Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
Will my marriage be valid with a Hanafi woman when the two witnesses are not “upright?” According to the Shafi’i School, Is it compulsory to recite the marriage contract in Arabic?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. First, I advise that you try to fulfill the conditions of both Schools of thought when followers of those Schools marry one another, which would circumvent validity issues.
According to the Shafi’i School, two upright witnesses are required for the validity of the marriage, but the definition of “uprightness” is broad. The marriage contract does not have to be in the Arabic language.
Validity of the Marriage Contract in Non-Arabic Languages
In the Shafi’i School, the Marriage Contract has five integrals:
(a) the spoken form.
(b) the witnesses.
(c) the bride’s guardian.
(d) the groom.
(e) and the bride.
[Misri, Umdat Al-Salik]
The Spoken Form
The first integral is the explicitly stated verbal form comprising a spoken offer by the guardian and its acceptance by the groom, like other non-marital transactions. Its necessary conditions are the same as those of a valid sale; the form is valid in languages other than Arabic even when one can speak Arabic. [ibid.]
The Conditions of Witnesses of the Marriage Contract
The second integral is that the marriage has witnesses. The marriage would not be valid unless two witnesses are present who are:
(a) male (since a marriage witnessed by a man and two women would not be valid, though it would be valid in the Hanafi school).
(b) sound of hearing
(c) sound of eyesight
(d) familiar with the language of the two contracting parties
(f) and upright witnesses, even if their uprightness is merely apparent (because marriages take place among all kinds of people regularly, and if they were made responsible for knowing the inward uprightness of witnesses, it would cause delays and difficulties. Apparent uprightness means the person is outwardly known to be upright, even if he is inwardly unknown). [Keller, Reliance of the Traveller]
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides and protects you.
[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.