Everything you need to know about marriage in Jordan

8 May 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Jordan 01

Jordan is a country in the Middle East famous for its beautiful landscapes and seaside resorts. Over 50,000 marriages are performed every year by foreigners and Jordanian nationals. About 95% of the total population of the country are Arabs, and the remaining 5% is made up of other ethnic minorities. The predominant religion in Jordan is Islam. More than 97% of the population is Sunni Muslim, with the remainder being Christians and other non-religious people. In Jordan, civil marriages are not performed. This is quite distinct because Jordan is one of the few countries in the world where spouses are not allowed to conduct civil marriages. Most marriages concluded in the country are religious marriages, and these are the kinds of marriages that are recognized and protected under the laws of the country. 

Jordan is generally regarded as a Muslim state, and the principles under Sharia law are followed by spouses and couples in the country. Sharia law governs all personal matters concerning married couples and families in general. However, there is a civil code that allows different Jordanians to be entitled to the respective principles of their religion. Islamic principles are not imposed on Christians, and vice versa. In Jordan, the legal marriage age for spouses is 18 years, and marriage between spouses who are younger than this age is prohibited. Further, the law states that a spouse between the ages of 15 and 18 may be allowed to marry provided that they obtain parental or guardian consent. Continue reading to discover more about the marriage practices in the country as well as the laws, rights, and duties guiding them.

Religious Marriage 

The only type of marriage that is recognized and protected by the laws of the country is a religious marriage. The country is dominated by Muslims, and most people generally abide by Islamic laws. There is a small percentage of Christians (more than 100,000 people) that are residing in Jordan. Before a marriage can be legal in Jordan, it must be conducted according to Jordanian law. Civil marriages are not only not recognized in the country, but they are also not practiced at all. Every couple (foreigners and Jordanians) who plan to marry may only perform a religious ceremony, as it is the only type that is legally binding. The general rule of age applies to every spouse, and it must not be violated. 

Both spouses must be 18 years of age or older, and they must be fully eligible for marriage in the country. Under special circumstances, marriage is allowed up to the age of 15, but spouses below this age are not allowed to marry, irrespective of the provision of parental or guardian consent. The number of child marriages in the country has decreased over the years. In Jordan, a Muslim man is allowed to marry a non-Muslim woman, but the reverse is not the case. A Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man. 

If a Muslim woman plans to marry a non-Muslim man, he must have started processing his conversion to Islam before the marriage preparations commence. Muslim marriages in the country are conducted by a sheikh and performed according to the principles of Sharia law, while Christian marriages are officiated by a registered clergyman such as a pastor or priest, according to the Ecclesiastical Court. To obtain a marriage certificate in the country, there are some steps that must be followed, as well as documents that spouses are required to submit. These are stated below.

Marriage Certificate 

  • The spouses must submit a request to the department of civil status and passport office so as to obtain a marriage certificate.
  • The spouses must provide their names and the date of their marriage. This will ensure the process of searching for or retrieving their document from the marriage registry is easy.
  • A valid means of identification, such as the national ID card or a valid passport, may be requested from the spouses.
  • Depending on the religious body performing the marriage ceremony, spouses may be required to submit additional documents.
  • Payment of the required fees to obtain the marriage certificate.

Church marriages 

Most church marriages in Jordan take place in the Roman Catholic Church and are officiated by a priest. To get married in the church, both spouses need to be at least 18 years old, and they must have provided their free consent to marry in the country. Forced marriages cannot be celebrated in the church, and spouses must have had a good standing with the church prior to the marriage. 

There is no requirement that both partners must be members of the Catholic Church; however, they must both be baptized Christians before the marriage is allowed to take place. The church may request baptismal certificates along with holy communion and confirmation certificates. The church prohibits the marriage of two people who are closely related, which implies that siblings and parents related by blood or adoption are not allowed to legally get married in the church.

Muslim Marriages 

Marriages conducted according to Islamic principles are the most common types of marriages in the country. The Muslim marriage ceremony is referred to as the Nikah ceremony, and according to Islamic traditions, a marriage contract must be signed during the ceremony before the couple are pronounced husband and wife. The marriage contract includes the terms of marriage, such as the rights and responsibilities of both parties, and it must be agreed upon by the spouses before they sign the contract. 

