Compiled by Bilal Dannoun

Bilal Dannoun is a renowned Islamic and Civil marriage celebrant based in Sydney, Australia.  He is an experienced marriage counsellor, offering marital advice with a blend of Islamic texts and modern day research. 

General

  • Why do you want to get married? What are your expectations?
  • Have you been married before? How many times?
  • Are you married now?
  • Tell me about your education?
  • Do you have any particular habits I should know about?
  • Would you call yourself an introvert or extrovert?
  • What are 5 things that make life wonderful?
  • Have you learnt any lessons from a previous relationship?
  • “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half-shut afterwards.” Is this approach beneficial at times

Describe your top three perceived gender differences.

Relationship

  • Do you have a grand vision for your marriage? If so, what is it?
  • What are your needs in a relationship?
  • What can you offer your spouse; spiritually, emotionally, materially?
  • What do you expect from your spouse religious-wise, emotionally, and materially?
  • How do you believe the relationship between a husband & wife should be?
  • Do you believe that technology would enhance or disrupt your relationship?
  • Do you think it’s important to go to bed with your spouse at the same time?
  • Could you manage in a relationship that increased your personal power/wealth/social status, even if it lacked somewhat in love?
  • When you see me, do you think “There you are!” or “Here I am”?
  • Is life too short to stay in a marriage that hurts?
  • Would you like for your spouse to share your perspective and world view, or do you enjoy differences?
  • What do you perceive as your worst imaginable marriage partner?
  • How important is intellectual compatibility to you?
  • If trust is broken, are there ways it may be regained?
  • It has been said that “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person” (Mignon McLaughlin). What ways can this be achieved?
  • Do you think that some things should be left unsaid or is honesty the “best policy”?
  • “I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late.” (Max Kaufman). Do you think these sorts of comments are hurtful or humorous?
  • What foundations do you think relationships should be built upon?
  • What do you think is the best preparation for a long term committed relationship?
  • Do you know how to give comfort?
  • What do you think your greatest strength would be as a spouse?
  • Describe two things you have in common and two differences (each).
  • How do you demonstrate/express love?
  • What is the greatest fear that you have for your spouse?
  • What things increase feelings of love?
  • Do you make assumptions about gender roles? (follow up question: “What role should your spouse have in the relationship?”).
  • What is one word that would describe this relationship?
  • Prince Phillip once said that “When a man opens the car door for his wife, it is either a new car or a new wife.” How would you rate the importance of manners and etiquette
  • in a relationship?
  • What means considerably more to you than your significant other?
  • To what extent do you think that a sense of individual freedom is a necessary component in a relationship?
  • Do you think falling in love is a big part of a relationship?
  • If one of us is in the public eye, how can we preserve our relationship?
  • Do you believe that there is a fine line between engaging in separate activities that will either enrich or move relationships apart?
  • “What counts is not how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility” (Leo Tolstoy). How does this quote make you feel?
  • Is there a project that you would like to collaborate with your spouse on?
  • In what ways do you think mutual encouragement can be facilitated to promote growth for your spouse?
  • In what ways would you like your spouse to provide assistance in.
  • “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” What place does comedy and laughter have in a marriage?
  • How do you think power in a marriage should be distributed?
  • In which areas are competence and incompetence attractive?
  • Is exclusivity a factor in experiencing love?

Religion

  • Does religion play a major role in your life? Do you practice its fundamental teachings?
  • Can you read the Qur’an in Arabic?
  • How many chapters from the Qur’an have you memorised?
  • Have you memorised any hadiths from the Prophet (peace be upon him)?
  • Do you adopt the ideas of any particular group? If so, why? Since when?
  • What is your relationship between yourself and your Muslim brethren in your area?
  • Have you ever volunteered for any Islamic, religious or social activities?
  • Is there anything in the religion that you feel doesn’t make sense? If so, please give your reasons why.
  • What is your stance on meat slaughtered by the people of the book in this country? Do you consider it Halal?
  • Do you eat food that contains ‘Gelatin’ that does not have any halal endorsement?
  • What would you sacrifice to achieve your goals? Would you bear in mind any Islamic principles or repercussions?
  • How does Islam infuse with your life?
  • Allah(SWT) encourages to reflect upon his creation. How is your relationship with nature?

