Islam and Marriage Contracts

imagesIn islam, a woman is allowed to stipulate conditions in her marriage-contract. All conditions are allowed as long as they aren’t contradictory to islam. Conditions in the marriage-contract must be adhered to, so it’s vital to get your contract right, since these are practically the only rights a muslim woman has.

Here is a list of conditions I believe every muslim woman, or woman marrying a muslim man, must have in her contract. My list is only a start. With your help, I hope we can compile a comprehensive list that women can copy and actually use, in order to protect themselves and their rights. If you leave comments, I will add your suggestions to the list!

1. I must have the right to divorce at any time, no matter what my reasons are. When asked, my husband must offer me talaq – I shall not have to resort to khul.

2. If my husband should choose to become polygamous, he must offer me talaq. If I accept, a maintenance large enough to sustain our children must be added to my mahr. Our children must be allowed to stay with me. My children should never be forced to live under the same roof as a second or third wife. If I remarry, I must be allowed joint custody and equal time with the children. Child maintenance must be paid until the children are 18, even if I choose to remarry.

3. If my husband should become polygamous and I choose to stay in the marriage, he must pay for a full time nanny at all times when he is spending time with his other family. He must also pay for a luxury vacation for me and a friend every time he takes another wife on vacation so I can choose where and how to spend such times. He must also supply me with two independent clean bills of health for the wife to be. These are to be updated every year.

4. If my husband were to choose polygamy and I choose to stay with him, he must grant me the right to make all decisions concerning living arrangements, based on what expenses he deems to be reasonable.

5. I must be allowed to work and or study, should I want.

6. One of the main reasons to get married is to have a healthy outlet for sexual needs. My husband must make sure my sexual needs are fulfilled whenever I require, no matter if he is polygamous or not. How to manage that is his problem, not mine. To initiate sex is a man’s right in islam. But to be sexually satisfied is a woman’s islamic right. So I grant that my husband has a right to sex when it is islamically doable, but if it is his right to initiate sex, it is my right to say when it’s over, and I am fully satisfied.

7. My husband must grant permission for me to receive any visitors I like, during his absence.



37 thoughts on “Islam and Marriage Contracts

  1. No man in his right mind would accept those terms. Although I must say I find some of them interesting. Sexual fulfillment is certainly a right but how would a polygamous man accomplish this?

  2. Hello Fiona, thanks a lot for this post, it is a very important topic. I am in favor of prenuptual agreements myself. But sometimes listing some conditions makes me, and many other women, very nervous. For example, bringing up polygamy is painful by itself because of it’s nature. Writing detailed clauses on polygamy is more so. It makes the woman look distrusting. What if the idea never occurred to the future husband and now he starts thinking about it? What if his family objects? I read one person online who said discussing prenuptial conditions sometimes end up opening a can of worms. What is your opinion? Can it hurt the relationship about to start by any way, or is the honesty good for an open channel of communication?

  3. I still wonder the kind of relationship a man who denies his wife’s basic wishes has after marriage. Maybe they avoid topics which open a can of worms and pretend things are good as they are? Or they have regular fights over issues? My parents faced the latter since they didn’t discuss some topics beforehand, such as on financial issues.

  4. Yet women are supposed to accept terms that make her subject to any whim her husband has. Obeying without question, accepting him taking more wives and opening herself and her children to disease, being kept in the home unless he gives permission, etc etc etc….I say no woman in HER right mind oughta accept those terms.

  5. NO Woman who just posses a mind would ignore these terms because I think these are basic Human rights every person should have irrespective of gender or any religion they belong to!!

  6. I am curious why you say in the first “without having to resort to khula”. Khula is in some (even many?) cases advanageous to women over talaq. For one, the iddah is only one month compared to 3. For two, in talaq, the woman can be taken back by the husband against her wishes during iddah, but in khula she cannot. In khula, as soon as it is given, a new marriage contract is required for the couple to reunite (whether during the one month iddah or after). However, it can be stipulated that if a khula is requested, the husband has to agree to grant it without taking her mahr at all, especially if she is requesting it because he has wronged her in some way.

