You may have heard some terrible stories about young women who have been forced, by their family, into marriage with someone that they do not want to be with. You may have also heard that this is what the Muslims do. You may have heard this and you would be right.
But you need to know that, although there are Muslims who do this, who force their daughters into marriages without their consent, this is an unIslamic practise. And this is not something that is particular to Muslims either. There are forced marriages in a number of socieities and cultures, including the Indian and Pakistan cultures, some African cultures and I am sure it is more widespread than what I have cited here.
Allah Has Not Instructed the Muslims to act in this fashion and you will not find a shred of evidence for Forced Marriages in the Qur’an or in Hadith. So if you do come across something that claims a forced marriage is from Islam – that is wrong and you should challenge this claim.
Arranged Marriages are in accordance with Islam but Forced Marriages are not.
Marriage in Islam
In Islam, marriage is such an important thing as it is the centre of Islamic upbringing for children, has so many benefits for both spouses and their families and can bring communities and people together in a way that no other relationship can. This was demonstrated in many of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) marriages and there are plenty of authentic sources to read about those marriages.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When Allah Grants one a righteous wife, He Has Helped him (by that) to preserve half of his religion. Let him then fear and revere Allah in regard to the other half.” [At-Tabarani and Al-Hakim]
Marriage in Islam is between consenting Muslim men and women. It helps both parties to fulfil their desires without engaging in sinful acts such as fornication, pornography, incest and promiscuity. Marriage also has other benefits in that both husband and wife are partners to each other – each treating the other with respect. In fact the Qur’an’s description of this relationship is deeper than that. This is contrary to the myth that Islam says that Muslim husbands can treat their wives like garbage.
“They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them…” (Qur’an 2:187)
In Islam there is no marriage between two people of the same sex – this is not about intolerance to consenting adults but about condemning sinful acts. Western societies that have adopted this practise can clearly learn some morals and standards of behaviour from Islam.
Who is the wali (guardian) of the woman to be married?
The conditions of the walee are as follows:
- He should be of sound mind
- He should be an adult
- He should be free (not a slave)
- He should be of the same religion as the bride. A kaafir cannot be the walee of a Muslim, male or female, and a Muslim cannot be the walee of a kaafir, male or female, but a kaafir can be the walee of a kaafir woman for marriage purposes, even if they are of different religions. An apostate (one who has left Islam) cannot be a walee for anybody.
- He should be of good character (‘adaalah – includes piety, attitude, conduct, etc.), as opposed to being corrupt. This is a condition laid down by some scholars, although some of them regard the outward appearance of good character as being sufficient, and some say that it is enough if he is judged as being able to pay proper attention to the interests of the woman for whom he is acting as walee in the matter of her marriage.
- He should be male, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No woman may conduct the marriage contract of another woman, and no woman can conduct the marriage contract on behalf of her own self, because the zaaniyah (fornicatress, adulteress) is the one who arranges things on her own behalf.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, 1782; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7298)
- He should be wise and mature (rushd), which means being able to understand matters of compatibility and the interests of marriage.
The fuqahaa’ put possible walees in a certain order, and a walee who is more closely-related should not be ignored unless there is no such person or the relatives do not meet the specified conditions. A woman’s walee is her father, then whoever her father may have appointed before his death, then her paternal grandfathers, no matter how far the line of ascent reaches; then her son and his sons, no matter how far the line of descent reaches (this applies if she has a son); then her (full) brother through her father and mother; then her (half) brother through her father only; then their sons, no matter how far the line of descent reaches; then her paternal uncles; then their children, no matter how far the line of descent reaches; then the father’s paternal uncles; then the ruler. (al-Mughni 9/355). The Muslim leader (or his deputy, such as a qaadi or judge) is the walee for any woman who does not have a walee of her own.
The Responsibility of Walis (guardians)
A man does not need to have a wali (guardian) for marriage, but a woman does.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, according to the hadeeth narrated by ‘Aa’ishah: “Any woman who gets married without a wali, her marriage is invalid, invalid, invalid.”
[Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1102; classed as hasan by Abu Dawood, 2083; Ibn Maajah, 1879.]
