Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Got engaged to a 14 year old girl, but she’s not pretty

young Muslim couple

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "A man marries a woman for four reasons: for her property, for her rank, for her beauty, and for her religion (and character). So marry the one who is best in the religion and character and prosper". (Bukhari & Muslim)

Dear, my story is very strange and full of sorrow. please help me in what ever way you can do.

I was told by my family to choose a girl and get married soon as i am 29 almost. One of my relative referred a girl whose age is just 14.5 years. I got opportunity to see her for just 3-4 seconds. i liked her and decided to get engaged. My engagement was done just after few days.

Then after some months i wished to get her pictures. as in our custom one is not allowed to see females, but getting picture in one way or the other is relatively easy. When i saw her in pics, i simply wept away and got depression/confusion, because she was now not liked by me at all. based on that five pictures i don't like her as she is not as much pretty as i was expecting. However my family is soon going to arrange my marriage.

I am confused whether i should tell my family about the breaking of my engagement or should i marry her on any cost. I also worry about her age as she is still only 15 years old now. how can she be adjusted a with 29 years old guy?moreover i m well-educated and she is completely illiterate.

I am concerned about my life and her life too. If i didn't like her how will I take care of her? I wish to see her once but its very difficult because of cultural taboos. even getting pics are now difficult. Sometimes i think to leave my home and to disappear myself till she get married with someone else. sometimes very negative thoughts come to my mind.

Please tell me what should i do? i have never discussed it with anybody as i am confused but not decided. If i leave her it will harm our family relations with them and for sure the girl will curse me through out her life as it was me who initiated the whole process. Please what to do?

- Ahmad

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23 Responses »

  1. Salaam,

    I am sorry for how you feel. However, put yourself in the girl's place. I mean she's a child, and you are 14 years older! She is probably having a hard time adjusting. Now if you left, she might feel like there is something wrong with her (for example she might think she's ugly, even though none of Allah's creations are ugly). This can leave a deep wound on her, psychologically.

    Plus, love develops over time. There is no such thing as "love at first sight". And as you get to love her more and more, you will think she is beautiful.

    About the education. Of course, you can't expect a fifteen year old to be as educated as a 29 year old. If you mean she has absolutely no education, then you can use this opportunity to teach her!

    Of course, in the end, the choice is yours. I'm not saying you should or shouldn't marry her, I merely gave some advice.

    May Allah (swt) guide all of us.

    • young_muslimah, your advice is excellent and normally I would agree with you. I mean, you are right, love does grow and develop between two people who are sincere and have good intentions. Also, a young girl can learn and become educated and intellectual in time. However, in this case I find Ahmad to be a very shallow individual who only cares about appearance. I don't find in him the sincerity that is necessary to make a match like this work. So in his case, I think he should break the engagement and move on, without mentioning anything about the girl's appearance. I have written more below, I just wanted to let you know that I fully agree with you in principle and in most situations I think you would be right.

      Wael Editor

  2. Salam Ahmed, I'm gonna be honest with you.

    I do not agree with the sister that replied to your post before me. If this feels wrong, then do something about it! This isn't a boyfriend/girlfriend thing, this is marriage! You're going to live with this person for the rest of your life. Or were you thinking about getting a divorce after a couple of months? That would be worse, because the girl wouldn't be virgin anymore and that would be a total taboo for her family and her reputation. Isn't that much worse?

    I know a girl who got married with a guy, they only spoke to each other two days in total and talked in msn for about 3 months. Now they're getting a divorce, after five years and two kids.

    Is this what you want?

    I'm sorry if you don't agree with me, but like I said, i'm just being honest and this is the words i'd like to hear if I was in your situation.

    Good luck!

  3. Ahmad, your behavior in this matter has been so shallow, and has exhibited such a lack of character, that I find it very disappointing. You agreed to marry this girl because you got a look at her and thought she was pretty. You knew her age. I'm sure you also knew that she was illiterate. Obviously you knew that she is not your intellectual equal. But those were not problems for you because you thought she was attractive. You were excited to have a pretty young thing to play with.

    Then you saw some photos and found that you did not like the girl's appearance, and you wept! SubhanAllah, you wept just because of this? You don't care about her character, personality, intelligence, religiousness... your entire interest in this girl has been superficial and morally questionable.

    And now, you want to further compound your mistakes by "disappearing" like a coward, rather than simply standing up like a man and taking responsibility for your choices. Astaghfirullah. Where is your backbone, brother? Where is your character?

    Ahmad, this is what you need to do: Tell your parents and the girl's parents that you made a mistake, and that you must break the engagement. Tell them that you have realized that the age difference is too great, and that the partnership is not right for you. Don't mention anything about the girl's appearance, because that would be very hurtful and embarrassing to her.

    Stand up and be a man. Take responsibility for your choices. Maybe your parents will be angry with you, maybe it will hurt the relations between the two families, but that is a reality you must accept. The girl will not curse you throughout her life as you surmise. She is young, she will get over it, and she will receive more proposals.

    The alternative is to go ahead and marry her, and remain within a miserable marriage. Neither of you will be happy, and most likely one day you will divorce. That's not a course that you want to follow.

    Next time you decide to get engaged, be more careful in choosing your partner. Consider her character, her piety, her relationship with Allah... in fact, I strongly suggest that you consider these things in yourself as well, because I think you are lacking in these areas.

    If did not notice the hadith in the photo caption above, here it is again:

    The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "A man marries a woman for four reasons: for her property, for her rank, for her beauty, and for her religion (and character). So marry the one who is best in the religion and character and prosper." (Bukhari & Muslim)

    So you see, the Prophet is mentioning the reasons why most men choose a particular woman. One of those reasons is beauty. Then he says, essentially, forget about the first three reasons, and choose the girl with religion and character, and you will be successful.

    I strongly suggest that you reconsider your priorities in a bride. I wish you the best and I hope you will work on developing greater spirituality, and strength of character, Insha'Allah.

    Wael Editor

  4. Salam brother,
    After reading your story, I can't believe how shallow one can be but on the other hand please do not get offended because it's probably the way you grew up or the area or culture. Although in Islam you should not think like this especially about a young girl, why is your family getting you married to a child anyway? the girl is a child and it is unfair that her family are marrying her off at that age but the worse part is that you feel like you may not be able to provide for her because you are not attracted to her? please do not ruin her life and tell your family about this, no matter how angry your family may be atleast you have saved the girl from being hurt after in life because she is only a child and half your age, i also suggest brother that you speak to your family about getting you married to someone older and not a child and find a adult whom you may be better suited with. Also brother love comes after marriage so please do not be so worried about looks because looks can lie, maybe your family should allow you to speak to the person and get to know them, because someones beautiful personality brings out the real beauty in them, but this girl is a child so please stop it all before things get worse. I hope my advice has not upset you x

  5. im sure she wont be sad if you break up. I even sure she will be relieved. At 14 years old, no girl wants to marry, she said yes only because her family wanted her to marry you. She probably had her first period 2 or 3 years ago.

    If you marry her and dont like her, it will be worst for her.

    Leave her pls, if the mariage is not meant to be. Will probably means God wants to save her and let her some time to get married.

    I just feel sorry for this young little teenager who doesnt know nothing.

    You are nearly 30, choose a girl of your age.

    • Dear All,
      Thank you very much to all of you for the realization of my sad days and your sincere advices. Really the impact of your comments on my issue is mixed. However it is me to decide eventually. The pictures of the girl that i had seen also gave me mixed opinion about her beauty as the pics were not taken rightly i am hearing from all the sides that she is pretty enough.

      My brothers and sisters, i know that beauty is not all about a successful life. But the thing which enhanced my confusion was her age. At the time of my decision of engagement i had strongly in my mind that i ll educate her and ll get admission for her in a nearby school. The quality in her that i hear and realize that she is tremendously vocal and bold and this impress me much. Because i like boldness.
      Another problem is that some relatives opine that she is not of my standard on the basis that i am well-qualified and sound and she is from poor family. Poverty of someone doesnt affect me at all. But when they say that i perhaps had better choices, it disturbs me. I ve no other girl in my mind. Now the only thing that disturb me is that i should see her once before proceeding to marriage or estrangement and the attached problem is to see her. Getting her more pics are possible but still i worry that pics dont tell the truth always. Meantime age problem also irritate me. I ve decided to wait till Nov 2011 for any decision.

      • Salaam,

        I can see why you would be worried about the age difference, but the prophet was much older than Aisha and much younger than Khadijah, and both relationships were successful. It is more difficult these days, but it's still possible. You just have to be more caring and kind towards her because it can be scary to live with someone twice your age for the rest of your life.

        I'm glad to see that you like her personality, and that looks aren't the only thing that's important to you.

        I was already thinking she was from a poor family, because it's uncommon for most people to marry off their daughters at such a young age. But that shouldn't matter much.


      • Salam Ahmad,

        in my opinion, I think you should actually get to know this girl if you'd decide to eventually get married with her.

        I know some say that love comes after marriage, ok, that may be right at some times. Don't you want to get to the person you decide to live the rest of your life with? You shouldn't be so concerned about this girl's appearance, pay more attention to the person inside of that appearance.

        In the end it's in your hands.. think through this carefully. Like you said, if you decide to get married with this girl, it'll be in you have a lot of time to think through this.

        however, one think you should keep in mind is that you should never rush into marriage by thinking you don't have another girl in mind.

