Let’s understand the conceptual differences between a Hindu and Islamic marriage.

Nikah v/s Panigrahan :

  • What is the meaning of “Nikah”? Meaning of "Nikah" in Arabic is sex. People mistakenly think that “Nikah” means marriage, but that’s incorrect. During the so called marriage ceremony, a “Nikah-nama” (Contract) is signed by the bride and groom in presence of witnesses. The “literal” meaning of “Nikahnama” is “Sex-Contract”.
  • Marriage in Hinduism is called “PaniGrahan” where the bride and groom hold each other’s hands before the sacred fire (the fire god being the witness to the marriage) there by making a promise to Fire God that the bride and groom accept each other as their compatriots from then on.
  • If we analyze the difference between the two, there is no concept of marriage in Islam, where bride and groom make solemn vows to stay with one another. It just means they have signed a contract just like 2 businesspersons make deals. Just as every business deal have an exit clause, the Nikahnama may also have an exit clause and such other conditions that bride and groom may agree to. The ‘Quran’ specially refers to marriage as “Mithaqun Ghalithun” which means ‘a strong agreement’.

Contract V/S sacrament:

  • In case of Abdul Kadir v. Saliman and Anrs, Justice Mahmood observed that “marriage among mohammadans is not a sacrament but purely a civil contract”.
  • Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 says that a Hindu marriage may be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto.
  • In nutshell Islamic marriage is a contract but Hindu marriage is a sacrament i.e. a holy vow. “Panigrahan Samskara” is one of the most important Samskaras in the life of any Hindu. While taking 7 steps around the Holy fire, the bride and groom make promise to each other with the fire God being the witness that they will stay together for next 7 births. In this ceremony, the bride’s father gives the bride’s hands to the hands of the groom (which is called “Kanyadaan”) thereby the bride adopting the “gotra” or “lineage” of her husband.


  • Islam allows easy divorce and re-marriage. A man can unilaterally divorce his wife using one of the forms of “triple talaq”. A woman can divorce her husband through a mechanism called “Nikah-e-Fasq”.
  • Traditionally there is no concept of divorce in Hinduism. Since the bride and groom have promised to be compatriots for next 7 births, they are not supposed to separate. But Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 (considering practical scenarios) allows divorce. But the law puts tough conditions on divorce. On the ground, Indian judges (following Hindu principles) don’t grant divorce unless the marriage is damaged beyond repair. There is no unilateral divorce amongst Hindus.
  • Looking at this aspect, Hindus attach a lot of importance to marriage.

Other aspects:

  1. Since there is no proper concept of marriage in Islam, a new type of marriage called “Mutta marriage” has developed. “Mutta” means “enjoyment”. A “Mutta marriage” contract can even last for few hours. Due to this the institution of marriage is reduced to just having physical fun.
  2. A Hindu couple is supposed to do all ceremonies together. A widow or widower are prohibited in many religious ceremonies there by giving immense importance to the institution of marriage.
  3. In case a couple have separated and want to come back, the Muslim woman needs to marry, sleep with another man, take divorce from him and then can re-marry her husband (called Nikah Halala). Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 doesn’t put any such conditions. A Hindu couple if are separated or divorced can re-marry without any restrictions.
  4. There is no concept of sex slaves in Hinduism. But Islam/Holy Quran allows men to have female Sex slaves and have sex with “any woman his right hand possesses“.


  1. Hindus consider Marriage a scared institution (sexual relationship being a part of it), but Islam considers marriage an institution for sexual relationships only.
  2. Divorce (though allowed legally) is discouraged among Hindus. But divorce can occur very easily among Muslims.
  3. Hinduism attaches lot if importance to sexual loyalty between husband and wife where as Islam allows various ways a man can have “legal sexual” relationship with other women.
  4. Though Hindu scriptures allow polygamy and even ployandry, it has been banned by law and any Hindu man or woman having a living spouse remarries without obtaining divorce decree is punishable under section 494 and 495 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  5. In Hindu scriptures having multiple spouses is discouraged (unlike Islam). Lord Ram is called “Maryada Purusottam” (meaning ideal and best human being). He had an ideal and monogamous relationship with Maa Sita.


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