As in other religions, Islam values marriage as a sacred and social contract. However, unlike some Christian denominations, marriage is not seen as a sacrament that can only be broken by death, but as a legal contract that is revocable.
In Islam, marriage is a legal contract requiring the full and free consent of both parties. Marriages are often arranged by parents, but according to the Holy Qur'an the man or woman has the right to reject a chosen partner. In practice, women do not have the same freedom as men to refuse an arranged marriage. Women do have the right to arrange their own marriage. Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet Mohammed, set the precedent for this by arranging her marriage to him.
To fulfil the marriage contract (nikah), the husband first gives the wife a gift such as money or jewellery. The second part of the contract is a commitment for life made by husband and wife to provide physical, emotional and spiritual comfort to each other.
Islam accepts that lifelong marriage is sometimes impossible and provides laws for divorce. Islam does not require proof of infidelity or any other failure to keep the marriage contract. Either the husband or wife can initiate divorce. Women can ask their husband to divorce them; if they refuse, the woman can pursue it through the courts. A man can dissolve his marriage following a procedure set by Islamic law.
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