The Wali (Guardian) in Marriage: Role & Responsibilities

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Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. May Allah bless you in all your efforts to answer the following questions: What is the role and responsibilities of a Wali? Can a Wali be female? Does the Wali have to be one’s parents? Jazakum Allah khayran.

Date: 24/May/2000
Name of Counselor
A Group of Islamic Researchers

Topic: Marriage

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.

Dear sister in Islam, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

Islam stipulates that in order to conclude her marriage, a Muslim woman should have a guardian or Wali, who is usually her father.

Since the woman – despite her Islamically granted independence – can be subject to the desires of the ill-hearted and evil opportunists; Islam decreed certain legislations, which would maintain her rights and deter those who carry ill-aims and desires.

Therefore, Islam gave great importance to the approval of the woman’s guardian in a manner, which reflects the significance of the marriage contract.

Islam’s insistence on the guardian’s involvement in the selection process is to ensure that the woman exercises her choice correctly.

The responsibility of a guardian in marriage is to help a female in selecting her husband. Usually, a female can hardly dig into essential information about a man, so a guardian, like a father, does his best for the interest and welfare of that woman.

A guardian should be a Muslim male. The father is the guardian, next to the father comes the closest male.

If the girl wants to marry a certain person, but the Wali is against it, then the judge will consider, why that guardian object to the marriage;

If he has a sound legitimacy in objecting to that certain marriage, then the court will enforce his opinion. If he gives an incorrect and illegitimate reason, the guardian will have no power for marriage. The judge will give the girl the right to marry that person. No one can force the girl to marry anyone that she doesn’t like to marry.

Elaborating on the role and requirements of a Wali, we’d like to cite the following quotation from the course “Family Law I” offered by the American Open University:

“The Wali is a Muslim man charged with marrying the one under his charge to a man who will be good for her.

There is no disagreement that the first Wali is her natural father if he is Muslim and that the last in line is the ruler. Between those two, there is some disagreement about the order but agreement that they come from the girl’s paternal male relatives – no one from her mother’s side enters into the picture.

The order, according to many is: father, paternal grandfather, son, grandson, full brother, paternal half-brother, and paternal uncle.

The Wali is an absolute requirement for a marriage, and any marriage done without him is null and void according to the majority of scholars based on the following hadiths:

“No marriage except with a guardian and the ruler is the guardian of she who has no guardian.” (Reported by Abu Dawud & others and classed as Sahih)

“If any woman marries without the permission of her guardian, then her marriage is void, then her marriage is void, then her marriage is void.” (Reported by Abu Dawud & others and classed as sahih)

[However, according to Imam Abu Hanifah, a lawful guardian is not required if the woman is non-virgin (i.e. married before) or a virgin. Dawud Az-Zahiri, however, holds that a lawful guardian is needed in case of a virgin, and not the non-virgin woman who got married before.

Yet still, the opinion of the majority is more correct and preferable especially under the now-a-days circumstances where marriages without the permission of the brides’ families often lead to problems and bring about considerable harms. Editor]

It is the job of the Wali to get the woman under his charge married to the best possible marriage candidate. He must not be guided by his own desires or by her own desires.

If the person is acceptable in both his religion and his character and appropriate to her in some other way discussed by the scholars, then he must facilitate the marriage and not refuse it for his own desires or biases.

If the conditions are not right, then he must refuse the marriage, even if both the woman under his charge and the man desire it.

This is a grave trust and he must do his best to fulfill it properly and not bring harm to the woman and/or to society. Almighty Allah says: “O, you who believe, do not commit treachery against Allah and against the Prophet nor betray your trusts though you know.” (Al-Anfal: 27)

What about the case where the Wali refuses someone on a non-Islamic basis? As was stated earlier, it is the job of the Wali to act in the best interest of the woman according to the standards established by Islam.

If a qualified person asks to marry the woman and he turns him down, then he is not doing his job. In such a case, the woman can complain to the judge or ruler and have her Wali “fired” (removed).

The Wali must be the same religion as the woman. A non-Muslim father cannot be the Wali for his Muslim daughter.”

Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) states: “The worst food is that of a wedding banquet (walima) to which only the rich are invited whilst the poor are not invited.

And he who refuses an invitation (to a banquet) disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 4882)

Finally, it should be remembered that, the simpler the Walima (and the marriage ceremony as a whole) is kept, the better it will be.

At times, people spend thousands upon thousands in feeding people, a sum that can be used for other indispensable needs of the Muslims. And if the intention behind spending such an amount is to show-off, then this will be regarded a grave sin.

The idea here is to feed people with sincerity and simplicity. If one feeds people the simplest of meals but from the heart, then that is far better (and the food is also more enjoyable) than feeding them quality food, where the intention is not so sincere.

Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “The most blessed marriage (nikah) is the one with the least expenses.” (al-Bayhaqi in his Shu’ab al-Iman & Mishkat al-Masabih).