    Also I would add with number 5, that the husband agrees not to ask for any earnings from work toward household expenses or his personal expenses; that the wife is free to use them on whatever she likes at her own discretion.

  7. My understanding is in Islam that a woman cannot even get a divorce, she has to ask her husband to give her one. I don’t know how Khula really works though. Fortunately I had a regular US western wedding and divorce without all this nonsense.

  8. jamylah,
    I know from your previous writings that you are a revert, and so Islam is a life choice, not a cultural inheritance. Could you address this statement about married status please, and share your perpective on it, if you have one, which you should.

    “the woman can be taken back by the husband against her wishes ”

    Thank you.

  9. Khula is a divorce a woman initiates. She approaches her husband and asks for a divorce in exchange for the return of her dowry. Scholars say if she is asking for it because he wronged her in any way- for example, denying her rights, violating the marriage contract, abusing her, etc- it’s better that he refuse to accept the dowry but still give her the divorce she requests. It’s true there are stubborn men that will still refuse to grant the divorce even when a woman approaches him for Khula. In these instances, the woman’s recourse is to go to an imam and have him grant the divorce himself, superceding the husband’s “authority”. This is called kashf.

  10. It means as it says. Talaq is something the husband has complete control over, and yes this can be abused (and too often is). A man can give a talaq any time, for any reason. The wife doesn’t have to be in agreement with it, his decision is the final arbiter. As such, taking her back is just as within his power. So a woman can be taken back after talaq even if she doesn’t want to be. Khula, on the other hand, prevents this.

    My personal view is that Khula is incorporated into shariah to offset the misuse of talaq/taking back. It gives a women a way to get out of an unsatisfactory marriage without having to worry about being dragged back in against her will. I think a lot of problems come when a situation escalates to where an imam has to issue kashf, which they are supposed to do when asked. Instead, what many imams are doing nowadays are refusing to issue kashf but try to force couples to work things out.

  11. Hi Jyamlah, so do you think that it’s right to force a woman to be with a man she doesn’t want to be with. You seem to be knowledgeable about sharia. Reading these rules gives me a clear impression that women are treated as possessions of men in Islam. Is that right?

  12. Laila, I do not believe a woman should be forced to be with a man if she doesn’t want to. I believe this goes against the original teachings of Islam. Surah 2:229 reads, “Divorce is twice. Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment. And it is not lawful for you to take anything of what you have given them unless both fear that they will not be able to keep [within] the limits of Allah. But if you fear that they will not keep [within] the limits of Allah, then there is no blame upon either of them concerning that by which she ransoms herself. These are the limits of Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah – it is those who are the wrongdoers.”
    This surah implies a lot about how marriage and divorce is supposed to work. Married men and women should treat each other with love, care, and respect. This is what is meant by not “keeping the limits”. If one or both of them cannot or will not treat each other well, they should part amicably (release her with good treatment).
    As you can see, if a couple divorces (talaq) the man has been prohibited from trying to take anything he has given her during the marriage- whether that be money, a home, clothing, gifts, even her dowry. However, if she ransoms herself (khula), then she is free to give her dowry back in exchange for a release. The verse closes with a warning that ANYONE who does not follow these junctures is a sinner. That means any man who mistreats his wife, does not let her go amicably if they must divorce, or refuses to let her ransom herself is a transgressor in the eyes of Allah, and subject to His judgment for it in the hereafter.
    Given that explanation, it would be hard for anyone to say that women are “possessions” within a truly Islamic framework. This verse would read entirely differently if that were the case.
    Now is this actually happening? Unfortunately, not enough. There are many muslim men and women who have a degree of God-fear in them, and try to follow these injunctions. But the ones who don’t, in my experience, they are completely corrupted and also skirt other areas of practice. It is more an evidence of the state of their soul, than the teachings of the religion itself.

