The most important domain of fiqh was and remains the law of contracts, specifically, the law governing marriage (halal and haram). In the customary domain, marriage has always been a society institution. Marriage entails financial obligations, but marriage itself is not a contract, since it is an absolute union of the man and the woman. Within the Islamic legal tradition, this absolute union is called nikah. Two women are said to be nikah (married) when they have a contract of nikah. The married couple is called mahram (from mahr, marriage). Different areas of the law regulate the conditions of nikah and the mahram status. The law of contract regulates nikah and its consequences for the parties involved.
Islamic law also regulates the conditions and consequences of nikah in a temporary or discontinued state. This has come to be known as al-nikah al-muwaqqat (or nikah al-istimta', or nikah al-tamattu') and has come to have the same meaning as the temporary form of marriage. In the law of contracts (as well as in the law of inheritance and other areas of law), the conditions for nikah al-muwaqqat are more severe than those of nikah al-istimta'. In the law of contract, the parties involved, and the witnesses, are called to the attention of the court and are informed that the contract is pending. In the case of nikah al-muwaqqat, the contract is not valid if the parties fail to appear before the court and their families or friends to witness the contract in the presence of the judge. In the case of nikah al-istimta' 827ec27edc