Pearl of Wisdom

'Everyone on the Day of Judgment will be thirsty.'

Prophet Muhammad al-Mustafa [sawa]
Kanz al-'Ummal, no. 38938

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Library » Marriage & Morals in Islam » Islamic Marriage Guide - Summary
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Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) says: When a person intends to send a proposal for marriage, he must pray two Rakat prayers, praise Allah (SWT) and recite the following invocation:

Transliteration: Bismillah hir Rah'maanir Rah'eem.
Allaahumma inni oreedo an atazawwaja faqaddirli minannisaa-e- a-'affahunna farjawn wa ah'faz'ahunna li fi nafseha wa maali wa aw sa-a'-hunna li rizqan wa a'-z'amahunna li barakatan fi nafseha wa maali anna atroko faqaddirli minha waladan t'ayyaban taj-a'lahu khalafan s'aaleh'an fi h'ayaati wa ba'da mauti.

Translation: In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful.
O Allah! I intend to marry. Therefore destine for me the most chaste of women and one who would, for my sake, guard herself and my property. Who shall be most auspicious for increase in sustenance and bounties. Then from her womb bestow a pure son who would be my sweet reminiscence in my life and after my death.


A. Who needs this article?
This article is compiled for those intending to marry in the near future or the newly married people. In this short Nikaah article we have tried to put things in a nutshell. It is recommended to do a detailed reading of other books on Marriage, references of which are given at the end of this Nikah article.

B. Why do we need to know the rules?
It is the duty of every Muslim to follow the Islamic laws not only in matters of prayers and fasting but also in all his actions. Islam has well defined rules about marriage and sex too. So if you want to follow Islam fully, then you must know the Islamic rules and regulations governing married life. Islam has never repressed the natural feelings of human beings but provides rules, which are divine.

This will not only enable you to be faithful to your religion but would also shield you from the barrage of Sex literature that portrays this natural instinct as one that must be left uncontrolled. Western sexual morality permits many things that are prohibited in Islam. The reason for the prohibition of certain actions is not to act as an infringement of an individual's freedom but because Islam is concerned not only with your physical well being but also your spiritual enhancement. Moreover, we can see the degradation of society where absolute sexual freedom prevails.

C. Main Objective of the Nikah Handbook.
The commencement of a new life takes place through marriage. If Islamic rules are known and followed, the child born will be chaste. Insha Allah, our progeny can then be capable of being the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) followers.


Holy Quran says: And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing. (Surah Nur 24:32)

The above ayat begins with the words Wa Ankehoo (And marry ...) The imperative form of the word 'nikah' implies that either it is obligatory or highly recommended. According to scholars, though marriage is a highly recommended act, it becomes obligatory when there is a chance of falling into sin.

Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) says, "No house has been built in Islam more beloved in the sight of Allah than through marriage."

On another occasion Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said: "The best people of my nation (Ummat) are those who get married and have chosen their wives, and the worst people of my nation are those who have kept away from marriage and are passing their lives as bachelors."

Imam Ali (a.s.) exhorts, "Marry, because marriage is the tradition of Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.)." Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) also said, "Whosoever likes to follow my tradition, then he should know that marriage is from my tradition."

A. Importance of sex in marriage.
In Islam, marriage is not restricted to a platonic relationship between husband and wife, nor is it solely for procreation. The Islamic term for marriage, "Nikah" literally means sexual intercourse. So why has Islam provided extensive rules and regulation regarding sex? This was because Islam has fully understood that sexual instincts cannot and must not be repressed. They can only be regulated for the well being of human beings in this life and for their success in the hereafter.

Sex in married life has been openly recommended in Holy Qur'an, "When they [i.e., the wives] have cleansed themselves [after menstruation], you go into them as Allah has commanded." (Surah Baqarah 2:222)

B. Fulfillment of Sexual Urge.
Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and the Holy Imams (a.s.) also encouraged their followers to marry and to fulfill their sexual urges in lawful ways as can be seen. Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, "O you young men! I recommend marriage to you."

Imam Reza (a.s.) said, "Three things are from the traditions of the messengers of God: using perfume, removing the [excessive] hair and visiting one's wife."

C. Celibacy and Monasticism is Forbidden.
Islam is totally opposed to monasticism and celibacy. Uthman bin Maz'un was a close companion of Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). One day his wife came to Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and complained, "O Messenger of God! Uthman fasts during the day and stands for prayers during the night." In other words, she meant to say that her husband was avoiding sexual relations during the night as well as the day. Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was angered. He did not even wait to put on his slippers. He went to Uthman's house and found him praying. When Uthman finished his prayers and turned towards Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), he said, "O Uthman! Allah did not send me for monasticism, rather He sent me with a simple and straight [Shariah]. I fast, pray and also have intimate relations with my wife. So whosoever likes my tradition, then he should follow it; and marriage is one of my traditions."

D. Beneficial Effects of a Married Life.
Various studies prove that married people remain healthier, physically and mentally. Islam has always maintained that marriage is beneficial for us in many ways.

Islam also regards marriage as a way to acquire spiritual perfection. Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, "One who marries, has already guarded half of his religion, therefore he should fear Allah for the other half." How true! A person who fulfills his sexual urges lawfully would rarely be distracted in spiritual pursuits.

E. Marriage (Nikaah) enhances the value of prayers.
Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, "Two rak 'ats (cycles) prayed by a married person are better than the night-vigil and the fast of a single person." A woman came to Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and said that she had tried everything to attract her husband but in vain; he does not leave his meditation to pay any attention to her. Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) told her to inform her husband about the reward of sexual intercourse, which he described as follows: "When a man approaches his wife, he is guarded by two angels and [at that moment in Allah's views] he is like a warrior fighting for the cause of Allah. When he has intercourse with her, his sins fall like the leaves of the tree [in fall season]. When he performs the major ablution, he is cleansed from sins."

