There are two types of marriages in Shia Islam. One is simple normal marriage called ‘Nikah’, while the other is temporary marriage known as ‘Mutah’ or ‘Sigha’, more information on Mutah. Both Nikah and Mutah to be initiated require two instruments, first is ‘Aqd’ and second is ‘Mahr’.
In Shia Islam ‘Aqd’ is exchange of marital vows, an agreement between a man and a woman or their representatives; it is marriage proposal by the first party and its acceptance by the second party. Shia Islam requires proper specific Arabic formula to initiate the marriage.
‘Mahr’, the second of the two requirements for marriage in Shia Islam is obligatory gift/dower to the bride by the groom. Mahr is usually money, land, ornament, ring, jewel, house etc. Mahr is fixed prior to the recitation of marriage formula or exchange of marital vows.
Translation of proper specific Arabic marriage formula or vows are; first the proposal as ‘I have made myself your wife on the agreed dower’ which follows the acceptance as ‘I accept the marriage’. If marriage if initiated through representatives then first the proposal goes ‘I have given to your client ABC in marriage my client XYZ on the agreed dower’ the acceptance goes ‘I accepted this matrimonial alliance for my client ABC on agreed dower’. Formula for temporary marriage include ‘for agreed term’ in addition to ‘on agreed dower’.
Shia Islam does not require witnesses for any of the two marriages; this is in contrast to Sunni marriage which requires witnesses. Shia Islam requires permission of either biological father or biological paternal grandfather’s consent for virgin woman to be married, there are however conditional details for it.
With regards to divorce, there is no divorce in temporary marriage ‘Mutah’. Once the agreed term is over the marriage itself is annulled. However, husband can end the ‘Mutah’ in between by saying, ‘I forgo the remaining term’.
Divorce in Shia Islam again requires proper specific formula in Arabic to be pronounced by husband or his representative. If husband himself divorces his wife he says, ‘my wife XYZ is divorced’, if through representative the latter says, ‘XYZ, the wife of my client is divorced’. This is in contrast with Sunni rule where just uttering word ‘Talaq’ divorce in Arabic is sufficient.
In Shia Islam, divorce to happen requires three declarations of the above divorce formula, each with minimum interval of one menstrual cycle of woman. Only one declaration can be made in one menstrual cycle. This is in contrast with Sunni rules; where all three divorces could be pronounced in one go.
Shia Islam also requires two just witnesses at each of three sessions of divorce pronunciation. Sunni rule does not require any witness for divorce to happen. Husband according to Shia Islam cannot give divorce to his wife in that menstrual month in which he has had a sexual intercourse with her. This is also not a requirement in Sunni where a husband can pronounce divorce even just after sexual intercourse.
In Shia Islam, the first and second sessions of divorce pronunciation is revocable, in which divorce process is just activated but divorce has not happened. If couple have sexual intercourse the process of divorce becomes void. Husband and wife can rejoin as couple and divorce pronunciation becomes void. The third, also the last divorce pronunciation is final and irrevocable, after which divorce happens. In Shia Islam, divorce cannot be given to a pregnant wife. Divorce in pregnancy is thus void.
In Shia Islam, if marriage is consummated, then after divorce the divorced woman cannot immediately remarry, she must wait for three menstrual cycles, once, that is over she is free to remarry another man.
In case of Mutah, if marriage was consummated, when the term gets over, the couple can immediately remarry each other as there is no provision for divorce in Mutah. But if the woman desires to remarry another man she should wait for two menstrual cycles.
In Shia Islam, both marriage and divorce requires sound mind, intention and free will. Thus, any compulsion, jest or intoxication either in marriage or divorce makes their process void. In Sunni rule forced, joked or intoxicated divorce is valid, but in Shia Islam it is void.
If either of the marriage is unconsummated then there is no waiting period for woman to remarry another man. ‘Halaala’ is a Quranic injunction which prohibits Shia divorced couple (A and B) to remarry each other after irrevocable divorce. However, if later the woman (B) is also divorced by her second husband (C) after consummation of their marriage, it is legal for her (B) to once again re-marry her previous husband (A).
Oh Allah! Peace and Salutation be upon Mohammed and House-hold of Mohammed.