Can a Muslim Get Married Over the Phone?

Picture of a modern phone

With the looming dangers of COVID-19 and the immediate need of social and physical distance, I wondered whether Muslims can conduct their wedding ceremonies online. So, I decided to conduct research and spoke to an Imam.

So, can a Muslim get married over the phone? It is permissible for a Muslim to get married over the phone provided that some conditions are met. For instance, if the bride is a virgin or dependent in her affairs, it is required that she gets approval from her father or grandfather.

According to the standard book on Muslim law by Mulla, marriage is defined as a contract that exists between two people which has for its object the legalizing and procreation of children. It is essential to the validity of marriage that there should be a proposal by or on behalf of the bride and groom, an acceptance of the proposal by or on behalf of the other, or in the presence and hearing of two male or two females and one male witnesses, who must be sane and adult Mohamedans.

The proposal as well as acceptance should both be expressed at a single meeting; the proposal should be made at one meeting as well as an acceptance made at a separate meeting will not involve a valid marriage. Neither conducting a religious ceremony nor writing is essential.

Islam has recognized that technological advancements have given a new meaning to human life. It has compelled most human beings to redefine leisure and work activities as well. This is true as two regions that were physically apart are made like a global village. In other words, technological advancement has transformed the civilization into an electronic one.

Such development advancement has affected how Muslims practice Islam. Interestingly nowadays the aqd of marriage has been conducted online through the internet via video conferencing.

The technology to be used should be able to display the images of the separate places and is interactive. This shows that both parties are able to fulfill all the conditions of the pillars of marriage and witness the ceremony together.

The essential parts of a Muslim marriage contract is the proposal and acceptance, without which is not valid. Kashshaaf al-Qinaa says that, both the proposal and acceptance should come in one sitting where the proposal is said by the guardian and the acceptance said by the husband.

If there is a lapse of time between the two, it’s still valid so long as they are done in one gathering even if the interval between the two is lengthy, and there is no distraction according to the local custom.

If they happen to part before the acceptance is spoken after issuing the proposal, then it becomes invalid. Moreover, for the marriage contract to be valid it is stipulated that two witnesses be present

Based on that, scholars had different opinions regarding the use of modern means such as the internet and telephone to validate the marriage contract. Some say it isn’t allowed while others regard it as permissible.

Islamic Fiqh Council Malma al-Fiqh al-Islami view says that it is not allowed because of the absence of the witnesses, even though the presence of the two witnesses on the phone at the same time comes under the same ruling as if they were in the same place.

Some of the scholars are of the view as stated by Fatwas issued the standing committee for issuing Fatwas, that it should not be allowed, as a precaution to protect marriage. Others, according to what was stated in Fatwas issued by Shaykh Ibn Baaz, regard it as permissible provided that there is no risk of distraction.

Therefore, it is clear that the issue of being in the same place is not a problem, because contact between both parties at the same time through the phone or internet comes under the same ruling as if they were in the same place.

With the technological advances nowadays, it is possible for the marriage contract to be witnessed, by hearing the utterances of the speaker via the internet or is also possible to view the Wali and hear his voice while making the proposal and to see the husband saying the acceptance.

So, the most appropriate view with regard to this issue is that it is allowed to do marriage contract over the phone or internet, if there is no danger of tampering the identity of the husband and wali is proven. Also when the two witnesses can hear the proposal and acceptance as stated in Fatwas issued by Shaykh Ibn Baaz.

Alternatively, the one who wants to be on the safe side, may do the marriage contract by appointing the proxies. So the husband or the guardian may appoint someone to do a marriage contract on his behalf in front of the witnesses. This is implied by Fatwa of the standing committee, which disallowed such marriage contracts as a precaution and for fear of deceit.

According to Hanafis, sight is not among the conditions of the witnesses in a marriage contract. The two witnesses could be blind without changing the legality of the contract provided they validate the voices  of the two signing individuals without any the two cases are alike, just like the witnesses over the phone  cannot see the contracting parties ,so are the blind witnesses.

