Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour
Question: I have a few questions relating to what it means to be a “Wali”. From my understanding, a Wali for a convert is a Muslim male guardian, and I understand that some madhhab’s don’t “require” me to have a Wali, but I’m still missing quite a bit of information regarding this subject.
1. What are the Wali’s responsibilities?
2. What are the responsibilities of person X to a Wali?
3. How does one “pick” a Wali?
4. If an Imam conducts the marriage ceremony for a convert, does he automatically become her Wali if she doesn’t have anyone yet?
5. What is the Maliki view on having/requiring a Wali?
1. There are various types of a Wali, such as those who are entrusted with the care of orphans and the Wali in terms of a marriage. In terms of a Wali’s responsibility towards someone they are representing in a marriage, that Wali must insure that the marriage is suitable for the woman and that the contract insures she be treated fairly. The Wali’s position is over once the marriage is complete and he does not have a legally binding (fiqh) responsibility but the rules of good conduct (akhlaq) would entail that he continue to ensure that someone he married off is being treated well.
2. There are no responsibilities of person X towards their Wali.
3. Person X can choose whoever they want to be their Wali during the marriage contract. The person also can change who they want their Wali to be. The only requirement for the Wali is that he be an adult Muslim male who has knowledge of the rules of marriage, knows what is good for the person he is marrying off based on the culture of the people, and that he be free from outward deviance (fisq).
4. If the Imam conducts the marriage, he would be the Wali.
5. In the Maliki school, a woman must have a Wali present at the contract for the marriage to be sound. If a woman does not have a Muslim male relative, then she can choose a Wali from amongst the Muslim men as long as he is knowledgable and trustworthy.
[Dusuqi, Hashiya Al Sharh al Kabir]