Marrying without informing family
Fatwa No: 329428

Question

Assalaamu alaykum Sir/Madame. I have a query about my elder sister. On 11-12-3013, my elder sister got married with one of our relatives without informing us. At the time, my parents were out of the city. Both of them hid it from us. Last week, my sister informed both of the families about it. We are shocked knowing about it. My parents do not like marriage between relatives. Maybe that is why she hid it from us. As far as I know, a girl is not permitted to get married without a guardian, especially when the father and mother are both alive. So the marriage is surely invalid. And another shocking news for us now, that broke our heart, is that she is pregnant! We belong to a Muslim family, this is not our family structure, and the boy to whom she got married is from a family in which almost every member is Islamic-minded, and they give dawah (proselytization) to people. One of the boy's brothers-in-law is the imam of a mosque. All of the family members from both families have sort of a respected position in our society. This matter broke the social values and norms of humanity as well. We still have not shared the matter with our neighbors and others, except for some close relatives. My parents discussed it with relatives and my grandfather; all agreed that it is an offense which they should be punished for. My parents do not accept her now, so she is now living in the in-law's house. As I said earlier, they are our relatives, so they shelter her. Now we have stopped calling her. The boy's family is now trying to negotiate, but we need more time. My parents cry all day everyday. Allaah set a big exam for us. Only Allaah can save us now. Can you give me and my family a proper solution by considering all the matters? What can we do now? We are awaiting your reply. Thank you in advance.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The scholars differed in opinion on whether the presence and consent of the Wali (guardian of the bride) is a condition for the validity of marriage, and the majority of the scholars are of the view that the guardian is a condition and that the marriage contract is void without him. However, Imaam Abu Haneefah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him held that a woman has the right to marry herself off (without a guardian) and that the marriage is valid in this case. We, at Islamweb, adopt the view of the majority of the scholars, and we consider it to be the preponderant view. Please refer to fatwa 83629.

If the marriage contract was based on the view of Abu Haneefah, or it was conducted by a judge based on the Hanafi Mathhab, then the marriage is valid. Please refer to fataawa 130284 and 89782.

However, if the marriage was not based on either of the above options, then it is a void marriage and must be annulled; and the marriage contract can be renewed fulfilling the conditions of a valid marriage.

With regard to the baby, it is his child in any case. If we presume that the marriage was valid, then the matter is clear. If we presume that the marriage was not valid, then the child is still attributed to him because he married her while believing that the marriage was valid. For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 231757.

We advise you to be patient in order to solve the matter in a wise manner. You may seek the help of some rational people among the relatives in order to consult them and for everyone to cooperate in dealing with any effects that might result of this case.

Your parents as well as your whole family should not blow the case out of proportion, and they should praise Allaah that it was not a case of pure adultery, as the marriage is considered valid according to one of the reliable and major Mathhabs of Ahlus-Sunnah (Hanafi).

It should also be pointed out that marriage among relatives is not forbidden in Islam, and being too strict about this may lead to such situations, so the parents should be aware of this. Please, refer to fatwa 31254.

It should also be pointed out that the consent and presence of the guardian is a condition for the validity of the marriage, regardless of whether the parents are alive or dead.

To learn the order of guardians in marriage, please refer to fatwa 83338.

Allaah knows best.

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