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Question: I would like to get married shortly, but I'm not sure how I should go about doing this. What do I need to do to prepare myself? I'm a Muslim but I haven't always been practicing as much as i should. I really want to change this and that's why I’m asking. Your assistance is appreciated.
Answer:

I wish you a blissful married life. I also commend you for your desire to do it the right way from the beginning. Islam teaches us that when we cherish good intentions and put forth our best efforts, Allah will facilitate things for us. Allah says in the Qur’an: “As for those who shall strive for Our sake, We shall surely guide them unto Our ways.” (Qur’an: 29: 69)

Once you have chosen a marriage partner, the first step is to educate yourself about marriage; if there are courses offered in your area on marriage you should attend them; you should also read books that are beneficial. Mind you it may be rather easy to get married, but it takes patience and sound attitude to make marriage work. Therefore, you can never exaggerate the importance of preparing yourself mentally and spiritually to lead a fruitful married life. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “This world is a brief sojourn; and the best asset for it is the companionship of a righteous woman.”

Let me list below some of the other steps you are best advised to take:

1. You may do well to form a clear idea of the issues or questions that may arise in your relationship. I suggest that both of you read the following article carefully: http://www.islamicity.com/Articles/Articles.asp?ref=JA0802-3524

2. You should have a free and frank discussion with your spouse about mahr (bridal gift); and any other issues that you think may have special relevance in your specific case;

3. Get each other a good Islamic marriage guide such as the following:
- Marriage in Islam by Muhammad Abdul-Rauf, Published by al-Saadawi Publications
- The Muslim marriage guide by Ruqayya Waris Maqsood, Published by Amana.

4. Once you are ready to solemnize the marriage, you should get the marriage license; for it is crucial that you legalize your marriage. Once you have acquired the marriage license or prior to it, you should book an appointment with an Imam who has the license to solemnize marriages in the province you are a resident of. It is best he solemnizes the marriage; he can sign the license as well as issue you a valid Islamic marriage certificate. For marriage to be considered valid in Islam, the following are the requirements: Consent of the guardian (in case of a girl), presence of two reliable witnesses, formal declaration of the contract (through offer and acceptance); it is also important, as mentioned earlier, to agree on a bridal gift (mahr). Once the above requirements have been fulfilled at the time of solemnization, it is considered as valid.

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