Is it permissible to be married by nikkah only, and not to register it as a civil marriage?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

I am a young American man who is looking to get married. I am concerned, however, about US law regarding divorce, as it infringes on the rights of the husband. I find it hard to stomach the thought of being at risk of losing access to my children, and having to give half of my wealth and pay alimony, should the marriage fail. I am considering the possibility of marriage with nikkah only, meaning that there would be no marriage license issued by the government. My friend questions this, arguing that a nikkah-only marriage would not protect the rights of the wife, since the husband could potentially leave at any time, leaving her destitute if she is not employed. What is the solution to this problem? Is it permissible to be married by nikkah only, and not to register it as a civil marriage?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

When entering into a marriage one should be positive of continuing till the end. Nonetheless, you state you fear that by entering into a civil marriage it would infringe your rights. Some of your concerns are valid according to Shariah. 

Two issues were raised by you:

  1.  Property ownership/wealth
  2. Custody of children

With regards to the first, this could be solved through a prenuptial contract by you being the sole proprietor or it could also be achieved through Nikah as you state. As for the child custody, even though you may only do Nikah, your objective might not be attained as the court may rule in favour of your wife.

The issue raised by your friend that by doing Nikah, the wife’s rights will not be protected is due to his insufficient Islamic knowledge. Shariah has taken into consideration the rights of both husband and wife.  You should however keep in mind that by doing Nikah you will still not be absolved of things that are bound by Shariah, i.e. 

  • Child custody (in the event of divorce); the wife will have custody of the boy till the age of seven and the girl till the age of nine subject to certain conditions.
  • The wife will be entitled to allowance until the expiry of her iddah and in special circumstances. This also subject to certain conditions.


Our advice to you is to consult a lawyer to canvass the best option for you.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Safwaan Ibn Ml Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim 

Student Darul Iftaa
Limbe, Malawi

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

This answer was collected from, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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