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Can Ineligible Father Act as My Wali (Marriage Guardian)?

04 December, 2019
Q As-salamu `alaykum. My father has not been in my life since I was 5 or 6 years old. He married another woman and left us with our mother to survive in a country where we barely had enough food to eat.

Although my mother is not married to him, she still keeps in touch with him. He is now in prison. I have forgiven him, and often pray for his happiness.

In a few months I will be getting married, and everyone, including my mother is telling me that I need his permission to marry. They say I cannot marry if he is not present or if he has given the responsibility of this duty to someone else like one of my brothers.

Is it sinful for me to refuse and say that he has nothing to do with my wedding? Am I allowed to appoint someone to give me away? I have 3 brothers and many uncles (al-hamdulillah). Can any one of them give me away? I do not want to ask for his permission. I do not believe he deserves such an honor. Please, tell me what to do.

Answer

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- Since your father, through his previous poor track record, has already proven himself ineligible to exercise the right of guardianship appropriately, you do not need to wait for his permission to get married.

2- In this case, the responsibility of guardianship is automatically transferred to the next eligible person: a mature and responsible brother; otherwise, an uncle.

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3- We advise you to contact your father and ask him for his permission as a gesture of goodwill on your part.


In responding to your question about your ingeliggible father acting as your wali in marriage, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

A Muslim father is required to fear Allah the Almighty in the way he takes care of his children and he should shoulder his responsibility towards them in the best way.

If, as you have stated, your father has been negligent in fulfilling his responsibilities as a father and provider for the family for a long time, then he has clearly forfeited his rights as a guardian (wali) over you.

For, even though a father is considered the primary guardian of his daughter, his guardianship is conditional on his eligibility to exercise this responsibility in a responsible manner so as to safeguard the interests of his daughter.

Who Can Be My Wali?

Since your father, through his previous poor track record, has already proven himself ineligible to exercise the right of guardianship appropriately, you do not need to wait for his permission to get married.

In this case, the responsibility of guardianship is automatically transferred to the next eligible person: a mature and responsible brother; otherwise, an uncle.

Peice of Advice

However, after having stated the above I would still advise you to contact your father and ask him for his permission as a gesture of goodwill on your part. After all, he is still your father, and perhaps your gesture of goodwill may move him to have a change of heart and thus, take the necessary steps to repair the strained relations between him and his children.

I also remind you that, in spite of what he has done, you should never stop praying for your father’s guidance and change of heart.

If, after contacting your father, you were to receive a negative response to your request, then you have every right to go ahead with the marriage and ask your brother or uncle to act as a guardian.

It should be remembered that the principle of guardianship in Islam is primarily meant to safeguard the interests of women in terms of marriage; not to unnecessarily impede or stand in the way of their marriage.

Therefore, as long as you have chosen someone who is compatible (in religion and character), then you may go ahead with the marriage, even if your father, with his previous bad behavior, refuses to give permission.

I pray to Allah the Almighty to guide your father to the straight path; and may He inspire you and your family to speak and act righteously, amen.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date