Nikāḥ kitāba, otherwise known as katb al-kitāb or “celibate marriage,” has become an increasingly common and preferred way of marriage for many young Muslim couples. A young man and woman may find themselves wanting to marry one another, but at the time are unable to live together. So instead of being engaged for long periods of time and making things difficult for the two, they choose to wed by nikāḥ kitāba.

This practice is actually a tradition of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who married 'Ā'isha, may Allah be pleased with her, and delayed consummation until she was older.

After over 18 months of being married by nikāḥ kitāba, today marks the day my wife and I will be having our wedding party (known as ruksathī in Indian-Pakistani culture) after which will begin to live our lives together forever, insha'Allah. After a wonderful year and a half of a beautiful relationship Allah blessed us with, we came up with what we feel is an essential survival guide for couples undergoing the same journey we just completed. If you are married by nikāḥ kitāba or will be in the future, then this list is for you.

1. Know your intention

Unfortunately, having the correct intention is often overlooked as the typically cliché and skip-over introduction point to anything. However, here as much as always, you will find it to be critically important. You, your spouse, and your families have agreed to join together in marriage and delay living together until later. In addition to being a tradition of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, it may also serve as a means of worshiping Allah. You could have decided to practice other less sound relationship methods, but instead chose to perform nikāḥ right away. Always remember this goal of pleasing Allah, as remembering Him in times of good as well as bad will make it much easier to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

2. Don't play games

With long distance relationships, communication via the phone or internet may become your relationship's only lifeline. With such limitation, you're going to run into some roadblocks in getting important cues and messages through to your significant other. Since you have no avenue to use physical gestures to express your feelings, don't play guessing games with your spouse. If you're upset, just say it! Both of you don't want things to drag and the sooner you speak up, the sooner you'll find yourselves laughing together again.

3. Understand that your spouse has another life

You may find yourself at times frustrated that your spouse is busy and can't speak on the phone, or they don't pick up the phone whenever you find the chance to call. Don't stress it. This is simply a natural result of having a long-distance relationship. Whether the distance is across the globe or across the street, understand if the other is busy or cannot visit. Always believe they wish they could talk to you or see you more, and never accuse them of the opposite. There may be things on the other end you just cannot see to understand why they are so busy (i.e. actual fatigue, stress with school or career, family responsibilities, etc). Understanding that your spouse can be busy will help during times when communication and visits are hard to get going.

4. Increase your relationship with your in-laws

Use your time wisely to get to know not only one another but each others family while you're at it. Of course it may be difficult to remember your in-laws when all you can think about is the wonderful new person in your life, but don't forget the people that helped culture them in the first place. Make time to speak to in-laws on the phone, and remind your spouse to do likewise. When you visit one another don't only try to run off alone. Instead, spend time with your parents and siblings-in-law and build a relationship while everything is still sort of “casual”. Making way for in-laws may require more effort than is needed for one's spouse, but it will only strengthen the bond between you two for the long-run.

5. Make effort to schedule physical meetings

Not every couple in nikāḥ kitāba can easily visit one another, but if the means are there for you, take them. Physical interaction with one's spouse is very important, and must be a part of your relationship if the possibility exists. Sure you're limited to not being able to live with one another, but based on your agreed conditions in your marriage, make ways with your family and schedule to visit your spouse as much as you can. Being able to see one another can be one of the best ways to get through the time period which you have to endure before you eventually get to see each other every single day.

6. Strengthen your iman with your spouse

You are undoubtedly going to find ways to visit one another, and even if you don't you will find yourself talking to each other every day. Remember that you're not just some random couple “dating” or in a relationship, you're married and you're Muslim. Therefore it's important to build your Islamic relationship with one another. Find local events, seminars, classes, halaqahs, or conferences and make plans to go attend them together. Buy each other Islamic audio CDs and books to read and discuss. Or, just take it back to the basics: maintain a consistent daily reciting of Qur'an and reading of the meaning to one another over the phone. Do something, anything; but just make you're sure doing it and doing it consistently. You can have the best emotional, mental, physical and family relationship ever, but without a solid spiritual foundation, everything else will collapse.

7. Be yourself

Marriage can be a bit scary in the fear of wondering what the other person will think about your habits, tendencies, and weaknesses. However, one of its beautiful aspects comes when you are able to be yourself in front of your spouse just the way you are, and your understanding and acceptance of one another further strengthens your love.

Don't try to hide behind formalities of what you think a spouse should or shouldn't do. This is the time to be who you are and let your spouse get to know the real you without the added pressure of living together. If your spouse becomes familiar with your actual self before your wedding party, the transition should be a lot easier when that cherished time eventually comes, bi'idhniAllah.