47 thoughts on “The Wali (Guardian) in Marriage: Role & Responsibilities

  1. Respected Admin,

    It is requested that you have posted above discussion and on the top of this discussion so i think there is no suitable picture which man’s foot/shows are on top while name of Allah and other references are under this picture.

    It is suggestion that please replace this picture with other one.


    Hafiz M Ahmad Raza

  2. Assalam alaikum I was asking who will stand as a Wali for an illegitimate daughter? please consider my question Shukran

    • Walaikum Asalaam,
      This is a question for someone with credentials in the jurisprudence of marriage law (faqi). It is best that you find someone qualified in this subject to answer your question. JazaikAllah hu Chairman.
      In my humble opinion a child, woman, girl or man is not any different whether conceived in or out of wedlock. The onus of the sin of adultery or fornication producing that child falls on both parents, not the child. Islam does not punish the child for the sins of the parents. If there is no father than the local Imam can stand in as Wali. Allah knows best!

  3. As salaamu alaikum,

    Can you please advise what the Shafi law is about the role and rights of a natural guardian in a case where the girl is pregnant before marriage.

    • Walaikum asalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu,
      I am not a Faqee, thus it would be best to speak with and get the opinion of at least two scholars on the subject. Hope it helps

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  5. Salam,

    I was married for 11 years and I had 4 children with my husband, over the years our marriage went downhill, and I felt neglected, unloved and unwanted by my husband bcoz he didn’t have time for me, only in may 2016, I met someone in Facebook and we got along really well, we were very compatible in our understanding, my husband found out that I was talking to another man and he ordered me to stop talking to this guy but I refused to listen to my husband, eventually in July my husband gave me a divorce. After the idda period was over I flew over to Pakistan and got married to the guy I met on Facebook. My family knew that I have met someone online because I’ve told them about this but they were not happy with me as I have 4 children with my ex and despite I wasn’t happy, they were more interested in saving their reputation. Anyway before I went to Pakistan, I didn’t inform them that I’m going there and getting married. I had a court marriage and the imam that specialises in conducting nikah volunteered to be my wali, my new husband’s family and friends were present there. I live in London and I work from home so I’m not dependent on my father or brothers. My question is, is my marriage valid?, because I’m a mature women, a divorcee, and I’m earning too, please can you get back to me asap with a response as I have different people giving me different answers, I’m so confused, jazakallah

  6. Asalaamuailkum,
    I wanted to know what legit sharia reasons a wali can say no in regards to a person asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage? Can the Wali say no if the mans family do not agree to the marriage but the man has the four qualities one should look for in a person? The man has a stable job an home an is firm in his faith and is trying to prove to the wali that he can look after his daughter but the wali is refusing because the mans family are not involved and so it will bring shame to he family.. The man and women have no contact between each other it is all perfectly halal.. it is up to you if you wish to believe me or not as I know its very uncommon these days but.. The man and the women’s brother are only in contact.. I look forward to your response In Sha Allah..

  7. What about a previously UNMARRIED NON-virgin girl.there is only context given for a previously married non-virgin
    I haven’t made the best choices before but I have repented and I want to fix things, my father will not consider marrying me right now since I amstill a student but I am an adult and would like to get married, I need it or I trust myself to fall into sin again. What about nikkah misyar which is a legal form of nikah.

  8. if any girl’s cousin brother (son of her father’s sister) want to be her wali where the girls father is still alive and he doesn’t know regarding the marry , is the marriage is ok? please advice.

  9. Asalam aleikum warahmatulah warahmatulah.i would like to ask a Q.i want to get marreid soon In shaa Allah but i have no father or brothers or añyone at my father side but i have my mother’s brothers can they be my wali or not?

  10. I am an African American Muslim whom over the period of six years has fallen in love with what the Almighty and never wrong Allah has blessed me with, which is a very beautiful, Allah fearing and loving Palestinian Muslim woman. We very much want to be together and get married, but her fear of rejection and permanently being banned from her family has caused her to back out and go into depression as well as myself. Is not Allah our master and is not his doings all right? Why and when has man gained the authority to go against his doings? Please help us do what’s right and carry out Allah’s will in the both of us as becoming one.

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  12. Asalamualaykoem I know this an old post but I have a question & hope that ill get a reply inshallah
    I want to marry this guy but my father disapproves and as my imaam has said his reasons are not valid so I want to know I do not have a brother, I have 1 uncle but he will not go against his brothers wishes what am I to do? Kanala I’m unhappy in my home but don’t want to do the wrong thing either can my imaam marry me as he agrees to the man I want to marry?

    • If you know the Imam well, have him meet with your parents and figure out what is their objection to the guy you want to marry.
      Lots of Duas and Istikharah will help!

