Marriage is among the highly recommended deeds. The Prophet
has said, “Whosoever marries, he has protected half of his religion.”
(1) He also said, “Whoever likes to follow my tradition, then [he
should know that] marriage is of my tradition.” (2) In another
hadith, he said, “No Muslim man has gained a benefit besides Islam
better than a Muslim wife who is a source of his pleasure whenever he looks at
her, who obeys him when he commands her, and remains faithful to him when he
is away.” (3)
Man should give importance to the qualities of the woman he would like to
marry. He should not marry except a woman who is chaste, honourable, of good
lineage, and righteous. She should be a source of help to him in the affairs
of this world and the hereafter.
Man should not confine his choice to the woman’s physical beauty and wealth. It has been narrated from the Prophet (s.a.w.) that he said, “O People! Beware of the green grass [growing] in a waste site.” Someone asked, “O Messenger of Allah! And what is the green grass in a waste site?” He replied, “A beautiful woman in an evil environment.” (4)
The woman and her guardians should give importance to the qualities of
the man she chooses to marry. She should not marry except a man who is
religious, chaste, of good character, not a drunkard or someone who commits
sins and evil deeds.
It is better not to reject the proposition of a man who is religious and
of good character. The Prophet has said, “When a man whose religion and
character pleases you comes to you [with a proposition], then marry him. If
you do not do so, there will be chaos and a great corruption in the world.”
It is mustahab (recommended) to work in getting people married, in
being intermediary, and in bringing the two parties to an
It is permissible for a man to look at the attractive features of the
woman he intends to marry. Similarly, it is permissible to talk to her before
proposing. So, it is permissible to look at her face, hair, neck, hands and
wrists, and legs and other parts of her body, provided that he does not so
without sexuall gratification. (See the question-answer section
In Islamic law, marriage is of two kinds: permanent and temporary.
Permanent Marriage means the marriage in which there is no fixed time. The
wife in this marriage is known as “the permanent wife”. (6)
Temporary Marriage means the marriage in which the time limit is fixed to a year or more or less. The wife in this marriage is known as “the temporary wife”. (7)
The formula for solemnizing the permanent marriage is as follows: The
woman says to the man: “Zawwaj-tuka nafsi bi mahrin qadruhu x — I give
myself to you in marriage for the marriage gift which is x.” (In place of “x”
mention the agreed marriage dowry [mahr].) The man immediately says,
“Qabiltut tazweej — I accept the marriage.”
The formula for solemnizing the temporary marriage is as follows: The woman says to the man: ““Zawwaj-tuka nafsi bi mahrin qadruhu (x) li muddati (x) — I give myself to you in marriage for the dowry of (x) for the time period (x).” (In place of first “x” mention the agreed mahr and in place of the second “x” mention the agreed time.) The man immediately says, “Qabiltut tazweej — I accept the marriage.”
It is permissible for the couple to recite the formula of marriage
agreement by themselves or by appointing representatives who will recite it on
their behalf. There is no condition for the presence of witnesses during the
solemnization of the marriage, just as the presence of a cleric is not a
condition for the validity of the marriage.
For a person who cannot recite the formula of marriage in Arabic, it is
permissible to say it in a language that would convey the meaning of marriage,
even if he can appoint someone to say it in Arabic.
A Muslim man is allowed to marry a Christian or a Jewish woman in
temporary marriage. Based on precaution, it is obligatory to refrain from
marrying a non-Muslim woman in permanent marriage.
A Muslim man is not allowed to marry, neither permanently nor temporarily a non-Muslim woman who is not among Ahlul Kitab. Based on obligatory precaution, a Muslim man must refrain from marrying a Zoroastrian woman, even temporarily.
As for a Muslim woman, she is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man at all. (See the question-answer section below.)
