Reviving a tradition
The nikahnama (synonyms: marriage contract, aqd-nama, kabin-nama, and many other names in different languages) has been a traditional Islamic document that has been used for centuries at the time of nikah (marriage). Unlike other common Islamic legal documents, nikahnamas were often much more colorful and decorated: before the era of photographs, nikahnamas were often the only piece of memorabilia from a wedding. While not a required document for a nikah, they’ve been used in several Islamic societies from Iran to Kashmir.
The nikahnama text generally begins with the basmala and a qur’anic verse pertaining to marriage. It follows its the details about the couple along with the agreed upon mahr (or dowry.)
Nikahnamas would always be attested by at least two witnesses (as required by Islamic law) with their signature and seals. The contracts were usually a page long though the actual page could reach almost a meter in length!) If they were more than a page, the first page would generally be the most ornate. The designs would usually consist of flowers, diamonds, or other shapes and would be embellished with different colored inks and gold.
A Qajar nikahnama
This 19th century nikahnama is a classic Qajar style, with text in the center and signature boxes in the marginalia. Our Ziya design closely resembles this nikahnama.
The calligrapher's touch
All of our Arabic work and traditional illumination designs are in consultation with trained islamic calligraphers and illuminators.
We founded nikahnama in 2017 after seeing potential in the idea of making beautiful nikahnamas available again for customers. We hope that our products help more couples think deeply about their nikah contract and the values they want to base their marriage upon. Too many married couples were only able to review their nikahnama in the brief moments before signing it, making huge marital decisions in minutes, and we hope that that changes.
With nikahnama, we also hope to make the traditional Islamic arts more accessible, and to help support Islamic artists. Travelling through the Islamic arts we found too many artist who were unable to sustain their craft (a miniaturist resorting to graffiti! a Mughal fresco painter resorting to knitting!) We hope to do our own small part in sustaining our religion's beautiful centuries-old art forms.
The Christian Science Monitor
[It's] about more than making objects that couples can hang on their walls. It’s also about giving Muslim marriages a more solid foundation. [Link]
Religion News Service
If it takes attracting people with pretty calligraphy to make them realize the importance of the nikah contract, then so be it. [Link]