  13. Assalaamualaikum, if anyone can help inshaallaah, My husband wants to be a waali for a woman but he never met her, he only knows the brother, the sisters father is not on his din, and no one else in her family is muslim. is it okay for my husband to be her waali even though he dosent know her?

    • Walaikum Asalaam wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatahu,
      I am not a mufti but from what I know he can be a wali of a woman (a convert) who does not have a muslim male relative and she has hitherto not been previously married if he is the Imam. Is he the Imam of your community or her community?
      A wali has many serious responsibilities, he has to check out the man she is marrying and make sure it is not a fraud, if he is not an Imam and does not know her that would be out of line, I think. However it is best to consult a local Imam for the correct ruling in these circumstances.
      Allah knows best. Please keep us posted as many are reading this conversation to learn.

  14. Assalamu Alaiikum,

    I am a female revert and the only Muslim in my family. I chose my Wali, he is one of the brothers who supplied me with correct information on Islam and helped me during my journey. Is he a valid Wali if he is of no kinship to me? If our Imam gave him permission to be my Wali does that make it valid? If I am a revert with a child do I need a Wali? Thank you, Bissmillah.

    • Walaikum Asalaam,
      As far as I know and I am not a faqi: A divorced woman does not need a Wali, but it is good to have a Wali so that he can check out the person you are marrying without the rose colored glasses and also make sure that he negotiates a decent Mahr (marriage gift) and makes sure all the valid formalities of marriage are completed.
      Usually for reverts with no muslim family the Imam serves as the Wali, and the man (groom) becomes accountable to him.
      Alhamdollilah now you will have muslim family of three inshallah!

      • Okay great. Thank you so much for your help. I also have another question; if you do not mind. With the role of the Wali, is the Wali suppose to mediate between the two individuals who are looking to marry? To go into detail a little; my Wali only wants me and the male to communicate with him present. Is that a cultural practice or is it the Islamic way of getting to know someone who you are interested in becoming your partner? I find it a little difficult because there is a third party in our conversation and that can create an awkward situation. Thank you so much again.

  15. Never mind,but it’s sound illogical that a mother can’t be a walee just because of 1/2 hadiths.Why should a girl depend on her uncle or local imams for being a walee while her mother is alive?In this world,girls are often raped by their uncles, let alone the non relative imams etc.Then why should a girl be trusted with these men while the mother,her closest friend is still alive?I strongly believe that it’s our time to re-evaluate these hadiths which are not fitted for the present era.

  16. aoa…i would like to know that if my wali was able to read my nikka on my behalf as no one approched me to say ‘ kabul hai ‘….but i was intentionally willing the marry the person i married.

    • ASA, sister Rabia, It is best to ask your local Imam if your nikkah is valid given the circumstances. We are just lay people and cannot give you a ruling. From our vantage it sounds okay as long as you gave your Wali the permission to say yes on your behalf.
      Jazaikallah hu Khairan!

  17. I have a wali ( father) and fe agrees upon my marraige yet my mom has her personal concerns that aren’t islamically based at all. My dad is afraid to take the decision on his own and for that reason he is delaying my marraige even though I had told him I wanted to get married now.

    • ASA, Sister Juliet, it is best to sit down with your mother and father and discuss what their concerns are and lay them to rest. If they are related to the logistics and rulings in Islam, please visit your local Mosque and discuss with the Imam.
      May Allah make it easy on you.

  18. Asalaam o Alaikum sister Yanti,
    You realize that I am not a mufti and thus cannot give fatwas.
    However here is the answer from Dr. Kaukab Siddique the author of the post:
    Asalamu alaikum

    A wali is needed for the bride-to-be in marriages where the bride has never been married before, or is so young or such a new Muslim as to be liable not to be able to differentiate between good and wayward Muslim men or is simply new to the ways of the world.

    If the parents act in an unislamic way and ignore the bridegroom-to-be’s Islamic credentials, and insist on wealth, power, race etc, the woman should find an imam well grounded in Islam to be her wali.

    Most Muslims believe that only a man [such as the father] should be the wali but the Qur’an says otherwise; “The believers, men and women, are each others’ awliyya…9:70. [Awliyya is the plural of wali.]

    Let me know if more clarification is needed.
    end comment.

    Hope this helps, Jazaik Allah Khair!

  19. what i mean is, i hv heard that if our family dont want us to marry, while we know and believe that the guy we choose, is muslim and practising Islam, and he can be our imaan, can we marry with waali hakim to replace my waali (because they dont agree us to marry). How the condition in order to fulfill us able to marry w/ waali hakiim?

  20. Asalaam o alikum Yanti,
    Your question is not clear, please explain if you please, and I will try to get the information for you inshallah!
    JazaikAllah Khair!

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  22. Its sad to see how many of the Muslims are so engulfed in cultural practices that those practices are given precedence over what Islam teaches us. And its even more sad when many of those practices are contrary to the teachings of Islaam.

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