What is permissible Post-Nikkah Pre-Consummation (Rukhsati/Marriage)

Question:

I just had my nikkah done with my husband and we are having our rukhsati done soon (in the next few months). The reason for [the] delay is just mainly to prepare for the wedding and  [to] accommodate family members' schedule [for] the wedding. After the nikkah is it permissible to do all the acts that are permissible between a husband and wife even if the rukhsati hasn't been done?

Sincerely,
Getting married in my 20s
[This question has a second part, which will be answered at a later date, insha'Allah]

Answer:

From a technical Fiqhi perspective, when a man and woman have their nikkah, kitab or marriage contract (different terms for the same practice) done Islamically they are considered a husband and wife. It is permissible to delay the consummation of marriage (rukhsati or wedding) for a later and more convenient date with no specific time limit as long as they both mutually agree on it until the circumstances are right for them.

Allah Al-Mighty says:

“O You who have believed, when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, then there is not for you any waiting period to count concerning them. So provide for them and give them a gracious release.” [al-Ahzab 33:49]

In his tafsir, imam at-Tabari rahimahullah said in regards to this ayah: “before you have touched them” means before having intercourse with them. He then added that it was the interpretation of the scholars of tafsir.

During this period between the nikah and the rukhsati, it is permissible for the couple to interact with each other in a manner that is permissible for a husband and wife including the actual consummation of marriage. However, if they do choose to be intimate with each other then the full rights of the wife become due upon the husband such as the full dowry and her right for housing and sustenance. What constitutes consummation of marriage is an issue of minor dispute among scholars. They all agree that having intercourse is a perfect definition but then some scholars say a perfect privacy is enough and others say being physically intimate in a manner less than actual intercourse is the minimum.

Now some of the Fiqh rulings of non-devotional practices such as marriage are subject to cultural considerations. Hence, what is acceptable during that period between the nikah and the rukhsati is subject to the general culture, the culture of both families and the actual agreement between the two contracting parties. Therefore, if the general culture entails the absolute abstinence during that period then this should be maintained and respected.

Uqbah ibn Amer narrated the Messenger of Allah, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), said:
“The conditions which you have the most duty to fulfill are those by which you have made marital relations lawful.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

In addition to that the maxims of Fiqh -qawai'd Fiqhiya- proclaim:

“What is determined by custom is tantamount to a contractual stipulation” (Al-ma'rufu 'urfan kal-mashrutu shartan).

As a result of this, the young couple should respect the unpronounced stipulations that are in accordance with the cultural norms provided that these cultural norms don't violate any established principle of Fiqh.

Parents and the families of the two contracting parties expect the young couple to be at the level of maturity to adhere to these cultural norms. To bring the fitnah in the streets as an excuse to break these rules is not really a legitimate excuse and it could backfire. It's better to show a high standard of character even during those beautiful moments before officially moving in together.

Nevertheless, if the husband and wife do get intimate in the relationship prior to the official consummation of marriage they have not committed haram or sin, but it might cause some bitterness within the family because they might perceive it as disrespectful behavior.

One issue might arise; as a result of being too intimate prior to the wedding day is the power struggle between the father of the girl and her young husband. If the young lady still lives with her family while already living intimately the life of wife with her husband, she might have to deal with a confusion of authority situation. Her husband's demands and her family's demands might clash and she will be caught in the middle.

Unfortunately, the sense of chivalry among the youth today is not as great as it used to be. The sense of responsibility and commitment from them is not at the level where it should be. Therefore, it is definitely preferable to wait until the actual wedding date before the young couple can fully consummate the marriage.

May Allah give you all happiness, love and mercy. And Allah knows best.

20 Responses

  1. Mahmud

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    What is it that prevents people from delaying the nikah until the wedding date? Why do they do it a few months earlier?

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    • ZAI

      The main reason I’ve heard from younger Muslims why this is taking place is because
      after a Nikah it allows the couple to spend time together talking, getting to know each other, etc…and if they then find out they’re incompatible, they can break it off and there is less stigma
      attached to divorce because there was no consummation…and the sister below who warned Muslim girls not to give into pressure from men during this period is 100% correct. He will get away scott-free even if he breaks off the marriage for “incompatibility” later. It’s the woman who will get stuck with the typical double-standard label and the consummation will defeat the very purpose of this “solution” before arousi.

