General Rules

  1. 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

  2. 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.
    an 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 Allãh! And what is the green grass in a waste site?” He replied, “A beautiful woman in an evil environment.”4

  3. 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.

  4. 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.”5

  5. It is mustahab (recommended) to work in getting people married, in being intermediary, and in bringing the two parties to an agreement.

  6. 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 below.)

  7. 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

  8. 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.”

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.)

  12. 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.

  13. 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 cases:]

    1. if they stop her from marrying someone who is her equal in the eyes of both shar’ia and common practice;

    2. if they completely withdraw from the involvement in her marriage;

    3. when it is not possible to get their consent because of their absence.

    In these cases, she is permitted to marry, if she is in need of marriage.

  14. 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 virgin.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.)

  17. 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 below.)

  18. 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 below.)

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. “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.”8

  22. 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.)

  23. 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.

  24. “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 of marriage.

    “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.”9

  25. “It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man in permanent or temporary marriage.”10

  26. “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 below.)

  27. It is permissible to artificially inseminate the wife with her husband’s sperm, provided that the process of insemination does not involve a harãm act, like looking at the body parts that are forbidden and other harãm acts. (See the question-answer section below.)

  28. 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.

  29. 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 harãm 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 harãm to touch or look at. Moreover, the IUD should not cause the abortion of the fertilized ovum after its implantation [in the womb].12

  30. 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.)

  31. 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.