Photo by Zoriana Stakhniv on Unsplash; is it valid to marry in secret

Ustadh Salman Younas answers a question about the validity and rightness of wanting to marry someone without the parents’ knowledge and consent.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I love someone and I want that relationship becomes halal. Right now I want to marry her without telling anyone just to make it halal, and it is not possible right now to take permission from my parents neither from her parents.

If we marry each other will it be legitimate? And if we do not get involve in any physical relation before the marriage with the permission of our parents will it be legitimate?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

According to the Shafi‘i school, in order for a marriage contract to be valid the following must be present:

    1. The bride’s guardian (wali)

    2. Two upright Muslim witnesses

    3. The groom

    4. The offer and acceptance.

Without these being present, the marriage contract would not be valid. As you can see, “secret” marriages executed without the knowledge and consent of the bride’s legal guardian are not valid in our school. (Tuhfatul Muhtaj, Nihayatul Muhtaj)

Hanafi School

Although the Hanafi school holds that the bride’s guardian is not a legal integral for the validity of the marriage, when there is no serious need to take this position, marriage without your parent’s knowledge and consent would be highly discouraged.

While your feelings towards each other are strong right now, please do not forget your respective mother and fathers, their feelings, and everything they have done for you both. Marriage is a huge step and one that takes a child away from the family home forever. Do your best not to break their hearts and cause them unnecessary anxiety, for in many cases, couples that do so later regret it and wish they had done things differently.

For more detailed answers to the Hanafi position and related concerns, please refer to these answers, particularly the second answer: What Are the Minimum Steps That Must Be Taken for a Marriage to Be Valid? and Can We Get Married Without Involving Our Parents?

Relationships

Whether one is in a physical relationship or purely an emotionally attached relationship, either way, it would not be permitted to continue. Allah has commanded us:

وَلاَ تَقْرَبُواْ الزِّنَى إِنَّهُ

And do not come near to adultery. (Sura al Isra 17:32)

Coming near zina includes every inclination of the heart, every loving gaze, every touch, every word spoken with intent of affection, with someone one it is not permitted to do so with. These tender emotions are guarded and preserved for after marriage, which makes the marital bond that much sweeter and pure.

There is a saying in Egypt which goes something like, “The one who walks through the door is respected, the one who climbs through the window is not.” In other words, the man who does not go through the proper means of asking for a bride’s hand in marriage, i.e. the father or guardian, deserves no respect, while the one who goes through the correct channels, regardless if his acceptance is accepted or not, is still respected and his dignity and reputation remain intact.

Don’t forget, by marrying this girl, you are essentially taking someone’s daughter away from them. This is hard enough for parents when their child gets married with their consent, let alone behind their backs.

Conversely, from the bride’s point of view, she should not give her affection to anyone easily, rather she should deem herself worthy, and accept only a man who is respectful, dignified and who carries out his affairs with principles and correct conduct. This not only earns the respect of the family, but the woman herself will value and respect him more, and he respect her more.

Though it may be hard to put your relationship on hold until a solution can be found in regards getting married, put it on hold you must. You should take the lead and show strength and resolution.

In this time, I suggest that you both work on your relationship with Allah Most High, for whom your love should be more than anyone else. When you truly love Allah, step by step, you will both desire what is pleasing to Him, and naturally forgo what you want and accept whatever Allah has in store for you both.

Solutions

Marriage is a celebration of two people coming together lawfully, and it is important that it is made public for many reasons.

Try to resolve the issue by following the helpful suggestions mentioned in this answer: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.