Marriage Ceremony in Islam: the Basics
Extract and abridged from a handbook on marriage issued by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
A wali (guardian) of the bride is necesssary to represent her in concluding the contract. The wali is a male relative who would be her guardian if she were a minor, for example her father. However, if he is not available, a brother, uncle, grandfather etc. will suffice. If none of these exist then a Muslim ruler or judge, and if they do not exist then a prominent leader of the Muslim community (see Fiqh us sunnah, Syed Sabiq, Sar al-Kitab al Arabi, Beirut, 2nd ed, 1973, vol 2 page 120).
"No marriage contract is valid without a wali." - Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood
"A woman may not act for another in concluding a marriage contract, and a woman may not conclude her own marriage contract." - Ibn Majah and Daraqutni
The Offer and Acceptance:
Both offer and acceptance must be explicit in mentioning the word marriage (or any other word in any language implying a similar situation). Both statements should be made at the same sitting, i.e. one party to the other.
The Bride's Agreement:
The bride must be agreeable to concluding the marriage by her wali. This agreement should be specific to marrying a specific man and all other conditions, if any, must be agreed upon also.
At least two Muslim male witnesses are required or one male and two females - all of them having reached the age of puberty and being of good character.
The Sadaq or Mahr (dower) is a required marriage gift given by the groom to the bride. It represents his commitment to take care of all the family expenses including her personal needs "And give women their dower as a free gift." (surah 4 verse 4)
Sadaq may be money or in kind, but it should be specified in its kind and quantity. It may be paid in full at the time of the marriage contract, or postposed until a definite or indefinite date in the future. That which is deferred becomes due upon divorce. The value of Sadaq can be anything from $1 upward (and must be agreed upon by both parties).
The Marriage Khutbah:
[This is not essential; the mariage will be legal without it; however, it is Sunnah to have a Khutbah].
Praise be to Almighty Allah, the Sustainer of the Worlds Whom we ask help and pardon. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils within ourselves and from our evil actions. He whom Allah guides no one can lead astray and he who He leaves in error has no one to guide him. I testify that there is no diety but Allah and that Muhammed is His servant and His messenger.
Almighty Allah has created humanity, male and female, each in need of another, and has established the institution of marriage as a means of uniting the souls in a blessed bond of love leading to their pleasure and happiness in a way advantageous to humankind.
The Quran says, "It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for your Lord has power (over all things). " (25:54)
And He reminds us of His great favours: "And among His signs is that He created for you of yourselves spouses that you may live in joy with them, and He has set between you love and mercy. Surely in that are signs for those who reflect." (30:22)
And Peace and Blessing be upon His great and beloved Prophet and last Messenger Muhammed, who emphatically urged Muslims to marry. He said: "Young men, those of you who can afford to marry should do so. Marriage is the best check for lustful eyes and an effective help to maintain chastity."
Brothers and sisters, at this auspicious moment, we are uniting in the bond of marriage and obedience to the guidance of our Creator and in obdeience to the practice of our beloved Prophet (pbuh), our brother (his name) and sister (her name) who have decided to live together as husband and wife, sheltered with the blessings of Almighty Allah and His divine Benevolence. May Allah fill their lives with joy and may He grant them peace, health and prosperity. May they always live together in an atmosphere eof tranquility and never diminishing love and tender regard for each other.