Islam on Forced Marriage

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Kaleef K. Karim

It has been a custom in the media frenzy to link forced marriages that are committed in some Asian-Muslim communities, to link it to Islam.  This prompted me to write this article and show that Islam forbids forced marriages. In Islam for a marriage to be valid there has to be mutual consent from both parties.

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1. Quran on Forced Marriage

Let’s see what the Quran says on forced marriage:

Quran 4:19 “O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may Take away part of the dower ye have given them,except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.”

So the above passage from the Quran is crystal clear that men cannot inherit women against their will. This passage alone is enough evidence that Islam forbids it, but we will go further.

2. Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (p) on Marriage

The following sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (p) makes it abundantly clear that in order for a marriage to be legal and not against God Almighty’s law, one has to ask permission from the female in marriage. A marriage cannot go ahead unless she is consulted and she has given approval for the marriage. If she refuses and says ‘I do not want to get married’, then her wishes must be fulfilled and not go against her decision.

(1) Abu Hurairah narrated that: The Prophet said: “A matron should not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin should not be given in marriage until her permission is sought, and her silence is her permission.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi Volume 2, Book 6, Hadith 1107)

(2) Abu Hurairah reported the Prophet as saying “A woman who has been previously married should not be married until her permission is asked nor should a virgin be married without her permission.“ They (the people) asked “What is her permission, Apostle of God? He replied “it is by her keeping silence.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 11, Hadith 2087)

(3) Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p) said, “A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Messenger ()! How can we know her permission?” He said, “Her silence (indicates her permission). (Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 62, Hadith 67)

(4) It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘An orphan girl should be consulted with regard to marriage, and if she remains silent, that is her permission. If she refuses then she is not to be forced.'” (Sunan an-Nasa’i Volume 4, Book 26, Hadith 3272)

(5) Abu Hurairah narrated that: The Messenger of Allah said: “An orphan is to be consulted about herself, then if she is silent that is her permission, and if she refuses, then do not authorize it (the marriage) for her” (meaning: when she attains the age of puberty and refuses it.)  (Jami` at-Tirmidhi Volume 2, Book 6, Hadith 1109)

Thus, it is clear from the abundant sayings of the Prophet Muhammed (p) cited in the above Hadiths, that for a marriage to go ahead the person has to be consulted, her permission must be given. She cannot be given in marriage without her permission. Furthermore Professor Paul Gwynne in his book ‘World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction’, says that for a marriage to be valid in Islam there has to be mutual consent from both parties:

“Marriage is considered to be of the utmost importance in Islam and there is extensive material in both the Quran and the hadith on the vital role it plays in the life of faith. It is often described as having both a vertical and a horizontal dimension. On the vertical plane, marriage is understood as an act of worship in that it is pleasing to Allah and fulfills the divine plan. According to tradition, Muhammad declared that no institution is more loved by Allah. Moreover, when a person marries he has completed ‘half of his religious obligations.’ On the horizontal plane, marriage is a legal contract between two individuals. In this sense, it requires the usual elements of any contract: mutual consent between the parties, specified conditions, and public witness. As in many cultures, Islamic marriages have been arranged for much of history and this is still common practice today. The involvement of parents and family in the selection of a suitable partner is based on the principle that marital success cannot be founded on romantic love alone. Long-term compatibility is an essential factor that includes considerations such as moral character and religious faith. Marriage is seen as not only the union of two individuals but also the joining of two families, and thus broader interests must be taken into account. However, an arranged marriage is not a forced marriage and Islamic law stipulates that the free consent of both parties is necessary for its validity, even if the bride acts through her official guardian, or wali.”[1]

3. “Can a girl ask for divorce, if she was forced into marriage?”

The answer is yes, she can ask for divorce if she was not consulted into marrying someone. The blessed Prophet Muhammad (p) in the following Hadith, where a girl was forced into marrying someone by her father and Prophet Muhammad cancelled the marriage because she was not consulted.

Narrated Al-Qasim:  “A woman from the offspring of Ja`far was afraid lest her guardian marry her (to somebody) against her will. So she sent for two elderly men from the Ansar, `AbdurRahman and Mujammi’, the two sons of Jariya, and they said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for Khansa’ bint Khidam was given by her father in marriage against her will, then the Prophet cancelled that marriage.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 9, Book 86, Hadith 99)

Furthermore in another narration recorded a virgin came to the Prophet Muhamed (p) and mentioned that her father married her against her will, so the Muhmmad (p) allowed her to exercise whether she wanted to stay married or get a divorce.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: “A virgin came to the Prophet (p) and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet allowed her to exercise her choice.” (Sunan Abi Dawud Book 11, Hadith 2091)

As you read the above saying of Prophet Muhammad (p), he gave the virgin a choice to stay married or get divorced.

Conclusion: We can see from the ample of evidences shown from the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (p) that forced marriages are not part of Islam. It is evident from everything shown that forcing to marry someone against their will in Islam is forbidden.

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Reference:

[1] World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction [Copyright 2009] By Professor Paul Gwynne

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13 Responses »

  1. Quick question:

    Given that Aisha was six when she married Muhammad, are you arguing that she consented to the marriage?

    • That is indeed correct. She didn’t refuse at all. If however, that is not enough for you for one could argue that she was too young to realise and understand what was going on. Then we notice later on in her life she never condemned this marriage when she was older, she later went on to become a great scholar of Islam, as well as a great military commander. We notice also that she was very vocal on many matters if she was to disprove she would have been one that would have done so.

      I hope this answers your question.

  2. I am very much satisfied with the answer….a girl should not be forced to marry on any condition….she has the right to give her consent on her free will for marriage…

    • interesting article, all i can say is people should have an open minded approach. Parents should listen to how their child feels, and work with their likes and dislikes. Finding a spouse for your child isn’t wrong, its helpful if anything, but let them make their own minds up about it all. Just guide them in the right direction. I used a marriage bureau to find my daughter a husband, she turned down a few herself after i vetted them and arranged a meet. But she eventually liked one and now i sit here wise and developed in my experience and i can confidently say this – listen, work with your child, use a marriage bureau if you do not know anyone who is suitably matched, and make sure your child is happy. That is very important. We used Hum marriage bureau as they were the cheapest we could find. Id recommend them to anyone looking for a partner. It is all halal! here is a link to their website http://www.hummarriage.com
      Good luck to anyone and everyone!

  3. interesting article, all i can say is people should have an open minded approach. Parents should listen to how their child feels, and work with their likes and dislikes. Finding a spouse for your child isn’t wrong, its helpful if anything, but let them make their own minds up about it all. Just guide them in the right direction. I used a marriage bureau to find my daughter a husband, she turned down a few herself after i vetted them and arranged a meet. But she eventually liked one and now i sit here wise and developed in my experience and i can confidently say this – listen, work with your child, use a marriage bureau if you do not know anyone who is suitably matched, and make sure your child is happy. That is very important. We used Hum marriage bureau as they were the cheapest we could find. Id recommend them to anyone looking for a partner. It is all halal! here is a link to their website http://www.hummarriage.com
    Good luck to anyone and everyone!

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