Wanted: A Good Wali

Reading the Complete Stranger Marriages post and subsequent comments stirred up a question in my mind, just how does a convert find a good wali?

Some say the local imam, in my experience this is not a good idea. Many imams while they may be knowledgeable in the religion, are extremely busy, and may only be able to be a good wali for their own daughters. What good is a wali that you don’t know and they don’t know you, you can’t get in touch with, that may decide to make hijrah somewhere or their visa is not renewed?

Some say your friend’s husband, father, brother, etc. Again, as in the situation with the imam, what good is a stranger who doesn’t have any connection to you nor you to them. I tend not to eyeball people male or female so except for two or three sisters who husbands accompanied us on some sort of outing, I would not be able to pick a friend’s husband out of a lineup.

And for me to trust someone to be my wali, I feel like I would have to know something about their character and religious committment. I want to know that I can speak to them without their wife getting upset or jealous about issues I may have with any potential spouse and how they would react. I want to know that if there was a dispute between my husband and I that my wali would not be disinterested, could listen objectively, offer constructive advice, and beat the guy up if necessary. I don’t know any of the husbands of my friends well enough to say even half of that about them.

Then there’s the no wali option but that’s a bit questionable Islamically although there are valid differences of opinion.

Perhaps, I should put an ad in the Muslim Link newspaper: Convert sister looking for a good wali.

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Author: Ify Okoye

Muslim woman, RN, & rebel with a cause.

17 thoughts on “Wanted: A Good Wali”

  1. Many sisters are under the impression that her wali is someone that she can contact whenever and wherever she wants. This is not the case. When having a wali all transactions or conversations are to be done in the public eye, Or with a witness involved. The only time you are allowed to talk to a man alone is if he is a mahram. And under the public eye…like your mahram/imam.

    MA you really shouldn’t expect for just any brother to be your wali…especially those that happen to be your friends husbands. I actually asked about this recently and I was told that a woman should try and find an older more knowledgeable, and trustworthy brother if she couldn’t find an imam or public figure to be her wali.

    You also shouldn’t assume that it’s a bad thing when some sisters get upset or jealous when some woman talks to her husband…a lot of sisters have really evil and bad intentions in their hearts…and from experience i can tell you that. And any woman has a right to be jealous of their husband. now i’m saying like pyscho now…lol. but you understand? The thing is single sisters would never know what its like unless they themselves get married. then only would they understand like wise the same for brothers.

  2. Asalamu alaykum,

    My point is that I don’t just want any wali, I want a good one. Personally, I have had a couple of imams step in as a wali on an interim basis but I never really felt comfortable with them because I don’t know them and they know don’t me. And imams can be very busy and difficult to contact.

    I don’t know any sisters’ husbands that well so I can’t say that I would want them to be my wali, either. I have no problem with the jealousy thing, I think people often forget that women have a lot of gheerah as well. That’s actually a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time.

    So what then is the solution? No wali or my non-Muslim father or brother with a pious brother as a window dressing wali. Quite frankly, I feel more comfortable with my family and feel they could do a better job except in giving Islamic advice or satisfying the pious Muslim requirement than anyone else.

    I know the various ahadeeth and fiqhi rulings on having a wali and so I lean towards having one but feel it would just be to fulfill an external requirement, which is lacking in the real intent and purpose of having a wali. And again there is also the issue of just how does a sister find a pious brother to be her wali?

  3. Make dua sister and May Allah make your affairs easy for you. I know it’s difficult but that is what the job of the imam is for and if he can’t do it then he should try to appoint someone he knows and trust. Your never going to know your wali that well anyway MA he is not your mahram just a guardian over you so its not like your going to get to know him on a personal level.

    BTW if your family is supportive of your deen then i think you should just stick to them. Alot of times many brothers too have bad intentions for you. So just be careful you know? just beause your family isn’t muslim doesnt mean they want bad for you. I have found that some sisters have said they had better guardianship from their families even though they were kafirs, more than the men from the masjid.

  4. Shaykh Isaam answered a question pertaining to this issue:

    “…Yes definitely a Kafir father is a wali. This is the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Ashafiee and it’s the strong opinion I have no doubt about it.

    The father whether he’s Muslim or not he cares about his daughter so he’s still a wali. If the father abuses his right then he’s not a wali and Muslims or non Muslims are the same in this matter.

