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.
In this fatwa:
1- If the female converts’ father is a non-Muslim, he cannot act as a guardian for her, for Muslims are not to take non-Muslims for patronage or make them their representatives, especially in a serious matter like marriage in which the guardian should be aware of the Islamic standards in choosing a proper marriage candidate.
2- If there is a Muslim with some authority in your area over the affairs of the Muslim community, then he can act as your guardian.
2- Also the imam who documents the marriage could be the replacement of what is needed in a wali or guardian.
Elaborating on this issue, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad `Ali Al-Hanooti, Former Member of the North American Fiqh Council, states:
Islam stipulates, in order to conclude a marriage contract, that a Muslim bride must have a guardian or wali, who is usually her father.
Since a woman is often subject to the desires of the ill-hearted and evil opportunists, Islam has prescribed certain legislations which would maintain her rights and deter those whom carry ill-aims and desires.
Therefore, Islam gave great importance to the approval of the woman’s guardian to ensure that a woman exercises her choice correctly.
The only recommendation for any female convert is to consult some reliable Muslim men in order to learn what is needed about the fiancée. The Imam who is documenting the marriage could be the replacement of what is needed in a wali or guardian.
In general, the Qur’an, when addressing a female’s marriage, refers to society. That means she is not supposed to make her decision for marriage unless that society or community would have no [valid] objection to her marriage. The Qur’an in addressing a male’s marriage speaks to him as the direct contractor. When he speaks to a female, the Quran makes her an indirect contractor.
In this context, Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, adds:
If there is a Muslim with some authority in your area over the affairs of the Muslim community, then he can act in this capacity, based on the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) hadith, “No marriage contract can be concluded without the presence of a wali. A Sultan (authority figure) may act as a wali for those without one.” (Ibn Majah and Imam Ahmad)
If there is no authoritative Muslim person, then one should refer to the community Muslim leader or any Muslim who is just, respected, and of high character, such as the director of the Islamic center or its imam, to conclude the marriage contract of this sister, with her consent.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.