Doing the Nikah yourself will be impossible to do if certain steps are not followed. The bride and bridegroom can not get married just by doing the Nikah in the presence of an Imam. As this will invalidate the Nikah under Islamic laws.
Can you do the Nikah by yourself? The Nikah can be done yourself as long as it done according to Islamic law by following conditions such as obtaining blessings from both sets of parents, blessings from the Imam, having the required number of witnesses present to having a meher agreement before the ceremony can start.
The following conditions must be in place for a Nikah to be considered valid under Islamic law:
- Bride and bridegroom are acceptable for Nikah
- Parental Blessing has been obtained
- Imam Blessing has been obtained
- Representation for the bride is present
- At least two witnesses are present
- Meher agreement is in place
- Required marriage officials in place
The following 7 tips look at how to do the Nikah by yourself, including a number of conditions and pre-requisites required to make sure the Nikah is valid under Islamic laws:
1. Bride and bridegroom are acceptable for Nikah
Before considering the Nikah ceremony it’s important to establish the validity of the ceremony, as there may be circumstances in place that will inevitably make the Nikah void and invalid under Islamic rules.
a. Muslim man marrying a non-Muslim
The situation for a Muslim man is slightly different compared to a Muslim woman if they want to marry a non-Muslim.
Christian or Jewish women can be accepted as a wife as long as they don’t worship anyone other than god. This can include worshipping idols or worshipping multiple gods or deities (known as polytheism). If the Christian or Jewish woman is involved in idol worship or polytheism then under Islam this is known as Shirk.
Marrying a woman who follows Hinduism, where multiple gods are worshipped will lead to Shirk and be invalid under Islamic laws. So will a woman who follows Sikhism and Buddhism where idols are worshipped.
Women who are atheist, agnostic or even pagan will also not be able to satisfactorily partake in Nikah with a Muslim man, as their beliefs are incompatible with Islam. In circumstances where Shirk exists, the woman can convert to Islam willingly.
b. Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim
The Nikah is only valid if the Muslim woman marries a Muslim man, otherwise, the Nikah will be void. The non-Muslim man can convert to Islam willingly (and not by coercion), and then as a Muslim man, he can partake in the Nikah ceremony, satisfying this requirement.
There is no separate distinction between religions involving idol worship and polytheism and between those like Christianity and Judaism, where this may not be the case. A Muslim woman wanting to marry a non-Muslim male will only be possible if the man converts to Islam.
c. Pre-Marital Relationships
Another condition to satisfy prior to the Nikah is to be sure the Muslim woman bride to be, has not been immoral and led a life that could question the validity of the marriage.
Immorality is known as Zinaa in Arabic and pre-marriage relationships would be considered immoral and invalidate any Nikah marriage ceremony.
2. Parental Blessing has been obtained
It is best to always get a parental blessing as well as the blessing of the extended family and other relatives. Without the parental blessing at least, the marriage itself would not conform to being a Nikah.
This can complicate things further as the act of consummating the marriage itself, when the Nikah has been invalidated, meaning Zinaa has been committed, as the Muslim man and Muslim woman were not married under the eyes of Islamic law and therefore have committed an immoral act.
3. Imam Blessing has been obtained
Having blessing from a Imam (could instead of an Imam, include blessings from a Sheik, Islamic Scholar or a Muslim Judge) for the Nikah is important but it must only be done after a parental blessing, as otherwise the marriage will be done in secret (if the Imam agrees, most will not) and this will invalidate the Nikah.
4. Representation for the bride is present
The legal guardian or authority (Wali) or their representative (Wakeel), representing the bride must be present during the Nikah. A Wali is required by the woman as a pre-requisite for the Nikah ceremony, without the woman having a Wali, the marriage ceremony can not go-ahead.
The Wali is a guardian or another with authority who acts as the authorized agent of the bride in the marriage contract formalities.
If the wedding ceremony is done where the bride and groom are separated, such as being in different rooms, or a partition between the couple, the Wali (or Wakeel) acts on the bride’s behalf during the Nikah ceremony.
This does not invalidate the Nikah ceremony and a successful outcome, means the couple are classed as husband and wife under Islamic laws.
The groom does not need to have a third party providing them with Wali, as long they are of sound mind. As the bridegroom can enter the marriage contract on their own, there is no need for a Wali, unlike the bride.
