By default, the father of a woman is her wali. In case the father dies, this status will pass to either the grandfather or a brother of the woman - and here I'm already not sure whether a brother by only the same mother but a different father can become wali; similarly, whether the grandfather on the mother's side can become wali. I'm also not sure if only brothers and grandfathers can become the wali of a woman due to being related to her (eventually the state will be her wali if no eligible person is alive), or whether other male relatives will become wali in some order too. Thus my question:

Who will become wali of a woman due to being related to her, and in what order?

2 Answers 2


The wali can only come from paternal side and the order is as follows:

01 Father
02 Grandfather (from the father’s side)
03 Great Grandfather (from the father’s side)
04 Son
05 Grandson
06 Great Grandson
07 Oldest Full Brother
08 Next Oldest Full Brother (and so on…)
09 Oldest Half-Brother (from the Father’s side)
10 Next Oldest Half-Brother (from the Father’s side, and so on…)
11 Oldest son of a Full Brother (Nephew)
12 Next Oldest Son of Full Brother (Nephew, and so on…)
13 Oldest Son of a Half-Brother from the Father’s side (Nephew)
14 Next Oldest Son of a Half Brother from the Father’s side (Nephew, and so on…)
15 Grandson of Full Brother (oldest first)
16 Grandson of Half-Brother from the Father’s side (oldest first)
17 Oldest Paternal Uncle
18 Next Oldest Paternal Uncle (and so on…)
19 Oldest Son of Paternal Uncle (Cousin)
20 Next Oldest Son of Paternal Uncle (Cousin, and so on…)
21 Oldest Great (Paternal) Uncle
22 Next Oldest Great (Paternal) Uncle (and so on…) (source)

But Imam Malik considered a marriage valid even if a wali was "Jumped" or left out with the woman's consent. While the shafi'i and hanbali madhab are more strict (according this fatwa only available in Arabic and Urdu islamqa#150788).

And note that: no one can act as a wali for a woman’s marriage contract except one who is an adult of sound mind.

And if none of these walis are available or:

“If they dispute, then the ruler is the guardian of the one who has no guardian.” (see for example in sunan ibn majah)

Also read an other fatwa on islamqa#99696.

  • I noticed your comment: "Have you ever thought about the possibility that the Prophet himself was her guardian as the highest authority?" here... If this is the case, could you add it to your answer, with some information? Or if you wish I could post a question where you could answer, and just link to it in this answer.
    – Kilise
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 10:42
  • @Kilise that was just an assumption or my first thought i have no idea whether i could answer that question.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 19:38

From Tafsir Al Qurtubi on 2:221

الخامسة ـ وٱختلف العلماء في منازل الأولياء وترتيبِهم؛

فكان مالكٌ يقول: أوّلهم البنون وإن سَفَلوا، ثم الآباء، ثم الإخوة للأب والأُم، ثم للأب، ثم بنو الإخوة للأب والأُمّ، ثم بنو الإخوة للأب، ثم الأجداد للأب وإن عَلَوْا، ثم العُمومة على ترتيب الإخوة، ثم بنوهم على ترتيب بني الإخوة وإن سَفلوا، ثم المولى ثم السلطان أو قاضيه. والوصيُّ مقدّم في إنكاح الأيتام على الأولياء، وهو خليفة الأب ووكيلهُ؛ فأشبه حاله لو كان الأب حيّاً.

وقال الشافعي: لا ولايةَ لأحد مع الأب، فإن مات فالجد، ثم أبُ أبِ الجَدِّ؛ لأنهم كلهم آباء. والولاية بعد الجد للإخوة، ثم الأقرب. وقال المُزِنيُّ: قال في الجديد: من ٱنفرد بأُمٍّ كان أوْلَى بالنكاح؛ كالميراث. وقال في القديم: هما سواء.

قلت: وروى المدنيّون عن مالكٍ مثلَ قولِ الشافعيّ، وأنّ الأبَ أوْلى من الابن؛ وهو أحد قولي أبي حنيفة؛ حكاه الباجيّ. ورُوي عن المغيرة أنه قال: الجَدُّ أوْلَى من الإخوة؛ والمشهور من المذهب ما قدّمناه.

