Muslim Matrimonials and More

Articles and Essays on Marriage and Family in Islam


Marriage in Islam

Part Two

By Adil Salahi

Subject Index
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight

Marriage commitment and offering Istikharah

Q). A few years back I proposed to marry a young lady whom I had known for sometime, and her parents were agreeable to the marriage, but they preferred to wait until I had finished my studies and get a job abroad.

However, I started two business concerns while I was studying, but unfortunately both made heavy losses, and I failed in my final exam. I was in no position to get married and I told her family of the facts. Now I have cleared much of my debts and I am thinking again of marrying her, as we are very much in love. She is prepared to wait for me. The problem is that my parents have spoken about my marriage with a relative of mine whom I do not fancy as my wife. I am in a dilemma and I would be grateful for your advice. Is it appropriate to do the istikharah, offering two rakahs of voluntary prayer and Weighing the two options on two pieces of paper and drawing one of them?

M. Irfan, Riyadh

A). My clear advice to you is to marry that girl as soon as you can. She has been waiting for you for eight years and she has sacrificed much for your sake. You do not pay her back by abandoning her after she must have missed many chances of good marriage in order to be married to you. Besides, you have promised her that you would do so when she put to you the question in very clear terms. Muslims do not go back on their promises. You have to honor that promise.

The fact that your parents are planning your marriage with a relative of your should not be allowed to stand in your way. You have to inform your parents that you do not wish to marry that relative of yours. Do this now, when the question of your actual marriage is not being discussed. If necessary, write to that relative of yours and tell her that you do not see a chance of the two of you getting married, as you are engaged to someone else.

Your parents cannot force you to be married to someone whom you do not wish to marry. You will not be disobedient or undutiful if you approach the situation in a clear manner. You do not need to involve the girl you wish to marry at this stage.

Keep her out of the discussion for the time being so that your parents realize that you are only objecting to marrying your relative because you do not like her to be your wife. If you are inviting your parents to do the pilgrimage this year, then you may wish to take the opportunity of their presence and make it clear to them that you do not wish to marry your relative and that they should forget about this for good. Be kind to them when you tell them that.

I do not see a reason for doing the istikharah now, as the case should be approached on its merits.

Breaking a promise without a compelling reason is not permissible.

You do not seek God's help to choose to do what He does not permit. Besides, the isrikhsrah is not done in the manner you have mentioned.

Istikharah means to seek God's help in choosing between alternatives that are unclear, or that involve results that cannot be determined. You pray two voluntary rakahs and then say a supplication seeking God's help in making the right choice. You then let the matter resolve itself.

If you find within you that you are happier with a particular choice, you take that. If you find that things are moving easily in one direction, you let them move and take what comes easily.

You do not draw one of two papers, because that is not istikharah. That is drawing lots, which is permissible but has nothing to do with istikharah.


Marriage at an early age

Q). I have a nine year-old girl who is married to a person at the age of 20. The marriage contract was made a year ago but the girl is refusing to live with her husband or even to look at him. In addition to that she requires him to divorce her. Could you please advise me what to do? Should I separate them or force my daughter to live with him?

(Name and address withheld)

A). It is certainly possible for a father to get his daughter married to someone who he thinks is suitable for her. Whether he should force her into any marriage is something totally different. Let me relate this to you: A woman companion of the Prophet came to him and said: "My father has married me away to one of his relatives without asking my opinion. I do not wish to stay with this man as his wife." The Prophet ordered their separation. When she realized that she was free and that she was no longer married to the man, she said to the Prophet: "I now accept what my father has done and I am marrying this man. I only did this so that women may know that it is not up to men to marry them away against their wishes."

Scholars have discussed at length the marriage of a young girl who has not attained puberty and whether her father may marry her away without her permission. If such a marriage takes place it is valid. However, it is perhaps best if the marriage is not allowed to be consummated until the girl attains puberty, when she is given the choice whether to continue with this marriage or not. Moreover her father may not marry her away to someone who is of a lesser status than hers. If he does and she objects, the marriage is not valid. Generally speaking, however, a girl must be asked to express her opinion in any proposed marriage. If she has been married before, then her verbal consent should be requested. If she has not been married previously, then her consent is also to be requested, but if she keeps quiet, her silence is taken as approval.

To say that the marriage is valid is not to say that people should go ahead and make such marriages. There may be certain circumstances, which make it desirable or advisable that a very young girl should be married away in this manner but this must not be taken as the normal situation. In marriage, the normal thing is that people should marry when they are of marriageable age. That does not include girls of nine or ten years of age, although some girls may attain puberty that early. Marriage involves certain responsibilities and a very young girl could not be expected to shoulder these. There are also other problems, which the may face, as she grows older. If things go wrong with her marriage, she will always blame her father for having messed up her life, well intentioned though he may be. If you take the example of your own daughter, and you force her to go and live with her husband despite her protestations, you will never be sure whether the marriage will work out well or not. If it does, then well and good. But there is an equal chance that problems may arise especially with your daughter behaving like the child she is. While her husband expects from her the attitude of a married woman. How could you expect her to overcome the feeling that she has been thrown into this situation without being allowed the slightest say in the whole matter which is to affect the rest of her life?

