Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi
The person who has the power or choice of getting a boy or girl married is called a wali.
The Question of Compatibility or Kufu1. The Shar i ‘ah has taken great precautions in ensuring that nikah with an incompatible person or a person of a lower social standing does not take place. In other words, do not perform the nikah of a girl with a man who is not equal to her in status or who is of no match to her.
2. Compatibility or equality is considered in several factors: (1) lineage, (2) Islam, (3) piety, (4) wealth, (5) profession or occupation.
Equality in Lineage
1. Equality in lineage is that the Shaykh, Sayyid, Ansari, and ‘Alawi are all equal to each other. In other words, although the status of a Sayyid is more than the others, if the daughter of a Sayyid marries a Shaykh boy; it will not be said that she did not marry someone who is of her family relations. Instead, it will also be regarded as if she has married one of her relatives.
2. In matters of lineage, the lineage of the father is considered and not the mother. If the father is a Sayyid, the son is also a Sayyid; and if the father is a Shaykh, the son is also a Shaykh - irrespective of what the mother may be. If a Sayyid marries a woman who is not a Sayyid, their son will be regarded as a Sayyid. This son will be equal in status to all other Sayyids. Although the son whose father and mother are both from a noble family is respected more, according to the Shariah they will all be regarded as relatives or of the same social standing.
3. The Moghuls and Pathans are regarded as one nation and are not of the same class as that of the Sayyids and Shaykhs. If the daughter of a Sayyid or Shaykh gets married with one of them, it will be said that she married someone who is of a lower social standing than her.
Equality in being a Muslim
1. Equality in being a Muslim is only considered among the Moghuls, Pathans, and other non-Arab nations. There is no consideration of this among the Shaykhs, Sayyids, ‘Alawis, and Ansaris. A man who accepts Islam and his father was a kafir cannot be on par or equal to a woman who is a Muslim and her father was also a Muslim. The man who is a Muslim, his father is also a Muslim, but his grandfather was a kafir; cannot be equal to a woman whose grandfather was also a Muslim.
2. A man whose father and grandfather were Muslims, but his great grandfather was a kafir will be regarded as equal to a woman whose several forefathers were Muslims. In short, this equality is only considered till the grandfather. Equality beyond the grandfather, such as the great grandfather and beyond him is not considered.
Equality in Piety
Equality in piety means that a man who does not follow the dictates of the Shar i ‘ah - who is a wicked person, a scoundrel, an alcoholic, a shameless person - will not be considered to be equal to a pious, chaste and religious woman.
Equality in Wealth
Equality in wealth means that a person who is an absolute pauper cannot be compatible to a rich woman. If the man is not an absolute pauper, but is capable of giving that amount of mahr that is normally given on the first night and is also capable of giving her maintenance, then he will be regarded to be equal to her in status even if he is unable to give the entire amount of mahr. It is not necessary for the man to be in exactly the same financial position as that of the woman. Nor is it necessary for him to be close to that financial position.
Equality in Occupation
1. Equality in occupation is that, e.g. weavers are not regarded as equal to tailors and are accorded a status that is lower than that of tailors. Similarly, barbers, washermen, etc. are not regarded as being equal to tailors, but are regarded as being lower than tailors.
2. A mad, lunatic person cannot be equal to an intelligent, understanding woman.