While the celebration of marriage maybe brushed under the rug of societal and religious obligations, the Nikah Namaa should always be remembered as a legal contract.
The Nikah Namaa is a legal document under the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 that acts as evidence of the said union and the bearer of agreed-upon rights and obligations of the two. The contract has 25 sections in total.
Here’s The Basic Bit
Sections 1 to 5 includes basic information such as name, date of birth address, etc.
Section 6 asks for the bride’s age, something very important in a country like Pakistan where child marriages are rampant.
The legal age for both males and females should be 18 years according to the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, which was passed earlier this year in April.
Here’s What You Need To Look Out For
Sections 13 to 16 include information about Mehr.
The Mehr is an obligatory gift given by the groom to the bride in consideration of their marriage. The Mehr is every woman’s unsaid right and is supposed to help her financially in situations for example death, divorce, etc. This section includes things like the form, gold or cash and the amount, etc. There are two kinds of Mehr: prompt (mu’ajjal), to be given before consummation of the marriage or at the time of nikkah and deferred (muwajjal) to be paid at a said later date or whenever the wife demands. The full amount of the Mehr may be divided into the two, if both the parties are in agreement.
Regardless, the groom is encouraged to pay the Mehr as soon as possible and in full to avoid future confusion.
Fact 1: The wife also has the right to take this matter to court in case her Mehr isn’t paid. In case the bride’s Mehr isn’t paid at the time of divorce, she can claim the gold given to her by the groom of equal value.
The amount is to be payable to virgins, widows and divorcees.
Section 17 is the second most important clause in the entire Nikah Namaa, after the bride’s right to divorce. This section asks for any and all conditions that the bride and groom deem necessary for a successful marriage. The girl especially can and should take advantage of this clause and can ask for, the right to work after marriage, monthly allowance, childbearing, a separate house, etc.
Fact 2: One can add any condition to the clause as long as it does not contradict with the state or the Shariah Law, like any other contract.
Sections 18 and 19 are the most important clauses of the entire document. (Often struck out by our local maulvis and apprehensive elders in the family), is the girl’s legal right to file for divorce. Since it’s not considered a possibility and if perchance a woman is allowed the right to ask for the dissolution of her marriage, she still has a right to her Mehr.
If this section is struck out, it often leaves women at the doorsteps of Khula, where the woman does not need her husband’s consent and has to forgo her mehr and alimony as a result.
Fact 3: With the right to divorce, a woman goes through the same legal procedures as any man in the court of law while being fully in-charge of her mehr. It also takes lesser time and is a more streamlined process.
Section 20 states the groom’s financial standing in terms of documents etc.
Fact 4: The bride can ask for a monthly allowance and ask for its continuation even after the dissolution of their marriage and the groom has to abide by it.
Section 21 is important for verifying the groom’s marital status. This is where the groom must state that he has his first wife’s permission for second marriage if that’s the case.
Fact 5: The bride can also restrict her husband-to-be’s right to second marriage as long as they’re married.
Sections 22 to 25 include signatures of both the bride and the groom alongside their witnesses’ signatures. We encourage women to read their nikah namaas and raise questions and valid concerns. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to the clauses. However, for a successful marriage, it may be helpful to know your rights to reduce future complications.
Disclaimer: This short summary of the Nikah Namaa should not be the only source taken into account at the time of marriage, rather it encourages women to read, understand and discuss the contract as it is. Please contact a lawyer or a scholar to get more insight into the document.
Maryam’s a Communication and Design major and an English and Comparative Literature minor at Habib University. She thoroughly enjoys reading South Asian Literature and is a Partition Literature enthusiast, who is often found admiring the origins of cultural theory.
While one may occasionally find her at events catering to art and culture in Karachi, she would much rather be home binge-watching British comedy.
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