Do Witnesses to a Marriage Have to be Present at the Time of Proposal and Acceptance When Conducted Over the Phone?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


I read on this website that for a marriage contract (nikah) to be valid, all you need is a proposal of offer and acceptance from both parties in front of two witnesses. Do these witnesses have to be present at the time of proposal and acceptance.? Do they have to hear it from both parties or can they be informed via phone that the proposal was accepted?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

The general strict and ideal condition is that the offer, acceptance, and witnesses must all be in one place, whether the man and woman are both physically present making these pronouncements or they appoint agents to make the pronouncements on their behalf. However, in the case over the phone, it will only be permitted if both the boy and the girl have appointed agents (wakil) to conduct their marriage.

For example, if Ali wants to marry Fatima without both of them being present in one place, Fatima, who is in Canada, may permit a relative or friend living in the States over the phone to contract her marriage with Ali and pronounce an offer or acceptance on her behalf. If, for example, she selects her relative, Abu Bakr, to be her agent, then Abu Bakr, at the time of the marriage ceremony in the presence of the witnesses, will say, “I being the agent of Fatima, daughter of such and such person have given her in the marriage of Ali with X amount of dowry. At this point, Ali will say, “I have accepted Fatima in my marriage in the presence of these witnesses.” With this, the marriage will be considered as valid.

General Marriage

Marriage is concluded and contracted with the offer and acceptance in the presence of two witnesses, or one male and two female witnesses. It is also permitted that both parties have agents conducting their marriage; hence, both agents will pronounce the offer and acceptance on behalf of the man and woman.

[Ibn ʿAbidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

Marriage by Agency (Wakala)

“It is permitted for a man or woman to marry themselves off, or to make another their agent (wakil), whomever they wish, as long as they are free, sane, adults.”

[Qudri Pasha, Al-Akham al-Shar’iyya fi al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya]

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[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.

He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.

He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.