According to the traditions of Islam, the bride and groom typically do not exchange vows, as they only recite a verse from the Quran. The imam or officiant then explains everything that is entailed in a marriage to the partners and encourages them to engage in the right marriage practices.

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Marriage traditions in Jordan

Henna Ceremony

It is customary for a henna night to be held on a Wednesday. Here, the bride hosts a party that is attended by the women of her husband’s family as well as her own family. Different beautiful designs are drawn on the palms and feet of the bride, and some other attendees may also adorn their palms and feet with similar designs. Traditional Jordanian dishes are served during this occasion.

Actual wedding ceremony

Jordanian wedding ceremonies can last anywhere from several days to a week. Throughout the course of this week, different preparations, parties, and ceremonial sites are performed. Marriage celebrations usually begin on Tuesdays and can last until the weekend or even the following week, depending on the preferences of the couple. The ceremonies are often packed with various events.

Wedding reception 

The wedding reception in Jordan is big on food and music. It is common for a group dance to be held by attendees of a Jordanian wedding ceremony, and other members of the wedding party may also have their own dance. Traditional slow or uptempo music may be played according to what the couple likes. Traditionally, a mansaf is served during the wedding ceremony. The meal contains rice and several meats, and it is customary for the guests to eat this food with their hands. Other dishes and drinks are served throughout the course of the ceremony.

Same-sex Marriage 

Marriage between two people of the same sex is illegal in Jordan. Same-sex unions, civil partnerships, and marriages are not recognized in the country, and people who engage in this type of marriage are not protected from any form of discrimination or abuse. However, homosexual conduct is not prohibited or criminalized in the country. The legal status of being homosexual has been in place since 1951, and there are no laws that abolish members of the LGBT community. Jordan is one of the few Muslim and Arab countries in the entire world where homosexuality is not criminalized. However, some churches in the country still do not allow people of the same sex to get married.

Polygamy in Jordan

Polygamous marriages are legal in Jordan. Muslim men are allowed to marry multiple wives, provided that they treat them equally and fairly. Polygamous marriages used to be very popular in ancient times, but they are not very common nowadays. A major reason for this is the expense incurred in catering for multiple wives and a very large family. However, the law does not allow women to marry multiple men.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

Couples who wish to enter into marriage in Jordan must understand the rules and policies guiding marriage. The laws of marriage are according to the stipulations of Sharia law. Marriage in Jordan is strictly between persons of the opposite sex; same-sex activity or marriage is illegal in the country. Homosexual activity is not banned, but an excessive display of homosexual relations in public is punishable under the law. Couples must be capable of entering into marriage; they must be in a stable state of mind before marriage can be contracted. If one of the couples is in an unsound state of mind, he or she would not be allowed to contract marriage. Consent must be obtained from both parties before entering marriage without the use of force or any form of threat or coercion. 

There is nothing like civil marriage in Jordan; all marriages must be done according to the religious laws of the country. Muslim marriages must be conducted by the current sheikh, and according to the Islamic laws of marriage founded in Sharia law, Christian marriages must be conducted according to the ecclesiastical laws of marriage and must be done by an authorized priest or minister. Polygamy is legal for Muslim men in Jordan; Muslim men are allowed to marry up to four wives, while women are not allowed to do so. The man must prove that he is financially and mentally capable of marrying more than one wife. Women are only allowed to contract marriage after receiving the consent of their legal guardian, also known as a "wali." Divorced or widowed women, however, have the right to sign the marriage contract on their own. 

Couples who wish to enter into marriage so as to gain citizenship of the country are not allowed to do so and are liable to face serious punishment. Foreigners who wish to marry in Jordan are required to prove their marital status, and they must be able to prove their eligibility to contract marriage. The minimum legal age for marriage in Jordan is 18 years for both males and females; minors around the ages of 15 and 16 years, respectively, may be allowed to marry under special circumstances provided they obtain a court's permission. Divorcees or widows do not have to obtain permission to get married. 

