Having to Wait for Nikah

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat gives advice on marriage and the consent of parents.


Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

I have met a practicing man I wish to marry. We have been trying to get his parents to agree for almost nine months now and, alhamduliLlah, by the grace of Allah Most High, they have finally started to come to terms with it and his mother has called my mom. Their only concern is that nothing should happen until we both graduate, which is what my parents want as well.

The issue is that he graduates in three years, and keeping ourselves free of sin is really tough. We were wondering if it was possible to sign a nikah without telling our parents, just to free ourselves from further haram as the desires we have are very great. We would not let anyone else know (aside from the ones performing the nikah) and we would let our parents take their time in getting to know one another while we finish school, while secretly married.

Please advise us on what to do. We were hoping to follow Hanafi fiqh in this regard due to the lack of wali needed in some cases.

Jazak Allah khayr.

I pray you are well.

Turn to Allah

It is a huge blessing from Allah that the parents from both sides have agreed to the marriage. You should thank Allah profusely for this blessing. Thanking Allah is a means to an increase, because He Himself swore an oath saying, “[I swear], if you show thanks I will certainly give you an increase.” (Sura Ibrahim 14:7) Thank Him for this blessing and all others and you will certainly see more of what you like coming your way.

You should also turn to Allah with dua, and ask Him to facilitate matters in the best way for you. Allah answers all prayers – but according to His schedule, not ours, and in the way He deems best, not what we plan (Ibn ʿAtaʾillah, al-Hikam).

The Sunna of Marriages

In Islam, the sunna is that once a suitable match has been found, the nikah should take place as soon as possible. All the necessary discussions should take place first, and then when both parties are happy to proceed the nikah should be conducted.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “O Ali, three [particular] things do not delay: the [obligatory] prayer when its [time] comes; the [funeral prayer over] the deceased when [the body comes]; and [the marriage of] a lady when you have found her a suitable match.” (Tirmidhi).

You should try yourselves, or ask someone of authority in the community to convey this point to the parents on both sides.  Perhaps they can be persuaded.

A nikah does not mean that you have to move in together. It finalizes the contract and shuts the door for the devil to play any games with anyone. The rest of the marriage plans can follow the schedule agreed upon by both sides.

Prolonged engagements go against this sunna.

No Secret Marriages

Secret marriages are not something which should even be considered. Marriage is more than the union of two individuals. Both families are bound to each other through it, which is a blessing from Allah.

Also, many parents would feel extremely hurt and betrayed if they found out that their child had secretly entered into a marriage – even if it was with someone they had already approved of. In many cultures parents see the marriage of their child as a responsibility, which makes this a serious matter. Do not go down this route.

In some cases, the agreement can be called off, and if the prospective couple have secretly married, they find themselves in a very difficult position: neither family approves of the marriage – yet they are married. Revealing the matter means risking family ties being severed, and keeping it a secret can only go on for so long.

I once came across a case where a couple performed a secret marriage whilst waiting for the wedding date the families had agreed on to come, and in the meantime the husband divorced his wife three times. Imagine explaining that one to the parents.

May Allah facilitate what is best for you. Amin.


Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

The witnesses of my marriage were not there. Is my marriage valid? (Shafi’i)

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam alaykum,

An imam was my wali (guardian) for my marriage.Though the imam brought two witnesses, they did not appear in front of us. They did not hear or see the marriage happening. Now I’m living together with my husband. Is my marriage valid?

Answer: Wa alaykum al-Salam

Shukran for your question.

The arkan or elements of a marriage contract – over and above the husband and wife – are as follows:

1. The formula

The formula consists of an offering and compliance. The Shafi’is are strict on the wording of both the offering of the Wali or his representative and the compliance of the Husband. The offering usually reads, “I marry off to you your fiancee, my daughter (or the daughter of so and so), for the mahr that you agreed upon”; and the compliance, “I accept her hand in marriage for myself, for the agreed upon mahr”.

2. The Wali

The Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam said, “There is no marriage without a Wali.” From this the Shafi’is understood that a marriage that takes place without a Wali is invalid. Your wali is your father, then your grandfather, then your brother, then your paternal uncle, then your paternal uncle’s son and so forth. If you have a living Wali, the Imam may not act as your wali. Should he do so, the marriage will be invalid.

