Is a marriage performed over Skype, Zoom, or online valid?
The first thing to note is that the witnesses only need to hear the offer and acceptance, they do not need to see and can even be blind. Also, a marriage can be performed by the proposer writing to the woman and her reading out the offer and acceptance in front of witnesses from her side:
“The witnesses’ hearing the speech of the two contracting parties is a condition for ratification of marriage… If the proposer writes the offer to her and she reads it out to the witnesses or says, ‘So and so wrote to me proposing to me, witness that I have indeed married myself to him’ the marriage is valid because the witnesses heard her speech with the acceptance of the contract and they heard the speech of the proposer by her making them her it; either by her reading the letter or expressing what is in it.”
(Al-Muhit al-Burhani, Chapter of Marriage, Section 12 regarding marriage via correspondence and marriage with an absent person)
The second thing to note is that the bride and groom do not need to be in the same room or house for the marriage to be valid as long as the witnesses clearly know who is performing the marriage:
“If a man says to a group of people, ‘Bear witness that I have married this woman in this house” and she says, “I accepted’ and the witnesses hear her statement but do not see her personally; if she is alone in the house, then it is valid because there is no obscurity, but if she is with another woman in the house, then it is not valid because the obscurity is strongly established. This is the same if she authorises a man and the witnesses heard her statement but did not see her personally, thus, it is according to what we mentioned in the two scenarios.”
(Al-Muhit al-Burhani, Chapter of Marriage, Section 7 regarding witnessing the marriage)
Thirdly, one person can take control of both ends of the contract, namely the offer and acceptance, even if they are not the bride or groom e.g. if the bride and groom gave authorisation to a third party to conduct the marriage, the agent can conduct the marriage in front of witnesses without either the bride or groom being present:
“One person can take control of both ends of the contract whether they are a guardian or an agent, a guardian and an agent, an original person and an agent, or a guardian and original person.”
(Al-Ikhtiyar, Chapter of Marriage)
The conclusion is that marriage via Skype, Zoom, and other online mediums can be validated from a number of angles as long as the witnesses hear the offer and acceptance and obscurity of the participants is removed.
Answered by Shaykh Bilal Brown