By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the most Gracious
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), his family and all his Companions.
Dear brothers and sisters, forced marriage is a marriage conducted when parents, families or guardians find and choose a spouse but the person does not consent or consent is obtained under duress.
Respected brothers and sisters, Islam treats men and women equally in regards to the right to choose a mate. It has not given parents the authority to compel them [to marry someone]. The parent’s role in marrying off their children is manifested in giving advice, direction, and guidance; they do not have the right to force their children, whether they are sons or daughters, to marry someone they do not want to marry. The final say in this belongs to the children themselves.
Marriage is one of a person’s private affairs and it is impermissible for parents to force their daughter to marry someone she does not want to marry since that would be oppression and a transgression on the rights of others. In Islam women have complete freedom to accept or reject whoever comes to propose to them. Neither her father nor her legal guardian has the right to force her to marry someone she does not want, for married life cannot be based on compulsion and coercion which are in contradiction to the love and mercy that Allah has placed between man and wife.
Many legal texts (Nusus) from our pure tradition indicate this firmly established ruling, and actual events make it clear to all how the Prophet, dealt with a woman and her guardian and challenged all of the norms of the jahiliyah (Ignorance) that oppressed women by affirming her right to choose her husband and nullifying the marriage of those who tried to compel her even if that person was her father. We cannot fail to notice the contravention of the traditions of the Arabs at the time that this entailed. This was a test of the believer’s hearts to be satisfied with the pure law that honoured women and respected their will and choice, while freeing themselves of all the norms that did not value women, disdained, and oppressed them.
The Prophetic texts that refer to this all affirm this right as in is the saying of the Prophet:
“A widow may not be married until she has been consulted, and a virgin may not be married until her consent has been sought.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, how does she give consent?” He said, “By remaining silent.”
Similarly he dealt equitably with girl who came to him complaining that her father had forced her to get married, as is established in his Hadith where it is related that:
“A young virgin girl came to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and told him that her father had married her off and that she was averse [to it], so the Prophet gave her the choice [of whether or not to remain married.”
It is related that a man married off his daughter who was averse [to the marriage], so she came to the Messenger of Allah and said something to the effect that her father married her off and she was averse [to the marriage]. Furthermore, she said, “and my cousin was betrothed to me.” The Prophet said, “He has no marriage; marry whomsoever you wish.”
Khansa’ Bint Khudham said:
“My father married me off, and I was averse [to the marriage], and I was a virgin, so I complained of it to the Prophet who said, “Do not marry her if she is averse [to it].”
It is related that there was a woman from among the Ansar who was married to a man from among the Ansar. The man was killed in the Battle of Uhud and he had one son from her. Her son’s uncle was betrothed to her so he married her to the man and disregarded her son’s uncle. She came to the Prophet and said:
“My father married me to a man that I do not want and disregarded my son’s uncle, so my son is going to be taken from me.” The Prophet called her father and said, “Did you marry so and so to so and so?” He said, “Yes.” The Prophet said, “You are the one who has no right to make marriages. ” [Then he said to the woman,] “Go marry your son’s uncle.”
Concerning the Hadith of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) narrated by Bukhari and Muslim that says:
“Aisha (RA) asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him) if a young girl whose family marries her off should be consulted. He said, ‘Yes, she should be consulted.’ Aisha said, ‘But they are shy.’ He said, ‘If she remains silent, that is her consent.’”
Imam Ibnil Qayyim says:
“We adopt this fatwa; a virgin must be consulted [concerning her marriage]. There is an authentic tradition that the Prophet said, ‘Widows are more deserving of [deciding for] themselves than their fathers; virgins are consulted concerning themselves, and their consent is their silence.’ In one version it reads, ‘The virgin’s permission is sought by her father, and her permission is her silence.’ It is related in Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet said, ‘Do not marry off a virgin girl until her permission is sought.’ They asked, ‘How is her permission [given]?’ He replied, ‘By remaining silent.’ And a young virgin girl told him that her father married her off and she was averse [to the marriage], so the Prophet gave her the option [whether or not to remain married]. So he enjoined seeking out the consent of the virgin girl, forbade marrying her off without it, and gave an option to whoever had been married without having their permission sought. How then can we leave all of this and go against it?”