Yes, in the absence of a living wali you may appoint an Imam or a religious person to act as your wali (tawliyah). Similarly, you may appoint a scholar to act as an ad hoc judge (tahkim) for the specific purpose of conducting your marriage. This however only applies in non-Islamic countries, due to the absence of authoritative Islamic courts.

3. Two witnesses

RasuluLlah sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam said, “There is no marriage without a wali and two witnesses of integrity.” Again the position of the Shafi’is and the vast majority of scholars is that a marriage performed without witnesses, is invalid. In addition, the witnesses have to be male; they should be present; they should hear and see the formula being pronounced. In the absence of these conditions, their testimony or being witnesses for a marriage is not correct, and the marriage would consequently be invalid.


If you have a living wali, then your marriage is invalid, since you married without his consent. If you do not have a wali, the marriage is still problematic as you did not officially appoint the Imam to act as your wali. In addition, it would seem that the witnesses may not have observed the marriage contract by listening and seeing the offering and compliance as explained above – you mentioned that they were outside your home when the marriage contract took place. This serves as an additional reason for the invalidity of your marriage.

Nonetheless, because of the uncertainty and obscurity (shubhah) of the situation, you and your “husband” are not considered sinful. If any children were conceived they are considered legitimate. What remains however, is that you will have to remarry as soon as possible, ensuring that all the elements mentioned above are fulfilled.

May Allah bless you in this union, Amin.

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Shaykh Abdurragmaan
received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Can You Separate the Nikah and Walima? [Video]

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Can you separate the nikah and walima?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

Photo: Unai Guerra

Why Married Couples Struggle and How to Respond Successfully

Why Married Couples Struggle and How to Respond Successfully. A Muslim Perspective from Ustadha Shireen Ahmed & Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The closest relationship a person will ever experience in their lifetime is with their spouse. In this SeekersHub seminar, we learn how to cultivate this union to the fullest, how to overcome common hurdles, and how to maintain a high degree of moral conduct and excellent character.

For more info and FREE registration for our upcoming seminars – wherever you are in the world, visit SeekersHub Toronto.

Cover photo by Azlan DuPree.

How To Manage Problems With In-Laws – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

How To Manage Problems With In-Laws. A Muslim Perspective from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The closest relationship a person will ever experience in their lifetime is with their spouse. In this SeekersGuidance seminar, we learn how to cultivate this union to the fullest, how to overcome common hurdles, and how to maintain a high degree of moral conduct and excellent character.

For more info and FREE registration for our upcoming seminars – wherever you are in the world, visit SeekersGuidance Toronto.

Cover photo by Azlan DuPree.

What Is The Purpose Of Marriage? A Muslim Perspective from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


What Is The Purpose Of Marriage? A Muslim Perspective from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The closest relationship a person will ever experience in their lifetime is with their spouse. In this SeekersHub seminar, we learn how to cultivate this union to the fullest, how to overcome common hurdles, and how to maintain a high degree of moral conduct and excellent character.

For more info and FREE registration for our upcoming seminars – wherever you are in the world, visit SeekersHub Toronto.

Cover photo by Azlan DuPree.

Successful Marriage: Keys from the Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah ﷺ, by Habib Hussein as-Saqqaf

This talk on marriage by Habib Hussein as-Saqqaf is probably one of the finest we have heard on the subject in a long, long time.

The closest relationship a person will ever experience in their lifetime is with their spouse. In this SeekersHub seminar, we learn how to cultivate this union to the fullest, how to overcome common hurdles, and how to maintain a high degree of moral conduct and excellent character.

For more info and FREE registration for our upcoming seminars – wherever you are in the world, visit SeekersHub Toronto.

Cover photo by Azlan DuPree.

What Are the Minimum Steps That Must Be Taken for a Marriage to Be Valid?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: 1. Does the person conducting the ceremony have to be an “imam”?

2. Is a guardian (wali) essential for the bride?

3. Are two male witnesses essential?

4. Must the dowry (mahr) be discussed?

5. Must both bride and groom be Muslim?

6. Is the nikah a civil contract or a religious one?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

1. No. There is no requirement for there to be an imam figure when it comes to the marriage ceremony. The basic elements of the nikah are: (a) the two parties (or their appointed representatives), (b) the witnesses, and (c) the actual offer and acceptance.

However, it is good to have a religious figure overseeing the process to ensure everything is conducted soundly.

