CO M PARATI VE PERSPECTIVE
John Witte, Ir., & Eliza Ellison
WI L LIAM B . EE RD MANS P UBLI SH I N G C O M PA N Y
G RAND RAP ID S, M ICH IGAN
CAMBRIDGE , U . K.
7 Th e ature of th e IsIami Marriage: acramentaI, ovenantal, or ontra tuaI? Azizah Y. al-Hibri
T he nature o f the I lamic mar riage co ntrac t (kital») ha bee n largel y rnisundc rtoad by Muslim and non -Mu lim. alike. On the lus lirn ide. th • problem has been one of over- e ulariza tion of the la\ contra t. a trend that I d to a trivializat ion of th e mar riage co n trac t, a nd hence of th e co m m it me n t of some mar riage pa rtner to it. On the non - -Iu lim ide. the pr blcrn h be n on f trying to e. plain th I lami marriage contra t from world per pe rive that re at tim es incong rue n t with it. T hi s has led to unintended di . ton ion s in character izing it na ture. F r e ample. Muslims and non- iu lim oft n a crt the pure! • n tractu al nat ure of th e M u.l im ma rri age co n tra ct in order to draw a di stinction between it a nd th e nature of m arriage in othe r trad it ion . Un like th ol ic marriage , for example. it i. pointed out that a -Iu lim man can di lv the mar riage bond at will and pay h is wife a . et amo un t (called the mahr or sadaq; ag reed upon in adva nce in th e m arriage o nt ract. T he m arriage ce re mo ny may take place at home. and thus, it i ar ued, i not " b efo re ,ad" a in a church. but rather " te m po ral." I was one of th ose propagating th is poin t o f view until I tarted re sea rching I lam ic lav ,e peciall in the area of marriage and divorce. more criou I. it turn out, I lamie law is a earnle web, an d it i qui te difficult to und r rand
Th author th nks Prof. Rob rt hepherd . niversity of Ri hrnond , o r his lu ble co mmen t on the American law a pect of thi chr pter, The uthor 011 0 thanks M . Raja EI Habt i, enior : cholar and Directo r of Rc earc h at KARAMA !-l: MUS I.I I WOM E LAW· YER FOR HU , 1.0\. T RJ HT . for h r v luabl co m m en ts on matter. o f J I mi 101\ nd her assis t nee in fo tnoung the hapter, Finall y. the author than Is. Cheryl 11. her stu dent assistant.Ms. Safia al- Kha rsa, KARAMA H in tern. for their help in the foo t no ting process. 18 2
Tile Nature of the Islamic Marriage one part of it witho ut havin g . o rne kn owledge of the o the r parts. I ca n safely asert now th at almo t ever)' laim in th e precedi ng par agr aph is fal e. ' In thi hapter, I hall remove orne of the co n fu ion and mi underst andin abou t the Islam i marriage on tra t by ta ki ng the reader wi th me on a bri f I ur 0 the fundamental of I lamic law a they pertain to our ubjecl. I 'hall tart \ ith an introduct ry di cu ion of th e I larnic worldviev in general. and th ) larni viev f gender relation in particular. It \ ill be follov ed b a di usi n o f th nature of contract in I lam. I hall then turn to the I lamic marriage nt ract and it pial statu in I lamic law and religion. and. finally. amine nature of marri g among 1 Iu lim in the nited tate.
Th I lamic \ orldviei Th e I lami worldview i a ed on the fundamental con pt of tawhid ( th un i ity d ).l There i only on Creator and one upreme Will , ny viev wh ich iatc partner with thi upreme A ill, whether dire tl r or indirectly, re ult in "irk ( the ppo ire of tIlIl'IJid). which i a in that .od tell u in th e Qur'an h will not forgive (4:4 ). lbli ( atan ) mi d thi important pint and di ob yed d when od ordered him to bow to dam ( 15:31). B r re u ing to obey a divin ommand, lbli made hi own will uper ed that of od. For that un orgivable in he wa cursed (15:35). But the critical que tion in thi Qur'anic t ry i thi:' hat prompted lblis to di obev od? The answe r i his van ity. The ur'an tell u that in justifying hi di obedience. Ibli to ld od,." ! am better tha n he I da rn ] i " (7:12). T his Ib li i worldview, w hich is based on va ni ty inter