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Published: Wednesday, Jun. 1st, 2022

What is a Nikah Ceremony? Intro to the Muslim Marriage Ceremony

An introduction to the traditional Muslim marriage ceremony

 

 

 

A nikah ceremony (also spelled nikkah) is a religious wedding ceremony for Muslim couples. Nikah is the Arabic word used for ‘marriage.’
 
During the ceremony, a couple agrees to marry in the presence of an imam by saying “I accept” or “I consent.” This is similar to the American “I do” exchanged during the declaration of intent. Wedding vows may or may not be exchanged, and the imam shares a few verses from the Quran or other special readings. 
 
After the ceremony is complete, the couple signs a marriage contract to make things official. 
 

 

 

A close up of a woman signing the marriage contract during her nikkah ceremony, she has henna tattoos on her hands and decorative jewelry

Signing the marriage contract

 

 

The nikah is very important in Islam and is the only religiously recognized way for two people to marry. As a religious ceremony, it secures the couple’s relationship in front of Allah (God). The ceremonies are traditionally simple and inexpensive, and are often performed in a mosque. 
 
Common parts of a nikah include the mahr (a gift given by a groom to his bride, similar to a dowry), a religious sermon on marriage, the nikah contract signed in the presence of witnesses, and the walima (a large dinner following the first part of the ceremony, a reception dinner.)
 
The nikah religious ceremony isn’t legally recognized on its own in some countries, including the U.K., and Muslim couples in these countries must also complete a separate civil ceremony for the union to be fully binding. 


 

 

A young Muslim dressed in white for their nikah ceremony, standing outdoors

 

 


Nikah ceremonies in the news
 

Nobel Peace Prize winner and women’s rights advocate Malala Yousafzai married Asser Malik in November of 2021 in a nikah ceremony. 


 

 

 


 

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