Marriage in Secret: is it Valid in Islam?
By Ahmad Kutty, from IslamOnline.net, Reprinted from their "Ask the Scholar" Section
Name of Mufti: Ahmad Kutty
Topic: Islamic Ruling on Secret Marriage
Name of Questioner: Sister M.S. from United Kingdom
Question: As-Salamu `alaykum. A Muslim brother and I wanted to get married in the future and we used to talk. However, we didn't have the resources to marry at that time, but didn't want to do what was prohibited in Islam and considered dating. So we decided to have nikah just for ourselves and for Allah, and it made us feel better. However, we haven't told anyone, as it was just for ourselves as we cannot live together yet, and it was basically for us. What is your view on that?
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
First of all, it should be clear that marriage in Islam is a solemn contract for which the Shari`ah lays down rules and arrangements to guarantee its stability.
To be valid, a marriage has to meet certain requirements such as ishhar (announcement), the payment of the mahr (dower), the consent of both parties, the permission of the wali (woman's guardian), and the presence of witnesses.
Responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
It is not clear from your question what you mean by "making a nikah just for both of you" and not for others. In Islam, nikah or marriage must conform to certain minimum standards and requirements to be valid and acceptable; without these, it is considered neither valid nor acceptable, for it is then hardly distinguishable from fornication or illicit relations.
The minimum conditions for the validity of nikah are the following:
- The consent of the guardian of the woman
- presence of witnesses
- offering and acceptance
- and mahr (dower).
Once the above conditions have been fulfilled, the marriage will be deemed as valid; but if these conditions are not fulfilled, then it will be considered as being null and void.
As far as the consent of guardian is concerned, it can only be dispensed with if the guardian is simply refusing to give consent for considerations other than Islamic, in which case the judge can authorize the marriage after having followed the due process. If, on the other hand, such is not the case and no attempt was made to ascertain the consent of the guardian, then such a marriage would be considered invalid and, therefore, unacceptable in Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "There is no (valid) marriage without a guardian and two reliable witnesses."
By stipulating the above-mentioned conditions for the validity of marriage, Islam insists that a marriage should remain distinct from other loose and immoral lifestyles such as fornication and illicit affairs. Hence, the Prophet insisted on making marriages public.
Based on what has been stated above, the concept of a marriage "just for both of you or for Allah" is not tolerated in Islam.
Society has a share in marriage in the sense that people should know that both of you are married so that they do not suspect you of maintaining an illicit relationship. According to the teachings of Islam, we are under obligation to do whatever we can to safeguard our religion, honor, and dignity; and as such we should stay away not only from that which is considered as strictly haram or forbidden but also from all that is doubtful and dubious. The Prophet (peace and blessings be him) said, "Whosoever shuns what is doubtful he has protected his religion and honor; but whosoever commits what is doubtful, he may inadvertently fall into haram!"
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Excerpted, with slight modifications, from:www.muslims.ca