Family & Home

  • Describe to me an ideal night in.
  • What’s the meaning of family for you?
  • How is your relationship with each of your family members?
  • What do you like to do with your family, and how often?
  • What do you expect your relationship with the family of your spouse to be?
  • What do you expect your spouse’s relationship with your family to be?
  • Is there anyone in your family living with you now?
  • Are you planning to have anyone in your family live with you in the future?
  • Do you mind having guests in your home on a regular basis?
  • What is your opinion of speaking other languages in the home that I do not understand such as with your family or friends?
  • What do you believe makes a house, a home?
  • Describe to me your dream home.
  • In an ideal world, where you would like to live?
  • 1Do you have a recipe for fostering a successful relationship with your family (in-laws)?

Friends

  • What qualities do you look for in a friend?
  • Who are your friends and how did you come to know them? (Identify at least 3)
  • What do you like most about them?
  • Do you have friends of the opposite sex? What is the level of your relationship with them now?
  • What will the level of your relationship with them be after marriage?
  • What type of relationship do you want your spouse to have with your friends?
  • What sort of relationship would you expect your spouse to have with his/her friends?
  • How do you make important and less important decisions in your life?
  • It was once said that “Only chose as a mate someone who you would also choose as a friend” (Keith Lamb). Does this statement resonate with you?
  • Is it okay to have separate friends that you associate with regularly?
  • Do you think it is important for your spouse to approve of your social circle?
  • Do you take preference over making new friends or established ones?

Anger, Abuse & Conflict

  • Does non-verbal communication play an important part in understanding someone?
  • Do you use foul language at home? In public? With family or friends?
  • Do your friends or family use foul language?
  • How do you expect your spouse to express anger?
  • When there is a dispute in your marriage, religious or otherwise, how should the conflict get resolved? When should mediation be initiated?
  • Can you let bygones be bygones?
  • What things make you angry?
  • What offence/action/statement would you find hard to forgive?
  • How do you manage anger?
  • Do you hear people out before interjecting?
  • Is it better to calm differences or to discuss it?
  • Can you peacefully agree to disagree on some issues rather than having either one of us sacrifice or conceal beliefs and values?
  • Do you think it is something positive to have differing views on “hot-topic” areas (such as politics)?
  • When something is wrong, do you pick up a mirror or a magnifying glass?
  • Do you process your issues internally or out loud?
  • Are problems categorised as mine, yours or ours?
  • Do you have any prejudices? What assumptions to you tend to make?
  • Is there a subject/area that you will fully avoid for the sake of keeping the peace?
  • Do you admit your mistakes?
  • Walk me through the way you to conflict or a crisis.
  • What would you do if you felt that you had been abused?
  • Who would you call for assistance if you were being abused?
  • If someone has wronged you, what do you think should be done? How do you want him/her to apologise to you?
  • Is there a dignified way to end a relationship?
  • Do you find it harder to forgive or forget?
  • “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Are you able to easily forgive?
  • Do you collect conflict and injustices?
  • Are you able to separate the issue at hand from the person?
  • What would you think an “endearing” fault is?

Interests, Talents & Skills

  • Describe to me an ideal night out.
  • Tell me some of your passions and interests that you have had since you were a child.
  • In what ways do you like to relax?
  • Are you more of an outdoor or indoor person?
  • How do you think your spouse should spend his/her vacations or do in their free time?
  • Describe to me how you would spend a “perfect” day/
  • Do you prefer routine or spontaneity?
  • Have you/Are you being haunted by “if only” questions about your life journey?
  • Do you like to read? If so, what sort of books?
  • Where is your ideal travel destination and with whom?
  • Where would you like to travel together?
  • Are you more spontaneous or planned when it comes to having fun?
  • When you are leaving for a trip, do you start early or when you are ready?
  • How do you prevent boredom in your life?
  • Describe to me an environment that will allow your talents and ambitions to come to fruition.
  • Do you consider yourself competitive, and if so in what areas?
  • In what area are you most creative?
  • Do you have a hobby or interest that may have a negative effect on the relationship?
  • Are there any social occasions that bore you?
  • What skills to you possess?
  • Tell me which season of the year you enjoy the most.

Health

  • To what degree is physical appearance important to you?
  • Do you suffer from any chronic disease or condition?
  • Are you willing to take a physical exam by a physician before marriage?
  • What is your understanding of proper health and nutrition?
  • How do you support your own health and nutrition?
  • If I suffer from a disease (or currently am), how will you react to it?
  • If I am infertile, what would you do?
  • If any of the children are born disabled, how would you react to that?
  • Describe to me your relationship with food.

