Salam (Peace) Dear Cherese,
Thank you for your questions and for contacting Ask About Islam.
Thanks for being so open and asking these very special questions which reflect your eagerness to know and sincere willingness to explore things before you take one of the most important steps a person can take in his or her life.
Marriage in the Mosque
Let’s assure you at the beginning that the marriage conducted in the mosque is no far different from that conducted in a church, if we are speaking in general terms. The solemnization of the marriage in a mosque is meant to be something that helps the lady — whether a Muslim or non-Muslim — to seek the assistance of an Islamic authority in case something emerges in the future.
Besides, it provides an opportunity for you to explore an important part of the life of your future husband and feel familiar with his religious life as much as he will be familiar with yours.
Towards a Successful Interfaith Marriage
One of the main foundations of a successful interfaith marriage is that both sides need to explore the religious life of each other and delve into it in a way that makes each one of them appreciate what the other believes in.
I believe it would be fantastic if the husband appreciated his wife’s going to the service in the church every Sunday and she appreciated him going to the prayer every Friday and then instead of having one holy day in the week, they will be two days.
It would be ideal as well if they spend one day every week exploring how they appreciate the common texts between the Qur’an and the Bible and the common messages of philanthropy, justice and equality, love and kindness which both books send to humankind.
In this way, such a marriage will be a successful interfaith marriage, based on mutual understanding and true love.
Procedure of Islamic Marriage
I am not sure exactly how the ceremony in the mosque in the USA will be like, but since I am an Imam here in the UK, and there is much similarity between the two contexts, I can tell you that the ceremony will be more or less like collecting data from both of you, first to issue something called ‘Islamic Marriage Certificate’ which is not very different from a civil marriage certificate.
Thereafter, the Imam will make sure that you accept your fiancé as a husband by asking him to announce his willingness to marry you in front of you or your father, brother, or next of kin (who may be acting on your behalf).
In return, you, or your father, brother, or next of kin (who may be acting on your behalf with your full consent and agreement) will announce your acceptance of the marriage.
Two witnesses will be there to witness the whole thing and sign the marriage certificate as well, and thereupon, the Imam will announce you husband and wife according to Islam.
It is more of an official ceremony, and the importance of such an Islamic marriage is that since your husband is a Muslim, you will have someone (the Imam, and possibly the two witnesses) to recourse to in case of dispute; someone with a religious and spiritual authority rather than the civil court that has the law authority only.
The Imam can act as a social counselor who can provide any help or settle any future dispute. Therefore, he needs to be involved from the beginning.
Besides, in case such a marriage is not working or both of you decide to terminate it, then the husband needs to terminate it Islamically to ensure that all procedures to maintain the marriage successful and keep the family together have been exhausted and ended in failure.
Therefore, the role of the Imam is to ensure that things are alright and that the lady is going to be dealt with justly. The imam also provides guidance for both sides on their roles and responsibilities so as to achieve the highest goal of marriage which is attaining happiness in this life and in the next.
Conditions in Marriage Contracts
As for the issue of establishing certain things in the contract of the marriage, I do not understand what you exactly mean by that. However, if you mean establishing certain conditions on your husband or placing certain restrictions, although it is within your rights, I would personally advise you not to do so.
Let love be established and that will be more than a thousand conditions.
I can honestly tell you that the conditions of the world — whether placed in a marriage contract or anywhere else — will not help if love and respect are not what bind you and your husband.
The marriage contract itself is an establishment that sets rights and responsibilities on both sides. What is needed more than this? Nothing, save that both parties start fulfilling their responsibilities in the right way.
I believe that if you try to put any restrictions or conditions in the marriage contract that may give a wrong message to your husband and ruin the whole thing. One more thing is that you entrust your husband with your whole life and give him your heart in love, so what remains? A few conditions? I believe they are insignificant.
Reading About Islam
I strongly advise you to read about Islam and its concept of family and marriage because this will help you get an idea about how the family is formulated in Islam and what rights and responsibilities are placed on both sides, and what are the rights placed on the parents towards children as well.
I am sure, you will find a lot of similarities with Christianity simply because they come from the same source: God. As I told you before, the role of Islamic law here will be to ensure that you get all your rights as a wife and you are treated honorably with full respect.
It will ensure also that even in case of dispute, honor and mutual respect will still govern your relationship, and that if any help is needed from the body that represents Islam, then the help is provided in full.
Marriage in the US and Egypt
In US law, I believe that civil marriage needs to be conducted as well so that the marriage is registered with the government, but you will need to consult a specialist in this regard.
Again, the religious marriage is important for a healthy and successful marriage and spiritual and social counseling.
As for the Egyptian law, it is very closely connected with the Islamic law in this regard, that is, in the area of family law.
The marriage is officiated by someone who is authorized to conduct Islamic marriages and the same person takes the marriage certificate to the court and registers it there so that it is accepted officially. Therefore, both are intertwined because of the nature of the country and the law in Egypt.
Finally, I want you to open your heart and speak to the Imam and I am sure he will be able to help you and answer any questions you have.
Bear in mind that asking questions is always a healthy thing as it opens the door in front of our minds and help us clear our fears and ward off any doubts and take our steps with full surety and utter confidence.
I pray that you will have a successful marriage and happy life.
I hope this answers your questions. Please remain in touch.