Conclusion

We hope you've benefited from this list for your current or future marriage. This advice is in no way exhaustive, and there are many other tips for couples in nikāḥ kitāba, so if you have anything else, please feel free to share it here.

We ask Allah 'azza wa jal to bless all couples everywhere and give us all the ability to preserve our communities' relationships into the future, and that He makes marriage easy for those whom it is difficult and serve as a means to Jannah and His pleasure.

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43 Responses

  1. iMuslim

    Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah dearest bro!

    First off, huge congratulations, alhamdulillah. I add my “ameen” to the dua above!

    Secondly, what a beautiful and very thoughtful gesture you made to write this entry, masha’Allah. Subhanallah, aren’t we the ones meant to be giving you gifts? :)

    Thirdly, I know I am being all girly, but I found your advice and tips quite romantic. I can just imagine you guys making excuses to meet one another, even for a moment… {awws to herself}

    Okay, enough of the gooeyness!

    Just remember to emerge from the rabbit hole that most newly weds seem to disappear down into – we need you back on MM asap. ;)

    Salaams to the missus.

    Wa’salam

    Your sis

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  2. Mahin F. Islam

    Mabrook, Ameen to the du’as…I guess if there’s any consolation to missing Sh. Yasir’s class….this is it! We’ll see you back in the Chi next Friday night insha’Allaah.

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  3. jawwadsti

    Jazaks for the very well-written entry. You touched upon alot of issues that are vital for a successul marriage and are often regretfully overlooked in many relationships.. Mabrook and I will see u on friday inshAllah!!!

    salam

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  4. AnonyMouse

    First of all: Mabrook! BarakAllahu lak, wa barakAllah ‘alayk, wa jam’a baynakumaa fee khair :)

    Secondly: JazakAllahu khairan!!!!! This was definitely needed for myself… I particularly love point #6, since it can sometimes be tempting to just keep the focus on discovering more about each other rather than remembering the main thing you have in common: the Deen!

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  5. abu_abdulla82

    May Allah bless you for sharing this beautiful article

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  6. Sharif

    I thought that this article would have a lot more comments…

    Anyways, Mabrook! May Allah bless your marriage.

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  7. Aminah Muhammad

    Masha’Allah may Allah (swt) make it easy for you and your wife. I wish you all the happiness in the world! May Allah put barakah in your marriage.

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  8. Angie

    Amin! Amin! Amin!

    barak Allahu lakuma wa baraka `alaykuma wa jama`ah baynakuma fi khayr!

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  9. a muslim

    congrats!!

    one Q, but you cant have physical relations with your spouse as it’s a celibate marriage right? so how can you meet each other, that will consummate the marriage. man, I’m confused or what!

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  10. anon

    “So how can you meet each other, that will consummate the marriage. man, I’m confused or what!”

    Just because you’re sitting together with someone of the opposite gender doesn’t mean you’re forced to rip each others clothes off and have sex, which is what consumamation of a marriage refers to. Consumation does not refer to two individuals “meeting each other” as you put it. It refers to sexual intercourse

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  11. a muslim

    anon, dude, if twp people are alone together, it consummates the marriage regardless of whether you have sex or not. am i right? perhaps someone more knowledgeable can answer.

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  12. anon

    “Anon, dude, if twp people are alone together, it consummates the marriage regardless of whether you have sex or not. am i right? perhaps someone more knowledgeable can answer”

    My apologies to everyone for my sheer analness right now, but if two people are alone that is not consumation. When people are referring to the consumation of a marriage it refers to sex.
    Taken from WikiIslam… “Further, a fluent English speaker will never take “consummate the marriage” to mean complete the marriage or enter the marriage, but will always understand it to mean sexual intercourse. It is the only possible understanding of the euphemism”

    “http://www.wikiislam.org/wiki/Consummate” (It spoke about consummation between Muhammed/Aicha but I figured it seemed relevant in this case)

    You could of course choose to use a different choice of words other than “consummate the marriage” and maybe your point would seem a tad more valid (although not really).

    On a side note, I really don’t understand this celibate nikah business. There is absolutely no difference between this and just regular dating that nonmuslims do. If under Islamic rules and what not you are not allowed to date than this shouldn’t be allowed either. It seems completely moronic. No offense to the author btw. I hope you have a wonderful marriage :)

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  13. a muslim

    anon, I’m sorry but you’re wrong from the Islamic perspective. I rest my case.

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  14. mabrook

    Salam,
    Anon: isn’t the reason dating is haram because the marriage contract has not been done? Well, once it’s done, the 2 are technically married and can be alone. Why is that moronic?

