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The Quran => Q&As with Joseph Islam - Information Only => : Reader Questions October 29, 2013, 12:32:24 PM

: Dowry as a pre-requisite to Marriage and Coitus To Complete the Contract
: Reader Questions October 29, 2013, 12:32:24 PM
As salamu 'alikum wr wb, Dear respected brother thank you for sharing your entries on marriage.   Do you believe that mahr (dowry) is important to give to the woman to establish the contract?  Also do you have any idea about the technical meaning of the word nikah?  I have ran across sources that would tend to make it seem that it actually refers to sexual intercourse itself.

Your thoughts and feed back are always most welcomed.
: Re: Dowry as a pre-requisite to Marriage and Coitus To Complete the Contract
: Joseph Islam October 29, 2013, 12:35:46 PM
Wa alaikum assalam

In my humble view from a Quranic perspective, a bridal due (ujur) would be a pre-requisite to establish the contract of marriage (4:24; 60:10).

With regards your second question, indeed, the classical sources carry very interesting, wide ranging discussions on whether the term 'nikaah' inherently / primarily signifies coitus. [1]

I personally feel that 'coitus' is somewhat implicit to complete 'nikaah' which seems to be supported by a couple of verses at least.

If we note, 2:235 where the Quran says 'wala ta'zimu uq'data l-nikah hatta ...' which I would loosely translate as 'And do not resolve on the tie / knot of marriage until ...', there is more than a suggestion that coitus would complete the marriage bond (nikaah). This is also then supported by the reduced responsibility of half the return of the dower (2:237) and no 'waiting period' (iddat) if the marriage was not consummated (33:49) and a divorce was pursued. 

So 'coitus' seems to be an inherent part of the process of Nikaah. Therefore, I would posit the argument that albeit 'nikaah' does not mean coitus exclusively, it is a process which carries elements such as intention, a contract, and the intention to consummate which is a requirement to complete the bond. Hence, the interesting classical discussions on the matter.

I hope that helps, God willing
Joseph.


REFERENCES

[1] Edward Lanes captures some of these ancient discourses on the matter which are worth perusing with counter perspectives.
http://www.studyquran.org/LaneLexicon/Volume8/00000102.pdf