Question # 483: I live in the USA and I recently got married in a different country. My marriage was in person, but I just did nikah, filed the papers, and the marriage was not consummated, nor did we do walima. Can I tell my wife to do walima on my behalf during my absence? I can’t go to my country due to covid. Thanks in advance!
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Scholars of Islam are not in agreement with respect to the timing of waleemah (wedding banquet). Some believe that it should be held at the time of the marriage contract itself while others think that it should be held after it. Others believe that it should be held at the time of bringing the bride home or right after it. Ibn Hajar reported that there is clear and sound evidence in the case of Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)’s marriage to Zainab (رضي الله عنها), where he held his waleemah after the bride was brought to him and he stayed alone with her. Nevertheless, the sunnah is to make waleemah a sign of marriage and this could be held at any of the above times.
So, in your case, you can wait after you bring your wife to the USA to hold Waleemah or if it’s the part of the tradition and culture of your country of marriage to hold Waleemah after nikah, then there is no harm in holding the wedding banquet on your behalf (in your absence).
Long Answer: The marriage waleemah (marriage party) is a Sunnah [and not fard]. All the scholars are agreed on its lawfulness. It’s not limited to a given period. So, it can be done anytime. [But,] it is best to do the wedding feast (waleemah) after the marriage is consummated, following the example of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). But if that is not possible, then there is nothing wrong with doing it before the marriage is consummated, or when the marriage contract is done, or after that. The matter is broad in scope, but it is better to pay attention to what is usually done in one’s country because there is no shar‘i text to indicate that it is obligatory or mustahabb (recommended) to do it at a certain time.
[The views of the various fuqaha in this regard are as follows:]
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said: The salaf differed concerning the time (for the wedding feast): should it be at the time of the marriage contract, or after it, or just before consummation of the marriage, or after that; it could be at any time from when the marriage contract is first done until after the marriage is consummated. There are several scholarly opinions. [He also reported from Al-Subki that he said: ‘What is narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is that he did his waleemah after the bride was brought to him and [he] stayed alone with her’.] (Fath al-Baari)
Imam al-Shafi’i says: It is more preferable to do it just after the first contact with the wife…
As-San‘aani said: Al-Mawardi, one of the Shafi‘is, stated that it should be just before consummation of the marriage. As-Sibki said: What has been narrated concerning the action of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is that it comes after consummation of the marriage. It is as if he was referring to the story of the marriage of Zaynab bint Jahsh because Anas said: When the day dawned, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was a bridegroom to Zaynab, and he invited the people (to a meal). Al-Bayhaqi included this hadith under the heading: Chapter: The time of the waleemah. (Subul as-Salaam)
The hadith of Anas was narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim as follows: “When the day dawned the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was a bridegroom to Zaynab bint Jahsh, whom he married in Madinah, and he invited the people to eat in the forenoon.” According to [another] version narrated by al-Bukhari: “When the day dawned, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was a bridegroom to her, then he invited the people and they had some food.”
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: The time and description of the waleemah in the hadith of Zaynab indicate that it followed consummation of the marriage. (Al-Ikhtiyaaraat al-‘Ilmiyyah)
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said: The hadith of Anas clearly indicates that it came after consummation because he said: “When the day dawned, he was a bridegroom to Zaynab and he invited the people …” Some of the Maalikis regarded it as mustahabb for it to just before consummation, which should come after it; [in other words, the waleemah be done at the time of bringing the bride to her groom and that her staying alone with him should be after that] and this is what people do nowadays. (Fath al-Baari)
Al-Mardawi said: It is better to say that the recommended time is flexible; it may be at any time from when the marriage contract is done until the end of the days of the wedding. That is because there is a report to support that, and because joy is greatest after consummation. But the custom nowadays to do it shortly before consummation. (Al-Insaaf)
Ad-Dameeri said: The fuqaha’ did not set a specific time for the wedding feast, but the correct view is that it should be after consummation of the marriage. The shaykh (i.e., as-Sibki) said: It is permissible to do it before or after; the matter is flexible and it may be done at any time after the marriage contract is done, as was stated by al-Baghawi (Al-Najm al-Wahhaaj)
Ibn Tuloon said: The more correct view is that one should refer to what is customary. (Fass al-Khawaatim fima qeela fi’l-Walaa’im)
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan said: The time for giving the wedding feast flexible, starting from the time of the marriage contract until the end of the days of the wedding. (al-Mulakhkhas al-Fiqhi)
According to Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America: “Once the marriage contract (nikah) is conducted, the couples become legitimate spouses who are allowed to have conjugal relation. But in some cultures, people delay the marital relation until the wedding ceremony (waleemah) is held. Being in compliance with the traditions and cultures is acceptable in Islam as long as it does not prohibit what is lawful or allow what is prohibited.”
So, in the given case, you can wait after you bring your wife to the USA to hold waleemah or if it’s the part of the tradition and culture of your country of marriage to hold waleemah after nikah, then there is no harm in holding the wedding banquet on your behalf (in your absence).
(The above answer – shorter version has been verified by Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)
(Unless stated otherwise, the longer version of the reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:
- Islamqa.info; and
- Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.