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

Published Wednesday, Jun. 1st, 2022

An introduction to the traditional Muslim marriage ceremony



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AMM Audio Articles · What is a Nikah Ceremony? Intro to the 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.” In Arabic, this is said "Qubool." 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 (Nikah nama) 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 (also spelled 'maher,' this is the contract of marriage and 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 U.S., and Muslim couples in these places must also complete a separate civil ceremony or apply for and file a government issued marriage license for the union to be legally binding. 



Learn more about Nikah ceremony customs and the meaning of Muslim wedding words here:



A Simple Guide to Nikah Traditions

& Muslim Wedding Words




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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A stylized image of a cosmos, with clouds and stars, and the American Marriage Ministries logo overlaid, with two gold rings and three blue stars

People of all faiths can get ordained as an interfaith, nondenominational minister with American Marriage Ministries. Find out more about our free ordinations here. 




Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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