F. Marriage (Nikah) increases Sustenance.
Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) remarked, "Give spouses to your single ones, because Allah (SWT) makes their morality better (improves it) (under the shadow of marriage) and expands their sustenance and increases their generosity (human values)."


The proper time and age of marrying is when the individual reaches sexual as well as mental maturity. Mental maturity may mean the capability of establishing a cordial family life and the ability to fulfill rights of family members.

The need of a spouse and family is a natural and instinctive need, which Allah (SWT) through His Wisdom has placed in human beings and is awakened at its particular time and season, and makes its demand. If it is answered on time and its requirement fulfilled, it traverses its natural course and makes the person perfect. If it is delayed or answered in an incorrect and unnatural mode, it deviates from its natural course, and in surges and rebels, and not only becomes corrupt itself, but also corrupts the man.

Who is eligible to marry?
For man to become eligible for taking a woman's hand in marriage, Islam has several recommendations. According to Islamic laws, when a boy attains the age of fifteen, or becomes sexually potent, he is Baligh, and has attained puberty. But this is not enough for entering into a contract of marriage (Nikaah).

Apart from the laws related to puberty, there is a concept of Rushd which can be translated as 'capability of a sensible conduct' or maturity. A husband has to be Rashid and a wife Rashidah; so that the responsibilities of married life are sensibly discharged. Books of Islamic law may be referred for exact details on physical and mental maturity.

Recommendation for Early Marriage (Nikah).
Islam highly recommends an early marriage. Even those who feel they would not be able to bear the expenses of family are urged to repose faith in Allah, as He is the Giver of Sustenance (Rizq), and go for an early marriage.


Now that we have seen how much importance Islam has accorded to marriage and marital life you would perhaps ask, "How do we select a spouse? What are the guidelines provided by Islam in this regard? Do we look for some particular characteristics or just try to get the best from the worldly point of view?"

Are Pre-Marital contacts Necessary?
Ali Akber Mazaheri writes: "The notion that a man and a woman must 'know' each other before they decide to marry, so that they may then be able to live happily together is an illusion. Had there been any element of truth and validity in this, the divorce and separation rates in societies, which practice it, would not have shown a steady rise. Similarly, the marriages which take place without such pre-marital contacts would not have been known to last happily."

The Shariah permits the intended spouses to see each other for the purpose of selection and also permits asking and giving opinions if asked (without it being considered as Gheebat under certain conditions). We should never resort to deceive the opposite party or conceal a defect during the selection process. Such things can have serious ramifications if exposed after marriage.

The school of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) has not left us to follow our whims and fancies. We have been taught the best method of selecting a suitable spouse. The most important criterion is piety or religiousness.

A. Religiousness: The author of Youth and Spouse Selection says, "The person who does not have religion, does not have anything."

When a man came to Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) to seek guidance for selecting a spouse. He (s.a.w.) said, "It is binding upon you to have a religious spouse."

Knowing the human weakness for beauty and wealth, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) has forewarned, "A man who marries a woman for the sake of her wealth, Allah leaves him in his own condition, and one who marries her (only) for her beauty, will find in her (things) which he dislikes (unpleasing manners) and Allah will gather up all these things for one who marries her for the sake of her faith (religiousness)."

B. Good nature: Imam Reza (a.s.) wrote in reply to a person who had asked him if it was advisable to marry his daughter to a person known for his ill nature, "If he is ill-natured (bad tempered), don't marry your daughter to him." The same will apply where the bride-to-be lacks a good nature. Such a woman, though she may be beautiful and rich, would make the life of her husband miserable. She can never be patient in the difficulties that arise in married life.

C. Compatibility: Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) gave no recognition to class distinction, but in marriage, he stressed upon compatibility. The marrying partners must be Kufw of each other, so that there are no unnecessary misgivings later. It is better for a religious woman who is committed to laws and principles to marry a man like herself.

A man questioned Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), "Whom must we marry?"
He replied, "The suitable (matches)."
"Who are the suitable matches?"
Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) responded, "Some of the faithful are match for others."

Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, "An intelligent and wise woman must not be matched except with a sage and wise man."

D. Decent Family: The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) has given great emphasis on taking into consideration a good family background when we intend to marry.

He said, "Marry in the lap of a decent family, since the semen and the genes have effect."

Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) also said, "Look very carefully and minutely as to where you are placing your child because genes and hereditary qualities are transferred in a concealed and unintentional way and have their effect."

E. Reason: The Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.) strongly forbade marrying a foolish and insane person. "Avoid marrying a stupid woman, since her company is a woe (distress) and her children too get wasted."

F. Physical and Mental Health: Though religiousness and piety are most important, it does not mean that we totally disregard the physical appearance and beauty of the prospective spouse.

Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) says, "When one intends to marry a woman, he should ask about her hair, just as he asks about her face (beauty), since the hair is one of the two beauties (of women)."

G. Whom can you marry? "Islamic law has placed certain restrictions on the choice of your spouse depending upon blood relationships and religious affiliations." Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi has summarized these laws in a beautiful way:

(a) Restrictions based on Relationship

There are certain blood relations, which are considered Haraam for you as far as marriage is concerned. (As a general rule, anyone who is your Mahram is forbidden to you for marriage.) The list of such relatives is given in the Holy Qur'an as follows:

For Man: mother, daughter, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, niece, foster-mother, foster-sister, mother-in-law, stepdaughter, daughter-in-law, all married women, sister-in-law (as a 2nd wife) (See Holy Qur'an, ch. 4, verse 23-24)

For Woman: father, son, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, nephew, foster-mother's husband, foster-brother, father-in-law, stepson, son-in-law.

