It is well known that in Islam: a man and a woman cannot live together without marriage. A valid marriage has to meet certain requirements such as ishhar (announcement), the payment of the dower, the consent of both parties, the permission of the wali (woman’s guardian), and the presence of witnesses.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: In Islam, it is not permissible for a man and woman to live together as if they were husband and wife without marriage. This is fornication pure and simple. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “What is halal is clear and what is haram (forbidden) is clear.” Since marriage in Islam is not a secret affair between man and woman but a social contract, one cannot form a secret liaison and call it by the name of marriage. In order for marriage to be recognized as valid it must fulfill the following minimum requirements: The Marriage must be expressed in clear and unequivocal terms signifying the full of consent of both male and female either in words or writing; it should be witnessed by two reliable Muslim witnesses; and it should also be publicized. If the above conditions are not fulfilled, the a man and a woman cannot be considered as husband and wife.