What is the difference between a Wali and a Wakil in marriage?

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of Shari’ah say regarding the difference between a guardian and an agent in a marriage?

Answer:

The terms ‘Wali’ (guardian) and ‘Wakil’ (agent) are both terms used within the shari’ah. These can refer to two separate people or a single person can have the role of a wali and a wakil.

Wali is from the word wilayah and refers to guardianship. The guardian of the bridegroom or bride in marriage has appointed in the shari’ah. If the son is present (for a widow or a divorced woman) then he will have the right of guardianship first, if not, then the grandson. If the bride is getting married for the first time, then the father will have the right of guardianship, then the grandfather, and so on. The order of wilayah is the same as that of inheritance.

‘Wakil’ is from ‘wikalah’, and it means acting or representing on behalf of another. In marriage, the agent of the bride or groom is the person who has been authorised by the bride or groom to conduct their marriage.

Generally, the groom is publicly present in the marriage ceremony and speaks for himself when proposing or accepting the marriage contract. As opposed to the bride, who may not e present in front of the gathering where the marriage ceremony is being conducted due to the shari’ah rules of veiling and natural modesty. For this reason, her wali or an appointed wakil may speak on her behalf. Both the wali and wakil can be the same person, i.e. the bride’s father who is legally the guardian, can also be the wakil for the marriage ceremony contract. It is also possible that in the presence of the bride’s guardian, someone else can be made an agent to carry out the marriage contract.

From this, it can be seen that guardianship has been already determined by shari’ah, as opposed to appointing an agent, this can be done as per the wishes of the bride and bridegroom.

And Allah ﷻ knows the best

This fatwa was written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari

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