Q. There is a situation that I am in: I have found the person that I want to marry, all parties of parents have agreed. However, she lives in America and I live here in Trinidad. I cannot speak to her as it is plain in the Quran. My question is therefore can I marry her in America via technology while I am here in Trinidad, as she can only get the opportunity to come here in August? We will like to keep in touch online and we will have to make the vow to get married which have been accepted already, so please tell me if I can marry her where she is or not?
A. For a Nikah (marriage) to be valid in Islam, it is a necessary condition that at least two witnesses be present at the time of marriage. Both of these witnesses would be required to witness the offer and acceptance. This condition cannot be fulfilled via technology whether it is on the phone, emails etc.
If you wish to marry this girl, then the Nikah can take place through agency. In this case, you can authorize a friend/relative who lives in America to contract this marriage for you. This person will then be your appointed agent, and he will be able to pronounce the offer or acceptance on your behalf. If you select an agent, then while authorizing him to represent you in this marriage, you should say to him ‘I authorize you to contract my marriage with ‘girl’s name’, the daughter of ‘name of father of girl’ with the sum of ________ as Mahr (dower).
Having authorized your agent, he will then present himself (at the appointed time) in front of two witnesses and say to the girl, ‘Being a duly authorized agent of __________ (boy’s name), I marry _________ (boy’s name) son of _____________ to you on a sum of _____________ as dower. (Mahr)’.
Upon this, the girl would say, ‘I have accepted this marriage’.
The above is a case where the offer has occurred from the boy.
It is also permissible that the offer can come from the girl. In this case, the girl can say (in the presence of two male witnesses), ‘I have married ___________ (boy’s name) son of __________ on a sum of ______________ as dower’.
It is also permissible for the girl to authorize/depute someone to express her offer (this person can be an Imam/Alim or one who is authorized to contract Muslim marriages.
In this case, this person (that is, the one duly authorized by the girl) will express the offer (of marriage) of the girl in the following words, ‘I gave __________ (girl’s name) daughter of ___________ (name of father of girl) in marriage to ___________ (boy’s name), son of _____________ on the sum of as Mahr (dower)’.
In both cases, the authorized agent of the boy will respond by saying (in front of the two witnesses) ‘I have accepted this marriage on behalf of _____________ (boy’s name).
In the cases above, the Nikah contract between you (who lives in Trinidad) and the girl (who lives in America) will be a valid one and both of you will be husband and wife according to the Shariah.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan