal by Islamic tradition. The key steps include:

The proposal. In Islam, it is expected that the man will formally propose to the woman—or to her entire family. A formal proposal is considered an act of respect and dignity.  

Mahr. A gift of money or another possession by the groom to the bride is agreed upon before the ceremony. This is a binding gift that legally becomes the bride's property. The Mahr is often money, but could also be jewelry, furniture or a residential dwelling. The Mahr is usually specified in the marriage contract signed during the marriage process and traditionally is expected to be of sufficient monetary value to allow the wife to live comfortably if the husband should die or divorce her.  If the groom is unable to afford the Mahr, it is acceptable for his father to pay it. 

The Nikah ceremony. The wedding ceremony itself is where the marriage contract is made official by the signing of the document, indicating she has accepted it of her own free will. Although the document itself must be agreed upon by the groom, the bride, and the bride's father or another her male family members, the bride's consent is required for the marriage to proceed. 

After a short sermon is given by an official with religious qualifications, the couple officially become man and wife by reciting the following short dialogue in Arabic:

  • The bride says "An Kah’tu nafsaka a’lal mah’ril ma’loom"  (“I have given away myself in Nikah to you, on the agreed Mahr.”)
  • The groom immediately says, "Qabiltun Nikaha". (“I have accepted the Nikah.”)

If either or both partners are unable to recite in Arabic, they may appoint representatives to make the recitation for them. 

At that moment, the couple becomes husband and wife.

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Huda. "Islamic Marriage Is a Legal Agreement, Known as Nikah." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Huda. (2020, August 27). Islamic Marriage Is a Legal Agreement, Known as Nikah. Retrieved from Huda. "Islamic Marriage Is a Legal Agreement, Known as Nikah." Learn Religions. (accessed April 1, 2023).