Is It Valid to Marry without the Presence of a Wali (Guardian)?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

Is a marriage contract (nikah) valid if it takes place while the guardian (wali) of the girl approves of it and knows that it is happening, but he is not physically there?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, forgive us for our shortcomings, and alleviate our difficulties, Amin.

If the bride has a lawful Guardian (as per Sacred Law), he may commission another (wakala) to marry her on his behalf, and Allah knows best.

The Bride’s Guardian

One of the marriage contract’s integrals is the bride’s guardian (wali) since a woman may not marry herself off. In an authentic narration, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Let no woman marry a woman to another or marry herself to another.” [Ibn Maja; Daraqutni]

Conditions of a Valid Guardian

The marriage agreement is not valid without a guardian who is:

  • Male;
  • Legally responsible (mukallaf);
  • Muslim;
  • Upright; (though most of the later scholars opine that someone who lacks this condition person may be a guardian, and Allah knows best)
  • And of sound judgment. [Nawawi, Minhaj al-Talibin]

No Legal Guardian?

If the bride has no Muslim guardian and there is no Islamic magistrate to act in a guardian’s capacity, she may authorize a male Muslim who has the qualifications of an Islamic judge or if there is none, then a male Muslim who is legally upright – to act as her guardian in marrying her to the groom [Shirbini, Mughni al-Muhtaj]

Commissioning Another to Effect the Marriage Agreement (Wakala)

The guardian may commission another to marry his charge to someone, though it is not permissible to commission someone who himself lacks the requisite conditions to be a guardian. [ibid.]

The groom too may commission someone to accept the marriage agreement on his behalf, provided the person commissioned is someone who 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). [ibid.]

I pray this is of benefit.
[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 pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.