  13. I believe, as you say, that these rules are often abused. This is why no law should ever grant one person a right unequal to the right of another person. It is an abomination, and history proves that it will lead to pain and suffering. I believe a family is a joint venture. If a woman stays at home with children and the man works and earns, then half of all he earns must belong to her, because he can only work and earn because she does his part of the work at home. Half his income is hers, just like half of the results of her work – tending the home and caring for the children, belongs to and benefits him. The islamic financial rules concerning ownership, incomes and divorce are offensive. 3 months of iddah is not a problem, in my eyes. The woman having to ransom herself is. Whose hostage has she been? :p

  14. Men I think not think of this. They think of infatuation and feeling macho and being intimate. They think only of themselves I think.

  15. As salaam alaikum

    In my country a woman who is divorced by talaq is pitied and sympathised with and she gets much help from others and the man is often seen as the culprit. If a woman is divorced by khul she is looked down on as a rebellious wife and will not smell paradise. This is so no matter what reasons the woman had. So women do anything to avoid khul.

  16. Well that’s just the thing, Fiona. If a man doesn’t give a woman a talaq merely upon her request of it, then she is being held hostage, isn’t she? This is what khula is supposed to override.

  17. I get that. But the notion that a woman should have to pay to be released is outrageous. If she chooses to leave, half of all family assets must belong to her.Can you see my point? And thank you jamylah for your time, and kind effort.

  18. Fiona, that’s why scholars say if the man has wronged her she SHOULDN’T have to pay. He should admit his fault and just let her go. But in the real world when you’re dealing with a-holes, it doesn’t always work like that. Even in bad secular divorces there is a lot of compromise and many times women have to sacrifice something to gain freedom. At a point, just being able to get out at all becomes the most important thing. This is of course contrasted against a system without khula, where women would not even have that caveat. I think what you are saying would be ideal is if there wasn’t a talaq system at all- where men have that power etc. That makes logical sense, but even in western countries where that is the case, divorces can and do get pretty nasty, and the process is abused just the same. I’m not sure that there is an ideal set up where that’s concerned, because a-holes will be a-holes in any system and try to mess up things for the other party regardless.

  19. Jamylah:
    1. “Then, either keep [her] in an acceptable manner or release [her] with good treatment”

    2. “it would be hard for anyone to say that women are “possessions” within a truly Islamic framework”

    If the first statement does not look to you like a relationship between an agent and an object, , then I can understand why you would write the second statement.

  20. If I have to get into a mudfight, I prefer going up against somebody with the same kind of muscle. In islamic divorce, the woman has to fight with her bare hands, while the law gives men the right to bring a kalashnikov… That equal rights sometimes gives an upper hand to somebody who is willing to play dirty isn’t an excuse to rig the game from the start!

  21. Thank you Dale and Fiona for saving me the time to express above and you guys do it much more effectively.
    Jyamlah, I will appreciate you response Fiona and Dale.

  22. I found this very interesting statement on an islamic forum for muslim women: “The second means (for a woman to divorce) is “empowerment” where the husband gives the wife the right to pronounce divorce on his behalf. Thus, in some sense it is a divorce by the husband (with the pre-specified “power of attorney” from him), actually initiated by the wife.

    This is something with no direct evidence for it from the Quran and the Sunnah and appears to be something never practiced by the Companions and the early generations. Nonetheless, there seems to be a valid legal logic that if the man has this authority, then he should have the authority to delegate it to her. However, if this practice becomes widespread or if men find they cannot get married without offering it, then the ruler should ban it because it is a fundamental contradiction of the Shari’a. If Allah intended for women to have the power of unilateral divorce, He (Most High) would have given it to them.”

    So if there is a legal way for muslim women to make sure they have a right to initiate divorce, it must be made illegal::?? The hypocricy is astounding. There seems to be nothing they won’t do to safeguard the power, rights and privileges of men! Sometimes I wonder if these forums even believe there is a god….

  23. Thanks! This really is interesting. And sickening. I still balk at the fact that women submit to this kind of garbage.