وقال أحمد: أحقّهم بالمرأة أن يزوّجَها أبوها؛ ثم الابن، ثم الأخ، ثم ٱبنُه، ثم العَمّ. وقال إسحاق الابن أوْلىٰ من الأب؛ كما قاله مالكٌ، وٱختاره ابنُ المنذر؛ لأن عمرَ بنَ أُمّ سلمة زوّجها بإذنها من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم. قلت: أخرجه النَّسائيّ عن أُمّ سلمة وترجم له (إنكاح الابن أمَّه).

[ Below is my own paraphrased translation and it can have mistakes. ]

Fifth: The Ulema differ about the Awliyah and their order.

Imam Malik said: From the Awliyah, the first is the son, no matter how much lower in line of descent he is. Then the father, then the brother who is from both the father and the mother. Then the half-brother who is just from the father, then the sons of the full brothers, then the sons of the half-brothers, then the ascendants from the father, no matter how removed they may be, then the owner [in case of a freed-slave?] then the sultan or Qadi(judge) ... [omitted part about orphans]

Imam Shafi said: No one shares the wilayah with the father. If the father dies then the grandfather, then the great-grandfather because all of them are the fathers. After the grandfathers it goes to the brothers, then to those who are nearer in relation to her. Mazni related the newer saying of Shafi that those from the mother are more eligible to be the wali, and the older saying is that they are both equal.

I (Qurtubi) say that the people of Medinah have narrated from Imam Malik a similar saying to that of Imam Shafi, that the father is more eligible to be the wali than the son, and the same is one of the two views narrated from Abu Hanifa. This is narrated from Albahi. It is narrated from Mughira that he said: The Grandfather is more eligible than the brothers. The popular view is the one narrated beforehand.

Imam Ahmad said: For the woman's nikah, the more eligible to be her wali is her father, then son, then brother, then the son of the brother, then the uncle (brother of father). Ishaq said: The son is more eligible than the father: as Imam Malik had said, and Ibn Munzar has adopted this since Umro bin Umm-e-Salmah married her with his/her(?) permission to the Prophet. I say that Nisai has narrated this from Umm-e-Salmah and given the title باب إِنْكَاحِ الاِبْنِ أُمَّهُ (A Son Conducting The Marriage For His Mother)

From Imam Nawawi's Minhaj Al Talibin, representing the Shafi school of thought:

The persons who hâve the right to assist a woman as guardian at her marriage are first of all the father, then father's father, then his father, then the whole brother or half brother on the father's side, then the latter's son or other agnate descendant, then father's whole brother or half brother on father's side ; and lastly the other agnates in the order in which they are called to the succession, *it being understood that a whole brother always has priority over a half brother on the father's side.

A son, though the nearest agnate, cannot give his own mother in marriage, since a right of guardianship does not pass into the descendant line ; he can only do so if he is also son of the son of his mother's father's brother, or by right as patron or as judge representing the Sovereign.

In default of agnates in the ascendant or collatéral line, a woman should be given in marriage by her patron, and after him by his agnates in the order in which they are called to the succession. In the case of an enfranchised slave who has no patron, but a patroness, she should be given in marriage by the individual who in thèse circumstances would be the guardian of the patroness, without the latter's consent being necessary. After the death of the patroness, the right of assisting the enfranchised slave as guardian devolves upon the same person as does the patronage.

Lastly, in default of patron, or agnates of patron or patroness, it is the Sultan who should assist the enfranchised slave who wishes to marry, as guardian of all the women in his empire who hâve no other, or whose guardian, whether agnate or patron, prevents the marriage by abusing his power.

Also see related query on islamqa.info, seems to be from the Shafi perceptive:

If there is no father, then the grandfather is the wali. If there is no grandfather then her brothers are her walis, and it is does not matter if they are younger than her, but it is essential that the wali be an adult. If one of her brothers is an adult then he is her wali, even if he is younger than her. ...

If all her brothers are minors, and none of them is an adult, then the role of wali passes to those who come next, namely the paternal uncles. If there are no paternal uncles then it passes to the sons of the paternal uncles (cousins).

If none of these walis are present, then the shar’i judge should act as wali for her marriage, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If they dispute, then the ruler is the guardian of the one who has no guardian.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (2083) and al-Tirmidhi (1102); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.

  • 1
    Thank you for this - I wasn't sure which answer to accept, I decided on Medi1Saif's answer in the end because it offers a quicker overview which might be more attractive for other people coming through here later on.
    – G. Bach
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 22:14
  • +1 for this great answer I'd like to update the order list I found showing the order based on differenr madhab views I assume that list is showing the shafi'i/hanbali view.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 6:43

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