NO minimum age, NO holy matrimony… AND NO Maintenance either.

July 13. 2011: Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, a prominent cleric and member of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, issued a fatwa that there is NO minimum age for marriage, and that girls can be married “even if they are in the cradle.” READ:

Has Dr Salih acted according to the sharia or did he misunderstand it?  Below you can read what the sharia has stipulated on marriage in general and on the issue of the age of the bride and groom. Please jump to the DIVORCE section below re the Waiting Period.

More on DIVORCE:


Guardians are of two types, those who may compel their female charges to marry someone, and those who may not.
(1) The only guardians who may compel their charge to marry are a virgin bride’s father or father’s father. Compel meaning to marry her to a suitable match without her consent.
(2) Those who may not compel her are not entitled to marry her to someone unless she accepts and gives her permission. Whenever the bride is a virgin, the father or father’s father may marry her to someone without her permission, though it is recommended to ask her permission if she has reached puberty.  A virgin’s silence is considered as permission. As for the non-virgin of sound mind, no one may marry her to another after she has reached puberty without her express permission, no matter whether the guardian is the father, father’s father, or someone else.


Book N: Divorce

n9.0 A Woman’s Post Marital Waiting Period (‘Idda)

n9.2 page 567  A waiting period for a woman divorced after intercourse, whether the husband and wife are prepubescent, have reached puberty, or one has and the other has not.


n9.9 page 569 The waiting period for a woman who does not menstruate, whether prepubescent or postmenopausal, is three months.


no10.0 Establishing Paternity

n10.2 The husband of a woman who bears a child is considered to be the child’s father whenever it is (legally) possible that the child could be his, meaning that: …

c) and the husband is at least nine and a half years old.

n10.3 The husband is not legally considered the child’s father when the child could not be possibly be his, such as when: … (3) the husband is under the abovementioned age


n11.0 Charging one’s wife with adultery


n11.1 Anyone who charges his wife with adultery .. may prevent by public imprecation against her provided he: (a) has reached puberty ….

m4.0 page 524 A Suitable Match

m4.4 When the father or father’s father see that the best advantage is to be served by marrying a young boy (or girl) to someone, they may do so, though they are not entitled to marry the child to someone with a physical defect that legally permits the annulment of the marriage.


m8.0 page 533 The Bride’s Marriage Payment (Mahr)

m8.2 A guardian may not marry his prepubescent daughter to someone for less than the amount typically received as marriage payment by similar brides, nor marry his prepubescent son to a female who is given more than the amount typically received.


P557 A divorce is not valid from (1) a child.



COMMENTS: Based on the Sharia Manual, a Marriage in Islam is a contract (an aqad nikah), not a sacrament, with no need of a ceremony. Under classical Shariâ doctrine, it is considered an agreement between two families where the woman’s opinion holds no sway. Further, she can be married without being present and divorced without her knowledge. Divorce can be achieved instantaneously by the husband, without courtroom or judge. [IF the wife initiates a divorce, she has to go through the (sharia) court. Although the law is not always applied, it is still the case that sharia law requires the divorcing wife to return the mahr (the marriage gift)to her husband.]

A bride (especially underaged brides) need not express her consent to marriage when the contract is established. The law actually does not require the brides presence at the marriage contract for the marriage to be valid. The bride has a matrimonial guardian, usually the father or, in his absence, another male relative whom family members designate as her legal guardian. Only the guardian’s verbal expression of consent, and not the bride’s, makes the marriage legally valid. Even if she disagrees, this has no legal impact, as only the guardian’s decision has legal standing.

Weddings were arranged in traditional Islamic society since no concept of courtship existed. Unrelated men and women could not mix or even see one another, according to David E. Long in Culture Customs of Saudi Arabia. Sometimes a marriage broker is employed, but often families simply work together.

There is no necessity for a wedding ceremony under Shariâ law, as the act is not a sacrament as Catholics define it. A marriage is considered legal if the participants could marry and there are two witnesses, according to Charrad. She writes, Islamic law defines a marriage as a contractual rather than sacred institution. Marriage is a contract through which a man gives a bride price to a woman and commits himself to support her as long as they are married. In counterpart, the man receives the right to have sexual intercourse with her. The religious texts hardly mention the formation of a new family unit as a new social cell. Instead, they emphasize marriage as a legitimation of sexual relations.

Further, there is no need for any special event to mark the union. Charrad states, ‘The law does not require any ceremony, either religious or civil, for the marriage contract to be valid. The offer and acceptance, which have to be made in the presence of witnesses, constitute the marriage contract. Once verbal consent has been expressed, the marriage is concluded.’

For a more favourable view, read:


Muslim WOMEN can divorce their husbands if the women return the husband’s dowry as illustrated in this case: “Nikki Palmer ‘divorced Mr. Braswell in the manner required by Islamic law by returning the dowry and declaring that she was divorced from her husband.’ That was it.”

Muslim HUSBANDS, upon divorce, do not owe ex-wive(s) maintenance. ”The marriage was formalised following the Islamic tradition of Mahr, under which the groom pays a gift to his bride. Because of this, his wife had signed away her share of the couple’s home in Scarborough. Dr Al-Saffar also assumed he had no obligation to make maintenance payments, and that, following Islamic practice, his former wife’s family would support her.”


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