    There’s though another weak opinion says he’s not a wali based on the aya
    { والمؤمنون والمؤمنات بعضهم أولياء بعض}
    Believers are to each other supports.
    But this is not true about marriage.
    When I was once asked about it I thought there’s consensus since Imam Ibn Al Munthir mentioned it but that’s not the case.
    So again the Father can be a wali if he’s a christian or a jew that’s the right opinion no doubt.

    The aya is not an evidence. No one nowaydays says the kafir can’t be a sponser for my visa or my work all muslims do it. Yet when it comes to his daughter they say you can’t be her wali!..”

    Link: http://talk.islamicnetwork.com/showthread.php?t=7920&highlight=wali

    This maybe of some relief. Cheers.

  5. Asalamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah,

    Alhamdulillah, Allah has always protected me and has been ever merciful to me so I’m not too worried. I just want to make sure that in sha Allah, if I get married everything is on the up and up. There’s always all this talk about having a wali present but it has never seemed right to me that I should feel more comfortable in the presence of two non-mahram men.

    Nuqtah, may Allah reward you for that link to Shaykh Isam’s opinion. Btw, no hard feelings about that other thread, it’s all water under the bridge.

    I think the argument for having a Muslim wali is rather compelling but I’ll have to do so more research into matter and ask the people of knowledge that I trust before coming to a definite conclusion.

  6. It’s cool, although I must admit I was angered. But like a brot advised a muslim shouldnt sleep while having grudges against fellow muslims.

    wassalam.

  7. as-salaam alaykum,

    A few general points:

    – Walis are not often thought about in communities that are majority immigrant/people born to Muslim parents. When the Imam is asked to be the wali, it is usually as a stand in to do the marriage contract.

    – In convert communities, sometimes the wali will not find a better candidate to marry the sister than himself – especially if she is young with no children. This is why you find that the wali’s wife gets jealous and thinks the wali is trying to marry the sister himself (sometimes she’s right)

    – Others look at it as a burden that they just don’t want to deal with. They will berate a sister for being too picky (because she wants her husband to have such things as a secure and stable job and a place to stay)

    – The “no wali” option is out of the question as far as I’m concerned as there are just way too many shady brothers out there that are very good at looking upright and pious. Sisters may be fooled by these brothers, but they will not get pass a good wali. These brothers I speak of that have been married upwards of 15-20 times are “the pious brothers”

    After the obvious things one should look at, my advice to you is:

    – Don’t be pressured into getting married, as you can do bad by yourself and 1000X worse with someone else in your life making things miserable. Don’t look at someone else’s situation from the outside and let it pressure you to get married either. I have seen some fatal attraction situations and – as I mentioned in my post – had a friend that was murdered by his lunatic wife.

    – Whoever your wali is, be very very picky in choosing a husband. Do not let anyone pressure you. Resolve to stay single rather than enter a quickie marriage that could ruin your life.

    – Your wali should examine the prospect with a microscope (figuratively speaking of course), then let you examine him with one. He should even ask questions like “What were his last 3-4 jobs” (shows stability), “Is he moody?”, “How many friends he have”, “Who did he hang with?” Check his background as if it is an FBI background check for top secret clearance.

    – Not only get an AIDS test, but test for other STDs. Sisters have married brothers without AIDS, but had other STDs

    – Beware green card situations

    – If it gets serious – whether he is a convert or not – try to meet his family. At the very least find out what his family is like. In one way or another it will effect the marriage.

    – If the prospect is an immigrant and his family does not approve of you – leave it alone. A situation like that can weigh on a marriage as they can and sometimes will make things difficult. Immigrant brothers have been known to dump convert sisters at the constant behest of their racist mothers.

    – If a situation gets serious, get some pre-marital counceling. Make an appointment with someone like Safi for example to do it.

    – After all that, make istikharah

    No situation is perfect, but we are trying to go for normal here…

    May Allah make it easy for you

  8. as salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah. There is another Imam located in Laurel, Abdul Jaleel Larry. He is West African. And he is known by the people of Hadeeth and he is well versed in the fiqh of marriage. I recommend him for the reasons mentioned above and because he is very supportive and thorough. If you would like contact him, email me.

    Muslim Apple:
    Asalamu alaykum, in sha Allah I’ll email you. I edited out your email address because I didn’t want it to be picked up by any spam trolling bots. May Allah reward you with an abundance of good.

