Does Islam Allow Forced Marriages?

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asked May 19, 2015 by admin (4,420 points)

1 Answer

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Summary

Islam is a religion which commands justice towards others, and forbids oppression. Islam is also a religion that forbids forcing people to do things against their will. Forced marriage is something alien to Islam, and something which was openly opposed in the Qur’an, and by the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

The Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) issued an emphatic prohibition of forced marriage, as reported by his companion Abū Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him):

“A previously married woman must not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin must not be given in marriage until her permission is sought.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, how her permission [to be given?” He replied, “By her silence.” [al-Bukhārī: 5136, Muslim: 1419]

Furthermore, the actions of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) serve to emphasise this ruling. For example, he annulled the marriage of a woman who complained that she was forced to marry. As for Muslims who force others to marry, they either do so because they are choosing not to follow the commands of their religion, or because they are unable to distinguish between their religion and the actions of the people in their society.

Many people confuse the concept of an arranged marriage with a forced marriage. An arranged marriage is one where the couple are introduced for marriage by a third party, rather than by one of them proposing to the other. This is allowed by Islam, as long as the bride and groom enter into the marriage freely. Having said that, it is not the only way of Muslims finding a suitable marriage partner, and others prefer to search for themselves.

Full Answer

Islam is a religion which commands justice towards others, and forbids oppression. Allah said in the Qur’an:

“Indeed, Allah orders justice, good conduct, and giving to relatives; and forbids immorality, bad conduct, and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” [The Qur'an: an-Nahl 16:90]

Islam is also a religion that forbids forcing people to do things against their will. This is emphasised, even in the matter of religion, as we find in the Qur’an:

“There is no compulsion in religion; the right path has become distinct from the wrong…” [The Qur'an: al-Baqarah 2:256]

If there is no compulsion in the most important of matters, then it is even more deserving that no person be compelled by another in matters which are of lesser importance, such as marriage.

Forced marriage is something alien to Islam, and something which was openly opposed in the Qur’an, and by the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Allah said:

“O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them…” [The Quran: an-Nisaa’ 4:19]

Ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be pleased with him), the great scholar of Qur’an interpretation, and the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said regarding the above passage:

“When a man died [in the pre-Islamic period], his relatives had more right to his wife then her own [family]. If any one of them wanted to marry her, he did so; or they gave her in marriage; and if they did not want to marry her, they did so. So this passage was revealed about the matter.”

Therefore, we see that this passage is a clear and unequivocal statement forbidding forced marriage. However, it might be misunderstood that his only applies to forced marriages conducted after a woman’s husband passes away. The Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) issued an even more emphatic prohibition of forced marriage, as reported by his companion Abū Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him):

“A previously married woman must not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin must not be given in marriage until her permission is sought.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, how her permission [to be given?” He replied, “By her silence.” [al-Bukhārī: 5136, Muslim: 1419]

He also said:

“A [virgin orphan girl should be consulted about [her marriage; if she remains silent, this is her permission, but if she refuses, there is no forcing her.” [Abū Dāwood: 2093]

Furthermore, the actions of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) serve to emphasise this ruling, as reported by Ibn 'Abbās (may Allah be pleased with him):

“A young virgin woman came to the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and mentioned that her father had given her in marriage against her will, so the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) allowed her to exercise her choice.” [Abū Dāwood: 2096, Ibn Mājah: 1875]

In another narration, al-Qāsim narrated:

“A woman from the offspring of Ja‘far was afraid lest her guardian give her in marriage against her will, so she sent for two elderly men from the Anṣār [i.e., the companions of the Prophet], ‘Abdur-Raḥmān and Mujammi‘, the two sons of Jāriyah. They said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid, for Khansā’ bint Khidhām was given by her father in marriage against her will, then the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cancelled it.” [al-Bukhārī: 6969]

From the proofs mentioned above, we see that the Qur’an and the statements of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) clearly prohibit forced marriage, and that the judgements of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) serve as a practical implementation of these rulings which Muslims are obliged to follow. The scholars of Islam even differed over whether a woman has the choice to remain with her husband that she was forced to marry, with many of them saying that the marriage must be annulled and that should she wish to stay with him, the marriage contract must be carried out again with her express permission.

It may be noted that all of the discussion above relates to forcing women to marry men. This is by far the most common form of forced marriage. However, the scholars of Islam make no distinction in the prohibition of forcing a woman to marry or forcing a man. That is because it is understood from the texts that if forcing a woman to marry is forbidden, then forcing a man to marry must be equally forbidden, especially since there was no historical precedent for forcing a man to marry, whereas in pre-Islamic times, women were forced to marry against their will.

Having established the ruling of forced marriage in Islam, a person may respond by saying that forced marriages are conducted by Muslims, and in Muslim countries all over the world. In this regard, it is vital that the reader understands a number of important matters:

  • That there is a difference between what Islam commands and whether or not some Muslims choose to follow those commands. There are Muslims in the world who murder, lie, steal, cheat, fornicate, gamble, and drink alcohol. All of these things are prohibited in Islam, and are listed among the major sins which are deserving of severe punishment. Islam is no different in this regard to any other religion.
  • Of even greater concern is when Muslims use Islam to justify forced marriage. This happens when Muslims become unable to distinguish between their religion and the actions of the people in their society. There are many places in which forced marriage is common, either from practices that predate Islam, or through copying people of other religions who live in the same geographical area. Due to the fact that some of these societies have a large Muslim population, and because of a lack of proper Islamic education, some Muslims may presume that forced marriage is sanctioned in Islam. It is the job of Muslims who are educated to challenge this belief, and to prove it incorrect by quoting the evidence mentioned above.
  • Many people confuse the concept of an arranged marriage with a forced marriage. An arranged marriage is one where the couple are introduced for marriage by a third party, rather than by one of them proposing to the other. For example, a woman looking to get married may have an older sister who is married. The older sister’s husband may know of someone who he thinks would be a good match for her, and so they are introduced to each other, and then they make their own decision as to whether or not they want to get married. Muslims don’t enter into relationships before marriage, and so this is a common way for couples to meet, with a view to getting married. This is allowed by Islam, as long as the bride and groom enter into the marriage freely. Having said that, it is not the only way of Muslims finding a suitable marriage partner, and others prefer to search for themselves.

In summary, Islam is a religion which commands justice towards others, and forbids oppression. Islam is also a religion that forbids forcing people to do things against their will. Forced marriage is something alien to Islam, and something which was openly opposed in the Qur’an, and by the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

The Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) issued an emphatic prohibition of forced marriage, as reported by his companion Abū Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him):

“A previously married woman must not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin must not be given in marriage until her permission is sought.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, how her permission [to be given?” He replied, “By her silence.” [al-Bukhārī: 5136, Muslim: 1419]

Furthermore, the actions of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) serve to emphasise this ruling. For example, he annulled the marriage of a woman who complained that she was forced to marry. As for Muslims who force others to marry, they either do so because they are choosing not to follow the commands of their religion, or because they are unable to distinguish between their religion and the actions of the people in their society.

Many people confuse the concept of an arranged marriage with a forced marriage. An arranged marriage is one where the couple are introduced for marriage by a third party, rather than by one of them proposing to the other. This is allowed by Islam, as long as the bride and groom enter into the marriage freely. Having said that, it is not the only way of Muslims finding a suitable marriage partner, and others prefer to search for themselves.

answered May 19, 2015 by admin (4,420 points)
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