      • she is 14!!!! forget her beauty, even if she looks like Claudia Shiffer, she is just 14 years old. Oh my God, only her body started being a little woman's body.

        dont u feel ull be with a child instead of a woman?

        give her chance to live her life. she is poor, thats why her family maybe wants to send her to u regardless her age.

        u should marry a girl between 19 to your age. be reasonable,

  6. Are you going to give more importance to your parents cultural practices or your own happiness? They are telling you to marry a little girl without even looking at her and getting to know her. That's called a recipe for disaster. Don't do it if it's not normal for you. I hate these backward cultural practices. Can't believe that it still happens to this day. Stand up for your choices, be a MAN.

  7. This is one of the vast cultural differences that I find hard to comprehend.

    Please forgive my ignorance, but I feel for many young people going through arranged marriages. In Ahmed's defense (although I do agree that much of his post did come over as shallow) physical attraction is a basic requirment for procreation. With out this, the success of a fruitful marriage is doubtful. Love does come with time but attraction is required. Although ultimatley character is the most important thing.

    I find it hard to imagine being married to someone I have not had the chance to connect with. How can you know if your personalities will match well without having the chance to talk with the person, learn a bit about them, find out if you share interests, sense of humour ect. These are still important in any relationship and help build a marriage surely?

    It is very true that neither family would wish there to be a poor match where the two individuals could not connect on personality, so I imagine a lot of work is put in on both sides to ensure the match is good, but the best judge of attraction/connection can only be the individuals themselves, is that not so?

    It concerns me that a lot of focus is still put on wealth and social standing. The reference to "property" and "rank" seems very archaic to me...again no offense intended, I am just from the UK so to me it reflects a lot to our society pre the suffragettes movement.

    Besides this all, as above replies have said, 14/15 is so young. Your differences will be very great and this should be your main reason for calling off this engagment. It is lovely that you have looked into educating her, however I feel that you know yourself this will be too much presure on a marriage you would not feel fully commited to.

    Release your self and this girl from your engagment. Ask your family to seek someone older for you, closer to your own age. And do not be so hasty to agree next time.

    Best of luck to you

  8. Didn't you know these facts (that she is younger than you and illiterate) before you even agreed to the engagement? Why were you okay with it at that point? How did you see her for just "3-4" seconds and agree so quickly? People like you baffle me. Take everyone else's response, and free this young girl from this fruitless marriage.

  9. The replies are excellent MashaAllah, if I can add my two cents worth, InshaAllah.

    Clearly, Brother Ahmad's mentality is that of his cultural upbringing. He is aware of what is "poltically correct" however he seems to be controlled by cultural norms. If there is any time that you would be allowed to look at a woman (that is marriagable to you) it would be only for the sake of marriage with your intention known it's for marriage(with sincere intention, so don't get twisted and start checking out sisters eh!!). Beauty is NOT the reason one should get married, but it is something you should consider along with other things (peity being the first, family values, characater, etc). Beauty is not priority, but it is essential that both man and woman are pleased with the other's physical self. There are limits to this, and I strongly believe most men now-a-days hardly know what true/real beauty is (wa Allahu Alim). Just check the statistics on plastic surgery, it's mind boggling.

    As far as age is concerned, it is nothing but a number. Whatever I have ever read in Islam (and I am no scholar) about marriage, age has never been a factor. Maturity on the other hand is, generally some would say people mature with age, I don't believe that. I believe people mature with experience and lessons in life. I have seen 15 year old girl with better sense of self, manners and understanding in life then that of a 30 year old woman. Why? Because of what she's had to experience and learn in life. So don't be so quick to judge her by her age.

    As Brother Wael suggested, break off the engagement. You said you'll leave your decision unti November, I say just break it off. Why?.. Because this young sister deserves to be married to a man that will honor her as a woman, as wife and eventually as the mother of his children. You don't strike me as a person mature enough to do that, because it takes courage, and understanding. No level of education gives you that understanding. Right now you are already judging her by circumstances she cannot control, so do her a favor and give her the opportunity to be happily married and not with a man that's already "depressed".

    Brother if your choice is to marry a woman for beauty... then go knock yourself out, even though the Prophet saw advised against that; if you disobey you face the fitna's that come with that mentality. But make sure if you're marrying her only for that, she knows it and accepts such a mentality. So you'd both be equal in expectations.

    And Allah swt Knows Best!