(b) Restrictions based on Religion

A Shi'ah Muslim man can marry: a Shi'ah Muslim woman and a non-Shi'ah Muslim woman. However, if there is danger of being misled, then it is Haraam.

He can also marry a Jewish or Christian woman in mut'a only. But he cannot marry a woman of any other faith.

A Shi'ah Muslim woman can marry: a Shi'ah Muslim man or a non-Shi'ah Muslim man, although it is better not to do so; and if there is danger of being misled, then it is Haraam. But she cannot marry a non-Muslim man.

(c) Cousin Marriages

Though Shariah does not forbid marriage between first cousins, but there are opinions advocating against them mainly due to a probable risk of the offspring inheriting genetic defects/diseases.


1. Engagement or Mangni: Does not qualify the future spouses to go out together, even if the parents consent. Man and woman become permissible for each other only after the performance of Nikah.

2. Dowry: The unislamic system of demanding and accepting dowry must be avoided at all costs. Shariah does not make any expense incumbent on the bride/bride's parents. Even the marriage expenses, it is recommended to be borne by the bridegroom. However, the bride can bring whatever she wants of her free will, and it will always belong to her.

3. Other Unislamic Customs: Many other unislamic customs have crept into the marriage ceremony of some Muslims. These customs are either borrowed from non-Muslim cultures or continue because they are established in past generations. One must avoid them if they are against the Shariah, even if some people are displeased. Other customs like the breaking of coconut etc. also do not feature among the Islamic rituals. All actions, customs etc., which show disrespect to Islam or weaken the importance of Islam, have to be avoided.

4. Haraam Acts: Some of the rituals in marriage ceremonies are absolutely Haraam like the playing of music. It is also Haraam for ladies to go for mixed gatherings without proper Hijab. Such things invite divine wrath and take away the blessings of this auspicious occasion. In the Islamic Law, marriage is an Aqd, a contract. The components of this contract are as follows:

A. Proposal: In Islam the process of proposal by a man to a woman for her hand in marriage, or for that matter, to her family, is encouraged. Islam considers this natural, and recommends it as an act of respectability and dignity for women.

B. Mahr: And the intending husband is asked to offer a Mahr to the bride. Holy Quran says, And give women their Mahr as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result. (Surah Nisa 4:4)

The following points are worthy of consideration:

a) Mahr must be agreed upon by the marrying partners themselves, not by parents.
b) Mahr is her right, to which her husband remains indebted.
c) It is a free gift and not her price.

The Mahr may be cash, kind or non-material (like training or teaching something). It can be paid up front or can be in form of promise to pay upon demands decided prior to the solemnization of marriage. Moajjal (immediate), Muwajjal and Indat-talab (on demand). However, it is much recommended to pay it before or at the time of Nikah itself.

C. The Nikah Ceremony: According to Shariah, the wife-to-be says, 'An Kah'tu nafsaka a'lal mah'ril ma'loom'. ("I have given away myself in Nikah to you, on the agreed Mahr.")

Immediately, the man (bridegroom) says, 'Qabiltun Nikaha'. ("I have accepted the Nikah.")

With these pronouncements, they become husband and wife.

If the marrying partners are not able to recite the formula in Arabic, one or two persons or priests are appointed and authorized to officiate. One who represents the bride would first seek her explicit consent to officiate on her behalf, and so would the other who acts on behalf of the groom. Naturally, there would be a slight variation in the pronouncements, because the persons reciting them are appointees. A person who represents the bride would initiate by saying, "Ankah'tu muwakkilati muwakkilaka a'lal mah'ril ma'loom." ("I give away in Nikah the woman who has thus appointed and authorized me, to the man who has authorized you, on an agreed Mahr.")

The groom's representative would respond, "Qabiltunnikaaha limuwakkili a'lal mah'ril ma'loom." ("I accept the Nikah on behalf of the one who has appointed me, on the agreed Mahr.")

It is mustahab to recite a brief discourse or Khutba before the Nikah formula is enunciated. In this Khutba, Allah is praised for His Wisdom in regulating the lawful process of procreation, and then the traditions from Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) are also recited.

D. Time of Marriage Ceremony: Though basically marriage is allowed at all times, there are some days on which marriage is not recommended; some of these are based on ahadith and some on cultural, historical reasons.

Generally, we can categorize these days into three: (a) There are some ahadith which say that it is makruh (not recommended) to have a marriage ceremony on the days when the moon is in the constellation of Scorpio (this is known as al-qamar fil aqrab or qamar dar aqrab), during the last two or three days of the lunar months, and on Wednesdays. (b) There are certain days of the Islamic calendar, which have become associated with the early events of the Islamic history; for example, the 10th of Muharram is the day of mourning for the massacre at Karbala or the day of Holy Prophet Muhammad's (s.a.w.) death in Safar, etc. Since such days are commemorated by the Muslims as days of mourning, it is socially and, to some extent, religiously not recommended to have a marriage ceremony on such days.

Shia Ithna Ashari (Twelver Shias), especially in India and Pakistan, rarely perform marriage ceremony between the 1st of Muharram and the 8th of Rabi al-Awwal as this period includes the mourning days of Muharram culminating in the martyrdom of Imam Askari (a.s.). The 9th Rabi al-Awwal is celebrated as Eid-e-Zahra.

If there is a need, however, Nikah, can be performed at any time.

E. Permission of the Bride-to-be/Father: The girl's consent is necessary and has to be taken by her representative, directly.

In case of a virgin/spinster the father's or the grandfather's permission is also necessary. However if the permission is unreasonably withheld under some conditions or the girl has no father/paternal grandfather it is not necessary. However, a woman who is not a virgin, does not require any permission in case of remarriage.

