Wednesday, 11 July 2007


Internet’s Influence on Muslim Personal Law

A recent pronouncement, in India, relating to the validity of a Nikah (a Muslim marriage) solemnised online once again attests to the pervasive power of Internet. As reported by The Times of India, the Darul Uloom, Deoband pronounced that “a marriage solemnised in the bodily absence of a party with the help of the Internet, is acceptable if the proceedings take place in presence of two witnesses.” Maulana Khalid Safiullah Rehmani, the Chairman of Islamic Council of India, explained the rationale behind this ruling as follows: “In such a marriage, Internet is assigned the role of a vakil who is authorised to formally receive Ijaab aur Qubool (offer and acceptance) made by both parties.”

People familiar with the law of contract might see that the reasoning of Maulana sits well with the observation of Thesiger L J in Household Fire Insurance Co. v Grant (1879) 4 Ex.D. 216, wherein he saw “no better mode than that of treating the post office as the agent” of both contracting parties. Since marriage is a contract under Muslim law and Internet is now widely accepted as a medium of entering into contracts, the Internet Nikah pronouncement might look as a logical conclusion. Nevertheless, one should keep in mind how this ruling modifies what is regarded by many as a highly conservative personal law which discriminates against women.

It is clear, however, that this interpretation does not dispense with the requirement of two witnesses which are required to be present for a valid Nikah under the Sunni law. This then raises the question where should these “two” witnesses be present assuming that the bride and groom are based in two different cities (or even continents)? It is worth considering if one witness each at both the locations should satisfy the requirement. This would also probably help in resolving the potential disputes that might arise in online marriages.

Finally, it is worth investigating if this legitimisation of Internet Nikahs is going to work for or against the Muslim women generally.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?