Is an Online Nikah Valid?

There exists no restrictions where Nikah can take place provided that the conditions are met for the event to take place. With respect to the current COVID-19 situation, online options are now being considered with many Muslim couples having to postpone the receptions and wedding which will involve hundreds of guests together for the auspicious occasion.

Online Nikah

Nikah is a term that is utilized for the contractual element of any Muslim marriage ceremony. The ceremony is normally done in person in a mosque, homes or even wedding halls.

So, is online Nikah permissible? Being a new phenomenon, naturally there exist numerous differing views amongst Muslim Imams and Jurists. It is therefore, considered permissible for an online Nikah by numerous Muslim scholars who claim that provided that the prevailing conditions are satisfied for a valid Nikah, then there is no problem with conducting an online wedding ceremony via Skype, zoom or other available online platforms.

According to the popular Sunni schools of thought, a holy Nikah consists of verbal acceptances from the bridegroom and bride, in the presence of witnesses, with the consent from the bride’s wali and from a mahr agreed beforehand.

Renowned Jamhur scholars including Mufti Menk along with Shayk Noor Hasib have taken to social media to openly promote Muslim couples to have their Nikah ceremony be conducted online.

With the advancing technology, online Nikah ceremonies seem to be a practical and viable alternative for couples who otherwise may have to delay their Nikah for numerous months while waiting for an Imam to officiate their marriage celebrations on site.

It is however important to note that on the basis of simplicity, the formula of the marriage contract could be dictated in the correct Arabic. If the bride and groom cannot pronounce the formula in the correct Arabic, they are at will to pronounce it in any other language that they choose. But the words utilized in the translation must convey strictly the meaning of “Qabiltu” and “Zawwajtu”.

The groom and bride or the representatives that recite the Nikah should possess the intention of Insha- by reciting it in a creative sense and making it effective immediately. In other words, if the bride and groom themselves pronounce the formula, the intention of the bride should be making herself the wife to the groom and the man should effectively accept her as his wife.

If the representative of the bride and groom pronounce the Nikah, their intentions of reciting the ‘Zawwajtu’ and ‘Qablitu’ should be that the groom and the bride who have selected them as their representatives have immediately become husband and wife.

The individual who pronounces the wedding ceremony should be of his right mind and as a factor he should be baligh as well. If the nikah is pronounced by the guardians or representatives, they should identify the bride and groom by making intelligible signs towards them or uttering their names.

Thus if an individual has more than a single daughter, he says to the husband: Zawwajtuka Ihda Banati (I have given one of my daughters to you as your wife) and the groom should say: Qabiltu. It is important to note that the marriage contract is rendered void when the daughter has not been identified in such a case.

The bride and groom should show the willing to enter into a matrimonial alliance. If the bride ostensibly displays hesitation while giving her consent, but it is understood that in her heart she is agreeable to marriage, then the marriage is in order.

In America, most Muslims have embraced many internet matrimonial sites. In recent years online marriage, dating and romance has become increasingly popular in the United States. Many factors have contributed to this kind of transformation.

It has also shaped the behavior of most Muslims in many ways in which they shop, access information and do business. The internet has also played a key role in shaping our emotional interactions.

The traditional way of establishing a relationship are giving ways to new avenues for social interaction in most Muslim communities. The main factors that have contributed to such a transformation in Muslim lives include television and movies.

The tradition has impacted the American society as a whole. There are other factors that have impacted the Muslim community. Community institutions such as Islamic centers, mosques as well as Weekend Islamic School are normally segregated between genders.

Most online sites embodies the inspirations and aspirations while equally applicable to all religious traditions, in which Muslim women who in real life are not given a variety options as well as choice to make. The online platforms help Muslims liberate themselves from traditional values as well as accommodating their personal convictions.