F. Valima (Dinner): Valima is highly recommended on the groom. The relatives, neighbors and friends must be invited for Valima. However, lavish spending is not advisable especially when the same money can be used effectively by the couple.


It is highly recommended that the wedding should take place at night. The hadith says, "Take the bride to her new home during the night." When the bride enters the room, the groom is recommended to take off her shoes and wash her feet (in a washbowl) and then sprinkle the water around the room. Then he should perform wuzu and pray two-rak'at sunnat prayer and then recite the following du'a:

Allahummar zuqni ilfahaa wa wuddaha wa riz"aaha bi; warz"ini biha, wa-ajma' baynana bi ah'sane ijtimaa'in wa anasi i-tilafin; fa innaka tuh'ibbul h'alaala wa tukrihul h'araam.

O Allah! Bless me with her affection, love and her acceptance of me; and make me pleased with her, and bring us together in the best form of a union and in absolute harmony; surely You like lawful things and dislike unlawful things.

Then he should ask the bride to do wuzu and pray two-rak'at sunnat prayer.

When they are ready to go to bed, the groom should put his hand on the bride's forehead and pray the following du'a while facing the Qiblah.

Allahumma bi amaanatika akhadhtuha wa bi kalimaatika is-tah'laltuha. Fa in qaz"ayta li minha waladan, faj-'alhu mubaarakan taqiyyan min Shi'ati Aal-i Muh'ammad (s'al-lal-laahu a'layhi wa aalihi wa sallam) wa laa taj-'al lish Shayt'aani fihi shirkan wa laa naseeba.

O Allah! I have taken her as Your trust and have made her lawful for myself by Your words. Therefore, if You have decreed for me a child from her, then make him/her blessed and pious from among the followers of the Family of Muhammad [peace be upon him and them]; and do not let Satan have any part in him/her.

Is it necessary to have sexual intercourse on the very first night after the wedding or can it be delayed? As far as the Shariah is concerned, it is neither obligatory nor forbidden to have sex on the first night. It is a private decision between the newly wed couple; it has nothing to do with others.


A. When is Sex Forbidden?
Islam has forbidden sexual intercourse during menstruation. Holy Qur'an says: They ask you about menstruation. Say: "Menstruation is a discomfort (for women). Do not establish sexual relations with them during the menses and do not approach them (sexually) until the blood stops. Then when they have cleansed themselves, you go into them as Allah has commanded you." (Surah Baqarah 2:222)

According to the Shariah, the duration of the monthly period is between three to ten days. If the bleeding was for less than three days, it is not menstruation; if it is for more than ten days, then it is menstruation for the regular number of days and istehadha for the rest of the bleeding during which sex is permitted.

The prohibition of sex during the periods is limited strictly to sexual intercourse; other intimate contact (with the exception of the vagina and anus) is allowed. However, it is better not to play with her body between the navel and the knees. If a person who is engaged in sexual intercourse with his wife discovers that her period has begun, then he should immediately withdraw from her.

It is clear from the verse mentioned above (until the blood stops) that once the blood has stopped, intercourse becomes lawful even if the woman has not performed the major ritual ablution (Ghusl). But mujtahids say that it is better to refrain from intercourse till she performs the Ghusl or, at least, washes her private parts.

Sexual intercourse is also not allowed during the post-natal bleeding called nifas (maximum 10 days), during daytime in the month of Ramadan, and when a person is in Ihram during the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah. At all other times, sexual intercourse is allowed.

Times when Sexual Intercourse is Makruh:

i. During frightful natural occurrences, e.g., eclipse, hurricane, earthquake;
ii. From sunset till maghrib;
ii. From dawn till sunrise;
iii. The last three nights of lunar months;
iv. Eve of the 15th of every lunar month;
v. Eve of 10th Zil-hijjah;
vii. After becoming junub.

B. Recommended Days and Times for Sex.
We have certain ahadith, which say that it is better to have sexual intercourse at these times:

i. Sunday night;
ii. Monday night;
iii. Wednesday night;
iv. Thursday noon;
v. Thursday night;
vi. Friday evening;
vii. Whenever the wife wants to have sex.

C. When is it Obligatory to have Sex?
It is wajib on man to have sex with his wife at least once in every four months; this is considered as one of the conjugal rights of the wife. This obligation stays in force unless there is a valid excuse or the wife waives her right.


There are no particular rules and laws either in foreplay or in intercourse. The only laws and rules are the ones reached by the lovers by mutual and often unspoken understanding. Whatever is pleasing and satisfying to both the husband and the wife is right and proper; and whatever is mutually displeasing is wrong. The only limitation to this general rule would be any Shariah rule, which goes against the wishes of the husband or the wife.

A. Foreplay is Highly Recommended:
Islam emphasizes on foreplay. Imam Ali (as) says, "When you intend to have sex with your wife, do not rush because the woman (also) has needs (which should be fulfilled)." Sex without foreplay has been equated to cruelty. Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, "Three people are cruel: .a person who has sex with his wife before foreplay."

Another hadith equates sex without foreplay to animal behavior: "When anyone of you has sex with his wife, then he should not go to her like birds; instead he should be slow and delaying."

As for the role of a woman in sexual foreplay, the Imams have praised a wife who discards shyness when she is with her husband. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says, "The best woman among you is the one who discards the armor of shyness when she undresses for her husband, and puts on the armor of shyness when she dresses up again." After all, modesty and chastity in public is the hallmark of a Muslim lady.

These sayings clearly show that the husband and the wife should feel completely free when they are engaged in mutual stimulation, which is known as foreplay. There is nothing wrong, according to Islam, for a woman to be active and responsive during sex. As for the Islamic Shariah, all the mujtahids are unanimous in saying that the act of sexual foreplay in itself is mustahab (recommended). Likewise, it is recommended not to rush into sexual intercourse. The operative word is mutual pleasure and satisfaction.

