Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan
Question: Assalam alaykum,
What is the process for delivering a proposal to a family?
If the girl is an illegitimate child and estranged from her father, can the proposal be given to someone else?
Answer: Wa alaykum al-Salam
May Allah reward you for your question.
The proposal process is not cast in stone and differs from culture to culture. As long as a given culture does not contradict the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, then there is no problem in adhering to that culture. The following however are important considerations:
1. When a brother shows interest in a sister, the correct procedure would be for him to approach her wali our guardian, either directly or through the medium of someone. The wali is the father, then the grandfather, then the brother and then the paternal uncle.
Note that in many Arab cultures, the mother would go and meet the potential sister and her mother, and would thereafter decide whether she is a suitable spouse for her son or not. Nonetheless,
2. If the brother has not seen or spoken to the sister before and the wali agrees to consider him as a potential spouse for his daughter, he would arrange a meeting between the two of them for viewing and discussion. This meeting may recur until both parties agree to marriage. These meetings should be strictly in the presence of her mahram and usually does not happen more than thrice unless there’s a need.
3. Once the couple reaches an agreement, they would pray Salah al-Istikharah which sort of acts as a rubber stamp. In other words, once the couple has weighed the pros and cons and reached a decision that they would like to pursue the marriage, they would pray istikharah asking Allah that if the marriage is good for them in this world and the next that He realizes it for them; and if it is not good for them, that he turns them away from it. Thus the couple should believe that when the marriage materializes that it came from Allah; and when it does not, it also came from Allah.
4. After the couple agreed to marry, a formal proposal would take place. Here cultures tend to differ considerably. I’m also assuming that your question is directed at this formal proposal. It is acceptable for the suitor to send a representative as how it is fine for him to attend in person. Similarly, the “fiancee to be” may or may not be present. The important thing, and this is where our local culture tends to drift off a bit, is that she should be dressed appropriately and modestly. Also, even though engaged, contact between them is still impermissible and thus holding hands or even a peck kiss, is totally unacceptable. Answering your question, the proposal is delivered to the wali or his representative and the wali would accept the proposal after consulting the sister. Note that when the wali is the father or grandfather, they are not obliged to consult their daughter or granddaughter, it is however recommend.
Your final question regarding an illegitimate father. The father is only considered illegitimate, when the child was born out of wedlock or prior to 6 months in wedlock. When it is established that the fiancee is an illegitimate child in a non-Muslim country, she has one of two options, namely, tawliyah or tahkim. Tawliyah is when she appoints a man of integrity to act as her wali. Tahkim is where she appoints, with her fiance, a scholar as an ad hoc judge to marry her off to her fiance.
And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.