Money

  • Do you work? If so, where?
  • How do you think that your use of money will change after marriage?
  • Do you have any debts now? If so, how are you making progress to eliminate them?
  • Do you use credit cards?
  • How often do you splurge and on what?
  • Do you support the idea of taking Non-Islamic Bank loans to buy a new home?
  • What are you expecting from your spouse financially?
  • Do you support the idea of a working wife?
  • If so, how do you think a dual-income family should manage funds?
  • Are you investing in anything at the moment?
  • Is there a form of wastefulness that you particularly dislike?
  • What are your long term financial goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
  • Are you naturally a spender or saver?
  • Do you budget your finances? How do you think financial harmony be achieved?
  • To what degree is your happiness determined by worldly possessions?
  • Is your financial fantasy meeting your financial reality?
  • The cooperative shopping couple-reality or myth?

Work & Life

  • Do you love your job, pragmatically do your job, loathe your job or do your best to ignore it?
  • Does a career take precedence over a relationship?
  • Should changes that will impact on life be opportunities to be explored and embraced, or is it better to maintain the status quo?
  • It is a waste of time to…
  • What are some pros and cons of working together in any respect?

Children

  • Do you want to have children? If not, how come?
  • If yes, ideally, how many children would you like to have?
  • Does it matter whether they are girls or boys?
  • Your top 5 principles of parenting?
  • Do you support the idea of utilising baby sitters and/or maids?
  • To the best of your understanding, are you able to have children?
  • Do you want to have children in the first two years of marriage? If not, when?
  • Do you believe in abortion?
  • Do you have children now? If so, what is your relationship with them now (and their other parent)?
  • What kind of relationship would you expect your spouse to have with your children and their parent?
  • How would you like to raise your children? i.e.: morals, extra-curricular activities, education, friends etc.
  • What is the best method(s) of disciplining children? Do you believe in spanking children? Under what circumstances?
  • What type of relationship do you want your children to have with all their grandparents?
  • What type of relationship should your children have with non-Muslim classmates/friends?
  • How do you think children should be educated?
  • Do you believe in public, private (any) or private Islamic school for your children?
  • Do you believe in home schooling for your children?

You

    • How were you raised/disciplined? Do you like the way you were raised?
    • Do you have any particular insecurities about anything?
    • What is your idea of an ideal wedding (Walima) celebration?
    • They say that ‘Being heard is so close to being loved.’ Are you an active listener?
    • Can you make an anagram of your name?
    • Tell me about a recent stumbling block you experienced.
    • Tell me about a stepping experience you experienced.
    • When is it best to give you space?
    • What do you believe are the 3 most important influences that make who you are?
    • On a scale of 1-10, how tidy would you say you are?
    • Are you someone who is punctual and upholds appointments?
    • Do you say “yes” or “no” more often?
    • Are you good at communicating your daily schedule and appointments to others?
    • Were conflicts dealt with in a positive manner when you were growing up? How much of your attitude towards conflict changed since then?
    • What things contribute to your personal happiness?
    • It is said that “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing” (Albert Schweitzer). Do you lead by example or explanation?
    • What was your first impression when we met?
    • Are you possessive or sharing?
    • Considering that an indicator of future behaviour is reflection on past behaviour. Do you reflect and examine yours?
    • If you feel alone in the world, what do you do?
    • What habit would you like to modify?
    • Do you have a recurring dream or nightmare?
    • When and why have you felt suddenly older?
    • Is there a topic you tend to over-think?
    • Do you tend to be thoughtless or forgetful in a particular area?
    • How do you think you can make ordinary conversations extraordinary?
    • Do you give clear requests?
    • Do you like to discuss multiple or singular topics at the one time?
    • Do you take advice easily?
    • What things cause you anxiety?
    • Tell me of a situation where you showed courage.
    • Do you prefer to be nurtured or admired?
    • How do you like to be cared for when you are sick?
    • “I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.” (George Elliot). How often do you like feelings reaffirmed?
    • What are three moments in your childhood that stand out to you?
    • Are you an early bird or a night owl?
    • Do you practice self-reflection? If so, how?
  • Tell me what makes you feel appreciated.
  • Are you one for pet names?
  • Positivism and negativity. What one to you tend to give and what one do you think you receive?
  • How do you like to be approached when you are out of sorts?
  • Would you prefer to work through painful memories or repress them?

“I have an habitual feeling of my real life having passed.” Do you think you are truly living the life you want?
What gives you hope?

Aspiration & Goals

  • What are your thoughts of the future?
  • How much time have you spent in the past in preparation for the future?
  • If you could devote all your life for a cause, what would it be?
  • Where do you focus?
  • To what do you aspire?
  • How do you see yourself living your life as a retiree?
  • Do you think that it is important for spouses to share mutual goals and priorities?
  • “Grow old with me. The best is yet to be-the last of life for which the first was made”. What rewards do you hope of gaining during old age in a marriage?

