Telecommunications – Marriage and Divorce
al-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
The conditions for a valid marriage contract include the bride's guardian offering his charge's hang in marriage, and the groom accepting it. Writing is not considered an acceptable alternative to articulation, however a deaf person's gesture is accepted, and provided he is present: his writing is even more acceptable.
Contrast this with divorce: if a husband were to write something indicating that he had divorced his wife, it would effect a divorce unless he claimed he was working on his penmanship.
Thanks to modern technology – and may we all thank Allah for the innumerable blessings He has bestowed upon us – there are a few new scenarios to take into account:
Can the phone be used to convey these utterances when making the marriage contract?
No, identification of the parties is a central part
of the marriage contract, and it is not rare that line distortion
becomes great enough that even intimates cannot identify one another
Can text messages or email be used for carrying out the marriage contract?
No, because this is the same as writing, as well as
resembling the issue of using the phone. Identification is a central
part of the marriage contract, and text messages and email are open
to forgery and other forms of tampering..
Can text messages and email be used for reporting a divorce? Should the wife consider herself divorced?
The wife should seek confirmation through more secure
and authentic means, given that these technologies are open to
forgeries and other forms of tampering, and because it is also easy
to make mistakes when entering the address.
But there is a small twist here: if both parties are familiar with digital signatures and the message is signed with the husband's signature and the wife verifies it, then this may be sufficient enough.
These answers are based on a lesson this morning. While they follow when the rulings in the madhhab are applied to new cases, they should not be given the weight of a fatwa.
Should anyone be faced with these cases, they should not depend on this message or any other message on the Internet. Instead they should seek an answer from a living scholar there there may be additional circumstances.
And Allah knows best.
Wa al-salamu `alaykum,