Fatwa ID: 04332
Answered by: Maulana Moinul Abu Hamza
I am an English convert and went through what appeared to be an Islamic marriage process in Egypt with two male witnesses present and a so-called 'wali' who they brought to 'represent' my interests but I had never even met or seen him in my life before. No 'mahr' was ever discussed or paid and the marriage was never legally registered in Egypt. We just signed an informal contract which I later discovered was prepared by a crooked lawyer who was in cahoots with them. The contract says we were married according to the sunnah and mentioned a mahr of £1, but this was never discussed this with me or even mentioned before I signed it and I never agreed to it prior to the marriage process.
Also, it was never formally paid as it was such a tiny sum of money it was considered irrelevant. I want to stress that I never formally agreed to waive any of my rights to have a wali and a mahr, this was a rushed situation where I was being taken advantage of for financial gain.
In Egyptian law, it is considered that I was never married and do not need to get divorced as it was not a formally registered marriage through the court. The 'marriage' was very difficult from the beginning and he was eventually violent to me and stole money and property from me and I had to escape the house after he was violent and kept me a prisoner and threatened me for 3 days. I spent a total of 4 years with him before I left. There were no children.
After leaving I tore up the informal marriage contract and informed him that the relationship was finished and I would never return. I also told him that it seemed clear the marriage process was a sham (fake) he intended nothing proper by doing it as I had never been given my rights or the opportunity to waive them. He maintained I was his wife under the laws of Islam and continually refused to say the words "I divorce you" and so this is a big worry for me now.
I have not seen him for 4 years and have no form of contact with him. I now wish to remarry but I am worried that in the sight of Allah perhaps I am still married? I am confused about whether I was ever really married in Islamic law. It is very difficult to discuss this matter with my future husband – he is aware of the previous situation and knows the family who I have since discovered make a business out of swindling foreign women and told my future husband this to his face. They even offered to "sell" me to him i.e. leave us alone if we pay them a large sum of money. They have attempted to get my future husband sacked from his job (he is a police officer and had arrested my previous partner for the violence and theft against me). I have several court cases against my ex and two of his brothers for threats, violence and theft – I already have 2 court judgements in my favour against them.
My future husband says that this man was intending to defraud and cheat me from the beginning and never intended to treat me properly as a wife or respect my rights in Islam – he says the marriage process was a deliberate sham (fake) and just acting like a sort of theatre and lies to let me think I am married but in reality, I was just someone they all wanted to exploit financially. So my future husband says they are just professional criminals and the Islamic vows do not count in the sight of Allah because their intention was evil and not really from the beginning.
In Egypt where I had this informal marriage, it is considered to be an end to the informal 'marriage' if either party destroys the contract and chooses to end the relationship. They call it an 'orfi' (unofficial) marriage as it is never registered in the court and does not require the legal process of divorce. Some sheikhs here are of the view that these 'orfi' marriages are haram and invalid and are used only as an excuse for cohabitation, which is illegal in Egypt.
If I now enter into an officially legal and registered marriage to my future husband through the Egyptian court will this mean I am also considered his wife from an Islamic standpoint? I do not want to do anything Haraam and my future husband is a good Muslim and seems clear that the previous marriage situation does not count Islamically and any pseudo-legal aspect has been nullified by me destroying the informal contract and leaving the relationship.
Please advise if I can go ahead with a new marriage and will be halal for me and my future husband.
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Firstly I am sorry to hear the difficulties you have gone through. One cannot imagine the trauma of having gone through the suffering and abuse you have endured. May Allah (swt) rectify and make easy your affairs and ease your heart.
With the limited information available in your letter, taking it on face value alone, it is clear that you have a valid marriage contract -despite there not being a Mahr. Absence of a Mahr weakens a marriage contract but does not invalidate the contract. My advice is that you take this matter in person with the necessary paperwork related to your nikah and either seek to have your contracted annulled. This is the best that can be advised within the limited scope of going by just your account without the finer details.
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Moinul Abu Hamza
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham