Marriage is, without doubt, one of the most delightful gifts that Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon humankind. If one were to thank the Creator only for this one gift, one would not be able to do so as the benefits and blessings connected to this holy act are incalculable. However, as with other blessings, marriage to has its prerequisites and conditions, clearly outlined by Al-Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which make it lawful and acceptable.
But what are these conditions?
The fundamental conditions of a valid marriage include the consent of both the man and the woman, the permission of the woman’s parent or guardian, the presence of at least two witnesses, and the payment of mahr or dower. From this one can infer that there is no room whatsoever for any secret or clandestine marriages in Islam. “Announce the marriage, make it in the masjid, and play the duff [to announce it].” (1089, Vol. 2, At-Tirmidhi)
Why Secret Marriage is Forbidden:
One may ask why it is mandatory to make a public announcement of the marriage when the two parties wish to keep it to themselves meeting all the other conditions. Well, following such a relationship secret violates Allah’s clear command and the practice of the Prophet (PBUH). Doesn’t it? Isn’t that enough to refrain from it? Moreover, it is particularly important that the people around you have no doubts that you are legally married so that they do not suspect you of merely dating or living together in sin.
Another disadvantage of a secret marriage is that it will eventually lead to the breakdown of family ties, which is something Islam strictly forbids. This is likely to happen when parents, who have no knowledge of the marriage of their son or daughter, come to know about it much later. Also, imagine the awful consequences of such a relationship if it leads to the birth of a child. Will the society be willing to accept the child as a legitimate son or daughter of the couple when it was unaware of the marriage in the first place? Will it be convenient to convince them? Will it not lead to the collapse of social peace and harmony?
Above all, marriage is a source of peace and joy for both the husband and the wife. Can a secret marriage guarantee it when the two parties are perpetually busy keeping it secret for fear of public criticism and disapproval?
Simply stated, a secret marriage has no place in Islam. For a marriage to be valid and lawful, it needs to be a public affair, the witnesses have to be there at the time of Nikah, the bride and the bridegroom both have to agree to it willingly, and the bride is to be given mahr by the bridegroom. These are the conditions ordained by Allah (SWT) and conveyed to us by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They are all open and transparent and straightforward and transparent. There is no secret about it!