As we see it, your choice is either to get her divorced now, before the marriage is consummated or to keep her with you until she has attained puberty and she is in a position to express her opinion about this marriage. If she still objects to it, then you divorce her without any compulsion to go through with it. If, on the other hand, if she approves of this marriage, at that time, then you go ahead with it. Perhaps it is better for you to consult with the young man to whom you have already married her. He should be understanding and accommodating. Between the two of you should work out the best solution which ensures that he is not lumbered with marriage which is forced on a young girl who cannot be expected to give an opinion about such a matter.


Delaying Marriage

Q). Ever since I came to Saudi Arabia in 1983 to work, my parents have been urging me to get married. I have so far resisted their pressure for two reasons:

  1. I have no job security and I am not in a position to support a family on my modest salary.
  2. I do not have a house of my own. My elder brother has taken the whole of the family house and I envisage that there will be problems if I were to stay in the same house.

I feel that I should have a house of my own, in which I will live with my parents after getting married. I am 28 and serious about getting married as early as possible. The above-mentioned reasons, however, force me to delay marriage. What worries me now is that my parents are nevertheless insisting that I should not delay it any further. I will be grateful for your advice.

R. Ahmed, Jeddah

A). Your parents' attitude is quite understandable. They feel that at 28 you should not delay your marriage much further. They feel that they are growing older and they want to see you settled. However, the reasons that you have mentioned for delaying your marriage must be taken into account. Maybe your parents do not give due importance to the fact that if you try to settle in the family house alongside your brother after your marriage, there could he much friction. They may feel that they could prevail on your brother and his wife to make you and your wife's presence welcome. That may be over simplistic in the circumstances you have mentioned. You seem to have a more realistic grasp of the situation. Therefore, you should make your decision on the basis of your outlook.

Having said that, I must add that I am always in favor of early marriage. It is the recommended Islamic practice. Moreover, it is the normal course of action, which fits with the needs of human nature. You say that you are 28 and to my mind that is on the higher side of the appropriate marriage age. But if circumstances make it necessary to delay marriage, then one should not take a rash decision.

An important factor which you should take into account is whether you will be able to bring your wife to live with you here in Saudi Arabia or you will be leaving her to stay with your family and see her only during vacations. If you are going to bring your wife here and you think you can keep during vacations only. If you are going to bring your wife here and you think you can keep your job for a few years, then I would recommend you to get married without delay. The fact that you are getting a modest salary should not deter you, if you deem that it is sufficient to meet your needs when yet are married. The point is that your marriage may motivate you to get an additional job in your spare time or work harder in your present job so that you get promoted. Do not forget that Allah provides for all his creatures, through their work. When you work for a family, Allah provides you with what He has proportioned to that family

If, on the other hand, you are going to leave your wife in your home country and see her only for a month each year, then in the circumstances, it may be wise to delay your marriage for the time being. Many problems affect marriage when the husband and wife live far apart. In the family situation you have described, such problems are likely if your wife will be staying together with your parents and your brother's family in the same house, while you are working in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, you will not get the benefits of marriage, except for a brief period every year. That is not the proper way to raise a family. I realize that many people have to do this, but if you do not have to do it, then it may be better to wait

In this latter case, you should perhaps set yourself a timetable, which you should explain to your parents. You have to reassure them that you are serious about getting married but you want to establish your marriage on solid basis, by having a house of your own first. Involve them in your project to get a house. If you are planning to build house, perhaps you may find it appropriate to buy a plot of land and start the preliminary work. When they feel that something is happening, they may be reassured. If you are thinking of buying an existing house, perhaps you can start by looking for a suitable house and negotiating payment of the price on the basis of a substantial down payment and installments spread over a period of time. If your parents feel that you are moving in the right direction, they may be satisfied. If you cannot do either of these now, you have only to reassure them that you are building for the future and that you will be getting married at the right time

You may be worried about no compliance with your parents’ wish. In these circumstances, Islam does not make it an absolute duty that one does as his parents tell him, when the general circumstances he finds himself in do not make that wish very wise. Your intention is not to disobey your parents, but to make your right decision after careful study. You will not be disobedient if you delay your marriage in these circumstances but you should comfort your parents and assure them that you are serious about the whole thing.

Marriage and parents' consent

Q). In March 1995, my marriage was solemnized by my father without my knowledge and against my wishes. The marriage is still only on paper. I want this marriage to be dissolved but my husband refuses. I have at present a suitor who wants to marry me. If I marry my present suitor without my parents' knowledge, would that be legal from the Islamic point of view?

(Name and address withheld)

A). There are two separate points in this question. The father’s action and the second is what this lady intends to do in return. On the first point I would like to say that the father is wrong in solemnizing his daughter’s marriage without her consent. A woman said to the Prophet that her father married her to a relative of his in order to improve his own social standing. He did not ask her views on this marriage before he did it. The Prophet ruled the marriage to be dissolved immediately. The woman said: "Now, messenger of God, I approve of what my father has done. I only wanted that women should know that men have no say in their matrimonial affairs."

