Distinction between Shia and Sunni Law of Marriage

By | February 7, 2020
Distinction between Shia and Sunni Law of Marriage

The Sunni and the Shia sect of Muslims have their separate traditions and beliefs and are regulated by those beliefs. Due to this, marriage in these communities also occurs in a different manner. This article shall look into the distinction between Shia and Sunni Law of marriage under the Muslim Personal Law.

After the death of Prophet Mohammed, the Muslims were divided amongst themselves on the point of the determination of the successor of the Prophet. This led to the creation of two Muslim sects, the Sunni and the Shia Muslims. The Sunnis were those who believed that the Caliph elected by the people of the Prophet shall be their new successor while the Shias believed that Ali, who was the son-in-law of the Prophet shall be the new successor for his blood relation with the Prophet.

Thus, the Sunnis became the people following the Quran and the fatwas issued by the Caliph and Shias became people who followed the actions of the Prophet and his lineage. Owing to the difference in their foundation, both the sects adopted a different set of laws and customs to be followed by their people. However, since the main source of law for both the sects is the Holy Quran, there are several similarities between the laws of the two sects.

Comparison of Sunni and Shia Marriages

A significant part of the non-Islamic world might see Shias and Sunnis as pretty much the equivalent. Be that as it may, these are two unmistakable sects of Muslims and ought not to be mistaken for one another. Both the sects independently have a remarkable arrangement of customs, conventions and wedding ceremonies.

The manner in which a Shia and Sunni marriage are solemnized varies incredibly. Owing to the glaring distinction between the ceremonies and traditions of these sects, there are very less intersect marriages, i.e. marriage between a Sunni and a Shia.

  • On the basis of procedure

Shia and Sunni relationships comprise of altogether different wedding capacities. In a Sunni wedding capacity, it is crucial to have two grown-up consenting guys present for the whole length of the function as witnesses. Such observers are not required according to the standards of Sunni separate.

It very well may be done within the sight of just the spouse and the wife. The instance of a Shia wedding is totally unique as for this situation where the observers are commanded to be available on account of separation and not when the wedding happens.

  • On the basis of traditions

Another remarkable contrast between a Shia and Sunni wedding is that in a Shia nikah function, an aggregate of six stanzas must be conveyed openly. This factor is absent in a Sunni wedding function. A Sunni nikah service accordingly has a shorter period of time. On account of a Shia wedding, there is an exceptional shower related function that the lady of the hour and husband to partake in. There is no such impulse in a Sunni wedding. This function generally happens before the real wedding.

A significant purpose of contrast between these two organizations is that Shias put stock in a transitory course of action of marriage. As per such a plan, it is legal for the lady of the hour and lucky man to go into a marriage for a pre-concurred time allotment. After this time has passed, the marriage consequently reaches a conclusion except if the lady of the hour and man of the hour need to at present stay in the marriage.

This arrangement is absent in a Sunni marriage. Sunnis put stock in going into a perpetual type of marriage as it were. A separation isn’t required when Shias go into a short-lived marriage understanding. The date when the settlement will reach a conclusion is unmistakably referenced on the papers relating to the marriage that is occurring.

  • On the basis of types of marriage

There are three types of marriage recognized under Muslim personal law all over the world. These are valid marriage, void marriage and irregular marriage. However, the fourth category of marriage has emerged in both the sects.

Muta marriage is the fourth kind of marriage that occurs only in Shia Muslims and not Sunni sect of Muslims. To understand this marriage, it is essential to know the background of this marriage. Most of the Arabian cities such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, etc. have Shia sect of Muslims. The people usually called the Sheikhs were involved in the business of oil-producing, refining and exporting.

Due to business agreements, they were required to travel far places and stay there for several days or even months. During this period, the Sheikhs required to fulfil their sexual needs and desires but, however, Islam does not allow cohabitation with any woman other than a person’s own wife.

Therefore, the Sheikhs used to marry the women for a temporary period till they were in that town and at the time of leaving, they get divorced and the dower was paid as the consideration for marrying. This concept of marriage was recognized in Muslim personal law by the Shia sect and is called Muta marriage. The time period and the dower must be informed and accepted by the bride as well. This marriage is not followed in Sunni Muslims which consider marriage to be a permanent union and not a temporary affair.

On the other hand, for over 10 years, the concept of pleasure marriage, called misyar marriage, has come in vogue and is of extreme relevance in any Muslim marriage, especially in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf nations. In such relationships, the lady surrenders a portion of the rights that Islam allows her, for example, the privilege to a home and to monetary help from her better half, i.e. the husband considered to be the better half in Islam and, on the off chance that he has different spouses, the privilege to an equivalent piece of his time and consideration.

Most of the time, these relationships are mystery, without the information on the man’s different spouses – despite the fact that a marriage contract is drawn up within the sight of witnesses, and in spite of the fact that assent is generally acquired from the lady’s gatekeeper, and the marriage is enlisted and archived at the town hall.

Because of the generous increment in the number of misyar relationships as of late, and considering the contentions over this issue among pastors just as among people in general, the Institute of Islamic Religious Law, which is a piece of the Muslim World League in Mecca, chose to address the issue. In a fatwa gave on April 10, 2006, the foundation allowed relationships in which the lady gives up a home, monetary help, and her part [in joint life] with her significant other, or part of it, and agrees to the man’s going to her home at whatever point he needs, day or night.


  1. Akeel Ahmed, Introduction to Muslim Law, 2016.
  2. F. Mulla, Mulla’s Principles of Mohammedan Law (22nd ed. 2017).

  1. Muslim Law – Case Laws, Notes And Study Material(Opens in a new browser tab)
  2. Definition, Nature and Scope of Muslim Marriage

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