    May Allah swt Protect us from our nafs.. Ameen

  10. Salam brother,
    brother Wael has a point that initially you were okay with this engagment to go forth but now you are resenting it after viewing her pictures and not finding her attractive? Beauty isn't everything that a person should look for when seeking a partner. I do understand however that for some people beauty is an integral trait they seek for in a partner, therefore I wont be very harsh with you. You also mention a big age gap but you should have thought of this earlier. I do however suggest that if you REALLY and TRUELY feel that by marrying this girl you AND her will remain misreable then it is better now to end this relation than drag it and then end it after getting married, Allah forbid! She will probably be very hurt right now with the breaking of this bond but inshAllah with time Allah will bless you and her with a more suitable companion and she will forget this loss. But you must be very selective with your words and ensure you do not cause a lot of pain to this young girl as she is only 15. You do not want to hurt her self-esteem and break down her self confidence. Another thing I want to suggest to you brother is that although your culture may not permit you to meet with this girl, islamically you can meet her WITH a maharam present. Islam is not so close-minded that it puts you off from meeting your future partner. If people were a bit more educated in regards to these aspects, I am sure many of these problems would not occur. Next time you decide to get engaged, make sure you see her FIRST, think everything thoroughly and then make a decision. My advice is to end it now rather than supressing your feelings and ruining both her and your life.

    May Allah make this time easier for you and her and give you the wisdom to make the right decision, ameen.

  11. lol pictures lie honestly..... ill take a picture and tell you thats me but honestly me and the girl in that pic are two different ppl.... and i feel sorry for the girl who will marry you ahmad pls dont marry her you are a bad influence.... firstly you talk of beauty.... it means you like beauty o not just like love meaning if you see someone more beautiful then her you will look most definitly and start thinking or doing things that are disrespctful to your wife.... secondly you talk of wealth she being poor.... what makes you think your more special then her or superior because she is poor.... no human is poor.... its the way we decide to live..... look at me i got a great voice alhmlh i could have been a millionaire today could have been a singer a actress a model..... could have ten rich boyfriends at the same time and suck out their money could have been a secretary in a big bussiness but in this western world cant get such a job coz im a muslim in hijaab ..... but i choose to live islamically do things within the bounderies of islam so here i am married my husband got money and i dont have a cent lol if i need something i need to ask him because i dont work where must the money come from? the sky? and you never talk of her deen the most important thing, alhmdlh im completing school with the help of my husband.... because of some choices my parents made for me in the past.... and its true what wael have said you dont care abt the age you wud have liked to have her as your wife coz she is a young thing you can play with .... if only she was sooooo beautiful but because she is not you bring up other excuses dont fool yourself .by the way im gona judge you now.... you would make a bad husband .... in no way would i let my sisters or muslim sisters even think of marrying you... you are awful totally selfish and self centered and conceited. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "A man marries a woman for four reasons: for her property, for her rank, for her beauty, and for her religion (and character). So marry the one who is best in the religion and character and prosper". (Bukhari & Muslim)

  12. hmmmmmm. no one should be rejected unless for valid reasons. don't base it on looks but her deen imaan and her deeds. good luck i pray you change your ways of thinking

  13. Please excuse my ignorance of your culture; I'd like to offer some advice that I believe is, possibly, universal.

    Judging from your few posts on this thread, Ahmed (forgive me if I'm not using the proper forms), you might want to look at yourself and ask if you are ready for a relationship or not. It isn't just about her. Maybe you yourself aren't ready for a relationship or a marraige. I believe that seeing this through if you aren't ready yet for a serious relationship (for that it is what a marriage is) would be a mistake.

    You are very focused on her appearance. This is one of the things that makes me believe that maybe you aren't ready for a relationship. It's okay if you're not. I'm also 30, and I don't think I'm ready for a serious relationship yet. Give yourself time to be ready. That said, it's probably a lot harder for you to be honest with yourself with all the pressure that may be coming from the two families (more on this later).

    My second point... if you're not ready for a serious relationship yet, how can she be? I doubt that this is a match that will work out in the long run... it could happen, as some people on this thread have pointed out, but unless you know her really well and know that you love her personality, I don't think there will be enough there to overcome the age difference. Physical attraction alone isn't enough to make a match like this work... but yes, you mention that you like her personality, which is good.

    I would be careful... I'm worried that the only reason you're going to go through with this is because you are afraid of what the families involved would say if you broke it off... I would respond by saying this: the two most important people in this situation are you and her--if it is right for you both to be together (because you are a good match, not because your families want it to happen), then you should be together, if the two of you are not a good match (again, the opinion of the families involved doesn't matter as much as your opinion and hers), then you shouldn't be together. I understand that this is hard because you don't know her very well.

    Ultimately, I would say this: unless you can find a way to get to know her better before going through with the match, don't do it... it's better to be cautious in this situation than blindly brave, perhaps...

    Either way, you are in a difficult situation, and I commend you for being open with people here and sharing your thoughts with us. I think you've taken a step in the right direction by asking for help. I will pray that you understand what the right thing to do is, and that you will have the strength to do it. There is no easy way out of this one. It looks like you have to decide between certain short-term troubles (by breaking the engagement) or possible long-term troubles (by sticking it out).

    A fellow concerned human.

  14. Pls advise me in this regard.

    • Hasan,

      I've deleted your other comment. Please log in and submit your question as a separate post.



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