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Is it permissible to solemnise a marriage over the phone?

Question:

I intend to marry someone from Morocco. Is it possible to do nikah or zawaj, over the phone, as I want to make it early.

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

If you live in Canada and the woman you wish to marry is in Morocco, and you marry her over the phone then the nikāh will not take place, although you made the ijāb (proposal) and the woman responded with the qabūl (acceptance) over the phone.[i]

The reason the nikāh is invalid is that the ijāb (proposal) and the qabūl (acceptance) must be witnessed by at least two physically present Muslim adult males or one Muslim adult male and two Muslim adult female. This does not take place in a nikāh over the phone.

The offer, acceptance and the physical presence of the witnesses must all take place in the same session and at the same place.[ii] The Fuqahā (jurists) state that if one wants to get married to someone who is not present physically, he will have to assign a representative. The boy or his representative and the girl or her representative, all have to be physically present in the identical geographical location.

If you want to marry the woman from Canada whilst she is in Morocco, you will have to perfrom nikāh by proxy. Nikah by proxy can take place in the following methods:

1) Appointing a representative over the phone.

2) Appointing a representative by a letter, email or text message.

Arranging a nikah by proxy via a telephone:

An example of you arranging a nikāh by proxy is that you delegate a person as your representative to get you married to the woman in Morocco. You should have two people witnessing the act of delegating the representative to get you married to the woman in Morocco. In the presence of two adult Muslim male witnesses or one adult Muslim male and two adult Muslim females, your representative will then propose to the woman or her representative in Morocco on your behalf and in order to solemnise the marriage, she or her representative will accept the proposal. This will be the correct method to perform a marriage by proxy via a telephone.

Reason why the above is valid:

The offer and acceptance are taking place in one geographical location.
A proxy is being used to facilitate an overseas marriage.
The witnesses are witnessing your proposal and the woman’s acceptance consecutively in one gathering and in an identical geographical location.

Arranging a nikah by letter:

You send a letter to Morocco to a specific person appointing him to act on your behalf. You have two people witnessing the act of delegating the specific person who will propose to the woman on your behalf. The representative will propose n the presence of two adult Muslim male witnesses or one adult Muslim male and two adult Muslim females and the woman will accept the proposal.

Reasons why the above is valid:

The offer and acceptance are taking place in one geographical location.
A proxy is being used to facilitate an overseas marriage.
The witnesses are witnessing your proposal and the woman’s acceptance consecutively in one gathering and in an identical geographical location.

An example of a letter wherein proxy takes place:

I…………., appoint ………………. as my representative to marry me to …………….. of Morocco, in the presence of two witnesses, namely ……………. and ……………..

All three will sign the document.

You cannot propose to the lady directly and receive an acceptance via a voicecall, skypecall or videocall.

Via a telephone/skype call/video call direct:

If you call the woman by means of a voice call or a video call and you propose and she accepts, the nikāh will be invalid. There maybe witnesses on both sides witnessing the acceptance and proposal. But it is still invalid.

Reasons why the above is invalid:

The offer and acceptance are not taking place in one geographical location.
The witnesses are not physically witnessing the offer and the corresponding acceptance in one geographical location.

Some people incorrectly believe that it is sufficient having the speaker phone aloud with witnesses on both sides listening. This is incorrect and clearly against the view of all the Fuqahā.[iii]

The agent representing any spouse can be anyone, including the father, grandfather, brother, uncle, sister of the girl.[iv]

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mufti Faraz al-Mahmudi

Darul Iftaa,

Dublin, Ireland

darulfiqh

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