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  15. anon

    “Well, once it’s done, the 2 are technically married and can be alone. Why is that moronic?”

    I find the idea of celibate marriages to be moronic. I think I read from AnonyMouse how her father marries people for the purposes of “halal dating” and so they can get to know one another. So what happens when people have done their “halal dating” and realize they can’t stand each other. They just run off and get their divorces? How many divorces are they allowed to have? Technically, with this principle they can go on many “dates” and many divorces till they find one they are happy with. The entire thing seems like a trivilalization of the institute of marriage. Ridiculous. Either date or get married. Or get married, agree to stay married, and go on some dates like normal people in normal marriages.

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    • Coastam

      I tend to agree with you.  Not living together after marriage,Katb al Ketab pre wedding, seems like a way to circumvent the rule against dating.  It seems like a slippery slope.  If university students were to institute this during their entire four years it would in essence be dating with the stamp of marriage. Marriage is providing a home for your wife and living with her, not just dating her. 

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  16. AnonyMouse

    I think I read from AnonyMouse how her father marries people for the purposes of “halal dating” and so they can get to know one another.

    I should have been more clear: it’s emphasized from the beginning that the two parties have to do their proper research into each other, and that they go into the marriage with the firm intention that they are COMMITTED. It’s not ‘halaal dating’ in that “oh hey, let’s try it out and see how it works, if we don’t like each other we can just divorce.” Rather, it’s a way for the two to get to know each other even if their circumstances/ situations don’t permit them to live together immediately (as in the case of high school students).

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  17. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    bismillah. khulwa, being alone with each — that is consummation of marriage in Islam. those of you in doubt can find many lectures by learned Muslims on-line, and at Emanrush (Sh. Birjas’ Fiqh of Love), and at Ilmquest, etc.

    shaykh birjas put it very well in “Fiqh of Love” (recorded from the al Maghrib Course he taught): Muslims do not inquire about what goes on between a husband and wife when they are alone. and that is one reason the default position is that khulwa equals consummation.

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  18. AbdelRahman

    bismillah. khulwa, being alone with each — that is consummation of marriage in Islam. those of you in doubt can find many lectures by learned Muslims on-line, and at Emanrush (Sh. Birjas’ Fiqh of Love), and at Ilmquest, etc.

    shaykh birjas put it very well in “Fiqh of Love” (recorded from the al Maghrib Course he taught): Muslims do not inquire about what goes on between a husband and wife when they are alone. and that is one reason the default position is that khulwa equals consummation.

    Allah knows best, but this is the Hanafi opinion on the matter. I remember Shaykh Yaser Birjas distinctively saying (and I took the class twice ;-)) that being alone with the spouse = consummation isan opinion, and not the majority opinion. He made clear (if my memory is correct) that it is perfectly allowable under the circumstances of katb ul-kitaab to be alone with your spouse and to not have it considered consummation, wAllahu alam.

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  19. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    innalhamdolillah. jazak Allah khayr for your post, AbdelRahman. if i misconstrued what Shaykh Birjas taught or made any other mistake or omission, the error was mine and not anyone else’s. Rabbana laa tu’akhidnaa in-nasee’na aw akhta’naa. رَبَّنَا لاَ تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا

    that said, i wrote what i understood and recalled, so you’ve also given a good incentive for more study and review. :)

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  20. skhan

    Hi
    i have been in nikah for three years. my nikah was arranged but i am still living with my parents as my rukhsati has not happened. my partner also lives with his family. the problem is that he doesnt talk to me i have tried my best to talk to him but he is not interested. if i ring him and say hi he immediantly hangs up. he wont reply to my text messages just simple ones like hi how are you? its been three years hes been doing this to me and i dont feel that anyone can be that busy to write 3 words on a text.

    My family dont mind that he doesnt talk to me becasue they feel thats how it should be. But i am so scared of getting married to him, because i have no idea about how he is like. what he likes/dislikes etc.

    i recently found out that he has a girlfriend who he has been seeing before and after our nikah. she knows that he has gothis nikah with me but i cant seem to do anything about it. His girlfriend gives me a hardtime she shows me pictures and text messages they have been sending to each other. My family know that he has a girlfriend but tell me that hewill change once he gets married but what if he doesnt?

    i cant talk to him about it because like i said he doesnt talk to me. i told his family but they refuse to believe me. Now i dont know what to do i just worry since my parents are planning to do my rukhsati in a couple of months.

    is there nothing that i can do? what rights do i have under a nikah?

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  21. AnonyMouse

    Sister, you can contact a qualified Islamic counsellor who can help your situation by calling the Muslim Helpline:
    1-800-550-MYHL

    May Allah make things easy for you, ameen.