      This would not need to exist if Muslims got over their divorce stigmas to begin with, which
      disproportionately affect women. Knowing divorce has a stigma, many women have immense
      pressure that they have only one shot at getting it right…whereas men don’t have to worry ’bout
      it in most of the cultures. I think rather than complaining about this “solution”, Muslims should spend more time reforming the crooked cultural practices like stigma of the divorced so “solutions” like this
      wouldn’t be needed.

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      • Mahmud

        The only divorce stigma I really have is my parents wouldn’t like it. Since they have so many rights over me, and since my mother has struggled constantly and showed patience constantly, obviously I’m supposed to show her constant gratitude. I really have to excel with my parents, and part of that is following their marriage wishes.

        So perhaps the issue you are talking about has a lot to do with parents.

        If my parents were ok, I would have no problem with marrying a widow or divorced woman. But they aren’t, so I simply can’t look there.

        This nikah before the rukhsati thing seems to be something which is an incredible hassle. I agree, if this divorce stigma is what spawns such inconvenient practices, we ought to get rid of the stigma.

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      • ZAI

        Br.
        I was not referring to you personally.
        I was simply answering the question you asked generally as to why
        many people are carrying out nikah before walimah/arousi/rukhsati.
        It is because they feel they can get to know someone in a halaal manner and if it doesn’t work out, a divorce w/o consummation has less stigma then a divorce after consummation, wherein incompatibility is discovered much later.

        It is especially attractive to many women because a lot of women do NOT divorce more so because of stigma rather than because they want to stay in a marriage. Many, many horror stories brother of women who after consummated marriage discover their husband is a totally different person…an alcoholic, fasiq, atheist even. I even know one couple…the girl came over from India to marry a guy, and guy turns out to have a girlfriend on the side, whom he still sees and carries on with.They pretty much hoodwinked her….not that this cannot happen to men, but again stigma is stronger on women, so many feel they have one shot to get it right.

        In any case I was talking generally.
        Do not feel it was directed towards you.
        Salaamz.

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    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      Yeah . It’s hard for the newly married.

      But not everybody in the indian subcontinent does this ( rukhsati). Many of us have walima immediately after nikah . So the marriage is over in like 2-3 hours .

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      • Umm ZAKAriyya

        Some of the reasons why people do this :

        1)Education
        2)Family tradition
        3)some families like to have a nikah party(elaborate one)arranged by the girls fathers and walima by the groom. Having more parties is a status symbol.

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      • Mahmud

        I’m Bangladesh and Indian myself, and I have absolutely no plans to do this. Nikah and rukhsati ought to be at around the same time.

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    • Muhammad

      Just because you’re unfamiliar with this concept does not take away the religious validity of a nikkah without the accompanying rukhsati. Also your unfamiliarity with it does not invalidate what may be a completely acceptable tradition in many other cultures. You need to be respectful and cognizant of the fact that there are a vast number of cultures across the planet that practice Islam, and as long as parties are not violating religious rulings, you have no right to pass a judgment on what order things ought to happen in. If one way works for you, that’s fine and dandy, but that doesn’t automatically mean that every Muslim on the planet ought to follow the cultural norms you adhere to.

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  2. sarahl

    I’m 17 years old and I will be (Insha-allah) having my Nikah this December. So when our Nikah is done, you’re saying I shouldn’t become intimate with my husband?? I’ve known him for a long time and our “rukhsuti” won’t be done until the next couple years because we’re both so young.. I just got really confused reading this article.

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    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      It’s very clear . Once the nikah is done , you are legally husband and wife and therefore can do everything what husband and wife do.

      But if in your culture/family , if certain acts between spouses are not appreciated, before walima/rukhsati/public announcement of the marriage ,then it’s good to respect that to please your elders . But even if you do get intimate with the spouse ( say , due to difficultly in controlling oneself .which is obviously normal) , it’s not a sin .

      One problem is that if some people do not know that you are legally married , then false rumor starts to spread if the spouses were seen to show affection towardseachother. This actually happened to a friend of mine in college . Her parents had done her nikah contract with her husband ,who happened to be her classmate. So when they were seen together , people started talking! Cuz they didn’t know she was married to him.