The attention Islam pays to the issue of choice between a husband and wife is, in reality, a concern for the nucleus of the family. Family begins with a man and a woman who come together with a great deal of mutual understanding that has an effect on the family when it grows and its members increase. Family is the essential building block of society, and upon this sound basis civilisations are established and values are elevated.
The words of Ahmad Shauqi, the Egyptian Prince of Poets bears witness to the importance of women in the foundation of Muslim society, he said:
“Mothers are schools if you prepared them…then you prepared a great nation.”
Just as Islam gave women the right to choose their husbands, it also gave them the right to choose whether to remain with them or part from them when relations between them become soured and reconciliation and compromise cannot be reached. Divorce was incorporated into the law for the benefit of both women and men alike. One of the widespread misconceptions of Islam and its family structure is that men are the only ones who have the right to end a marriage, that they are the only ones who can choose divorce, and that women do not posses this right. The truth, however, is quite different.
Islamic law gives women the right to end a marriage just as it gives that right to men. Islamic law allows women to end a marriage in a number of ways: Women have the right to make it a condition [in the initial marital contract] that the authority to pronounce divorce be in her hands, meaning that they can divorce themselves whenever they please. In this case the woman divorces herself and is entitled to all of her rights; it is as if her husband divorced her, so she does not lose any of her rights. She can also request to be separated from her husband due to harm. If the man has inflicted great harm on his wife the judge will separate them and she will be entitled to all of her rights without exception. She can also seek khulah or Khul’i. Only in this case does the woman separate herself from the man, except she waives her rights due to the fact that there is no [external] reason to end the marriage so it would be unfair to impose a fine of these dues on the man while he is still holding fast to the relationship between them.
Many religious texts indicate the free choice of women when it comes to separation from their husbands. An example is that which is related by Ibn Abbas [who said]:
“Barirah’s husband was a slave called Mughith; it is as if I can see him now following after her weeping, the tears moistening his beard. The Prophet told Abbas, ‘O Abbas, do you not marvel at the love of Mughith for Barirah and the dislike of Barirah for Mughith?’ So the Prophet said to her, ‘Would you take him back?’ She said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, are you commanding me?’ He said, ‘I only intercede.’ She said, ‘I have no need for him.’” When she understood that his words were not a command, but rather advice, she chose to leave him since that was her right after becoming free.
The wife of Thabit Ibn Qais came to the Prophet and said:
“O Messenger of Allah, there is none more steadfast than Thabit when it comes to religion and morals, but I do not love him.” He said, “Will you return his garden to him?” She said, “Yes,” and gave him back his garden and his and he separated from her.
This is a brief clarification of the issue of women choosing their husbands and having their desires respected if they want to leave them. According to this it is impermissible for a father, or anyone else for that matter, to force his son or daughter to marry someone they do not like; also women can end marriage in the ways mentioned.
Brothers and sisters, therefore we must understand that it is prohibited (haram) for the guardian (wali) of the woman or a girl to force her to marry someone she does not want and does not like, because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The virgin should not be given in marriage until her permission has been sought.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
The apparent meaning is that this is general and applies to every virgin and every guardian; there is no difference between a father or any other guardian, hence Imam Bukhari interpreted the Hadith by saying:
“Chapter: The father or other guardian should not give a virgin or previously married woman in marriage except with their consent.”
The woman’s guardian has to fear Allah with regard to his daughters and not give them in marriage to anyone except those with whom they are pleased from among men who are compatible and suitable. The guardian should only give her in marriage for her interests, not for his own.
Shaikhul Islam Ibn Taimiyyah said:
“With regard to giving her in marriage when she is reluctant, this is contrary to the basic principles and common sense. Moreover Allah did not allow her guardian to force her into buying or renting without her permission, or to eat or drink or wear something that she does not want, so how can he force her into sleeping with and living with someone she does not want to sleep with, and living with someone she does not want to live with. Allah wants love and compassion between the spouses, and how can that be attained when she hates him and does not like him? What kind of love and compassion can there be in that case?!” [Majmu’u Fataawa, vol. 32, page 25]
If the marriage contract has been done even though she was reluctant, then this marriage contract depends on the woman’s decision. If she accepts it, then it becomes a valid marriage contract, and if she does not then it is an invalid contract. It was narrated that Buraidah Ibn Hasib said:
“A girl came to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and said: My father married me to his brother’s son so that he might raise his own status thereby. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave her the choice, and she said: I approve of what my father did, but I wanted women to know that their fathers have no right to do that.” [Ibn Majah]
In the event that the woman does not accept this marriage, then it is invalid and she has to tell the one who did this marriage contract with her about that. He does not have the right to force her to engage in intercourse and intimacy, and she does not have the right to allow him to do that so long as she does not accept this marriage.
