Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
I got married last year. Unfortunately, for a short time, then I divorced her. Now I’m going to marry again, alhamdulillah, but I want to know if my previous nikah was valid in the first place.
We live in different countries, and so does her wali. He was on a video call, as I was, and in the physical place of my bride, there was an imam, who conducted the nikah, along with several female witnesses, more than two. The offer and acceptance took place, but I didn’t appoint a proxy; again, her wali was also in another country.
She follows the Hanafi madhab, and I’m a Shafi’i. Were my nikah and the divorce later on valid?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him. Amin.
A nikah conducted via telecommunications, like video calls, is invalid because they do not adequately fulfill the integrals of nikah. Physical presence, valid witnessing, and the minimum requirement for witnesses appear not to have been fulfilled (two upright males), and Allah knows best.
Marriage Contract Integrals
Marriage has five integrals in the Shafi’i School:
- the spoken form – offer and acceptance;
- two upright male witnesses;
- the bride’s guardian (or his proxy);
- the groom (or his proxy);
- and the bride. [Nawawi, Majmu’]
Compromising the Integrals
Witnessing a video call would be compromised because it is possible to manipulate it (through artificial intelligence, deep fakes, and the like). The bride’s wali (or his proxy) and the groom (or his proxy) must be physically present to validate the spoken offer and acceptance (the marriage contract), and Allah knows best.
There is a legitimate way of conducting a nikah between a couple not located in the same space at the time of nikah, which is via proxy, and Allah knows best.
The bride’s guardian may commission another (wakil) to marry his charge to someone. However, it is not permissible to commission someone without the requisite conditions to be a guardian. The groom, too, may commission someone to accept the marriage agreement on his behalf, provided the person authorized would be legally entitled to accept such a marriage for himself. (A child, for example, may not accept a marriage for himself, let alone someone else, nor may a woman be commissioned for this, nor someone in a state of pilgrim sanctity (ihram). [Nawawi, Majmu’]
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.