Islamic marriage advice and family advice

A Man Was Forced to Marry – Is it Valid?

Forced to get married

Captain Kirk is restrained by Romulans... forcing him to marry?

March 30, 2007

This question is answered by Wael Abdelgawad, the and Editor and Administrator.


Dear Wael,

A friend was forced to get married in Pakistan. A Nikah was performed with some witnesses, but he was not agreeing to the marriage. He was forced. Is there any grounds for annulment?

- N. from UK, aka Concerned Friend


Dear Concerned Friend, As-Salamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah,

I don't understand how he could be forced. Was he physically restrained, so that he could not leave? Two big guys held him by the arms, like the Romulans are doing to Captain Kirk in the photo?

Okay, I realize that I am being insensitive, and I'm sorry, but I get this type of question all the time, and I just want to say to people, "Take resonsibility for your own lives. Take responsibilty for your own decisions, especially you men. If your parents pressured you by saying, "If you don't marry her, we'll kick you out of the house," so you married her, well, you had a choice and you made a decision. It was not an easy choice, but it was still a choice. Take responsibility for your choices. Otherwise you're going to write to me after five years when you're miserable and you want to commit suicide - yes, I get those all the time as well, and I do not take those messages lightly or mock them in any way. I want to prevent it from getting to that stage. And the only way to prevent it is to stand up for yourself in the beginning and follow your heart.

For women it's a different story. In some societies women have very little power or influence, and their rights are not always respected, so it can be very difficult for them to resist familial pressure to marry a particular person or behave in a particular way. I know that women are often coerced into choices that they do not want.

But - I also get many questions from women who say they were forced, and when I read the details I see that they were not really forced, they just found it easier to go along, rather than speak up for themselves or resist the pressure. Women too must take more responsibility for their choices, especially women who are educated and know that they have rights as Muslims.

By the way, forced marriage is also illegal in most countries, including even in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, and in February 2007 the Pakistani Parliament introduced a bill called the "Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill," that will outlaw this practice in Pakistan as well. This bill may be passed by the end of 2007. So if you feel you are being forced, you might point out to your parents that not only are violating Islamic rules but they are breaking the law as well.

What About Obedience to Parents?

Of course as Muslims we must respect and obey our parents, but this does not mean that we are slaves. We have the right to make choices for our lives, and one of these choices is whom to marry.

As much as we owe obedience to our parents, they in turn owe obedience to Allah and to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who clearly forbade forced marriages.

Sheikh Moiz Amjad from writes,

"No one, not even the parents, have a right to force marriage upon any boy or a girl. Without the free consent of the woman (as well as the man), a marriage contract would be deemed void. Forcing marriage upon a woman is clearly against the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh).

According to a narrative reported by Abu Dawood, once when a case of forced marriage was reported to the Prophet (pbuh), he allowed the woman (who was forced into marriage) the option to revoke the marriage, if she desired to do so (Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Nikah, Narrative No. 1797).

The free choice of the woman is a necessary condition for a valid Nikah. In view of this fact, if it is found out that a woman has been coerced into a Nikah, then such a Nikah can be revoked or even invalidated by the competent legal authority."

So in the case of this man in question, if he was truly forced (somehow) then the marriage is invalid, since mutual consent is one of the prerequisites for marriage in Islam. And this is true for everyone - if you did not consent to the marriage, then it is not valid.

If any readers have some additional advice for this questioner, feel free to post your comments below.

Glory to You Allah, we praise You, we bear witness that there is no God except You, we ask Your forgivess and we repent to You.

Best regards,

- Wael Hesham Abdelgawad, Administrator Islamic Marriage and Family Advice
ZAWAJ.COM Muslim Matrimonials and More!

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24 Responses »

  1. as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    while the answer may have been a bit harsh, he is correct in saying we all need to take responsibility for our own lives.

    it is much harder on a Muslim girl/woman though because in many ways if she is in a culture that does not grant her her Islamic rights, she is literally physically punished for not agreeing to a marriage.

    but there is such a strong pressure that families do put on both young men and women to marry someone the family chose despite what their son/daughter thinks.

    now, for the brothers who are told things like "if you do not marry her we will kick you out of the house" --unfortunately, is it really better to marry and then always want to leave the home to get away from the marriage and the family that you grow to resent?

    and then in Pakistan the there is a culture of such negativity over people who divorce... that if this young man divorces this woman, she may have a problem finding another husband. but, if this brother decided to divorce her I really REALLY hope she at the very least is still a virgin because in that part of the world its that much harder to find another husband also!! ugh disgusting cultural practices Aouthubillah!

    as for the pressure/forcing of marriage, I know of one man... except he was 35 and still not married!! He is Pakistani (but living in America--has a green card)and he met my Muslim-American friend whom he decided he wanted to marry... but that he NEEDED the approval of his parents first. She met his family and his mother even told him she was nice and all but NO WAY did she want him marrying a non-Pakistani!! He is so TERRIBLY afraid of the hadith that says that "heaven lies at the feet of your mothers" that he WILL NOT go against his mother's opinion for fear he will go to hell.

    he wants to be the one to live with them and take care of them in their old age and until they pass away. so my friend understood this and was even agreeing to live with his parents. But noooooo his mother threatened him that she was going to move back to Pakistan and live with his brother and telling him she would rather commit suicide rather than he marry her!! So unfortunately after about a 2 months of trying to speak to his mother, she got the point that he just will not make the decision for himself and called it quits so she can look for another husband.

