The Necessity of a Standard Prenuptial Agreement for American Muslims


  • Ahsen Malik, MBA



Islam, marriage, divorce, prenuptial agreements, child custody, nikāḥ, ṭalāq, mediation, arbitration, khul‘a, gharar


For many Sunni Muslims in the U.S., one of the most important documents in their life might be a marriage contract that unintentionally contains an impermissible amount of gharar (uncertainty). There are seldom disputes when contracts go smoothly, even if gharar is present, but when there are disagreements, it is a cause of major strife. If two Muslims get married, they usually perform a nikāḥ (Islamic marriage contract/ceremony) and then sign a civil marriage contract in their state of residence. Although it would seem that the nikāḥ would imply certain terms for dissolution perhaps based on a classical school of Islamic law or contemporary ijtihād (juristic reasoning) adjusted for modern times and circumstances, the actual authority belongs to a non-Muslim judge and legal system. Does this legal system have a moral right over Muslim marriage contracts in this country, or is the use of such a court an un-Islamic infringement on the other party’s rights and therefore a violation of God’s law? This author recommends couples should explicitly discuss this issue prior to marriage and proposes a standardized prenuptial agreement to minimize unnecessary disputes.