Nikah/Marriage on telephone in Pakistan

…posted by Pakistani Law Firm…Get Free Legal Advice

International lawyer Gabriel Sawma, an authority on Sharia law – including Islamic marriage contracts – argues that telephone marriages, and even internet marriages, could be perfectly legal.

“There are so many cases of marriages being conducted in so many different ways – everything is possible within reason,” he told the BBC News website.

Both the Malik and Siddiqui families are said to follow the Hanafi school of Islamic tradition.

Mr Sawma explained that in his view, a marriage contract agreed upon by a telephone conversation is valid as long as it satisfies the main Hanafi requirements, including:

•a proposal to marry and acceptance by the other party

•providing witnesses: two male witnesses or one male and two females attesting that they heard the telephone conversation

•a financial or “mahr” provision

The mahr, he explains, is an amount of money, or any object that has value, that will be given by the groom to the future bride.

“Mahr is an obligation on the husband and is a necessary component of any Islamic marriage contract,” said Mr Sawma.

In the Hanafi tradition, the mahr is divided into a “muqaddam” (upfront), to be paid at the time of signing of the contract and a muakhar (deferred) to be paid at the time of divorce or death, he explained.

He said that the proposal must be clearly expressed and it must be met with a clear acceptance.

“Should these three elements occur, the marriage will be considered legal and binding. The contract does not have to be written. It can be verbal and will have the full force of the law under Islamic Sharia,” said Mr Sawma.

He drew parallels with the practice of couples entering into a marriage via correspondence, centuries ago.

“As long as the letters contained all the requirements and were signed in front of witnesses, this would constitute a marriage contract,” he said.

Given the level of interest in the marriage, Shoaib will be no doubt thankful that the divorce was relatively straightforward. In a number of countries – including India – a Muslim man can divorce his wife in a matter of minutes.

This has included divorce by mail, over the phone and even via mobile phone text messages.

“In the Hanafi jurisprudence, the husband has the right to divorce his wife at any time or in any place at will by simply stating: ‘I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you,’ says Mr Sawma.

His wife will be immediately divorced if there are at least two male witnesses. The husband is then obligated to give “nafaqa” (alimony) to his wife for three months.

Shoaib has apparently agreed to pay 15,000 rupees (about $337; £220) to Ayesha for three months.

According to many reports, Shoaib’s divorce means that he is now free to marry Sania next week. But technically, they could have got married anyway, as Islam allows a man to take four wives as long as he is able to meet all their needs.

Gabriel Sawma is a lawyer with Middle East background. Professor of Middle East Constitutional Law, Islamic sharia, and Islamic economics. Expert consultant on Islamic divorce in U.S. courts

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