1. Spouse Selection
3. The Marriage Contract
4. Celebrating the Marriage
5. The Walimah
6. Consummating the Marriage
Selecting a Wife
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In Islam, a man is given some choice in regard to Marriage. Allah Subhana wa ta'ala says:
If you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry whatever pleases you of (other) women: two or three or four. But if you wear that you will not be just (with them) then (marry) only one woman, or those that your right hands possess (of captive and slaves). That is better in preventing you from doing injustice.
However, "whatever pleases you of women" is a general directive that is further clarified in many texts of the Qur'an and Sunnah. There are certain important qualities that a man should seek in the women whom he wants to be his life-partner and the mother of his children.
In what follows we mention the most important of those qualities...
Selecting a Husband
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) instructed the guardians of women to marry them to men of good Din (Religion) and character. When a man of righteousness and good character seeks to marry a woman, he should be seriously considered.
Abu Hurayrah, Ibn Umar and Abu Hatim al-Muzani (radia Allahu anhum) reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
If a man comes to you seeking marriage, and you are satisfied with his Din (Religion) and character, marry him - lest a fitnah (harm) and great destruction become rampant on the Earth.
[Recorded by at-Tirmithi, Ibn Majah, and others.
Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami no. 270 and
as-Sahihah no. 1022)]
When a man finds a woman of good attributes for Marriage, his next step would be to propose to her or her family. We call this "courting" or "khitbah" ; it is the act of asking for a woman's hand in Marriage. Depending on the situation, the interested man may personally approach the woman or her representatives, or may ask some of his relatives or friends to represent him in that.
If a man's proposal is accepted, the woman is considered "engaged" to him. This "engagement" counts as a legally unbinding attachment that precedes the full and binding attachment of the Marriage contract. Even though an approved khitbah is not legally binding upon two parties, it still constitutes a mutual pledge for Marriage; and breaking it without a valid reason would be an immoral act of dishonesty.
A valid reason for breaking a khitbah would be for the bride's side to discover a serious problem in the bridegroom of which they were not aware when they gave their approval. Similarly, if the bridegroom discovers a problem in the bride that he did not know of when he asked for her hand, he may take that as grounds for breaking the khitbah.
The Marriage (or Nikah) contract is enacted between a man and woman for the purpose of enjoying each other and forming a good family. The Marriage contract is the formal bond that turns two individuals from strangers to husband and wife. As a result of the Marriage contract, many rights and obligations become imperative and many fruits are anticipated.
To many people, the Marriage contract is the most important contract they execture throughout their lives. Each Marriage contract normally carries a lsting effect over a large number of individuals, many of them yet to be born.
Since the Marriage contract has such a great and solemn significance, Islam imposes a number of guidelines that it must fulfill.
Celebrating the Marriage
A Marriage contract marks the beginning of a new relationship between a man and a woman who had until recently been strangers.
Subsequently, the married couple may be seen together in public and, if the Marriage was not publicized, some people might have ill thoughts about them.
Because of this, it is important to make the Marriage public as possible, without going into extravagance and excessiveness.
Abudullah Bin az-Zubayr (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Announce the Marriage."
[Recorded by Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Adab uz-Zifaf, pg. 183)]
And as-Sa'ib Bin al-Aswad (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Publicize the Marriage and announce it."
[Recorded by at-Tabarani (in al-Kabir) and others. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami no. 1010, 1011 and as-Sahihah no. 1463)]
The Walimah (feast)
The Walimah (or wedding feast) is a meal offered by the husband to the friends and family after the consummation of Marriage.
The Walimah is wajib (obligatory) upon the husband.
Buraydah(radi Allahu anhu) reported that when Ali (radi Allahu anhu) married Fatimah, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Indeed, a wedding (or bridegroom) must have a Walimah."
So Sa'd said, "I will bring a ram." And another man said, "I will bring some corn."
[Recorded by Ahmad and an-Nasa'i. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami no. 2419 and Adab uz-Zifaf pg. 144-145 )]
Consummating the Marriage
Prior to leaving the newlywed couple to themselves on their wedding night, it is important to give them advice regarding the Islamic guidelines for marital intimacy, rights and obligations between the spouses, and other issues of importance for them.
The husband should be extremely kind to his bride on their first night together, especially if she is a virgin. He should understand that this night marks the beginning of a totally new life for her. This may make her nervous and slow in cooperating with him. So, he should not brutally force himself on to her. If she does not appearr to be fully ready on the first night, he should work on easing her emotions while waiting for the ultimate union between them one or more days later - as might be necessary.