Marriage in Muslim Law in India

Marriage in Muslim Law in India

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Marriage is a sacred institution in Islam, and it plays a crucial role in the lives of Muslims. In India, Muslim marriages are governed by Muslim personal law, which is derived from various sources such as the Quran, customs, precedents, and legislation. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of Muslim marriages, the registration process, and the dissolution of marriages under Muslim law in India.

Types of Muslim Marriages

Under Muslim law, marriages can be classified into three categories: valid (sahih), void (batil), and irregular (fasid).

Valid (Sahih) Marriages

A valid marriage is one that fulfills all the legal requirements and does not have any prohibitions affecting the parties involved. In a valid marriage, the following effects are established:

  1. The cohabitation between the husband and wife becomes lawful.
  2. Children born out of a valid marriage are considered legitimate and have the right to inherit their parents' properties.
  3. Mutual rights of inheritance between the husband and wife are established.
  4. The wife has the right to claim dower, which is a consideration for the marriage.
  5. Both the husband and wife have the right to maintenance from each other.
  6. After the dissolution of the marriage, the widow or divorced wife is required to observe the iddat, a waiting period during which she cannot remarry.

Void (Batil) Marriages

A marriage is considered void ab initio when it is prohibited by the rules of blood relationship, affinity, or fosterage. Some examples of void marriages include:

  1. Marriage between parties within prohibited degrees of blood relationship or affinity.
  2. Marriage with the wife of another or a divorced wife during the iddat period.
  3. Marriage where the woman is pregnant, except if the pregnancy is a result of adultery or fornication.

In void marriages, no rights or obligations are created, and children born out of such marriages are considered illegitimate.

Irregular (Fasid) Marriages

An irregular marriage is one that lacks some formalities or has an impediment that can be rectified. These marriages are not unlawful but require rectification to become valid. Examples of irregular marriages include:

  1. Marriage contracted without the required number of witnesses.
  2. Marriage with a woman during her iddat period.
  3. Marriage with a woman without the consent of her guardian when consent is necessary.
  4. Marriage prohibited due to difference in religion.
  5. Marriage with a pregnant woman, if the pregnancy is not a result of adultery or fornication.
  6. Marriage with a fifth wife.

Irregular marriages can be made valid once the prohibitions are rectified.

Muta or Nikah Mut'ah

Muta or Nikah mut'ah is a temporary marriage agreement for a limited time period. This type of marriage is recognized by the Twelver Shia sect but not by Sunni Muslims. The duration of a muta marriage can range from a few hours to several years, and the marriage automatically dissolves at the end of the specified period. However, if no time limit is expressed, the marriage is presumed to be permanent. Muta marriages are not legally enforceable in India.

Registration of Marriage under Muslim Law

In India, registration of Muslim marriages is compulsory and mandatory. A Muslim marriage is treated as a civil contract, and registration ensures legal recognition and protection of the rights of the parties involved. According to the Muslim Marriages Registration Act 1981, every Muslim marriage contracted after the commencement of the Act must be registered within thirty days from the conclusion of the Nikah ceremony.

The registration process involves the completion of a Nikahnama, a legal document that contains essential details of the marriage. The Nikahnama includes information such as the place of marriage, full names of the bride and groom, age, address, details of witnesses, and the amount of dower fixed. The Nikahnama is signed by the bride, groom, and the person conducting the Nikah ceremony.

Dissolution of Marriage

Muslim law recognizes two categories of divorce: judicial and extra-judicial. Extra-judicial divorces can be initiated by either the husband or the wife, while judicial divorces are obtained through court proceedings.

Extra-Judicial Divorces

Extra-judicial divorces can be further divided into three subcategories:

  1. Divorce by the husband: Divorce by the husband can be initiated through various methods, such as talaaq, ila, and zihar.
    • Talaaq: Talaaq is the unilateral divorce pronounced by the husband by stating the word "talaaq" three times, either orally, in writing, or through electronic means. The practice of instant triple talaaq, also known as talaaq-i-biddat, has been declared unconstitutional in India.
    • Ila: Ila is a form of divorce where the husband takes a vow of continence and abstains from sexual relations with his wife for a specified period.
    • Zihar: Zihar is a form of divorce where the husband compares his wife to a prohibited relative, such as his mother or sister.
  2. Divorce by the wife: The wife can initiate a divorce through talaaq-i-tafweez or lian.
    • Talaaq-i-tafweez: Talaaq-i-tafweez is a divorce delegated by the husband to the wife, allowing her to pronounce divorce under certain conditions specified in the marriage contract.
    • Lian: Lian is a divorce initiated by the wife when she accuses her husband of adultery or making false accusations against her chastity.
  3. Divorce by mutual agreement: Khula and mubarat are forms of divorce that can be obtained through mutual agreement between the husband and wife.
    • Khula: Khula is a divorce initiated by the wife, where she seeks a dissolution of the marriage by returning the dower or other agreed-upon consideration to the husband.
    • Mubarat: Mubarat is a mutual divorce where both the husband and wife agree to dissolve the marriage.

Judicial Divorce

Judicial divorces are obtained through court proceedings when there is a dispute between the parties or when one party seeks a divorce but the other party does not agree. The court has the authority to dissolve the marriage based on various grounds, such as cruelty, desertion, or adultery.


Marriage holds immense significance in Muslim law in India. Understanding the different types of Muslim marriages, the registration process, and the dissolution of marriages is crucial for individuals seeking legal guidance in matters related to Muslim personal law. By adhering to the principles and procedures outlined in this comprehensive guide, individuals can navigate the complexities of Muslim marriage law in India with clarity and confidence.


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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified lawyer for specific legal concerns related to Muslim marriage law in India.

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