Short Answer: There are five conditions for the validity of a marriage contract in Islam. Getting married in a church before going on to the mosque for the “Muslim” ceremony is quite missing the point. In the eyes of Islam, the Christian ceremony does not join the two in marriage.
Assalamu Alaikum Syed,
Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.
Marriage is not to be entered into lightly, and in Islam there are certain rules for a marriage to be valid.
In other words, the marriage must meet certain requirements before Muslims accept that a marriage has really taken place.
A Muslim marriage is a contract between two people and all the parts of the contract must be fulfilled.
1- The first requirement of the contract is the announcement that the wedding has taken place.
In other words, Muslims do not marry in secret, but make their intentions and their actions known to the whole community.
In this way, there can be no doubt in the community that the two people really are married, rather than just living together.
Before the marriage, then, people are told that it is to take place. After the marriage, there is a lot of fuss to show that the couple is actually married.
2- The second requirement is the payment of the mahr, or marriage gift to the woman.
This can be any sum your intended spouse requests, but its importance is to show the respect the man has for the woman and the importance he places on taking her as his wife.
The mahr remains the property of the woman so if the marriage fails, she still has this money to fall back on.
3- The third requirement is that both parties must give their consent to the marriage.
A forced marriage has no validity in Islam.
If someone is forced to get married against his or her will, the marriage has not actually taken place.
This consent must be given by both the man and the woman.
4- The fourth requirement is that the woman’s protector (or wali) gives approval.
The wali will, to the best of his ability, determining if you–the intended husband–will deal kindly and fairly with your intended wife.
If the wali finds you, the potential husband, to be an acceptable and suitable choice for the women, he will give his approval for the marriage to take place.
Without this approval, the marriage contract is invalid.
5- And the fifth requirement is that two witnesses are present when the marriage takes place.
These witnessed will confirm that these other requirements have been met, and so there will be no doubt about this in the future.
Marriage by Video
The second part of your question asks about getting married by video if the individuals live in different countries.
The video isn’t important in the answer to the question. What is important is that the other requirements have been met.
While both partners do not have to be present in person and can have someone acting on their behalf; the requirements of the announcement, the consent, the mahr, the wali, and the witnesses must be met.
It is not the video that would make the marriage valid. It is that the other requirements have been fulfilled.
Marriage Ceremony at a Church
As for the first part of your question, the same thing applies. These five requirements must be met.
Getting married in a church would not make the marriage valid, but the five requirements would.
However, getting married in a church before going on to the mosque for the “Muslim” ceremony is quite missing the point.
In the eyes of Islam, the Christian ceremony does not join the two in marriage, especially because the ceremony makes reference to things being done “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
This is not acceptable for a Muslim, and you, as a Muslim, cannot take an active part in a ceremony where these words are used to apply to you.
(Being present in a church and observing the ceremony is one thing, but actively taking part and saying these words is quite different and it would not be allowed).
You might consider going to the church at some stage, then, to please your intended spouse, and to show respect for what she believes.
But what takes place there is not a marriage in the eyes of Islam, and you should not dress and act in a way that makes people think that you believe that this is true.
Your intended spouse needs to understand that it is the Muslim ceremony that makes you man and wife, in the eyes of Islam.
The most important thing that arises out of your question is just how sensitive a thing it is for two people who are not of the same faith to marry.
What seems to be a purely legal question about what is allowed and not allowed, raises much deeper questions about how you understand each other’s faith, and how you will live that out during your marriage.
These issues need to be thought about very carefully, and you need to think about how you will live together as man and wife.
Islam allows you to marry a Christian woman, but if the wedding ceremony causes you problems, how will you deal with other problems in the years to come?
May Allah Almighty bless you both as you answer these questions together and with the help of your parents and friends, inshaAllah.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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