⏱ 12 minute read

Know dear reader that Allah (s.w.t) has created things in pairs.  Those pairs must get together in certain ways in order for reproduction to occur.  The way for reproduction to occur amongst humans – males and females, is through marriage, known in Arabic as nikaah. Islam urges Muslims to marry, and prohibits pre-marital relationships.  Allah Most High says in the Qur’an:

“Marry the unmarried among you…” (24:32)

Also, Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) in the hadith found in Bukhari and Muslim, commanded young people to marry, and advised those of them who could not afford it to fast as a means of controlling their sexual desire.  From an Islamic perspective, marriage is not viewed merely as a means of satisfying natural desires and passions.  Its goals are much deeper than just obtaining legal sex. Allah (s.w.t) points out one of the main objectives behind marriage by saying:

“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you might live with tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts (hearts)…” (Surat Ar-Room)

Therefore, the phenomenon of bachelorship or celibacy are UN-Islamic practices that result in devastation, effecting the Muslim community, and posing a threat to the Islamic world.  What devastation? What threat on the Islamic world? The answers to these questions are found in the non-Muslim communities.  Every day we hear and observe with our very eyes the perverted and sinful ways of the Kuffar (disbelievers).  These ways which they find acceptable in their societies have ultimately led to many types of diseases such as A.I.D.S, syphilis and the like, as a result of their choice to follow the unnatural way of abstaining from marriage.

The marriage contract is the formal bond that turns two individuals from strangers to husband and wife.  It is the most important contract that most people execute throughout their lives. Since the marriage contract has such great significance, the deen of Islam imposes a number of guidelines that it must fulfill. Many Muslims who are engaged in pre-marital relationships hold back from having the contract executed due to their ignorance about its elements.  So they continue to live a sinful lifestyle due to cultural influences which lead them thinking the process is too demanding.  Before delving into the basic elements of marriage, it worth mentioning here that marriage is a serious matter and should be dealt with seriously.  It is not allowed for a man to marry and then claim he did not really mean it, or that he was joking. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“There are three matters in which it is not permissible to joke: marriage, divorce, and emancipation (of slaves).” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Islamic marriage contract has conditions, requirements, pillars and optional elements.  A contract must fulfill the following conditions and pillars in order to be valid.

Eligibility of Bride and Groom

The first of these conditions is that both the bride and groom must fulfill certain requirements.  The groom must be a chaste Muslim having attained the age of puberty.  He must not be related to the bride by any of the permanently prohibiting blood, milk, or marital relationships such as his sisters, paternal and maternal aunts, daughters, grand daughters and others.  He must not be prohibited from marrying the bride for any of the temporary reasons stipulated in the Qur’an and Sunnah.  So if a man has four wives, all other women become temporarily prohibited from him.  Another example of a temporary reason is that as long as a man is married to a particular woman, all of her sisters become temporarily prohibited for him; that is he may not marry any of them unless he divorces their sister.  Others include: women married to other men, simultaneously marrying aunts and their nieces, adulteresses and prostitutes that have not sincerely repented, including others in which the Islamic shari ‘a may have listed.  The requirements a bride must fulfill is that she must be a  chaste Muslim, Christian or Jew.  She must not be married to another man, and must not be related to the groom by any of the permanently prohibiting blood, milk, or marital relationships in addition to not being prohibited from marrying the groom for any of the temporary reasons as stated above.

Bride’s Permission

The next required element of the marriage contract is the bride’s permission.  Without her permission, the contract is either null and void, or may be invalidated by the Islamic authorities at the bride’s request.  The minimum required permission may be done by either voicing her approval or through a passive expression such remaining silent when asked about a potential husband and simply nodding her head, or making any other motion to indicate that she does not object to the marriage. The Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“A deflowered unmarried woman (i.e. widow or divorcee) may not be married without her instructions; and a virgin may not be married without her permission, and her silence indicates her consent.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

The Woman’s Wali

The next requirement of for a valid contract is the approval of the woman’s guardian known as the wali. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“A marriage (contract) is not valid without a wali.” (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and others)

Normally, a woman’s wali is her father.  If, for any reason, her father is unable to be her wali, her wali would then be her next closest blood relation: the grandfather, uncle, brother, son and so on. It is not permissible for a woman to take another woman as her wali. The Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“A woman may not give another woman in marriage, nor may a woman give herself (independently) in marriage.” (Ibn Majah, Al-Bayhaqi and others)

