Conditions of the Walee (Guardian)
From www.islam-qa.com by Sheikh al-Munnajjid
QUESTION: What exactly
constitutes a guardian, as is needed in the nikkah ceremony?
I am a female Muslim, and I want to know if my older brother
is acceptable for this role.
Praise be to Allaah.
There are three pillars or conditions for the marriage contract
- Both parties should be free of any obstacles that might prevent
the marriage from being valid, such as their being mahrams
of one another (i.e., close relatives who are permanently forbidden
to marry), whether this relationship is through blood ties or
through breastfeeding (radaa) etc., or where the
man is a kaafir (non-Muslim) and the woman is a Muslim, and so
- There should be an offer or proposal (eejaab) from
the walee or the person who is acting in his place, who should
say to the groom I marry so-and-so to you or similar
- There should be an expression of acceptance (qabool)
on the part of the groom or whoever is acting in his place, who
should say, I accept, or similar words.
The conditions of a proper nikaah (marriage contract) are
- Both the bride and groom should be clearly identified, whether
by stating their names or describing them, etc.
- Both the bride and groom should be pleased with one another,
because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said: No previously-married woman
(widow or divorcee) may be married until she has been asked about
her wishes (i.e., she should state clearly her wishes), and no
virgin should be married until her permission has been asked
(i.e., until she has agreed either in words or by remaining silent).
They asked, O Messenger of Allaah, how is her permission
given (because she will feel very shy)? He said: By her silence. (Reported
by al-Bukhaari, 4741)
- The one who does the contract on the womans behalf
should be her walee, as Allaah addressed the walees with regard
to marriage (interpretation of the meaning): And
marry those among you who are single
24:32] and because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) said: Any woman who
marries without the permission of her walee, her marriage is
invalid, her marriage is invalid, her marriage is invalid.
(Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 1021 and others; it is a saheeh hadeeth)
- The marriage contract must be witnessed, as the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: There
is no marriage contract except with a walee and two witnesses.
(Reported by al-Tabaraani; see also Saheeh al-Jaami, 7558)
It is also important that the marriage be announced, as the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: Announce marriages. (Reported
by Imaam Ahmad; classed as hasan in Saheeh al-Jaami, 1027)
The conditions of the walee are as follows:
- He should be of sound mind.
- He should be an adult.
- He should be free (not a slave).
- He should be of the same religion as the bride. A kaafir
cannot be the walee of a Muslim, male or female, and a Muslim
cannot be the walee of a kaafir, male or female, but a kaafir
can be the walee of a kaafir woman for marriage purposes, even
if they are of different religions. An apostate (one who has
left Islam) cannot be a walee for anybody.
- He should be of good character (adaalah
includes piety, attitude, conduct, etc.), as opposed to being
corrupt. This is a condition laid down by some scholars, although
some of them regard the outward appearance of good character
as being sufficient, and some say that it is enough if he is
judged as being able to pay proper attention to the interests
of the woman for whom he is acting as walee in the matter of
- He should be male, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said: No woman
may conduct the marriage contract of another woman, and no woman
can conduct the marriage contract on behalf of her own self,
because the zaaniyah (fornicatress, adulteress) is the one who
arranges things on her own behalf. (Reported
by Ibn Maajah, 1782; see also Saheeh al-Jaami, 7298)
- He should be wise and mature (rushd), which means
being able to understand matters of compatibility and the interests
The fuqahaa put possible walees in a certain order,
and a walee who is more closely-related should not be ignored
unless there is no such person or the relatives do not meet the
specified conditions. A womans walee is her father, then
whoever her father may have appointed before his death, then
her paternal grandfather or great-grandfather, then her son,
then her grandfathers sons or grandsons, then her brother through
both parents (full brother), then her brother through her father,
then the sons of her brother through both parents, then the sons
of her brother through her father, then her uncle (her fathers
brother through both parents), then her fathers brother
through the father, then the sons of her fathers brother
though both parents, then the sons of her fathers brother
through the father, then whoever is more closely related, and
so on as is the case with inheritance. The Muslim leader
(or his deputy, such as a qaadi or judge) is the walee for any
woman who does not have a walee of her own.
And Allaah knows best.