5. At least two witnesses are present
At least two witnesses are required to be present during the Nikah, these witnesses are generally Muslim men but can also be two Muslim women but a Muslim man is still required;
6. Meher agreement is in place
Meher (also known as Mahr) agreement detailing the monetary gift from the groom to the bride must have been agreed between them, it is thought of in a similar light to a dowry. The formal Meher agreement can include:
- pre-wedding gifts;
- the wedding gift;
- and gifts due later.
A ring is commonly used as the initial gift, which is required before the marriage is consummated. The later gift of money, jewellery, education or even land has to be declared.
There is no religious view on the size of the Meher offered, moderation is stipulated by many, but extravagance can take place. Gifts can also be spread across the bride’s life.
7. Required marriage officials in place
I mentioned an Imam being asked to perform the Nikah ceremony at the start of this article and it’s important to have the correct officials officiate the marriage.
This can be an Imam or a state-appointed Muslim judge known as a Qadi but also a highly qualified Islamic Scholar known as a Maulvi. A Sheik can also be considered to officiate Nikah.
In some countries, the Nikah can be officiated by a practising Muslim without the need for an Imam or any of the aforementioned officials. The officiating Muslim needs to be of a good standing to be considered acceptable for the Nikah.
Choosing the Nikah location
The Nikah does not need to take place in a mosque even though it is a religious ceremony.
Once the above requirements are in place to do the Nikah, the ceremony itself doesn’t need to be overly complicated and in it’s simplest form, the Wali will offer the bride to the bridegroom for acceptance.
Generally making a statement along the lines of them giving the bride for marriage, in the presence of the witnesses and with the agreed Meher. With the husband to be, stating his acceptance, in front of the witnesses and agreeing to give the Meher previously agreed.
Consent to marriage from both parties, the groom and the bride is essential and this can be observed by both the bridegroom and groom reciting the Arabic for ‘I accept’ (qabul) three times, however, this isn’t necessary, as the Wali can accept on the bride’s behalf.
The marriage contract (aqd-Nikah) is then signed in front of the witnesses and the marriage becomes legal under religious and civil law (maybe dependent on the jurisdiction).
The husband and wife may elect to share sweet fruit, with dates being common to symbolize their union. The marriage contract documents will need to be recorded with a Mosque (Masjid) to finalize the marriage.
Nikah ceremonies can also be more detailed, with additional ceremonies such as banquet.
Marriage Banquet (Walima)
Once the Nikah formalities have been completed, a wedding banquet takes place. This Walima can take place straight after the wedding, or at a future date, a day, week or even months later. The Walima is done to celebrate the marriage and can also become status symbols, as many banquets end up being expensive lavish affairs.
Civil marriage requirement
Depending on the country where the Nikah takes place, further registration with the authorities may be required. In such cases, attendance at a formal civil marriage ceremony will be required.
If the Mosque where the Nikah is carried out, is also registered by the authorities to carry out the civil wedding elements of the marriage, then the Nikah and the civil wedding can be done at the Mosque, saving time and effort on having to do two separate ceremonies.
In certain countries, cultural and traditional influences may mean additional ceremonies taking place before and after the Nikah. These can include:
- Engagement Ceremony;
- Mendhi; to
- Exchanging Rings.
Mendhi involves applying henna to the bride’s hands and feet before the Nikah ceremony. The henna and the bride’s clothes are generally provided by the groom’s family.
Exchanging of rings is becoming popular and is not a religious requirement, with rings exchanged at the engagement and sometimes at the wedding too. The engagement in itself is for the families to meet in a formal setting, albeit this may be at the groom’s family home.
By doing the Nikah incorrectly you could lull yourself into thinking you are married under Islamic law. When in reality you will be seen as unmarried under Islamic law.
This is because the Nikah ceremony you undertook was invalidated by not following the requirements and prerequisites correctly. Just by finding an Imam to do the Nikah ceremony and getting married in secret without following the correct Nikah procedures will not suffice and will prove difficult.
What is a Muslim wedding known as? A Muslim wedding is known as the Nikah. A ceremony requiring the bride and groom to commit to a marriage contract, in the presence of witnesses and officials.
Where are Muslim weddings held? The wedding ceremony known as the Nikah doesn’t necessarily need to take place in a mosque. With many Muslims electing to have this Nikah ceremony in a wedding venue.