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The only information I know about the contract (katb al-kitab) is that the prophet(SAWS) practiced it with Aisha (RA) and it differs from a real marriage in the sense that consummation takes place later, meetings between the couple can be allowed without intercourse according to conditions set during the contract, Kissing is allowed.[some fatwas on this site] I am interested to know more about this contract(katb al-kitab) and have the following questions:

  1. Which schools of thought allow/disallow it?(from the 4 major ones)
  2. Is there a time limit from the point of contract start till the consummation?
  3. For the consummation, does the couple have to stipulate a timeframe (for example: I will consummate after 2 years)? or does the couple have to stipulate a condition (for example: I will consummate once I get a job and can take care of her) or either is allowed?
  4. Do all the intimate acts that will be carried before the consummation need to be specified during the time of contract? (example of such acts are: "the couple is allowed to kiss only and hold hands and nothing else" or "the couple is allowed to perform any physical intimacy just without intercourse")
  • First what do you mean by marriage contract (how do you imagine it being carried out in Islam)? I'd wonder if this is carried out that complicated as you describe and ask. There's a lot of leeway in this matter. AFAIK only your 5th question has clear rules. – Medi1Saif Jun 7 at 5:59
  • @Medi1Saif I imagine it carries out like a regular nikah in which there are the 2 witness(i think), the wali, the male and there can be a mediator (such as a religious imam) helping them out during the contract... – aadil095 Jun 7 at 22:41
  • That is too vague as an information related to the question you've asked. Basically in some cases the to be husband and father of the bride meet discuss and the to be wife (bride) is asked whether she agrees to the marriage once all of this can be witnessed marriage is legal. A contract is not necessary nor must it be written. – Medi1Saif Jun 11 at 12:27
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Your First Question:

Which schools of thought allow/disallow it?(from the 4 major ones)

The four schools: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali, allow Katb-Al-Kitab (marriage contract) as a must rather than an optional choice. Allah Almighty described it as a solemn covenant in Surah Al-Nisa (4) — Verse 20 and 21:

In Arabic (the exact wording):

(20) وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَّكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارًا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا

(وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَىٰ بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا (21

In English (in what it means):

Verse 20:

But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?

Verse 21:

And how could you take it while you have gone in unto each other and they have taken from you a solemn covenant?

But there are some minor differences between the schools about the marriage contract conditions and main parts of its validity.


Your Second Question:

Is there a time limit from the point of contract start till the consummation?

There isn't (as far as I know, and according to my research) a fixed maximum limit for its period. However, in the Middle East (which is an Islamic community) the minimum limit would be more or less than a month, and the maximum limit would be more or less than a year. Most people prefer to set it to six months as to not be too short or too long but in moderate. And so to give the couples enough time to get to know each other with avoiding intimacy acts that even if they are permitted in Islam, they are not totally approved among people.


Your Third Question:

For the consummation, does the couple have to stipulate a timeframe (for example: I will consummate after 2 years)? or does the couple have to stipulate a condition (for example: I will consummate once I get a job and can take care of her) or either is allowed?

Yes, this kind of conditions is allowed and common in Islamic communities, but even if both sides (the husband's family and the wife's family) agreed for the marriage to announced publicity after the groom is fully ready for example, a maximum time limit would be demanded so to preserve the virtue and honor of the wife.


Your Fourth Question:

Do all the intimate acts that will be carried before the consummation need to be specified during the time of contract? (example of such acts are: "the couple is allowed to kiss only and hold hands and nothing else" or "the couple is allowed to perform any physical intimacy just without intercourse")

Actually no. Although those acts are permitted in Islam, there is no one is allowed to make them unpermitted especially during the contract procedure. The Sheikh, who would be in charge of doing the authentication of the marriage, will (and should) refuse to write any condition from any side that would contradict an Islamic condition/rule.


References (they are all written in Arabic):

  • The four schools view about this matter. Here

  • The opinions of an Islamic community about the duration of the marriage contract. Here

  • Some issues that may arise in marriage contracts period. Here

  • I'm unclear about what you are answering in your answer part about the first question. – Medi1Saif Jun 11 at 12:33
  • I wanted to state the differences about this topic among the four schools but ended mentioning that point casually since the question Which schools of thought allow/disallow it?(from the 4 major ones) would be analyzed based on grammar rules to be about mentioning the schools that allow it (it refers to the main topic which is Katb Al-Kitab), and the ones that disallow it. – Tasneem ZH Jun 11 at 22:19

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