For tennis player Sania Mirza and her partner Shoaib Malik, the Pakistani cricketer accused of dumping an Indian girl he married over the phone, the following could be music to the ears.
A Muslim marriage, or nikah, over the phone is not valid and best avoided, according to the Darul Uloom, a Muslim theological school of the Sunni sect to which Sania and Shoaib belong.
According to the seminary, a nikah over the phone stands on “shaky religious ground”.
The Deoband-based Darul Uloom’s interpretation of Islamic law is widely followed in Pakistan and India.
Darul Uloom spokesperson Adil Siddiqui said the “authentic position” on nikah over the phone was covered by Darul’s fatwa or edict number 310/N. The edict reads: “If Eijab and Qubool (proposal of marriage from girl to boy and his acceptance of the same) are made on phone or internet, then it is not right, since in nikah it is compulsory that the Eijab and Qubool are made (from boy and girl or from their representatives) in a meeting before two witnesses. It is also necessary for witnesses to hear this conversation.”
Moreover, the groom and bride have to ascertain each other’s identities satisfactorily, former Darul vice-rector Qari Mohammed Usman said.
However, if nikah on the phone is unavoidable, the girl and boy could appoint vakil or representatives. In any case, the strict condition is that at least the Eijab and Qubool and the witnesses must all be present at one place, Darul scholars said.
Shoaib had shelved marriage plans with Hyderabad-based Ayesha Siddiqui. However, the girl’s family has claimed that the duo entered wedlock through nikah over the phone in 2002. Shoaib has denied he ever met Ayesha and said she cheated him by sending someone else’s photograph.
The Siddiqui family, which is pressing for divorce, must prove that witnesses on either side were present at one place when the telephone nikah took place.
If the bride is not the same person as the one with whom nikah is intended, as Shoaib has claimed, then the marriage is null and void, retired vice-rector of Darul Uloom Qari Mohammed Usman said.