By cooperating the characteristics and versatility of technology into Muslim marriage proceedings has attracted numerous users. Because it has the capability of incorporating Muslim culture as well as marriage aspirations of individual freedom and personal choices.

However, several controversies exist on whether online marriage or marriage over the phone is valid. The debate surrounding the marriage of the Pakistani cricketer Shoaib with Ayesha Siddiqui had many wondering whether the telephonic marriage was considered legitimate.

Some argue that taking vows over the phone is not valid since there is no proof as well as ample scope in case of conflict. However, this argument fails to take into consideration that such a union can be made valid with a proper vakalatnama that is duly attested by authorities, which can be obtained by the parties.

The nikah on the phone trend has caught on in many countries. Muslims living in many regions and are not in a position to attend a nikah ceremony for a given reason opt for online nikah or nikah via phone. As stipulated by the Islamic legal system, “Ittehad-e-Majlis” is a needed condition for a valid contract of marriage.

This means that the bride and groom as well as the witnesses should be located in one place. However, with the advent of phone communication, a teleconferencing call can be made for all the above to be present and witness everything as required by the Muslim traditions.

Some Islamic seminaries like the Jamia Nizamia had missed that phone marriages are not considered valid. The ruling was given in the year 1975 when Andhra Pradesh approached the Jamia seeking to approve such marriages.

It is essential to note that the above ruling was done at a time where telecommuting, video calling, and other effective modes of communication had not been established. Today, such a marriage ceremony is possible considering that one can make a group video call or schedule a meeting on zoom and witness or take part in the ceremony.

In the case that the government may require any form of identification or documents, the authorities insist on the production of birth certificates, stay permission and copy of the passport issued by a police commissioner which can be availed in copies through email. The most important provision in Islamic marriage is the offer from the husband and the acknowledgement by the appointed ‘vakil’ or the bride  as well as two witnesses to this contract.

It is however essential to make sure that the ‘Qubul and Ijab’ are pronounced in the ceremony and the witnesses should be able to listen to the words in case of a phone call.

There exists no special provision in respect of the online marriage that is mentioned in any enactment or act of Islamic Family Law. The Islamic law only states that no marriage shall be solemnized in the parish except the qaryah in which the bride resides under the permission of the judge or registrar. These are some of the considerations to take when having an online marriage.

The legal maxim gives Muslims the space to take advantage of all available technological advancements as long as it does not conflict with the laws that Allah has set forth. The above is the main characteristic of the Islamic sharia in the form of fixed fundamental aspects as well as flexible policies.

There should be properly explained procedures explaining the needs and the things that must be available prior to the solemnizing a marriage via phone or online. It is essential to make sure that the marriage will be conducted smoothly, and that there should be no ICT related glitches.

It is as well essential to make sure that the correct information is relayed to the concept of marriages to the public so as to not create any kind of confusion or awkwardness within the community. To conduct a successful online marriage requires that ICT be leveraged so that Muslims will benefit from the technology as long as it does not bring about conflict in Islam.

Such an online nikah presents numerous advantages including the fact that the bride and groom separate them. Therefore with the help of modern technology, they will be able to overcome the hardship. It as well speeds up the process of marriage therefore preventing the loss of a fiancé.

Given the ongoing situation both parties can be involved in elements of wrongdoing or any attempt where the fiancée could be loved by others. Therefore the aqd is carried as soon as possible. It as well ensures that the couple do not spend a lot during their wedding. The online wedding will completely scrub the expenses that are incurred by parties when organizing for a physical reception.

In conclusion, Islam is a merciful religion that has always encouraged Muslims to do good deeds and avert them from any kind of temptation and hardship in life. Therefore, Muslims couples are allowed to do things that bring maslahat for them.

In view of the rapid changing technological advancements, and the threats presented by COVID-19, online marriages is a viable alternative to Muslim communities in general. Through the embracing of ICT some human needs and goals can be met.

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