    3 years later.. YES 3 years later she gets a phone call... it is him. He asks her how she is doing and then he also asks "so... if you are not married yet, my mother has accepted for me to marry you."
    and then my friend was about to reply and he said "and it is not that we have been looking for a wife these past 3 years and couldn't find anyone so she finally agreed to you... " and my friend was like "mmm hmm yeah, right" and told him basically that "you should have stood up for me, for yourself but you didn't. you will only obey your mother even if she is wronging me"

    so of course she rejected him... now there he was.. age 38 left with not even the girl that WANTED to marry him and live with his parents to help him take care of them.

    through other Pakistani acquaintences, now in the United States it is getting harder to find Pakistani girls who are willing to live with their in-laws. They want their own place to be only with their husband. He lost out on the best woman because he was pressured (he would say forced but he COULD have said no)by his own mother's selfishness. AstagferAllah!

    • Wow... great story TJ. It's a strong reminder of the deleterious effect of some of these cultural attitudes.

    • Yes u r rite that we must b strong enough to defend our rights. But in Pakistan the boys are also emotionally blackmailed by their parents and specially mothers. Even sometimes the mother says that she will commit suicide if her son z going to marry some one else instead of her sister's daughter or brother's daughter.( Khala ki baiti ya phopho ki baiti ). And family pressure z also there. But Alhamdolillah young generation z getting awareness now. In short instead of future complications DEFEND YOUR OWN RIGHTS, ONLY YOU CAN STRUGGLE FOR YOURSELF. Allah almighty and his prophet has granted you this right.

  2. Assallamualaikum...

    i am a convert muslim... what is the verdict on mothers who are forcing their sons to marry same their nationality eventhough the son wants to marry someone of a different nationality?

    and also about the topic that if your mother pressures you to get married to a certain woman and if you object and she gets angry or upset. would it be accountable on the son for displeasing her?

    please kindly explain further more...

    jazakallahu khair

  3. Assalamalaikum,
    I know a Muslim Pakistani sister and about 1 year ago she decided to marry a Muslim boy. He is born Muslim, however, he is not Pakistani. She told her parents that she and the boyi want to get married, but her parents rejected because he is not Pakistani and because he did not complete his college yet. he can speak urdu as well, but his family cannot.
    She said her parents were crying and they told her that she is no longer their daughter and that those parents are far off better who do not have children. They said she cannot marry him or else she will have to leave the house.
    Teh sister also told me that her parents yelled and said a lot of profanity to the boy and his family just because of the fact that the boy and girl want to get married.
    My friend is still very depressed. first of all, she cannot forget the way her parents yelled at her and for the things they said to her. also, she told me she still wants to still marry him, but she said her parents will never ever let her. She says she will have to marry who ever her pearents choose but she will not really happy. she said she cannot do anything because she has to respect her parents adn she fears that if she marries somebody whom her parents do not agree to, she will be committing a major sin for being disobdient to her parents.

    her parents will not allow her to get married now because she is still completing her education. she said her parents will not change their mind even after she completes her education. what should she do?

    please advise on this issue.

  4. I wanna ask if there any hadith about not to force people to marry?!!

  5. Fatima and Sama, please read my entire answer to the question, as I addressed the issues you are raising.

  6. Muhammed(sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) said: "Whichever woman, performed nikah without the permission of her wali; her nikah is invalid, her nikah is invalid, her nikah is invalid" [cited by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Al-Tirmidhi, and authenticated by Al-Albani]

    And as we know, some parents take full advantage of this hadith by using it to prevent their children from marrying someone who is of good deen and character, because of non-islamic issues such as culture, age, distance and basically anything that is outside of their 'norm' etc.

    So the following hadith can protect us from this:

    He (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) said: 'If there comes to you one with whose religion and attitude you are satisfied, then give your daughter to him in marriage, for if you do not do so, fitnah and mischief will become widespread on earth.'

    I completely agree that cultural/other prejudices need to be broken down; they are totally unislamic. And it seems easy to say that we should stand up to our parents and families against these barriers etc, but it is not always easy to do. Sometimes these barriers are there not due to 'prejudices', but moreso because the situation is outside of the 'norm'.