It is the responsibiluty of a wali (guardian) to ensure a suitable husband for his female relative (or for the woman who is getting married). The wali needs to ensure that the suitor is of good Islamic character and can only object to a suitor upon a valid reason (not one based upon cultural practises or finances).
But if the wali repeatedly refuses the proposal of a compatible suitor, he is to be regarded as preventing the marriage of the female relative under his care, and his guardianship is thus rendered null and void, and that right is transferred to the next closest relative on the father’s side.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
If the wali refused to let a woman marry a man whose religious commitment and character are good, then guardianship passes to the next closest male relative on the father’s side, then the next closest and so on. If they refuse to arrange her marriage, as usually happens, then guardianship passes to the qaadi, and the qaadi should arrange the woman’s marriage. If the matter is referred to him and he knows that her guardians have refused to arrange her marriage, then he should do that, because he is the wali in cases where there is no specific wali.
It is not permissible for the walee to refuse marriage because the prospective husband does not follow his manhaj of da’wah, or because he is not of his tribe or from his country. The Prophet (ﷺ) commanded us to marry religious people and not to refuse them, otherwise corruption and tribulation would be the result.
The Qualities of the Husband
With regard to the conditions and qualities that should be present in the husband, the most important of these is religious commitment. The husband must be Muslim (marriage to a non-Muslim male is prohibited in Islam).
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “If there comes to you one with whose religious commitment and character you are pleased, then marry [your daughter or female relative under your care] to him, for if you do not do that there will be fitnah (tribulation) on earth and much corruption.”
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1005) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1084.
“Verily, the most honourable of you with Allaah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwaa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqoon (the pious)]” [al-Hujuraat 49:13]
“Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men) and good people for good statements (or good men for good women)” [al-Noor 24:26]
A’ishah (ra) reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Make a good choice for your sperm (ie. offspring); marry those who are compatible and get married to them.” [Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim]
The Qualities of the Wife
With regard to the conditions and qualities that should be present in the wife, the most important of these is religious commitment. The wife can be Muslim, Jew or Christian.
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) as saying: “A woman is sought in marriage for four reasons: wealth, social status, beauty and deen. So seek the one with deen – may you then be successful.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Asking for One’s Hand in Marriage
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) as saying: “A man must not make proposal of marriage to a woman when his brother has done so already. And he must not offer a price for a thing for which his brother had already offered a price; and a woman must not be combined in marriage with her father’s sister, nor with her mother’s sister, and a woman must not ask to have her sister divorced in order to deprive her of what belongs to her, but she must marry, because she will have what Allah has decreed for her.”
Consent of the wife
One of the shar’i conditions of marriage is the consent of the wife, because the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A previously-married woman should not be married without consulting her and a virgin should not be married without asking her permission.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, how does she give her permission?” He said, “If she remains silent.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4741; Muslim, 2543.
Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (ra) reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When one of you wants to give his daughter in marriage, he should take her permission.” [At-Tabarani]
No one has the right to force a girl to marry anyone, but at the same time she does not have the right to get married without her guardian’s permission.
The presence of the guardian is an important condition for a marriage to be valid, but a girl should not be forced into marrying someone who she does not want to marry, and she is not regarded as disobeying her parents in this case. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “The parents do not have the right to force their son to marry someone whom he does not want, and if he refuses he is not being disobedient, like eating something that he does not want.” Al-Ikhtiyaaraat, p. 344
‘A’ishah reported that a girl came to her and said, “My father married me to his brother’s son in order to raise his social standing, and I did not want this marriage [I was forced into it].” ‘Aa’ishah said, “Sit here until the Prophet (ﷺ) comes. The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) came and she told him about the girl. The Prophet (ﷺ) sent for her father, then he gave the girl the choice of what to do. She said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I have accepted what my father did, but I wanted to prove something to other women.” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i, 3217).
Ibn Abaas (ra) reported that a man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, “We have an orphan girl under our custody. A poor man and a rich man have both courted her. She prefers the poor man but we prefer the rich man. (What should we do?)” The Prophet (ﷺ) responded, “For those who like each other, nothing has proven as good as marriage.” [Ibn Majah, Hakim]
And he (ﷺ) said: “There is no marriage except with a wali and two witnesses of good character.” Narrated by al-Bayhaqi from the hadeeth of ‘Imraan and ‘Aa’ishah; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’ 7557.
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