The Nikah process
The nikah is sacred and special ceremony that binds a man and a woman together as husband and wife under the eyes of Allah.
It is a simple process that involves a contract between the husband and wife. Once agreeing to the contract, both parties must do their utmost to fulfill their duties to each other, to Allah (swt) and to their kith and kin.
The laws in many Muslim countries these days requires the nikah to be conducted by a recognized official, be it an imam or registrar. This is to safeguard the legal validity of the marriage and to make sure the proper paperwork is issued.
For a nikah to be valid, there are some conditions that must be fulfilled.
- The woman has to agree to the marriage. Some practices call for the woman to be asked if she agrees to marry a certain man. She should say “yes” or keep silent, which implies agreement. A woman cannot be forced to marry anyone.
- Guardian – A nikah is not valid without the consent of a male guardian, or wallee. This is usually the woman’s father, or it can be any male mahram. If no wallee can be found, the imam can act on the woman’s behalf.
- Two witnesses – Two trustworthy witnesses, generally males, must attest to the nikah. Some Muslim societies require two witnesses each from the groom and bride’s sides in addition to two unrelated witnesses, making six in all.
- Mahr – the groom’s side must offer a certain amount of mahr, or dowry. This could be in the form of cash, jewelry or other items of value, as long as the bridge agrees. The mahr does not have to be physically handed over to the woman at this stage but a contract of intent must be sealed for the marriage to be valid..
Muslims should know that it is not compulsory for a imam to be present at a nikah for it to be valid in the eyes of Allah.
However, to adhere to specific country laws, you may be required to have an official of the mosque or marriage registrar present to legally verify the union.
Another aspect of the nikah is that it is not essential for the bride to be present at the ceremony. Many societies perform the nikah at the masjid with only the men presebt while the women stay at home.
What is required is for the wallee to give away the bride in front of two witnesses, and afterwards, the bride’s agreement is sought.
Other cultures organize big functions where relatives and guests of both husband and wife are present, with the nikah performed in front of everyone in a grand ceremony.