Although the ruling on this marriage is that it is invalid, this ruling cannot be proven or established unless the man divorces her by talaq (divorce) or the court issues a ruling to that effect, because of the difference of opinion among the scholars concerning the validity of such a marriage; many scholars regard this marriage as permissible.
Based on that, you have to refer the matter to the Islamic judge (Qadhi) to pass a verdict that this marriage is annulled.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are already 11 days in Ramadan. We pray that it has been tranquil and blessed for you so far.
As you know, we have been spending this sacred month with the beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) – by hosting him in our hearts, studying who he was, and striving to be more like him.
One of the Prophet’s most notable attributes is the way he (Peace be upon him) brought comfort wherever he went.
Nagazi-Uvete Islamic Center is striving to follow in his footsteps, to be a place you know you can turn to when your faith is in need of reassurance and rejuvenation.
Over the past year, we’ve covered topics like the proofs of Prophethood, Prophetic parenting, mental health, and how to nurture faith in every way. When you asked, we responded, putting forth content that meets the community’s needs and puts hearts at ease.
In Shaa Allah we plan to strive in continuing his mission (Peace be upon him) – and we invite you to do the same.
This Ramadan, support Nagazi-Uvete Islamic Center so that we may continue to spread the message of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), so that it settles in our own hearts and illuminates the world around us.
Please donate to bring comfort. And May Allah accept from you and your families, and may He increase you in this life and the next.
Dear brothers and sisters, this Ramadan, Nagazi-Uvete Islamic Center will be working on Special Ramadan Programs that you can support FISABILILLAH. Whether you would like to pay your Zakah, your Sadaqah or your Sadaqatul-Fitr – your Ramadan donations will help us distribute food packs and Sallah clothes to impoverished families, and provide Suhur and Iftar for orphaned children, and the poor children at our Islamic/Islamiyyah schools.
Alhamdulillah, since Nagazi-Uvete Islamic Center was established 25 years ago, every Ramadan we have been distributing food packs to impoverished families across Kogi State and beyond. These food packs can feed an entire family for a whole month. We make every effort to make sure the food packs are locally sourced. Local sourcing means these food packs not only help families during Ramadan – but also provide sustainable means of living when Ramadan is over. On average, subject to differing local market rates, the estimated cost of a Ramadan Food Pack is almost N50,000. Each pack feeds one family for one month.
The noble month of Ramadan is blessed – it brings families and loved ones together. Ramadan is not the same without our families – but unfortunately this is not a privilege enjoyed by everyone. This is why we are steadfast in providing Suhur, Iftar and Sallah clothes for orphaned children and the children at all our Islamic/Islamiyyah schools. For the past twenty years, we have made sure that, especially during Ramadan, no child is left to go hungry or naked.
And alhamdulillah, our work and appeals do not come to an end with the sighting of the moon – with your support, we can improve lives on a daily basis. Nagazi-Uvete Islamic Center is a strong supporter of development in education, healthcare, practical skills and means to earn a living. Whether it’s a training the teachers, ‘Fair Trade‘, or Community Organisations, have a look and see how your Ramadan donation could support the less fortunate.
Ramadan, for many of us, is a few hours of feeling the pangs of hunger, but for many children and adults around the world – hunger is a daily fact.
Please do donate generously during this blessed month of Ramadan!
“Who is he that will lend to Allah a goodly loan so that He may multiply it to him many times? And it is Allah that decreases or increases (your provisions), and unto Him you shall return.” [Qur’an, 2:245]
“Whoever relieves his brother of a hardship from the hardships of this world, Allah shall relieve him of a hardship from the hardships of the Day of Judgement. And whoever makes things easy for a person in difficulty, Allah will ease for him in this world and the Next. Allah is forever aiding a servant so long as he is in the aid of his brother.” [Prophetic Hadith]
May Allah Almighty bestow His kindness upon you, and reward you for helping to relieve the hardship of our brothers and sisters, ameen.
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And May Allah send His Salah and Salam upon our noble Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: email@example.com or +2348038289761.