Marriage Law in the Qur’an

Many people ask me on a regular basis as to what the Qur’anic law on marriage is. The Qur’anic law on marriage is both simple and straightforward. Far too many individuals are unable to deduce the Qur’anic law on marriage either because they are lazy or they hold an array of expectations of the Qur’an concerning the micromanagement of themselves and that is because they have preconceived ideas and notions as to nature and disposition of the Qur’an.

To answer this question I have designed a three stage checkpoint summary of the Qur’anic law on marriage, see below.


1: They Must Believe

And marry not the idolatresses until they believe. And a believing slave girl is better than an idolatress though she impress you. And give not in marriage to the idolaters until they believe. For a believing slave is better than an idolater though he impress you. These invite to the fire. And god invites to the garden. And forgiveness by his leave. And he makes plain his proofs to men that they might take heed.

2:221

2: They Must Be Lawful

And marry not what your fathers married, save what is past. It is a sexual immorality and an abomination and an evil way. Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and the daughters of a brother and the daughters of a sister and your milk mothers and your milk sisters and the mothers of your wives and your step-daughters under your protection from your wives unto whom you have gone in (and if you have gone not into them then there is no wrong upon you) and the wives of your sons of your loins and that you bring two sisters together save what is past (God is forgiving, merciful). And married women save what your right hands possess. The law of God is over you. But lawful to you is what is beyond that if you seek with your wealth in chastity, not being fornicators. And give what you desire thereof among them: give them their portions as an obligation. And there is no wrong upon you in what you do by mutual agreement after the obligation. God is knowing, wise.

4:22-24

List Of Unlawful Spouses

The unlawful relations prohibited for believing women are the inverse of the prohibited women for believing men (i.e. mother = father; daughter = son).

  1. Women and men your parents have previously married.
  2. Mothers and fathers.
  3. Sons and daughters.
  4. Brothers and sisters.
  5. Paternal and maternal aunts, uncles.
  6. Nieces and nephews.
  7. Mother and sister women who suckled you and your.
  8. Mothers and fathers of your wives.
  9. Step daughters and sons under protection of your wives who you haven’t gone into yet.
  10. Grandchildren.
  11. Two sisters.
  12. Women already married.

3: Marriage Process

And married women save what your right hands possess. The law of God is over you. But lawful to you is what is beyond that if you seek with your wealth in chastity, not being fornicators. And give what you desire thereof among them: give them their portions as an obligation. And there is no wrong upon you in what you do by mutual agreement after the obligation. God is knowing, Wise. And whoso has not been able among you to afford to marry free believing women then from what your right hands possess of believing maids and God knows best your faith. You are alike so marry them with the leave of their people and give them their rewards according to what is fitting, they being chaste and not fornicators not taking secret friends. But when they are in wedlock then if they commit sexual immorality: upon them is half what is due the free women of punishment. That is for him who fears hardship among you. And that you be patient is best for you. And God is forgiving, merciful.

4:24-25

In these verses, it is mandated that the believer must not enter into a secret relationship (i.e. marriage) nor keep their marriage hidden. This is often the formality in todays world, many men and women enter into premarital relations without anybody knowing. For the sensible fair-minded reader, this should need no further elaboration as to why this is mandated.

As an aside, it is often claimed, usually by Traditionalist Muslims, that one must seek the permission of their other half’s parents. But if one pays close attention to the relevant verse in question (4:25), this pertains exclusively to those whom their right hands possess (i.e. a captive of war, a slave). However, despite this fact, it is common-decency and honourable to seek out the permission of her family, however, this is a personal choice and not an imperative in law.

There is a requirement of a dowry, and this is to be given to the woman by the man, a dowry according to his means. The dowry is a material possession of the man. This dowry forms part of the official proposal for marriage, to which the woman may decide to reject or accept. If she accepts, it is stated that there is no wrong in what they do thereafter in mutual agreement (i.e. they are officially married in the eyes of the One, the Absolute).

Lastly, the notion that a dowry must be witnessed finds no purchase from the Qur’an. Verses which are often alluded to in support of this notion are 2:282283, but the subject matter of the verses concerns the contracting of a debt, not marriage.


To Conclude

Conclusively, the spouse must be a believer (2:221); they must be lawful (4:22-25); one must seek his spouse for the purposes of marriage, not sexual purposes nor secret friends (4:25); the man gives the dowry (according to his means); if the woman accepts them they have now become married (4:25).

These are checkpoints, all else is left to the individuals for themselves to choose and decide.


I hope this article has been insightful, I hope it was worth your time and has benefitted you.

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Peace and may God bless you,

Alex Matityahu

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