What you should do first of all is to put the matter to a court of law, seeking the annulment of your marriage. If you prove that it was a forced marriage, then the court will rule in your favor and the marriage will be annulled, leaving you in a position to start a new marital relationship if you so desire.

What you must not do on any account is to "marry" another man or to have any relationship with him before you terminate the relationship with your present husband, even though your marriage is only a paper marriage, as you say. If you ignore this advice you may be guilty of polyandry, which is to be married to more than one man at the same time. You do not want anything like that to happen.

Moreover, you must not marry anyone without the knowledge of your parents. Marriage is meant to start a family, and it is far better for the woman to have her family by her side when she is about to start a new family. Most scholars agree that the woman's guardian should act for her on her marriage contract. If her father is available then he is her guardian. Your father has acted wrongly when he solemnized your marriage without your knowledge. Do not repay his mistake with a mistake of your own. Your proper approach is to try to win him over to your side, and make him see that your happiness is not something to be trifled with. You have the first say in all that, but he should be on your side.


Marriage: A girl's dilemma in the absence of parental consent

Q). A man from a Gulf country has proposed to me, but my parents refused on grounds of different cultures, as we come from Pakistan. He tried to talk to them, but my father refused to meet him. He only managed to talk to my mother and she refused his proposal. Is it possible that we get married without their consent?

S. Khan, Riyadh

A). Islam makes it clear that a girl's father or guardian must act for her marriage. She may not act for herself, according to most scholars. That is because Islam views marriage as a union, which establishes a family, so it must be organized between families. This enhances a girl's position and protects her rights.

However, in order not to let parents and guardians’ abuse this authority God has given them, the Prophet enjoins them to exercise it to the benefit of girls under their supervision. He says: "If someone whose strength of faith and honesty are satisfactory comes to you with a proposal of marriage, then give him your daughter in marriage. Unless you do, much conflict and corruption is likely to be the result."

The criterion is thus well defined. People must make their judgement of any marriage proposal to their daughters or girls under their care in the light of this criterion. It is not right that class or difference of culture or status should be given paramount consideration. The basic issue is faith and honesty.

There is no way you can get married to this gentleman unless your father acts for you, with your consent in the marriage contract.

If a girl's father is alive and present, no one else can act as her guardian. A marriage without the presence of a guardian is not valid. Hence your only way is to persuade your parents that this marriage is viable and likely to give you the happiness they undoubtedly want for you. You have to determine how you can achieve that, but make sure that your approach is not one of confrontation, because confrontation is likely to produce the wrong result. May be if your suitor makes his approach a family approach, you stand a better chance of persuading your parents to accept. That would mean that members of his family come to see your father, or women from his family come and see your mother first. If she is convinced then she may be able to persuade your father to moderate his stance. Whatever you do, make sure of remaining dutiful to your parents.


Marriages that are forbidden

Q). Is it permissible to be married to two sisters at the same rime? There is a case of a person who is bound to have two sisters as his wives, and he seems to be very religious. What is the result of his action?

A). It is forbidden for any man to be married to two sisters at the same time. It is well known that Islam allows a man to have up to four wives at the same time, but there are restrictions on marriage, which prohibit certain marriages. Among these prohibitions we find the marriage to two sisters at the same time. This prohibition is stated clearly in Verse 23 of Surah 4. The Prophet has added to this a prohibition on marriage to a woman and her aunt, whether on her father's or mother’s side, or the reverse situation of being married to a woman and then to try to marry her niece. Such marriage is not permissible.

However, if one's wife dies, one may marry her sister or her aunt or niece. It is often the case that such a marriage is found helpful, particularly when the man has young children who need to be looked after. Their aunt or another close relative to their deceased mother may care for them better than any stepmother.

I do not understand your other point about a person who is bound to be married to two sisters at the same time. Why is he bound to do something, which God has prohibited? To whom is he obliged to do such a thing? Anyway, the first of these two sisters whom he married is his wife, while the other is not. His relationship with her is not a marriage, even though there is a marriage contract between them. You say he appears to be religious, but a person who violates God’s law in this way is not religious, no matter what he appears to be like.


Mit'ah Marriage

Q) Is the marriage known as mit'ah permissible? Could you explain the reasons for the verdict you give.

S. A. Anwar, Al-Khafji

A). No, the mit'ah, which is a temporary marriage, is not permissible. It is indeed forbidden. The Prophet has made this clear on his way back from the expedition of Tabuk. What such an arrangement involves is that a man proposes to marry a woman for a specified period of time, such as a month or a year or whatever. She may agree and they also agree on a dower and bring in witnesses.

So, it fulfills all the conditions of a legal marriage except that the couple agrees in advance to terminate marriage at a particular time in future. Nevertheless, the introduction of such a condition invalidates the whole arrangement.

The whole point of introducing conditions into a marriage contract comes for extensive debate among scholars with a significant number of leading scholars rejecting any added condition. But a condition of time limit changes the very nature of marriage from one, which establishes a family to one, which satisfies a temporary desire. Hence, it is rejected altogether and the marriage is not recognized.



Articles Muslim Matrimonials and More