B. Techniques of Foreplay:
As far as the methods of mutual stimulation in foreplay are concerned, the Shariah allows the husband and the wife to see, kiss, touch, smell and stimulate any part of each other's body. Therefore, oral sex, as it is known, is allowed. Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) was once asked, "Can a person kiss his wife's vagina?" The Imam said, "No problem."

The only restriction is that no foreign object should be used. The restriction on the use of foreign objects is based on the following hadith. Ubaydullah bin Zurarah says that he had an old neighbor who owned a young slave-girl. Because of his old age, he could not fully satisfy the young slave-girl during sexual intercourse. She would therefore ask him to place his fingers in her vagina, as she liked it. The old man complied with her wishes even though he did not like this idea. So he requested Ubaydullah to ask Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) about it. When Ubaydullah asked the Imam about it, Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) said, "There is no problem as long as he uses any part of his own body upon her, but he should not use anything other than his body on her."

Though masturbation (i.e., self-stimulation of one's own sexual organ till emission of semen or orgasm) is not allowed, in the case of married persons, there is no problem if the wife stimulates her husband's penis till the emission of semen or the husband stimulates his wife's vagina till orgasm. This is allowed because it does not come under "self-stimulation;" it is stimulation by a lawful partner.

C. Sexual Intercourse:
Is there any particular position for sexual intercourse, which is forbidden in Islam? No! As far as the basic coital positions are concerned, there are no restrictions. The term 'basic coital positions' denotes the positions known as the man above, face to face, woman above face to face; side position, face to face; rear-entry position in which the husband penetrates the vagina from the rear. Actually, the Shariah has left it on the husband and the wife to explore and experiment as they wish. However, it is makruh to adopt a standing position, or to face the Qiblah or keep it on the backside during the intercourse. It is advisable to refrain from the acrobatic positions given by some sexologists of the East and the West, which might even cause physical harm.

Remember, the basic rule is mutual pleasure and flexibility. If one partner does not like a particular position, then the other should yield to his or her feelings. It is highly emphasized that at the commencement of intercourse the partners should recite Bismillaahir Rah'maanir Rah'eem (In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful).

D. Anal Intercourse:
The opinions of our mujtahids vary on the permissibility of anal intercourse. The majority of the Shi'ah mujtahids have derived two conclusions: (1) that anal intercourse is not Haraam but strongly disliked (karahatan shadidah) provided the wife agrees to it. (2) and if she does not agree to it, then all mujtahids say that it is precautionarily wajib to refrain from it.

However, during the last decade of his life, Ayatullah al-Khu'i departed from the majority view and gave the ruling that it was precautionarily wajib to abstain from anal intercourse no matter whether the wife agrees to it or not.

Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi says, "I would strongly advise against anal intercourse," and quotes the saying of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq and Imam Ali ar-Reza (a.s.) about anal intercourse: "Woman is a means of your pleasure, therefore do not harm her."

E. Hygiene:
After the intercourse the partners may first wipe their genitals with clean pieces of cloth. It is recommended that the same cloth/towel must not be used by both of them.


Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) has taught the following dua:

Transliteration: Allaahumma laa tadharni fardanw wa anta khairul waaretheen wah'eedanw wah'sheeyan fayaqs'uroo a'n tafakkori bal habli a'afiyata s'idqin dhokooranw wa onaathan aanaso behim minal wah'shate wa askuno ilaihim minal wah'date wa ashkoroka I'nda tamaame ne'matin yaa wahhaabo yaa a'zeemo yaa mo-a'z'z'amo thumma a'at'eni fee kulle a'afiyatin shukran h'atta tabloghani minha riz"waanoka fee s'idqil h'adeethe adaaail amaanate wa waqaaain bil 'ahde

Translation: O Allah! Do not keep me solitary though You are the best of Inheritors. I am alone and terrified of loneliness. This worry has reduced my thankfulness to You. So bestow on me true forgiveness and give me female and male children so that by their company I can cure my terror of loneliness. By which my loneliness is cured. So that on the completion of this bounty I can thank You. O the greatest Giver, O the Greatest, O the Bestower of greatness, after this bestows me with tawfeeq that I thank You for every kindness. Till I can achieve Your kindness by thankfulness, by speaking the truth, by returning trusts and by fulfilling oaths.


According to the Shi'ah fiqh, family planning as a private measure to space or regulate the family size for health or economic reasons is permissible. Neither is there any Qur'anic verse or hadith against birth control, nor is it wajib to have children in marriage.

Let us examine some of the most commonly used contraceptive methods and determine whether they are permissible in Islam or not. It must be mentioned that we are studying the permissibility of these methods from the Shariah point of view only. For the medical opinion about the reliability or any side effects of these methods, the reader must consult his or her physician. Further each individual needs to check additional conditions, which may apply as per his Marja'a.

1. Oral Contraceptives:
Birth control pills prevent conception by inhibiting ovulation. Since all such pills inhibit ovulation, there is absolutely no problem in using them. However, the individual must consult the physician about possible side effects.

The pills like the 'morning-after' and RU486 may be taken after the intercourse BUT not after feeling or knowing that pregnancy has already occurred.

2. Depo-Provera:
Depo-Provera works exactly like the pills, but instead of taking it orally it is injected once every three months. This and other similar contraceptive methods by injection are also permissible.

3. Intrauterine Devices (IUD):
IUDs are plastic or metal objects, in a variety of shapes that are implanted inside the uterus. Since the shari' pregnancy begins at implantation, there is no problem in using IUD as a birth control device.

