The word nikah means to bring together and to absorb. Therefore,the mutually agreeing of both the parties to perform the nikah in islam. Which is expected to bring them together as partners for the rest of their lives. They must be clear on the conditions, compulsory duties and rights that apply to them in a marriage.
Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ said:
“The nikah is my Sunnah”, means that getting married and performing the nikah is not just a legal formality, but also an important example of the Prophet. This fact does not detract from the importance of the act of getting married, but it clarifies that a person who is not able to get married has not committed a sin.
From a technical perspective, when a man and women have their nikah done, islamically they are considered a husband and wife. It is permissible to delay the consumption of marriage (rukhsati) for a later and more convenient date with no specific time limit as long as they both mutually agree on it until the circumstances are right for them.
The very fact that the woman and the man are asked, at the time of nikah, if each one is willing to go through with it, means that without their permission the nikah is invalid.
The Quran asks the believers not to marry women forcefully.
“O you who believe! You are not permitted to inherit women by force” (4:19).
During this period between the nikah and the rukhsati, it is permissible for the couple to interact with each other in a manner that is permissible for a husband and wife including the actual consummation of marriage.
What is acceptable during the period between the nikah and rukhsati is subject to the general culture, the culture of both families and the actual agreement between the two contracting parties. Therefore, if the general culture entails the absolute self discipline during that period then this should be maintained and respected.
Uqbah ibn Amer narrated the Messenger of Allah said:
“The conditions which you have the most duty to fulfill are those by which you have made marital relations lawful.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
The nikah in islam should not be a secret affair and should preferably be performed in front of the guests as a formal announcement. This way the guest will also be witness to, and share in, the good deed that is performed. In Islam the presence of two witnesses is absolutely essential at nikah.