If the bride does not have a Muslim blood-relative as a wali, the Islamic authority, represented by the ruler or judge, would appoint a wali for her.  In non-Muslim communities the local imam is the one to be appointed as the wali of a woman who has no wali.  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“A marriage (contract) is not valid without a wali.  And the authority is the wali of the one who does not have a wali.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawud)

The presence of the wali or a representative he has appointed is an integral element of the contract or else the contract is deemed invalid.  The Prophet (s.a.w) said:

“Whichever woman marries without her wali’s permission, her marriage is void, her marriage is void, her marriage is void. If he (i.e. the husband) performs intercourse with her, the mahr (dowry) becomes her right because he had access to her private parts. And if they dispute, the ruler would then be the wali of the one who does not have a wali.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawud)

The witnesses

Another condition for the validity of a marriage contract is the presence of at least two trustworthy Muslim male witnesses. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“A marriage is not valid without a wali and two trustworthy witnesses.” (Ahmad, Ibn Hibbaan, and others)

The Mahr (Dowry)

The next element of the marriage contract is a mandatory marriage gift given by the husband to his wife.  In Arabic, this gift is called mahr or sadaaq.  Allah Most High said:

“And give the women their dowry as a free gift.” (4:4)

He also made a commandment regarding by saying:

“And give them their compensation as an obligation.” (4:24)

The mahr is the sole right of the wife and no one may take any of it without her permission – not even her parents.  The dowry can be in the form of money, jewelry, clothing, or other material things.  It can also be a non-material gift.  The Islamic sharia has not specified any amount, but it should be in accordance with the husband’s financial ability and with what is reasonable for the bride in her social status.  It is normally determined by agreement between the husband and the bride or her wali.

A woman came to the Prophet (s.a.w) and offered herself to him.  He declined, so a man who was present with him said: “O Messenger of Allah! Marry her to me.”  The Prophet asked him: “Do you have anything to give her?” He said: “No!” The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “Give her at least an iron ring.” But he still could not afford it.  The Prophet (s.a.w) then asked him: “Do you memorise any portion of the Qur’an?” He replied: “I have memorised such and such chapters.”  The Prophet (s.a.w) then said: “…I marry her to you for the portion of the Qur’an that you have memorised.”

This means that he is expected to teach her some of what he has memorised, and treat her kindly based on this memorisation.  All of that would be much more beneficial to the bride than lots of material gift. Know that the best of  dowry is that which is light and easiest upon the husband.  This is actually a sign of blessing for the bride as the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“Verily, a sign of blessing for a woman is that her engagement, dowry, and giving birth, are all made easy.” (Ahmad, Al-Haakim, and others)

Umar ibn al-Khataab (r.a) once gave a sermon in which he said:

“Do not be excessive in regard to the women’s dowries.”

It is recommended to give the bride her dowry immediately after executing the marriage contract.  Yet, it is a very common practice to divide the mahr into two portions, an advanced and postponed portion.  Postponement of the mahr is, in general, an innovated inconvenience that departs from the normal practice found in the Sunnah.  It defeats the very purpose, which is to be a gift prior to having any intimacy with the bride.

Conditions

At the time of carrying out the marriage contract, the two parties may wish to set conditions whose violation would invalidate the contract.  This is acceptable as long as the conditions do not violate any Islamic principles.  Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said:

“Every condition not according to the book of Allah is void, even if it be a hundred conditions.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

An example of a condition may be that a woman stipulates that she remain in a particular homeland during their marriage. The conditions are normally set by the wife’s side, because the husband can terminate the marriage by uttering the divorce.

Carrying out the Contract

It is recommended for the person conducting the marriage ceremony to start with Khutbat-ul Haajah that was reported by Ibn Masoud and Jabir in at-Tabaraani and Bukhari in At-Taareekh.  The main and actual pillars of the contract are the offering and acceptance known as Ijaab and qabool.  They signify the mutual agreement and acceptance between the two parties to join in this marriage bond.  The Ijaab and qabool must be stated in clear, well defined words, in one and the same sitting, and in the presence of the witnesses. The person conducting the ceremony may help the two parties say offering and accepting words.  Documenting the marriage contract is not a requirement for the contract’s validty.  However, it is important to document it for future reference and to preserve the rights of the husband and wife. Once the marriage contract is executed, all rights and responsibilities for the two parties become immediately due.

We ask Allah to bless us with beneficial knowledge and cure us from the ailment of ignorance and blind following, and Allah knows best!