4. Barrier Devices:
All barrier devices prevent the sperm from entering the uterus. This is done by sheathing the penis with a condom, or by covering the cervix with a diaphragm, cervical cap, or vaginal sponge. The use of spermicidal substances, which kill the sperm before reaching the ovum, is also a barrier device. There is absolutely no problem in using these contraceptives either.

5. Abstinence During Fertile Period:
There are three basic procedures to predict ovulation so that sexual intercourse can be avoided during the approximately six days of a woman's most fertile monthly phase.

These three methods are as follows:

(a) Ovulation Method: A woman learns to recognize the fertile time by checking the difference in the constitution of the cervical mucus discharge. The cervical mucus discharge signals the highly fertile period; and thus avoiding sex during the fertile days prevents pregnancy.

(b) Rhythm Method: A method similar to the first, but it depends on observing the monthly cycles for a whole year to determine the fertile days.

(c) Temperature: In this method, besides keeping a calendar record of her cycle, a woman also takes her temperature daily to detect ovulation. She can know her ovulation whenever her basal body temperature increases.

6. Withdrawal (Coitus Interrupts):
Coitus interrupts means withdrawing the penis just before ejaculation. This was the most common method of birth control before the invention of modern devices. Muhammad bin Muslim and Abdur Rahman bin Abi Abdillah Maymun asked Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) about withdrawal. The Imam said, "It is up to the man; he may spill it wherever he wants." Based on this hadith, the majority of our mujtahids believe that coitus interrupts is allowed but Makruh without the wife's consent.

All methods mentioned above do not involve surgical operation and they are also reversible. A woman (or man) using these methods can stop using them at anytime in order to have a child.

7. Sterilization (Sterilization involves surgical operation:
Sterilization in men, known as vasectomy, means the severing or blocking of the tube in the male reproductive tract. This tube or duct passes sperm from the testes to the prostate and other reproductive organs.

Sterilization in women, known as tubal ligation, involves the blocking or severing of the fallopian tubes, which transport the ovum.

The permissibility of sterilization depends on whether or not it is reversible.

8A. Woman can Practice Birth Control:
The wife has full right to the use of contraceptives even without the approval of her husband. However, she should not use a method, which may come in the way of her husband's conjugal rights. For example, she cannot force him to use condom or practice coitus interrupts. This rule is based upon the principle that the extent of the husband's conjugal rights over his wife is just that she should be sexually available, responsive, and cooperative. This right does not extend to that of bearing children for him. Bearing children or not is a personal decision of the woman; and therefore, she may use contraceptives provided they do not come in the way of her husband's conjugal rights.

8B. Abortion:
Islam's approach to the issue of birth control and abortion is very balanced. It allows women to prevent pregnancy but forbids them to terminate it. Abortion after the implantation of the fertilized ovum in the womb is absolutely forbidden and is considered a crime against the law of God, and the fetus.


A. INTRODUCTION: "Janabat" is a ritual impurity caused by the discharge of semen or by sexual intercourse; and the person on whom ghusl janabat becomes wajib is known as "junub". Holy Qur'an says:

O you who believe! Do not go near prayers (salat) when you are... junub until you have washed yourselves. (Surah Nisa 4:43) O you who believe! When you stand up for prayers (salat), . . . if you are junub, then purify (yourselves). (Surah Maidah 5:6)

B. THE CAUSES OF GHUSL JANABAT (There are two causes of janabat):
1. Discharge of semen. It does not make any difference whether this discharge is while awake or in a wet dream, slight or profuse, intentionally or otherwise, in lawful way or unlawful (e.g., masturbation). In all these cases ghusl janabat becomes obligatory (wajib).

If a liquid comes out from a man and he does not know whether or not it is semen, then he should look for the following three signs: (1) emission with passion; (2) spurting discharge; (3) feeling relaxed after the discharge. If these signs are found together on him, then he should consider the liquid as semen, otherwise not.

If a secretion is discharged from a woman, then it is precautionary wajib for her to do ghusl janabat provided it came with sexual passion and she felt relaxed after it. But if the secretion comes without the sexual passion or without the feeling of relaxation after the discharge, then it is not najis and therefore ghusl is not wajib upon her.

2. Sexual Intercourse. It does not make any difference whether the intercourse was lawful or unlawful, and with or without discharge of semen. In Islamic laws, sexual intercourse is defined as the penetration of the glens into the vagina or anus of the woman. That is, for ghusl janabat to become wajib it is not necessary that full penetration or discharge of semen should take place. In case of sexual intercourse, ghusl janabat becomes wajib on both the man and the woman.

C. THINGS FORBIDDEN FOR A JUNUB (The following 4 acts are Haraam before performing the ghusl):
1. Touching the writing of Holy Qur'an, the names and attributes of Allah, the names of Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), the Imams and Fatimah Zahra (daughter of Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.)).

2. Reciting the verses of Holy Qur'an in which sajdah (prostration) is wajib. These verses are: verse 15 of chapter 32; verse 38 of chapter 41; verse 62 of chapter 53; and verse 19 of chapter 96. It is better not to recite even a single verse from these chapters.

3. Entering or staying in the mosque. Holy Qur'an says, "O you who believe!...Nor (are you allowed to enter the masjid) if you are junub until you have washed yourself except passing through." (Surah Nisa 4:43) Based on this verse and relevant ahadith, the mujtahids have concluded that a junub is totally forbidden from staying in the mosque.

Of course, as the verse says, one can pass through the mosques (by entering from one door and leaving from the other). However, this exception of passing through does not apply to the following places: the Masjidul-Haraam (the Sacred Mosque at Makkah) Masjidun-Nabi (the Mosque of Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) at Medina), and shrines of the Imams. A junub cannot even pass through them.

