Difference Between Shia and Sunni Marriage (With Table)

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Marriage (widely referred to as wedding, wedlock, matrimonial relationship) is a culturally, socially and legally accepted amalgamation of two individuals into a pious relation which they promise to keep for as long as they are alive. Every religion has different rules in their marriages. Islam is one of the most widely followed religions across the world and the followers of Islam are alluded as Muslims. Islam is divided primarily in two sects Shia and Sunni.

Shia Marriage vs Sunni Marriage

The main difference between Shia and Sunni marriage is that there is a bath ceremony in the Shia Muslim wedding ceremony, whereas it does not happen in the Sunni Muslim Wedding ceremony. The Shia wedding ceremony lasts longer than the Sunni wedding ceremony due to a lot of rituals Shia Muslims follow. Shias follow a lot of rituals, whereas Sunnis have are into rituals much.

Around 15% of the muslims belong to this group. They consider Ali, son in law of Prophet Muhammad to be his successor and the Protector of Islam. After Prophet died people who have blood relation with Prophet are considered to be superior in wisdom.

Around 85% of the Muslims are Sunnis or follower of the caliph. They consider these caliphs to be the torch bearer of Islam after Prophet as the caliphs are elected by the people on the basis of their knowledge and wisdom.

Comparison Table Between Shia Marriage and Sunni Marriage

Parameters of ComparisonShia MarriageSunni Marriage
Rituals No such implications Two witness compulsories for making a marriage legal.
CeremonyBride and groom need to indulge in a bathing ceremony prior to the marriage day. No bathing ceremony prior to the marriage.
Marriage Type Irregular marriages are considered to be void. Irregular marriages are considered valid if the irregularities are wiped
Quran Iterate six verses from Quran is mandatory. Don’t have to iterate six verses from Quran.
Temporary MarriageTemporary marriages are valid and prevalent. Temporary marriages are illegal and unacceptable.

What is a Shia Marriage?

A Shia wedding is a beautiful occasion to be invited or be a part of. It has a lot of rich in Muslim culture and is one of the most unique marriages regarding rituals and wedding ceremonies. It is not a dingy/dark occasion but an occasion filled with happiness, laughter, and enthusiasm. Friends and family convene to celebrate this occasion and celebrate the day with the couple.

In a Shia wedding, presence of witnesses is not necessary during the wedding ceremony, but in case there’s a divorce, the couple needs witnesses present during the proceeding called ‘talak’. In the Shia marriage which is known as Nikah, it is compulsory to have six verses to be delivered in the public or among family members, due to this the Shia marriage in longer in time. Another unique ceremony that is a part of these weddings is the bath ceremony is also a unique event that is a part of these Shia weddings. It happens before the day of the wedding or Nikah.

The bride and groom-to-be participate in this event to mark their imminent nuptials. There’s Muta marriage in the Shia Muslims. In this concept Shia men marry women while they travel to different places for a specific time period with the mutual consent of both the individuals, at the end of the marriage the women get her mahr (dower in English). The children born out of these types of marriages can inherit properties of both the parents.

There’s a special tradition in Shia weddings. There’s a temporary marriage consensus. According to this consensus/arrangement, a couple can get married and stay in the partnership for a duration agreed prior marriage. After the completion of this period, the couple can separate ways unless they are content with their partner and want to continue the marriage. There are no divorce proceedings under this consensus.

What is a Sunni Marriage?

Sunnis mark other major life moments by traditions based on the behaviour of Muhammad and his community. Sunni marriage is considered to be a legal consensus between two parties or families of the bride and groom with its attendant pledged function.

It takes place in a mosque, in a banquet, or in someone’s house. There is no particular ceremony attached to the existence of a Sunni. Sunnis require two sane and elderly people as witnesses to affirm their marriage as legal and religiously accepted.

Sunni wedlock does not require the 6 verses to be read from the Quran. There’s no bath ceremony in the wedlock ceremony of the Sunni Muslims. Sunnis accept three types of marriages valid, void and irregular. Valid (Sahih) marriage: This marriage is done by fulfilling all the requisite and legal requirements.

Void (Batil) marriage: A marriage which is not legal on grounds such as religious, legal or remarrying even after having a wife or marrying for the fifth time or marrying someone who is in direct blood relation. Irregular (Fasid) marriage: Sunnis have irregular marriages which can be made valid if the irregularities are wiped off. But for Shias irregular marriages are void.

Main Differences Between Shia Marriage and Sunni Marriage

  1. Shias have no such implications of witness, whereas Sunnis require two sane and elderly people as witnesses to affirm their marriage as legal and religiously accepted,
  2. In a Shia wedlock six verses from the Quran (holy book of Muslims) should be iterated but there is no such norm for a Sunni wedlock.
  3. There is a bath ceremony in a Shia wedding prior to the day of marriage but there is no such ceremony in a Sunni marriage.
  4. Shias have Muta marriage type, whereas Sunnis have Sahih, Batil and Fasid type of marriages.
  5. Shias follow a lot of rituals, whereas Sunnis have are into rituals much.


Both these sects are divided on the basis of descendants to be more specific who will be their path to almighty after Prophet. This is the reason why they have differences in religious thinking, social norms, in the way they offer their prayer, construction of their religious places and it is not surprising that they have different rituals for marriage.

The temporary marriage concept is however accepted in former marriage and not in the latter marriage. In spite of the differences, all of them believe in one almighty that is Allah and the supremacy of Allah, and all their religious teachings have a common source which is their holy text Quran.


  1. https://www.gulfinstitute.org/wp-content/pdfs/shialifeinsaudiarabia.pdf
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03014460310001652211
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