Cohabitation is not illegal; however, it's highly frowned upon in society. Couples are often asked to show identification that they are officially married to be able to do certain things. Child marriages are illegal, and such marriages are declared void. Persons who authorize such marriages are liable to face punishment; however, if the couple are expecting a child, the marriage may not be annulled. Customary marriages are not recognized, and offenders are liable to face punishment; however, the country gives such couples the permission to register their marriage after paying a fine of 1,000 JOD.

Rights

Because husband and wife do not have the same legal rights in marriage, a number of restrictions, such as those on personal freedom and the exercise of basic rights, are imposed on women's rights in marriage. At the time of marriage, the couple is allowed to add clauses to the marriage contract. The man is seen as the head of the household; therefore, he possesses the right to the legal guardianship of the children and has the right to exercise parental control. The wife has the right to receive maintenance from her husband, and in turn, the husband has the right to demand obedience from his wife through any means possible. 

The couple have the right to work, but the wife must obtain permission from her husband before she can work, and the husband has the right to withdraw his consent, thereby stopping the wife from working. The husband has the right to dissolve the marriage without any legitimate reason, which is known as talaq, by uttering "I divorce you" three times. The couple has the right to reproduce and decide on the number of children they wish to have. Both parties possess the right to own property; however, the woman is only entitled to her personal belongings and her dowry; every other possession and financial asset is under the control of the husband. 

The couple does not have equal inheritance rights, and women often face discrimination. Women also have the right to divorce, which is known as khul; once she remarries, she loses her right to custody of the children. The divorced woman has the right to receive alimony from her husband for at least 3 months. A wife who leaves home without the permission of her husband may lose her right to receive maintenance from him. The husband has the sole right to be involved in various political and socioeconomic activities outside the confines of the home. The wife has the right to receive her dowry directly from her husband.

Costs

The average cost of an average Jordanian is around $500 per month, while the average cost of marriage in Jordan starts at $14,000; some couples spend as much as $20,000. A lot of young couples have to delay their marriage because of the expensive cost of getting married. The total cost of getting married falls on the shoulders of the man in Jordan; he is responsible for everything from the dowry to the actual wedding ceremony. The couple's expectations for what they want on their wedding day determine how much money is spent on the actual ceremony.

For 100 guests, at least 20–100 Jordanian dinars would be spent per guest. Hotel wedding venues cost as little as 1500 dinars or as much as 8000 dinars. Couples are required to put proper planning and preparation into the wedding budget; some can decide to hire the services of wedding planners to ease the stress of planning a wedding. Everything on the wedding budget, from the couple's attire to the food and beverages served, must be adequately catered for.

Duties

The Jordanian husband and wife have a duty to perform for one another, and although the wife is seen as subordinate to the husband, there are roles in the home that the couple must perform to ensure the proper management of the household. The husband is obligated to honor and protect his wife at all times, while also ensuring that no harm or disrespect comes to her name. Couples are obligated to enjoy one another's company and resist the interference of external parties in their marital affairs. 

They both have an obligation to care for and provide for the educational, moral, and social needs of the children in the home. The wife is obligated to respect and obey her husband and his family members at all times; she must ensure that the house is in order at all times and make her husband happy. Men are obligated to help their wives when they are sick or pregnant. Women are also expected to protect the dignity of their husbands and the family. The family is seen as the building block of society; therefore, the couple has to fulfill all duties and responsibilities.

In Summary 

Jordan only recognizes and protects religious marriages. Unlike in other countries where civil marriages are generally legally binding, the reverse is the case in Jordan. Other than religious marriages, all other types of marriage are prohibited. The two major religions are Islam and Christianity, and all marriages must fall under the umbrella of either religion.

Some couples often conduct other marriage celebrations after the religious ceremony is concluded. This may involve a gathering of family, friends, and other guests where different ceremonial rites are performed. Some popular wedding venues include the Grand Hyatt Amman, Kempinski Hotel Amman, and the Jordan InterContinental. We hope this article has helped you understand all you need to know about marriage in Jordan.

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