Appointing a non-Muslim Guardian or Representative at the time of Nikah

Q. An adult woman has recently reverted to Islam and she intends making Nikah. Her father and brothers are non-Muslims. Can her father or brothers be her Wali at the time of her Nikah?

A. One of the pre-conditions for one to act as a guardian (Wali) on behalf of a Muslim is that he must be a Muslim. This is because a guardian (Wali) enjoys certain rights and powers over a Muslim that a non-Muslim does not enjoy. Allah Ta’ala states in the Qur’an:

“Allah shall never give the disbelievers authority over the believers.”(Surah Nisaa; V:141)

As such, if one’s father or brothers are non-Muslims, they cannot act as guardians (Wali’s) on behalf of a Muslim male or female. Instead, they may be appointed as representatives (Wakeels) who simply represent a person on their mandate without having any rights or powers over them.

Therefore, in the enquired case, a revert Muslim may appoint her non-Muslim father or brothers as representatives (Wakeels) to represent her at the time of her Nikah and not as guardians (Wali’s). (Shaami 3/76)

Nonetheless, it is best for a revert Muslim woman to have the local Imaam/scholar involved throughout the process and to consider appointing him as her representative (Wakeel) at the time of her Nikah.

Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ismaeel Bassa