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  3. Umm Saeed

    I was a new muslim when I wrote my marriage contract. I was totally ignorant about Muslim marriages and was told by the man (my husband now) that writing the contract would allow us to get to know each other in a halal manner. When I wrote my contract I did so with the understanding that the contract was equivalent to an engagement and the marriage would be later after a party was held and the marriage publicized.

    I was quite shocked after writing the contract when the Imam who also acted as my wali told us “everything is now halal”. As soon as my husband was alone with me he also insisted the same. I did not want this but he used all kinds of fatawa and stories from lectures to insist it was his right and I had to comply. At the same time he did not want to make the marriage public yet and gave me so many excuses why. I never knew my rights and feel that I was tricked into getting married and manipulated by my husband. I am telling my story as a warning to other sisters. Educate yourself and make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into, especially if you are a new Muslim and come from a different culture and background than your potential spouse.

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    • timothywcrane

      His many excuses for not wanting his marriage public knowledge are disgraceful. Nikah is a contract of public knowledge, thus the requirement for witnesses (public knowledge is not upheld by a party, but witnesses to the contract in general). The fact that you did not know your were married is a violation of the standards of nobility and honesty in Islamic contract law even if valid under national laws. Public knowledge is matter of protecting honor.

      Even apostasy laws allow for the cause of ignorance as a way out.

      I am rather harsh on men who use guile and deception against women, yet inform the other of the male rights.

      I would have been rather harshly sarcastic, telling him that he should offer you a manumission at best, and free you if you give birth at least, for he obviously sees you as concubine and not a spouse, and no muslim, new or not can be made a slave, nor one who is captured illegally.

      Islam came as a mercy to all mankind, including women, and a warning to zulm (oppression) and those who practice it.

      My exhortation aside, I hope that you and he, for the betterment of both, have come to an agreement of truthful conduct and marital happiness.

      Divorce is the most hated lawful thing.

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      • Mahmud

        I agree with Timothy. This crisis of mediocre/horrific husbands seems to be….everywhere. We need to make an effort to remove it.

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  4. Jillian

    Good article. Rukhsati is absolutely culture, just like the Arab Walima…Basically a party to celebrate the marriage sometimes, not always after the couple has had intercourse. Think of this as a receptions, usually with nice clothes, dancing (sometimes separated by gender or not at all) and food. The Wedding Ceremony, religiously, is the nikkah just like the traditional christian church wedding, that is on part and the party is another. For some reason cultures with Islamic populations tend to split this two event up over month months or years. Legally you are married when you file the papers for the wedding, so for taxes, ownership laws, and hospital visitations in the USA nothing matters until those documents are filed. What is done intimately after only the religious part is between husband, wife, and God. BTW, I’m engaged and I plan to have the wedding (religious and legal) and the reception the same day or weekend this fall. Please keep my fiance and I in your duaas, and inshallah everything will work out well!

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    • Omer Farooq

      “Rukhsati is absolutely culture, just like the Arab Walima…”

      I humbly want to point out that you are wrong. Please don’t state your personal opinion as a fact in deen. Please approach an Islamic scholar of your choice for an explanation with example of both “rukhsati” and “walima” from Prophets (phuh) personal life.

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  5. Hamza Khurshid

    You have provided the answer in a very detailed and simplistic manner… thank You

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  6. M.S.

    Ina lilAllahi wa ina Ileyhi Raaji’uun.

    I sense this sister’s troubles may have more to do with other people’s expectations of the kind of wedding party they would like to see and attend, and whether it messes well with their calendar-year vacation and/or pre-planned weekend activities.

    I guess this is what happens when you try to infuse cultural expectations & insist on carrying the baggage of the fore-fathers, instead of opting for the simplicity & ease afforded by Islam and the Sunnah.

    It would have been really amazing if her relatives & extended family contributed and fully funded a whole year’s worth of rent, utility bills, furniture, and grocery expenses, instead of know-towing to the bride-zillas/groom-zlllas of the clan. Can you imagine the honeymoon, the happiness, and the mood these two would been in, if their kith & kin gave them financial freedom for a year (or two)? Allah knows best.

    May Allah give you ease sister, shower His mercy on you and your relatives and admit us all to Jannatul-Fidaus al-‘Alaa.

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  7. Tolga Ak. (@tolgz15)

    Jazakallah khayr for the insight, although there is more complex situations. This short article touches on the basics. May Allah bless us with a beautiful spouse insha’Allah!

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