The act of a forced marriage is when either the husband or wife have no say in the marriage, and against their will, are married off anyway.
It’s become common to the issue of forced marriages, being linked to Islam, that Islam somehow teaches, and sanctions for the act of a forced marriage. This prompted me to write this article and show that Islam forbids forced marriages.
So what does Islam have to say about forced marriages? Does Islam sanction it? Does Islam call for it? Is there any Islamic text that says you can marry a lady against her will, to force her into a marriage?
The answer is a clear no, in fact Islam says quite the opposite, in the Quran we read the following teaching:
“O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness…..” [Quran 4:19]
So the above passage from the Quran is crystal clear and explicitly says that men cannot inherit women against their will and so this obviously means that forced marriages aren’t allowed, it can’t get any clearer than that.In Islam for a marriage to be valid there has to be mutual consent from both parties. This passage alone is enough evidence that Islam forbids it, but let’s also consult some of the hadees for further evidence that Islam does not sanction or allow the act of forced marriages:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: “A virgin came to the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet ﷺ allowed her to exercise her choice. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number 2091)”
In this hadees we read about how a virgin was married off against her will by her father, and the virgin went and took her complaint the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, then Prophet Muhammad ﷺ listened to her complaint and gave her the right to exercise her choice in the matter. Either to remain married or get divorced.
In another hadees we read the following instructions from the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:
Narrated Khansa bint Khidam Al-Ansariya:that her father gave her in marriage when she was a matron and she disliked that marriage. So she went to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and he declared that marriage invalid.
[Sahih al-Bukhari 5138]
Narrated Khansa’ bint Khidam Al-Ansariya:That her father gave her in marriage when she was a matron and she disliked that marriage. So she came and (complained) to the Prophets and he declared that marriage invalid.
[Sahih al-Bukhari 6945]
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 (ﷺ) cancelled that marriage.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari 6969]
In the above hadees we see that Prophet ﷺ didn’t arrange the divorce of Khansa bint Khidam rather outrightly declared that her marriage is invalid.
Furthermore in another narration recorded a virgin came to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and mentioned that her father married her against her will, so the Muhammad ﷺ 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 ﷺ that he gave the virgin a choice to stay married or get divorced.
Thus, it is clear from the abundant sayings of the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ cited in the above Hadees, 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.
The following sayings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ 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.
Narrated Abu Huraira:The Prophet (ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ)! How can we know her permission?” He said, “Her silence (indicates her permission).
[Sahih al-Bukhari 5136]
Narrated `Aisha:I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! A virgin feels shy.” He said, “Her consent is (expressed by) her silence. [Sahih al-Bukhari 5137]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.”
[World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction [Copyright 2009] By Professor Paul Gwynne]
So the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ clearly taught that women must be consulted about the marriage, and she cannot be given in marriage unless she grants permission, meaning she accepts it.We can see from the ample of evidences shown from the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that forced marriages are not part of Islam. It is evident from everything shown that forcing to marry someone against their will is forbidden in Islam. In conclusion, the Islamic texts are clear, forced marriages are not allowed in Islam, a women must be consulted, and must give their permission to any marriage.