Islam has a holy personal law called Shariat which governs the day to day life of the Muslims. The rules of conduct are laid down firmly in the Shariat and strict adherence to the code of conduct is expected from every Muslim. The social system of the Muslims, including marriage, is based entirely on the teachings of the Quran and any deviation from Shariat rule is generally not accepted by the Muslim community.
Muslim marriages are governed by the personal law which constitutes about 70 verses out of 6000 verses in the Quran. Marriages have certain rules which constitute ten of these verses. Shariat is the basis of conducting marriages among Muslims and since marriage is considered an important institution in Islam, the rules present in the text of Quran are final. The Muslim community has not embraced much modernity when it comes to marriages because of the wide belief in the Quran and the words of the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH). However, some differences may be seen in the modern world.
Age of marriage
In the older times, Muslim girls were married as soon they attained puberty. Girls as young as 12 years were married off by their parents. Under Islamic law, the Qazi has the right to decide whether or not the bride or the groom has attained puberty. In many cases, marriage was solemnized even before the girl had reached the age of puberty. In the modern times, however, the marriage of an underage girl is not so common, even though the law in India does not govern Muslim marriages as in the case of other religions. The Sharia gives the right to a minor Muslim girl to annul the marriage after puberty called Khiya-a-bulugh, but usually, this right is not exercised by the girls.
Love marriage Vs arranged marriage
Islam forbids boys and girls from choosing their life partners, thus there is no scope of love marriages under the Shariat. In fact, the groom is not even allowed to see the bride before marriage. The parents and elders of the bride and the groom’s family usually fix the match between couples. However, modern Muslim marriages have undergone some change in this respect with many young Muslims going for love marriages or at least meeting the would-be bride prior to getting married. This change is not widespread, as in other religions with most of the Muslims preferring to marry according to their parent’s wishes and adhering to the Islamic rules and customs.
Number of wives
Shariat allows a man to have four wives(conditional) but does not allow a Muslim woman to have more than one husband. However, in countries such as India, polygamy is not so widespread even though the law does not prohibit it among Muslims. However, polygamy is not entirely absent from the Muslim community giving rise to frequent demands of Uniform Civil Code from the educated sections of the society and some politicians.
Modern Muslim marriages have not undergone significant changes with respect to various marriage rituals ordained by the Quran. In fact, the hallmark of the Muslim community is the rigid acceptance of age-old rituals.
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