Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Nikah Definition:

Muslim law: marriage.

Related Terms: Muta, Rukun

In Muslim law, absent some statutory derogation, a person is able to get married once they attain the age of puberty. This is based on a statement in the Koran that, to quote from Pearl and Menski:

“[T]he Prophet orders Muslims to get married as soon as they can.

“In Muslim law, the presumption is that purity is reached at 15 years old, but evidence concerning the produce to the effect that it has been reached at an age earlier than this. Minimum ages would appear to be 12 years old in the case of males and (9) nine years old in the case of females.”

Verma writes of nikah:

“Every Mohammedan who has attained puberty and who possess a sound mind may enter into a contract of marriage.... No other person's consent or advice is necessary.”

In some branches of Muslim law (Shafi’i and Maliki, according to A Textbook on Muslim Law):

“[A]n adult virgin has no capacity to contract herself in marriage. She needs the consent of her guardian....”

On form and practise, Pearl writes in his Textbook on Muslim Law:

“The nikah is effected simply by an offer and an acceptance before Muslim witnesses either 2 male or 1 male and 2 females.”

Muslim men are allowed up to four wives (polygamy) but Muslim women, one only; polyandry is prohibited.


  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Legal Definition of Muta
  • Pearl, D., A Textbook on Muslim Law (London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1979)
  • Pearl, D. and Menski, W., Muslim Family Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1998), page 141
  • Verma, B.R., Islamic Law-Personal Being Commentaries on Mohammedan Law in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, 6th Edition (Allahabad, India: Law Publishers, 1986), pages 73-75

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