A Pakistani American artist is working to revive the Islamic tradition of decorated nikahnamas, or stylized marriage contracts. Nushmia Khan opened a nikahnama store in 2019, and has created illuminated contracts for couples around the world.
But Khan’s project is about more than making beautiful objects couples can hang on their wall. Her designs aim to draw couples’ attention to the writing of the actual contract, a space where couples can negotiate everything from money to location to the women’s rights to education and work. Contractual stipulations are often discussed by Muslims as an important tool to protect women’s interest in marriage.
Khan has seen a lot of Muslim couples sign their contract thoughtlessly, missing an opportunity to address potential marital problems. She hopes her work will make Muslim couples think about their marriage more intentionally.