  9. Asalaam alaikum,
    Like you MA, I was a convert with NO wali when I got married. But from my readings I read (pretty sound info) that
    said that I could negotiate my OWN contract with my husband. And I did. Althought I had an imam look over it and
    make sure that is it was in accordance with the Koran and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saws). Thank Allah
    (swt) that i married into a family that was very supportive of my rights as a muslimah and am able to go to my
    in-laws for ashurah if needed.
    Make dua…for the right HUSBAND first. Someone with the best family who will ensure your rights at all costs. Then for t
    the right wali.
    I’ve heard that it’s very hard for sister’s who are converts to GET married because of this problems..but all things are
    possible when we focus our efforts and intentions on Allah(swt). Also you might want to get to know your sister’s better
    Just because you don’t SPEAK to her husband doesn’t mean that he would be able to stand in for you if and when needed.
    A women can be the best judge of her husband or the potentential of men to BE husbands.
    Insha~allah I was a help and not a henderance.
    ma salaama
    Ummie

  10. Asalamu alaykum Ummie,

    I’ve read through the various opinions and proofs about wilayah and have studied it with a few teachers and believe it is better to have a wali yet perfectly legitimate ijtihad such as that in Hanafi fiqh that a wali is not required.

    It seems that as is the case for many converts, most of us find a suitable candidate and then just present the other person to the wali to make everything official without actually getting a thorough compatibility check. But you’re right if you find a good husband, then you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the wali.

    Alhamdulillah, you are never a hindrance. 🙂

  11. Nuqtah, are you sure you are not referring to non Muslim male parents being mahram? I have never seen an opnion saying that they can be your Wali. Mahram is another story, you can’t change the blood ties.

  12. Assalamu Alaykum Sister
    I completely agree with your post!!!! In fact, im having the same problem! It seems every opinion from scholars on this seem to be idealistic and say that the imam can serve as our wali. but then at the same time, we are not allowed to find a brother without them and now days the imams have more things to do than get to know us to find us husbands. and even so, it rather seems like we are being asked to put our lives in the hands of a complete stranger…i can only pray for you and myself and all the other converts that Allah makes it easy for us.

  13. Wa alaykum salaam Allison,

    Ameen. I think that even if we accept that we should have a window dressing imam-type to be our wali, the best thing to do is to have our family involved as much as possible, even though they are non-Muslim they still love us, know us, and have our best interests at heart.

  14. salaam! I am so glad you posted this! I am a new convert to Islam, alhamdulillah, and I have a young son. Coming into Islam, I work at a small private Muslim academic school and I live here, too (it is a boarding school). All that is to say I am NEVER away from the school. And because of that, I never get the chance to actually be SEEN by brothers (it is an only girls school). When I had asked all my sisters if they knew anyone and finally decided they were not really looking, I went to a muslim matrimonial site (dont judge) and after weeding through the lame-oh’s and green card seekers, have settled on one brother. We get along great and keep things halaal and are amazingly compatible and I am confident he will make a wonderful father for my son (he has never met his father, as he lives overseas and will not come here, his choice). This brother plans to come here to meet me and wali (ummm…..assuming someone will do it!) in a few weeks, insha’allah. Both of us have prayed istikhara, too.

    But….but. No one has stepped up to be my wali! I have a good friend whose family I am close to, whose father is very respectable. He acted as a wali for a previous suitor. But, his own daughter is getting married in a month, so he is OVERWHELMED with his own life. When I try to reach him or his wife, or even my good friend….yeah, they are away. So, I asked an older brother associated with the school and he acted awkward and said he would discuss it with his wife. How do converts do this??? My convert friends had a friend of a friend of a friend act as a wali the day they had nikah, along with the imam. Should I go that route, assuming he comes here and we meet and he and my son mesh? Just call an imam and tell him i want to have nikah on such and such day and can he act as a wali?
    This is so important! If I , a new Muslim, want to be married and I am reaching out to the community to help me and NO ONE steps up, isn’t it on their heads if I marry without a wali? If I tried my darndest to find someone and finally got so tired of waiting, I married without consent? And what if this brother I seem so compatible with, who seems so serious about the deen…what if he is a fraud??? How am I supposed to judge the way a wali can??!!

    uuggghhh! Someone, anyone?

    1. Asalamu alaykum Khadijah,

      The wali situation is very difficult, particularly for converts, many imams are too busy to be an effective wali, they are often strangers so you don’t know them well and they don’t know you, and some in the process of getting to know you want to get married to you. I think the best thing to do is to have your family that loves and knows you as involved as possible and if you want a window dressing imam-type to just call one up to perform the nikkah. There should be a rent-a-wali service in each community 🙂

      May Allah make it easy for those seeking and striving to follow the straight path.

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