In marrying a virgin woman, whether Muslim or from Ahlul Kitab, it
is necessary to get the consent of her father or paternal grandfather, if she
is not independent. However, it is precautionarily obligatory to seek their
consent [i.e., of the father or the paternal grandfather], even if she is
independent. Consent of the woman’s brother, mother, sister or other relations
is not required.
The consent of the father or the paternal grandfather to marry a virgin
woman, who is both adult and sensible, is not required [in the following
if they stop her from marrying someone who is her equal in
the eyes of both shar’ia and common practice;
if they completely withdraw from the involvement in her
when it is not possible to get their consent because of their
In these cases, she is permitted to marry, if she is in need of marriage.
The consent of the father or the paternal grandfather is not required in
the marriage of a non-virgin woman (that is, a girl who had previously married
and had sexual intercourse). But the case of the woman who had lost her
virginity because of fornication or another cause is like that of a
In countries where the majority of people consists of atheists and Ahlul
Kitab, i.e. non-Muslims, it is necessary for a Muslim to ask the woman
whom he wants to marry about her religion so that he may ensure that she is
not an atheist and thus the marriage be valid. Her answer [about her faith and
religion] is to be accepted.
A Muslim man who is married to a Muslim woman is not allowed, in his
concurrent second marriage, to marry an Ahlul Kitab woman, i.e. a Jew
or a Christian, without asking the consent of his Muslim wife. Based on
obligatory precaution, the man should refrain from marrying her, even it is
temporary and his Muslim wife consents to it. Whether or not the Muslim lides
with him is immaterial. (See the question-answer section below.)
It is not permissible to engage in sexual relations with an Ahlul
Kitab woman without a marriage contract, even if the government of her
country is in a state of war with Muslims. (See the question-answer section
Based on obligatory precaution, one should refrain from marrying a woman
whose notorious for adultery, unless she has repented. Similarly, based on
obligatory precaution, the adulterer should not marry the woman with whom he
committed adultery, unless she has repented. (See the question-answer section
If the marriage that took place among non-Muslims is valid according to
their custom, such marriage is also considered valid by us regardless of
whether the spouses are both Ahlul Kitab, both non-Ahlul Kitab,
or one is an Ahlul Kitab and the other is non-Ahlul Kitab. When both
spouses embrace Islam together, they will remain married based on the past
marriage, i.e. there would be no need to recite the marriage formula anew
according to the tradition of our religion and school of thought.
If the father withdraws his guardianship from his virgin daughter and
considers her independent, after reaching the age of eighteen, as is common in
the West, it is permissible to marry her without getting the consent and
approval of her father.
“It is permissible for the husband and wife to look at the body of one
another, outside and inside, including the private parts; and also to touch
any part of one another with any part of their own body with lust and without
It is obligatory on the husband to provide for the wife if she is a
permanent wife and obedient to him in matters in which she is required to obey
him. In this case, it is obligatory on the husband to provide whatever the
wife needs in her life like food, dress, and accommodation with the required
amenities like fan, air-conditioner, carpets, furniture, etc. that are
commensurate with her status as his wife. Such status would differ according
to place, time, circumstances, common perceptions, customs, standard of
living, etc. (See the question-answer section below.)
It is obligatory on the husband to pay for his wife when he asks her to
accompany him in his travels. It is similarly obligatory on him to meet her
travelling expenses when she goes on a journey that is necessarily connected
to the affairs of her life. For example, if she is sick and her treatment
depends on traveling to a specialist, it is obligatory on the husband to pay
for the expenses, her ticket as well as medical charges.
“It is not permissible to neglect sexual relations with a young wife for
more than four months, unless there is an excuse like unbearable difficulty or
harm [in fulfillment of that duty] or unless she agrees to it [that is,
forgoes her conjugal rights] or if it was part of their agreement at the time
“Based on obligatory precaution, this rule is not limited
to the permanent wife, i.e. it includes the temporary wife also. Similarly,
based on obligatory precaution, it is not restricted to the husband who is
present. It also includes the husband who is travelling. Therefore, it would
not be permissible for him to prolong his journey, (without valid reason), if
it entails depriving the wife of her right, more so when the journey is not
regarded as essential in the people’s eyes, i.e. a vacation or pleasure.”
“It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man in
permanent or temporary marriage.” (10)
“If the husband harasses his wife and is spiteful towards her without any
valid reason, it is permissible for her to present her case to the religious
judge who will force him to live with her in an amicable manner if that is
possible, or censure him as he seems fit. If that also does not work, she can
demand divorce from her husband. If he refuses to divorce her and it is not
possible to force him to divorce her, the religious judge will pronounce her
divorced.” (11) (See the question-answer section
It is permissible to artificially inseminate the wife with her husband’s
sperm, provided that the process of insemination does not involve a
haram act, like looking at the body parts that are forbidden and other
haram acts. (See the question-answer section below.)
It is permissible for a woman to use contraceptives (the pill) to prevent
pregnancy, provided that it does not damage her health in a serious manner,
irrespective of whether or not the husband has agreed to it.
It is permissible for a woman to use Intrauterine Devices (IUD) and other
birth control devices provided that they do not pose serious harm to the
woman’s health and that the insertion of the device does not involve a
haram act, such as the male touching or looking at the private parts of
the woman’s body that are forbidden for him to look at. Similarly, it should
not involve the female looking at, and touching without gloves the private
parts that are haram to touch or look at. Moreover, the IUD should not
cause the abortion of the fertilized ovum after its implantation [in the
It is not permissible for a woman to abort the feotus after the soul has
entered into it, irrespective of the reason for abortion. It is permissible to
abort the feotus before the soul enters it, if there is an unbearable harm to
the mother in continuing the pregnancy or it becomes extremely difficult for
her. (See the question-answer section below.)
If the mother aborts the feotus by herself, she is liable fot the
indemnity. Similarly, if the father or a third person, like a doctor, caused
the abortion, the indemnity is payable by that person. (See the
question-answer section below.)
There are other details and rules regarding the issue of abortion in the Manuals of Islamic Laws and other books of Islamic jurisprudence. (13)
1. Wasa'ilu 'sh-Shi'a, vol. 20, p. 17.
2. Ibid, p. 18.
3. As-Sistani, Minhaju 's-Saliheen, vol. 2, p. 7.
4. Wasa'ilu 'sh-Shi'a, vol. 20, p. 35.
5. At-Tusi, Tahdhibu 'l-Ahkam, vol. 7, p. 395. Also see the chapter on compitability in marriage in the same book, p. 394ff.
6. For more information on marriage and its laws, see Sayyid 'Izzu 'd-Din Bahru 'l-'Ulûm, az-Ziwaj fi 'l-Qur'an wa 's-Sunnah. [Also see Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, Marriage and Morals in Islam.]
7. For more information on temporary marriage and its laws, see Sayyid Muhammad Taqi al-Hakim, az-Ziwaju 'l-Muwaqqat wa Dawruhu fi Halli Mushkilati 'l-Jins.
8. Ibid, p. 11.
9. As-Sayyid as-Sistani, Minhaju 's-Saliheen, vol. 2, p. 10-11; also see the last reference.
10. Ibid, p. 67.
11. As-Sayyid as-SistAni, Minhaju 's-Saliheen, vol. 2, p. 109.
12. Translator's Note: "The medical experts do not exactly know how IUD works. Presently there are two opinions: one says that the IUD prevents fertilization; and the other says that it prevents the fertilized ovum from implantation onto the uterus. Since the shar'i pregnancy begins at implantation, there is no problem in using the IUD as a birth control device irrespective of the above differences among professionals." Marriage & Morals in Islam (Toronto: IEIC, Revised Edition, 1994) p. 121.
13. See as-Sistani, Minhaju 's-Saliheen, vol. 2, p. 136-137 as well as his al-Masa'ilu 'l-Muntakhaba, p. 385-419.