I am a 16 year old Muslim girl. Can I get married?

Under Muslim law, if a girl has attained puberty (15 years) then she can get married. So, a girl of 16 years old who has attained puberty can get married.1

  1. Shoukat Hussian and another v. State of Punjab and others [CRWP No.733 of 2021 (O&M)].[]

I am a Muslim girl, can I get married to a Christian boy?

Under Muslim law, only a Muslim man can marry a Christian woman or a woman from any other religion. This is not the case for a Muslim woman, as she cannot marry a Christian Man or a man from any other religion. If she does, then she will not be considered a Muslim anymore.1

However, now two people who are from different religions can marry and register under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Read more on our explainer on Special Marriage.

  1. Mulla, D. F., Sir. (n.d.). Principles of Mahomedan Law (20th ed.) p.338.[]

What are the schools of Muslim law?

There are various schools of Muslim law. The law on Muslim marriages comes from the interpretation of the Quran by scholars. Thus, most Muslim marriages are guided by customs derived from interpretations followed through generations. The laws and customs that apply to each person following Islam differ based on the sect of the person. Further, different branches of customs have emerged within sects. These branches have specific laws known as “Schools of Law”.1 

 

In India,2 parts of Muslim personal law were written down in 1937 as the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 as well as the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act,1939. These two laws in many ways have led the reforms in family laws. However, Muslim marriages are guided by the Islamic religious precepts. In Islam, there are two sects- Sunni and Shia. Each sect practices different schools of law. This means that depending on the sect, the marriage procedure differs for a bride and a groom.1

  1. Mulla, D. F., Sir. (n.d.). Principles of Mahomedan Law (20th ed.) p.28.[][]
  2. Consultation Paper on Reform of Family Law, Law Commission, available at https://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/CPonReformFamilyLaw.pdf.[]

Is Muslim marriage a contract?

Marriage is a contract under Muslim law.1 The contract can be entered into by fulfilling the following conditions:

  • Both the bride and groom must give free consent for the marriage.
  • The couple getting married should be of sound mind and should have attained puberty (usually 15 years).2 
  • A guardian like a parent or sibling can consent on behalf of a minor or someone not of sound mind.
  1. Hasina Bano v. Alam Noor A.I.R 2007 Raj 49.[]
  2. Shoukat Hussian and another v. State of Punjab and others [CRWP No.733 of 2021 (O&M)].[]

What is the proposal and acceptance requirement for Muslim marriage?

There should be a proposal of marriage made by or on behalf of one of the parties and the other party has to accept this proposal. Both the bride and groom have to say Ejab e Qubool (Qubool hai), which means “I agree”.

 

This has to be said out of their own will and explicitly during the ceremony. The proposal and the acceptance should be made at one meeting, meaning, a proposal made at one meeting and an acceptance made at another meeting will not constitute a valid marriage.1

  1. Mulla, D. F., Sir. (n.d.). Principles of Mahomedan Law (20th ed.) p.331.[]

What are the eligibility criteria for Muslim marriages?

For a marriage to be legally recognized as a Muslim marriage, the following conditions must be met:1 

 

Age 

 

A couple can get married if they have attained puberty (usually 15 years). 

 

Mental State 

 

A person with mental illness can get married if their guardian has given consent to the marriage. ‘Consent’ or agreeing to get married is an important part of a Muslim marriage. Even though it is assumed that a person with mental illnesses does not have the ability to get married, the law allows such marriages if the guardian agrees to it. 

 

Minor 

 

A boy or girl who has not attained puberty (minor) is not competent to enter into a contract for marriage but the guardian may contract their marriage for them after they attain puberty.2

  1. Mulla, D. F., Sir. (n.d.). Principles of Mahomedan Law (20th ed.) p.251.[]
  2. Shoukat Hussain and another v. State of Punjab and others [CRWP No.733 of 2021 (O&M)].[]

What are the essential conditions of a Muslim marriage?

There are a few essential steps that need to be followed to make the marriage valid1:

Proposal and Acceptance

There has to be a proposal made by or on behalf of one person and it has to be accepted by the other for a valid marriage.

Consent

Consent is a very important criteria for a marriage and the criteria for consent changes according to the different schools of law.

Witnesses

Witnesses are those people who are present at the marriage and can state that it took place. They are an important requirement for a valid muslim marriage.

Prohibited Relationship

Some relationships within a family and extended family are prohibited, meaning, one cannot marry these people as such relationships are prohibited under custom. There are strict prohibitions in muslim law which have to be followed.

  1. Mulla, D. F., Sir. (n.d.). Principles of Mahomedan Law (20th ed.) p.331.[]

What are prohibited relationships under the law?

Certain relationships are prohibited under the law. This means that a person cannot marry certain kinds of relatives:1

Blood Relations 

You cannot marry your mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, great-niece, aunts, or great-aunts. You also cannot marry someone who is also related to you through such relatives. For example, you cannot marry your great granddaughter.

 

Relatives through Marriage 

You cannot marry your wife’s mother/grandmother, wife’s daughter/granddaughter, son’s wife in the case of a second, third or fourth marriage. 

 

Relatives through Fosterage 

All relations prohibited through blood relations and marriages apply to foster relationships as well. Example, a man cannot marry his foster mother’s daughter.

 

  1. Mulla, D. F., Sir. (n.d.). Principles of Mahomedan Law (20th ed.) p.332.[]

Who are the witnesses required during a Muslim marriage?

The marriage has to take place in the presence of:

  • Two male witnesses or 
  • One male and two female witnesses. 

 

These witnesses must be Muslims, adults and of sound mind. The Sunni School of Muslim law specifically requires two witnesses to present while the Shia School of Law does not require the presence of a witness in any matter regarding marriage.1 

  1. Mulla, D. F., Sir. (n.d.). Principles of Mahomedan Law (20th ed.) p.332.[]