  24. Thank you for a good link. Is interesting how they say polygyny benefits women, it is better for women than men, and still they write “No woman in her right mind will give her husband permission to take a second wife. “. I hate the double standars and male disgusting lustful way with religion!!!!! This is what is ruin my life now. I am torn apart. I CAN NOT BELIVE ALLAH HAS PERMITTED SOMETHING AS PAINFUL AS POLYGYNY. There it is. ASTUGH-FER-ALLAH

  25. My heart goes out to you! Have you tried being absolutely honest with your husband about your feelings? What does he say? How does he react to your pain?

  26. i enjoy Jamylah’s writings, and she may or may not respond, sometimes she comes and shares, sometimes she leaves. But I will say that an endless amount of ink has been spilled explaining that the Quran does not belittle women. These same apologists also say that the Quran was written in order to be easy to understand. Well, the irony isn’t worth any more comment.

  27. Could it be stipulated in the contract that he gives up his islamic right to strike or beat her?

  28. Yes Fiona I have tried many times to talk with husband. He only say it is permissable and my pain and hurt is shallow jealousy and he will have some “magic” way to make me good again when he show he is married to second and still is the same husband, loves me and everything i same. If I object he is angry and says I am trying to hurt him and her and their marriage and I am نشوز المرأة
    Im feeling worse day by day.

  29. I think a man must obey what has been stipulated in the marriage contract. Is up to him to agree in first place, so when agreed it must be so.

  30. But I am sorry no offense but I don’t understand part about intimacy. A man can not always decide when he is done, it happens. so how can the woman decide when it is over? No offense.

  31. Ha ha, ok, you’re talking about ejaculation ending intercourse. There is much more to intimacy than that! Women can be intimicized (I made that up lol) in various ways post- ejaculation until the man is ready to go again.

  32. Ha ha, ok, you’re talking about ejaculation after intercourse. In reality, there are many ways a woman can be intimicized (my word) after ejaculation until he is ready to go again.

  33. Soon2be1, I too am so sorry your husband is putting you through this hell. I know you didn’t sign on for this nightmare when you married him. None of us who got dragged kicking and screaming into polygyny signed on for this. I’m about sick and tired of the notion that our objections are trivial; their want/need/lust is from Divine Decree and we’re being whispered to by some “shaitan”. Give me a frigging break.

    Where do you live, that is, what country? Forgive me if you’ve stated elsewhere.
    And don’t say “astaghfirullah” because you’ve done nothing to warrant seeking forgiveness for from anyone or anything. I really want to help you if I can. We all do. (((HUGS)))

  34. I agree Ghaned, and maybe some fair and openminded Muslim guys go into the marriage with full agreement of the conditions laid out – but then somewhere along the way, whether through his own lust/wandering eye or influence from family (must marry this or that cousin) or friends and associates (such as in Fiona’s case) they not only go ahead and break one or more of the agreements, but they seek and usually find all the justification in the world for doing so in bloody religion, which is usually something they didn’t give a damn about before it became convenient for them.

    My husband and I were married in a civil US ceremony. Part of that of course is pledging “keep thee only unto her” and vice versa. In other words, BE FAITHFUL. No screwing around. Period. Well he sure violated that one. A nonreligious man in all the years I’d known him, suddenly he was all about waving the Islamic polygyny flag in my face. Then took a page from Ana’s book and swore up and down Allah ordained it but that my feelings were base and I needed to get rid of them…jealousy, selfishness, etc etc etc. Unbelievable.

  35. There is more to sex than orgasm, and women are capable of having several orgasms during intercourse. One does not mean “done” and a man who just finishes and rolls over, ignoring the woman’s need for satisfaction is not a man most women want to stick around with. The best way to know your partner’s needs is to talk to her about them. Find out what she likes and give it to her. But the best sex (and relationship) is give and take. She should also be finding out what you like and giving it back. A true partnership, in bed and out of it.

    If you can manage that kind of relationship with your wife, you will find many more rewards than problems.

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