2. According to the Hanafi school, a guardian is not necessary for the validity of the marriage contract. Yet, one may be engaging in sinful behavior if parental guardians are excluded for unjustifiable reasons. For more details see:

Can We Get Married Without Involving Our Parents?

Can I Marry Without My Parents’ Consent?

Obeying Parents in Matters of Marriage

3. Two male witnesses are a requirement or one male and two females.

4. The dowry should be discussed and agreed upon between the two spouses. However, if it is not, the marriage contract will be still valid, and, a specific dowry would still be due.

5. A Muslim man may marry a woman from the People of the Book. A Muslim women is only permitted to marry a Muslim man. Please see:

What is Islam’s Stance on Muslim Men and Women Marrying Non-Muslims?

6. A nikah is primarily a religious ceremony, meaning the involvement of civil authority is not a necessary component for a valid nikah. However, a state or civil authority may get involved in regulating certain aspects of marriage. In this case, even though a nikah would remain a religious ceremony, it would also take on aspects of a civil contract.

[sources: al-Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar; Ibn `Abidin, Hashiya]


Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Is There a Preferred Time for Getting Married?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: As salam alaykum,

I am planning on getting married this year and planning on getting the marriage contract (Nikah) done at the mosque. Is there any preferred time of the day for this?

Answer:Assalamu ‘Alaykum,

I pray that you are well. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.
Scholars mention that it is preferred to perform the Nikah during the month of Shawwāl, the month following Ramadan.

Within that month, it is preferred to perform it on Fridays, because they are for us the most blessed of days.

Within that day, scholars mention two different preferred times. Some mention that it is preferred to perform it early in the morning, because the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, ‘Lord, bless my community during the early part of the day’ [Iʿānat al-Tālibīn]. Others hold that its preferred time is the eve of Friday [what we would refer to as Thursday night]. This is because the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is reported to have said, ‘Take possession of your wives in the evening, as it is more blessed’ [al-Mughnī].

Other than this, it is permissible to perform it at any time of the day or night.

May Allah facilitate your affairs.

Shuaib Ally

Photo: MyLifeStory

Unregistered Marriages: A Muslim Concern

Nikah Wedding bride

On his deathbed, an imam in the United Kingdom had a confession to make: he had never registered the unions of hundreds of Muslim couples he married in his mosque. Despite promising these couples that he would do so, he forgot – a catastrophic mistake, as they and any children from their union would have no rights in UK law upon divorce or death. Taking his last breaths, the imam now begged for forgiveness.

As she shared this story, London-based solicitor Aina Khan offered statistics that have recently made headlines in the British press:

80% of Muslim couples under the age of 40 in the UK have not registered their marriages under civil law, while 80% of UK mosques are not registering the Islamic marriages conducted under their auspices.

The high rate of unregistered Muslim marriages, or ‘nikahs,’ has concerned traditional Muslim scholars, who worry that these numbers reflect a lack of Muslim integration into broader society and increasing injustice for women and children involved in such unions. Many are calling for Muslim couples to register their marriages under civil law.

“Because we live in a Western society where a traditional nikah can’t be enforced by the court and there is a lot of harm that results – particularly from the female side – people should be told to register,” said Ustadh Salman Younas, a SeekersHub teacher who has studied with many of today’s leading Islamic scholars.

The consequences of unregistered Muslim unions – in which couples sign an Islamic contract but fail to register their marriages with the government – can be extremely harmful. As the UK does not recognize an Islamic marriage contract as legally binding, if the marriage ends upon divorce or the death of a spouse, spouses owe each other nothing in terms of financial support, child care, or inheritance under British law. Removing one partner’s share of funds from a couple’s joint financial investment, such as a mortgage or family business, or from a shared bank account becomes extremely difficult.

The reasons for such high numbers of unregistered marriages are many. Although British headlines worried the numbers indicated a rise in religious extremism, Khan, who published the numbers after conducting research in the UK’s Muslim community, uncovered a different cause.

“Nine out of ten people do it out of sheer ignorance. They say, ‘oh, we’ll do it one day.’ What’s really important is the outfit, the venue, the color of the napkins,” said Khan, head of the Islamic department at Duncan Lewis. “[Others] want to avoid a divorce and a financial share of assets.”