4. Leaving something in or taking it out from a mosque.

1. Eating and drinking is makruh for a junub except after doing wuzu or gargling or rinsing the nose.

2. Reciting more than seven verses from Holy Qur'an. This applies to other than the four chapters with wajib sajdah mentioned above.

3. Touching the cover of Holy Qur'an.

4. Sleeping without doing wuzu.

1. Salat (prayers) except salatul-mayyit (the prayer for a dead Muslim), which can be performed even in the state of janabat.

2. Wajib tawaf (the circumambulation of the Ka'bah in Hajj Pilgrimage).

3. Fasting. If someone knowingly remains junub until dawn in Ramadan, his fasting will become invalid (batil).

Ghusl is a ritual bath; it involves washing of the whole body. There are two methods of performing ghusl. One is known as ghusl tartibi, and the other is known as ghusl irtimasi.

1. Ghusl Tartibi: means an ordinal bath, performed in three stages.

After washing away the najasat (e.g., semen or blood) from the body and after niyyat, the body has to be washed in three stages: First, head down to the neck; then the right side of the body from the shoulder down to the foot; and lastly, the left side of the body.

Each part should be washed thoroughly in such a way that the water reaches the skin. Special care should be taken while washing the head; the hair should be combed (e.g., with your fingers) so that water reaches the hair-roots. While washing the right side of the body, some part of the left side must be washed too, and also, while washing the left side of the body, some part of the right side must be washed.

2. Ghusl Irtimasi: means a bath involving immersion of the whole body in the water. It is needless to say that such a ghusl can only be done in a body of water, e.g., a pool, river, lake or sea.

After washing away the semen or blood from the body and after niyyat, the whole body should be completely immersed in the water all at once, not gradually. One has to make sure that the water reaches all parts of the body, including hair and the skin under it.

However, ghusl tartibi is preferred to ghusl irtimasi.

G. RECOMMENDABLE ACTS OF GHUSL (These recommendable acts are five):
1. Washing both hands upto the elbows three times before the ghusl.
2. Gargling three times.
3. Wiping the hands on the whole body to ensure that every part has been thoroughly washed.
4. Combing the hair with the fingers to ensure that the water reaches the hair-roots.
5. (For men only) Doing istibra before ghusl janabat. Istibra, in the present context, means, "urinating." The benefit of istibra: If a liquid comes out of one's penis after completing the ghusl, and he doubts whether it is semen or urine, then should he repeat the ghusl or not? If he had done istibra before the ghusl, then he can assume that the liquid is urine he will not have to repeat the ghusl; he just has to do wuzu for his salat. But, on the other hand, if he had not done istibra before the ghusl, then he has to assume that it is the remnant of semen and he will have to do the ghusl again.


Remember that the bride has just left her loved ones. She might be new to this place. So she deserves consideration and a chance to adjust herself in the new environment.

Mulla Mohsin Faiz Kashani in his book, Al Waafi in the chapter of "A Woman's right over her Husband" writes that it is narrated from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) that some people inquired from him regarding the rights of a wife over her husband. He (s.a.w.) answered, "He should overlook her minor faults and if she commits a major mistake then he should forgive her."

Shahab Abdo Rabbeh relates that I asked Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) concerning the rights of a woman over her husband. He (a.s.) answered, "He should fulfill all her basic necessities and must not terrorize her by getting angry time and again. i.e. after fulfilling her needs, is kind and affectionate towards her, then I swear by Allah, he has fulfilled his wife's rights."

The importance of observing the rights of a wife can be gauged from the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) wherein he says, "The best among you is the one who observes the rights of his wife in the best possible way and I am the best among you to observe the rights of my wives."

A. The Importance of helping one's wife at home

One day the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) paid a visit to the house of Imam Ali and Fatimah Zahra (s.a.). He saw that Imam Ali (a.s.) was sieving the pulses and Fatemah (s.a.) was busy cooking. On observing this Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) remarked, "O Ali, I do not speak except what is revealed to me. Anyone who helps his wife in her domestic affairs obtains a reward of one year of worship equal to the amount of hair on his body. This year of worship will be as if he has fasted during its days and prayed during its nights. Allah will reward him equal to the reward of all the patient ones, Hazrat Dawood (a.s.) and Hazrat Isa (a.s.)."

B. Consequence of Ill Behavior with the Family

Imam Reza (a.s.) says, "Every man should strive to make his wife and children comfortable according to his capacity for if he is strict and unkind to them and because their rights are being deprived they will desire his death."

When Saad ibne Maaz, the great companion of Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) expired, he (s.a.w.) himself participated in the funeral procession and shouldered his bier quite a few times with considerable respect. Then he laid it in the grave and buried him with his own hands. On seeing the zeal of Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), the mother of Saad cried, "Congratulations, O my son on gaining paradise." On hearing this the Messenger of Islam retorted, "Wait, do not make haste in divine affairs. Your son is in great agony and anguish at the moment." When the people inquired about the reason for this condition he (s.a.w.), replied, "He behaved very badly with his family members."

C. Rights of the Wife According to Imam Sajjad (a.s.)

"It is the right of your wife that you should know that Allah has made her for you a tranquility and comfort (in worry), and a friend and shield (against sins).

And likewise, it is incumbent upon both of you to thank Allah for your partner and to know that (the spouse) is a grace of Allah upon you. And it is obligatory to have good fellowship with this grace of Allah (i.e. wife), and to respect her and be kind to her, although your rights upon her are greater and her obedience to you is final in all your likes and dislikes so long as it is not a sin. So she has the right of love and fellowship, and a place of repose (i.e. house) so that natural desires may be fulfilled, and this in itself is a great duty. And there is no strength but by Allah."

