Nikah: The Heart of a Muslim Wedding

The nikah is the heart of a Muslim wedding. So what are some of the key things for you to know about nikah? The main requirement is that there be a mutual agreement between the bride and groom to get married, two adult witnesses, and a mahar (dowry) gift for the bride.

Also, a guardian representing the bride, a marriage contract, an officiator of the marriage (an imam, qadi, or another person) who will recite the sermon and officiate the nikah. Here are some of the key elements that make up the nikah:

  • The groom must offer a meaningful, but moderate gift to his future wife. It is something that the couple can agree upon ahead of the nikah and/or in conjunction with the bride’s parents. 

    It can be a monetary gift which is usually the case, but it does not have to be. It can be paid at the time of the nikah or agreed to be given at a future point in time, e.g. taking the spouse for Umrah or Hajj.
  • The imam usually leads the nikah with a short sermon (khutba, khutbah). In it, God is praised and the imam will remind the gathering that this event is being conducted in the tradition of the Prophet (SAW).
  • In the sermon, the imam reminds the bride, groom, and guests to live a life of kindness, piety, mutual love,  forgiveness, and responsibility.
  • In the presence of two witnesses, the bride is then asked through her father or guardian her consent for the marriage and similarly, the groom is asked his acceptance of both the bride, responsibility of marriage, and mahar (dowry).
  • A written marriage contract needs to be completed. There are usually both Islamic and city/state registration documents that need to be signed.
  • Thereafter they are declared husband and wife in front of the community.
  • The nikah should be followed by a walima, a simple reception for family, friends, and the community.