The resistance to registering the marriage often comes from the groom and his family, according to Khan, who want to limit what he would owe the bride in a climate of high divorce rates. Some argue that divorce settlements under British law do not comply with their Islamic counterparts, taking away some of the rights men traditionally had under Islamic law.

Such a view, however, is antithetical to the Islamic spirit.

“Our religion calls for excellence,” said Ustadh Salman. “Are you going to say that because the husband isn’t going to have some of his rights, you’re going to take away virtually all of the wife’s rights?”

Unregistered marriages that end in divorce usually end up at one of Britain’s shari’a courts, which, while holding moral authority among Muslims, are not legally binding. Most of these courts go back to classical texts with traditional rulings that include giving the husband custody of children over the age of seven and leaving the wife no more than three months of financial support.

Few Muslim scholars in the West have dealt with how a post-divorce settlement would look like in a situation that includes new variables such as double income families and two-party contribution to mortgages. This is a problem, argued Ustadh Salman.

“Scholars should examine the family context,” said the ustadh, particularly when viewing the wife’s rights. “To say that all she’s allowed is three months upkeep and then off you go, there’s no link and the husband owes you nothing: that’s unfair in a contemporary context.”

One of the main pillars of Islamic law is justice. Scholars have long held that if older rulings do not establish justice in contemporary realities, then they must move beyond the letter of the text and look at the principles of the text to see how they apply to our current time, according to Ustadh Salman.

“There are many tools at the disposal of a mufti to change legal rules: custom, consideration of public interest, hardship, lesser of two evils, blocking the means to harm,” said Ustadh Salman. “All are well-documented in the tradition.”

In order to ensure the creation of rulings that establish justice based on the Prophetic model in contemporary society, Muslim scholars – and the community at large – must work with other professionals who have the necessary expertise in the fields being studied, such as marriage counselors or legal advisors, said Ustadh Salman.

Among the most common advice given by those experts is that prevention is the cure.

“Have a prenuptial agreement, write it down before the nikah: you’ll each keep your own earnings… Discuss these things,” said Khan, “and then forget about it and have a happy marriage.”

The Islamic contract itself can include clauses that give the wife, for example, the right to divorce if the marriage is not registered under civil law in a year’s time, said Ustadh Salman.

Divorce-ImageFor unregistered couples whose marriages may be failing, however, Khan advised to put the needs of their children before their own and register their marriages. They could then sign an agreement that they would not take from each other more than they are owed Islamically. If that does not work, then a claim against the husband can be made for housing and other types of support if there are children from the marriage. Other issues, such as joint business ventures, can be dealt with, but this is both expensive and risky.

Ultimately, the only way to effectively deal with these issues is for Muslim scholars and community leaders to spread the the message about the consequences of unregistered marriages in the Muslim community, said Khan.

“It cannot be women demanding their rights from the outside,” said Khan. “We need sponsors – mostly male in our community – to support us by spreading this message.”

Khan’s “Register Our Marriage” campaign is one avenue for spreading the word on unregistered marriages. The campaign aims, among other things, to partner with Muslim scholars to publicize a narrative via road shows and social media that says an Islamic marriage is a legal marriage that protects all in it. It also asks mosques to pledge to become authorized to register civil marriages.

As for changes within the Islamic legal system, Ustadh Salman said that they are taking place. Although some may be frustrated with the pace of change, the discourse is progressing, especially as word about the consequences of unregistered marriages spreads through the community.

“Social progress always precedes law,” said Ustadh Salman. “It’s going to take some time to get solutions on this issue, but we need to keep pushing.”

Written by Nour Merza


Resources for Seekers:

Who Gets Custody of the Children After a Divorce?
Can One Get Married With the Goal of Getting Citizenship?
Words of Divorce and Dealing With Abuse in the Maliki School
How to Solve the Problem With Prolonged Engagements
Is It Valid to Divorce Someone While Angry or During Menstruation?
The Fiqh of the Marriage Feast (Walima)
The Ruling on Divorcing While Angry and Pronouncing Three Divorces
Is My Marriage Valid? (Shafi’i School)
What are the Wisdoms behind the Rulings on Divorce in Islam?
Islamic Law for Seekers (Hanafi): Marriage & Divorce (Course)
Basic Rulings and Length of the Waiting Period (`idda)
When Love is Not Enough
Understanding Marriage – A conversation with Imam Zaid Shakir
Should I Stay Married Even Though I Hate My Husband?