In our time, dishonesty and fraud as well as forgery are widespread due to people’s weakness of faith and lack of conscience. Therefore, it becomes obligatory to register marriage contracts in so many places to maintain both the wife’s and husband’s rights in addition to the rights of the children in the community.
In his explanation on this issue, Dr. Rajab Abu Maleeh, a Ph. D. in Sharia, stated:
Registering marriages means the official recording of the marriage by a marriage official and the issuing of a marriage certificate. This certificate should be given to the couple, so that they can register their future children and guarantee all reciprocal rights. However, registration is not one of the pillars and conditions of marriage which are, according to the majority of the scholars, as follows:
(1) Full consent of both partners to the marriage.
(2) Expressing the above consent through ijab (offer) and qabul (acceptance).
(3) The presence of the guardian of the wife.
(4) The presence of two reliable witnesses.
(5) Publicizing the marriage.
Registration has been imposed in the modern time due to the absence of conscience, the disintegration of society, and weakness and negligence of the family towards their children. In the past, neither the man nor the woman could deny a marriage that was witnessed by the surrounding society. If one of them dared to do so, the great influence and power of the family would dissuade him/her from doing so willingly or unwillingly; otherwise, the family and the whole society would reject and expel him/her, leaving them with no help or support.
Nowadays, however, if a man disagrees with his wife, he may deny the marriage in order to escape his financial and moral obligations. In this case, the wife is unable to prove her right to alimony or maintenance, register their children, or obtain a divorce in order to remarry. Similarly, a woman may deny the marriage, leave her husband and marry again. In this instance, her husband cannot bring her back to the marital home or take legal action against her, as she married another person while already married.
Accordingly, there is a dire need to register all marriages. We can summarize the wisdom behind the need for registration in the following points:
1. Maintaining the mutual rights between the spouses, such as the wife’s rights to residence, maintenance, the deferred amount of dowry and registering her children, and the husband’s right to be treated well and enjoy his wife.
2. Putting an end to disputes; as the marriage certificate proves the validity of the marriage and its rights.
3. Avoiding invalid and illegal marriage contracts, such as marrying a woman during her `iddah (period of waiting), or marrying permanently or temporarily prohibited women.
4. Putting a stop to suspicion in cases where the man and woman may be accused of living together without being married. Hence, the marriage certificate proves otherwise and saves the honor of the couple. In this context, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor …” (Agreed- upon)
Ruling of Registration
Registering marriages is originally permissible, as Almighty Allah says in the longest verse of the Ever-Glorious Qur’an, ( O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down. Let a scribe write it down in justice between you. Let not the scribe refuses to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write. Let him (the debtor) who incurs the liability dictate, and he must fear Allah, his Lord, and diminish not anything of what he owes …) (Al-Baqarah 2: 282)
Jurists disagreed regarding the command that is mentioned in the verse [i.e. the words “write it down”, which are an imperative form of the verb], over whether it refers to obligation or recommendation. However, the preponderant opinion is that it refers to recommendation; as Almighty Allah says in the following verse and in the same context, ( Then if one of you entrust the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust (faithfully)…) (Al-Baqarah 2: 283)
All in all, I believe that registering a marriage contract is obligatory at the present time for many reasons, including:
First: The laws that regulate the relationship between the spouses have made registration obligatory and do not officially recognize any other unregistered contact. Accordingly, obeying the ruler and abiding by the law is obligatory as long as they do not contradict Sharia, and that doing so leads to the preservation of rights, and the removal of injustice and inconvenience.
Second: One of the important and significant Sharia (legal) rules is: ‘No harm shall be inflicted or reciprocated.’ Failing to register the marriage will result in great harm to the wife, as she will not be able to prove her rights to maintenance, residence, the deferred amount of dowry, and the lineage of her children, except if the husband acknowledges them. Also, failing to register the marriage may cause harm to the husband, as his wife may leave the marital home and illegally remarry another man, and the first husband will be unable to prove the marital relationship and the lineage of the children.
Third: Failing to register the marriage may cause great embarrassment to the couple, especially when spending the night together or while traveling. Although it is permitted, it may lead to suspicion and accusations of adultery. Hence, a Muslim should not knowingly put himself in the circle of doubt and suspicion.
According to the above-mentioned reasons and many others, we believe that registering marriage contracts is obligatory at the present time, unless there is a necessity, which would be assessed according to its extent and on an individual basis.