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  22. mulsimah

    Sister I recommend you delay the ruksati until you are sure. say Alhumdulilah you dont have ruksati. you dont want a child in this type of situation if its bad. do istikhara. get your parents to talk to his. confront him and say ‘WAIT BEFORE YOU HANG UP I HAVE A QUESTION . and say do you want to go on with this marriage? ask him if he will continue to see his girlfriend. if he isnt giving you str8 answers its a good idea to get the elders involved. make a big deal. its your whole life. again you do not want a child involved. you should never expect that one will get better but always expect that it will get worse and be prepared fo rthat.

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  23. SP

    We ask Allah ‘azza wa jal to bless all couples everywhere and give us all the ability to preserve our communities’ relationships into the future, and that He makes marriage easy for those whom it is difficult and serve as a means to Jannah and His pleasure.


    AMeen!

    So this post is about to hit its 6 month mark… can we see a part two? the after-rukhsati advice…or even an extended list of advice for nikkah-prerukhsatied couples to benefit from? This was indeed really beneficial. may Allah reward you

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  24. MR

    Hey Saqib can you put up some resources on nikkah kitaba (because your post is the number 1 result on google).

    Thanks!

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  25. Abdul At-Tawwaab

    AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    JazakAllahu Khairun for this Alhamdulillah. May Allah reward you greatly. Can anyone direct me to the conditions of nikah kitab? What do the conditions of the man need to be in order to be married. Where can I find this information in Qur’an and Hadith? InshaAllah, this is even more fuel and inspiration to take the Fiqh of Love class coming up soon inshaAllah. I’m engaged, in fact today is my anniversary of engagement, and am ever seeking if marriage is better than engagement at this time but I’m so concerned that my conditions may not be correct for marriage. If anyone could direct me to proper information May Allah reward you for your efforts. Alhamdulillah

    AsSalaamu Alaikum

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  26. umm hurairah

    salam. Apparently, it is v common in todays world.

    With parents and culture demands and at times, material demands… no wonder such things exist. Allahu Akhbar!

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  27. Coastam

    As Salamm alaykum

    The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, delayed consummation with Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they lived separately.  I don’t know their exact situation, but I do know it is possible to live with someone and delay consummation of the marriage.   Even if they did live separately, doesn’t automatically mean that all Muslim couples with  Katb al Kitab are allowed to live separately before the wedding. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, might have just been waiting for her tor grow up a little more, that’s different than two college students living separately after Katb al Kitab.  Muslims should ask scholars before getting into these kind of thing, it has the potential to be a slippery slope.   

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  28. saima

    salaam. just had a quick question… in the period of nikkah and ruksati eg 6 months gapAre the couple allowed to have sex?? without feeling guilty? if the husband wants to have sex is this permissible for the wife to do so? please get back . jazakAllah khaor

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    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      Dear Saima
      While I would still ask you to consult a local scholar, from what I have heard from various lectures, it is not considered appropriate to engage in sexual activity during this time and some schools of thought may even consider it disallowed for the couple to be alone behind a closed door.

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      • Jennifer

        Assalamu Alaikum.

        I thought the purpose of nikaah was for marriage, and the married couple can live together and have sexual relations in Halaal as natural married couples do. This article tells me that there is a celibate marriage before proper marriage. Has formal engagement been phased out? Can the couple choose not to live together and not have sex after nikaah? I thought nikaah was marriage…couple is married under the eyes of Allah…husband and wife have rights to one another. Why so confusing?

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  29. saima

    salaam. just had a quick question… in the period of nikkah and ruksati eg 6 months gapAre the couple allowed to have sex?? without feeling guilty? if the husband wants to have sex is this permissible for the wife to do so? please get back . jazakAllah khair

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  30. Rosemary

    Assalamu’alaikum

    Once you have done a nikah, you are married. At that point, everything that goes with marriage is halal. Like someone said, what happens if you do the nikah and ‘date’ and then decide I really don’t like this person. What’s the incentive to make the sacrifice to work towards maintaining this marriage. For the sister who’s had her nikah for 3 years now to a person who has a girlfriend, I would say, kick, scream and yell to get out of that marriage. Obviously the guy does not want to be married to you. Living together is NOT GOING TO CHANGE anything.

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  31. A Computer and a Webcam: Finding Muslim Love and Long-Distance Relationships in a Globalized World

    […] Although there is no data available on the number of Muslims that are in long-distance relationships, one can see the hype in online trends. These days there are posts sharing stories about long-distance love, tips on how to handle long-distance Muslim marriages, tips on how to remain positive in a long-distance relationship or recommendations to engage in katb al-kitab (celibate marriage). […]

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