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Marriage to a Covert Girl in Secret

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Daruliftaa.com

I have been “with” a girl for the past three years. Prior to this both of us had had no relationships nor engaged in any physical activity with anyone. She was a very pleasant girl who seemed to have all the characteristic qualities of a Muslim women but she was Christian…. She has converted… We both feel that we could practice Islam and be far better Muslims if we knew in our hearts that we were together Islamically, though both sets of parents vehemently oppose it…

I completely understand that what we would be doing would not be the Sunna, and I hate myself for being so weak that I am compromising my love for the Prophet (pbuh) to fulfil my own desires. But I believe that I will insha’Allah be a better more focused Muslim if I marry her very soon instead of using much of my mental strength thinking about physical whims and then feeling guilty about them. I do truly love her and I feel this way because she feels so strongly about Islam.

So given all this – my question is, is this marriage permissible and valid in spite of it being against the sunna. Is it allowed in Islam? We both intend to publicise it in due course to people who already know that we’re together. Would it be a sin for her not to tell her parents who are non-Muslim in spite of them approving and knowing that we are together and that she does eventually want to marry me? They will know very shortly of her decision to convert too so could I marry as soon as possible to prevent any more haram acts between myself and her. My main question is that – would it be valid in spite of not being the ideal sunna way?

ANSWER

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

A very important principle with regards to suitability in marriage (kafa’a) should be remembered-that is: Compatibility and suitability (kafa’a) in marriage is only considered from the perspective of the man, in that the man should be a suitable match for the woman.

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states in his renowned Durr al-Mukhtar:

“Suitability (kafa’a) is considered at the beginning of marriage… from the perspective of the man, because a respectable woman would (normally) dislike being under someone who is considered lower than her. Thus, it (kafa’a) is not considered from the woman’s perspective.” (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 3/84)

The meaning of the above text of Durr al-Mukhtar (and similar texts of other major Fiqh references) is that, when considering suitability in marriage, the man must be of a legal match to the woman he is intending to marry. His position and status should not be inferior to that of the woman. However, if the status of the woman is inferior to that of the man, this will not affect the aspect of legal suitability (kafa’a).

The reason behind this, as outlined by the Fuqaha, is that, the husband is considered to be the Amir and breadwinner of the house. He is the caretaker of the woman and the children’s lineage (nasab) is established from him. As such, a woman and her family would naturally be uneasy in her marrying someone inferior to her in social status. However, in the vice versa situation, the husband or his family would not be offended by him marrying a girl that is of inferior social status, for a man is the caretaker of the woman.

This has been explained in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya in the following words:

“Suitability (kafa’a) is not considered in women for men, as stated in al-Bada’i. Thus, if a woman married herself to a man who is superior to her (socially), her guardian (wali) will not have a right to dissolve the marriage, for a Wali (normally) does not feel insulted by being under a man who is superior to him (and the girl).” (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/290)

It should be kept in mind here that Kafa’a is the right of both the woman and her guardian (wali). As such, if one of them drops their right, the right of the other will remain.

The reason behind suitability being also the right of the guardian (wali) is that, just as the woman may feel insulted by marrying a man who is regarded to be inferior to her in status; her guardian will also feel the same. Thus, it will be the right of both, the woman and her guardian in considering the suitor’s suitability.

In light of the above, the girl accepting Islam would be a legal match for you, for suitability is not considered from your side, rather from her perspective. You should be a legal match for her, and you being a born Muslim means that you would be considered a suitable match (provided there is suitability in other aspects also). Thus, strictly speaking, your marriage with her would be legally valid even without the permission of your and her parent’s permission, unless there is some other reason of impermissibility.

However, it is generally wrong and going against the Sunnah, to marry without the permission of the parents. Thus, what you need to do is the following:

Firstly, let her accept Islam if she has as yet not accepted it. There should be no delay in entering the fold of Islam, thus she should accept Islam as soon as possible.

Secondly, discuss the matter with your mother, other senior family members and her parents. Explain to them the importance of you getting married to her, and the encouragement of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him& give him peace) in this regard. You state that your mother is, in principle, happy in you marrying her, thus convincing her to let you marry her at present should not be a major problem. If you be persistent along with being gentle, polite and keeping respect, it should pay off.

However, if you are unable to convince your mother despite exhausting all avenues, then you may marry her secretly provided all the conditions of a valid marriage are met. Thereafter, you may disclose your marriage to your mother and other family members. But don’t marry discreetly unless you have tried all possible ways and means in convincing your mother in agreeing with you to marry her at the present moment.

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

This answer was collected from Daruliftaa.com, which is headed by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari. He’s based in the United Kingdom.

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