D. Husband's rights over his Wife

The rights of a husband over his wife are numerous. The most important among them is related to having physical relationship with her. The duty of a wife is to submit herself physically before her husband. This right of the husband i.e. of having a physical relationship with his wife, as and when he wants, is obviously a reciprocation of her feelings. In absence of her husband the duties of the wife include the protection of his rights, status, wealth and respect. She must not spend his wealth without his permission nor must she reveal his secrets. Rather she should be his closest confidante.

She must not let anybody inside the house without his permission in his absence. For, doing so would lead to a lot of misunderstandings, which would have drastic repercussions on the sacred contract of marriage. She must value his ideas, plans and provisions that he has prepared for her and other family members and obey him under all circumstances. She must not disobey him come what may nor must she do any such thing which detracts him. Rather she must try her best to attract his attention towards herself by which both of them can lead a life of harmony.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) says that once a lady inquired from Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) regarding the rights a husband enjoys over his wife. He (s.a.w.) said, "First and foremost is that she should obey him and refrain from disobedience. She must not donate anything from his house without his permission nor can she keep recommended fasts without his approval. She must NEVER deny him his physical rights nor deprive him of its pleasures. If she steps out of the house without his permission, the angels of the heaven and the earth, of wrath and mercy, curse her till she returns to her house."

E. The Importance of obeying one's Husband

Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) says that a group of people paid a visit to the Messenger of Islam and said, "O Prophet of Allah, we have seen such people who prostrate before each other." Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) answered, "If at all I could permit prostration before anyone except Allah, the Creator, I would have ordered the wives to prostrate before their husbands."

Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is also reported to have said, "A wife who gives her husband water to drink attains a reward of one year of worship, a year whose nights were passed in prayers and days in fasting. In exchange of one drop of water which she provides for her husband one city is built in paradise for her and sins of sixty years are forgiven."

The author of Makaremul Akhlaq narrates on the authority of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.), "The Jehaad of women is to be patient while facing the difficulties of life with their husbands."

F. Stricture Against Foul Language

Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, "Any woman who converses indignantly with her husband, thereby hurting his sentiments, none of her deeds either obligatory or recommended will be accepted from her until and unless her husband does not express his satisfaction with her. Even if this woman fasts during the days, prays during the nights, frees slaves or donates the best of horses in the way of Allah, she will be first to enter the fire of hell. Similar will be the fate of the husband who usurps the rights of his wife."

G. A Summary of Mutual Rights

In his book Principles of Marriage and Family Ethics, Professor Ibrahim Amini has explained in much detail the duties of husband and wives, often quoting incidents to emphasize his arguments.

Part One deals with the duties of Women: According to the author the purpose of marriage is that the wife lives with her husband. She must be kind and should respect her husband. She must not complain unnecessarily. She must have a pleasant disposition. She must be a comfort for her husband and appreciate him. She must not look for his shortcomings. She must observe Islamic Hijab. She must forgive her husband's mistakes. She must learn to cope with her husband's relatives. She must help her husband to make progress. She must not be unduly suspicious.

Part Two deals with the duties of Men: The man is the guardian of the family. He should take care of his wife and be loving towards her. He must respect her and be well mannered. He also must not complain unnecessarily. He should overlook her mistakes. He should not be suspicious about her. He should be clean at home also. He must help in the household chores and assist in bringing up children.


Other household members should also know that the time and attention of the newly married ones will be divided and previous expectations may have to be changed to suit new circumstances. In joint families, the NaMehram ladies must observe hijab if they are not living in a separate house with their husbands.

Decency and Privacy

Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and the Imams have emphasized that when you engage in sexual intercourse, make sure that no child (or, for that matter, any other person) sees you or hears you. Abu Basir quotes Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (a.s.) as follows, "Be careful not to have sex with your wife while a child can see you. Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) used to dislike this (attitude) very strongly." If a child sees and hears the parents engaged in sexual intercourse, he might go through a shocking psychological experience. It might also create a problem in his own adult life. Islam has laid down clear guidelines about the privacy of adults.

Holy Qur'an gives us the following rules about privacy within the family circles:

1. There are three times in a day: night, early morning and afternoon, which are considered as times of privacy.

2. The minor children should be taught that during times of privacy they are not allowed to enter the bedroom of their parents or adults without first asking their permission.

3. At other times, the children are free to come and go into the bedroom of their parents without asking for their permission. In retrospect, this means that the parents should be decently dressed at those other times.

4. As for the mature children and adults, the Holy Qur'an is clear that they may enter the bedroom of their parents or other adults at all times only after asking their permission.

Conclusion: The Islamic way of life not only assures happiness and satisfaction of an individual but the society as a whole benefits by implementing the laws of Shariah. Since the society consists of families and families come into being by matrimonial relationships it is necessary that this basic unit of society is properly understood and protected from all that threatens its existence.


HARAAM: forbidden, prohibited.
IHTIYAT WAJIB: precautionary wajib.
JA'IZ, HALAAL, MUBAH: permitted, allowed, lawful, legal.
MARJA (pl. MARAJI): A high-ranking mujtahid.
MAKRUH: reprehensible, disliked, discouraged.
MUJTAHID: or FAQIH (pl. FUQAHA): a jurist.
SUNNAT or MUSTAHAB: recommended, desirable, better.
WAJIB: obligatory, necessary, incumbent.


01. Ideal Marriage - Van de Velde
02. Marriage and Morals in Islam - Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
03. Marriage and Family Ethics - Ibrahim Amini
04. Spouse Selection - Ali Akber Mazaheri
05. Youth and Morals - S. Mujtaba Musavi Lari
06. Sexual Ethics in Islam and in the Western World - M. Mutahhari
07. Islamic Law - Ayatullah Seestani
08. Tahzeebul Islam - Allamah Majlisi
09. Adaabe Mujaameaat - Peermohammed Ebrahim Trust
10. A Gift for the Youth - Shabeeb Rizvi

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