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Ruling 2389

A marriage contract must fulfil the following conditions [in order for it to be valid]:

  1. based on obligatory precaution, the formula must be said in Arabic. If the man or the woman are unable to say the formula in Arabic, they can say it in a language other than Arabic, and it is not necessary that they appoint an agent; however, they must use words that convey the meaning of زَوَّجْتُ [zawwajtu] and قَبِلْتُ [qabiltu];
  2. the man and the woman, or their agents, who say the formula must have an intention to establish (qaṣd al‑inshāʾ) [a marriage contract], meaning that if the man and the woman say the formula themselves, then when the woman says زَوَّجْتُكَ نَ فْسِي [zawwajtuka nafsī] she must intend to make herself his wife. Similarly, when the man says قَبِلْتُ التَّزْوِیجَ [qabiltut tazwīj] he must intend to accept her as his wife. And if their agents say the formula, then when they say زَوَّجْتُ [zawwajtu] and قَبِلْتُ [qabiltu] they must intend for the man and woman who have appointed them as their agents to become husband and wife;
  3. the person saying the formula must be sane (ʿāqil), and if the person is saying it for himself or herself, he/she must also be of the age of legal responsibility (bāligh). In fact, based on obligatory precaution, if a non-bāligh child who is able to discern between right and wrong (mumayyiz) says the formula for someone else, it is not sufficient and the couple must get a divorce or say the formula again;
  4. if the agent of the man and woman, or their guardians (walīs), say the formula, then at the time of the contract they must specify the husband and wife. For example, they must mention their names or indicate to them. Therefore, if someone who has a number of daughters says to a man, زَوَّجْتُكَ إِحْدىٰ بَنَاتِ [zawwajtuka iḥdā banātī] meaning ‘I wed one of my daughters to you’ and the man responds by saying, قَبِلْتُ [qabiltu], meaning ‘I accept’, the marriage contract is invalid as they did not specify a particular daughter at the time of the contract;
  5. the man and the woman must consent to the marriage. However, if they appear to disapprove but it is known that in their hearts they consent, the marriage contract is valid.