    Even if we are right in our beliefs, has anyone discussed about how difficult it would be to marry someone of choice(even though he is of good deen/charcter), but in turn have to live with knowing their parents are unhappy with them? Would it still be right for the woman to push her family to agree, knowing they would be displeased? What is the Islamic viewpoint on that...

    • Sister Z, what I have seen in similar situations is that although the parents may be displeased initially, if time goes by and they see that their child is happy, doing well, and keeping contact with them, the objections tend to fade. Especially when a baby comes into the picture and they see their granddaughter or grandson. At that point the objections crumble.

      And Allah knows best.

  7. que hacer cuando te dan una opcion " te casas o la hechamos a la calle" que hacer ahi es la cuestion en duda ? que hacer que opciones tomar

  8. aoa:
    i have same problem, my parents fixed my marriage with my czn but i dnt want. i also told this to my czn n also my parents but no one listen to me. please tell me if say yes in nikah under my parents pressure or fear . will it be a valid nikah or not?? if it is not then it is necessary to take divorce??i can i divorce myself???

    • Wa Alaikum as Salam,

      You have the right to deny marriage to your cousin. Do not go into this relationship if you have a problem with it. Do not think about divorce when you are not even married.

      If your parents don't listen, try to get some elders involved. Make sure you put forward your reasons for denial and make it clear to them.

      Seek Allah's Help through patience and Salah as He instructed us in Surah al Baqarah, Aayah 45:

      سْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلَّا عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ

      And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]

      If you need further help, please login and submit your post separately and we shall publish it in turn, in sha Allah.

      Abu Abdul Bari Editor

  9. my whole family knows i do not like him. every one in family forcing me. my mother said that is ke shadi ke date rakh do nikah kar do bad main dykhi jay ge. my father is very strict .he uses abusing language. please tell me if say yes in nikah under my parents pressure would it be a valid or not ???

    • Same here,
      Now I'm married,
      And waiting for the punishment for my mother and his parents for forcing us.
      We both are forced.
      He is happy as he has female friends at office and flirts. He goes every where he wants with his friends. He doesn't like me from the beggining( same here).
      Im a house maker, no friends and no outings. Got title of kaam chor. No love and boring life.
      Now a days easily get jeolous of couple.
      I loved him as a brother so much but as a husband cant fall in love.
      Impossible for me to divorced as my mother lives with us.
      Ya Allah at least give me a good job so that i can stay away from all this.

  10. This story is becoming increasingly common and very sad.

    May Allah protect the Muslim Ummah. May Allah guide parents to marry their children before they fall into zina and not reject good Muslim proposals based on ridiculous cultural values. May Allah guide the children of the Ummah and help them to find compatible Muslim spouses. Ameen.

  11. AOA Sir my question is this that if a man is forced to do nikah and emotionally blackmailed by his family and he does but he never saw that girl up till know 2 year had passed and he still don't accept it by heart and just pretent to is that nikah jaiz in islam or would that nikah dissolve.

    • Amaal, the nikah is still valid as it does not sound like he was truly forced but was simply pressured. If he wants to end the marriage, it's easy enough. All he has to do is give her talaq and complete the 'iddah.

      Wael Editor

  12. What is the process of revoking a forced marriage? My boyfriend was forced to marry last week when he went to egypt. We have been in a relationship for 2yrs now. He never met the girl, and his family insisted that he marry that girl on the same day or maybe the following day. He didnt touch her. He left their country a few days after the wedding.

    • Rhons, he is stringing you along. If he had the courage to revoke the marriage, he would have stood up to his family and refused to marry her in the first place. He did attend the wedding yes? Then this was not a "forced" marriage. He was pressured, and he went along with it. Not the same thing.

      Wael Editor

      • "He did attend the wedding yes? Then this was not a "forced" marriage. He was pressured, and he went along with it. Not the same thing."

        I'm pretty confident that you wouldn't be saying the same thing if it was a WOMAN in the same situation. As long as it was against his wishes, it should be considered forced. He was pressured and went along with it AGAINST HIS WISHES so it IS a forced marriage.

    • He should divorce/annul the marriage. If he doesn't then it seems you two will likely break up. I hope things work out for you.

      • Think carefully about what you are advising. Even if he did not choose the girl, it sounds like he went along with the wedding willingly. She is now his wife. She has rights over him, and he has duties to her. Should he divorce his legally married wife in order to be with a girlfriend?

        Wael Editor

        • Salam Wael,

          I'm sorry I missed this last year. I think it's wrong for the family members to force him to get married to a girl of their choosing. It's ok to give him advice, it's ok to suggest this girl and have him get to know her more. But to create conditions and manipulate a person into marrying another is wrong. I have witnessed a similar marriage which was not really consensual. One party had so much pressure to marry that it wasn't even possible to not agree. Years later that person got a divorce and the only way they got it is to show they were insane. Even then they tried to cure that person's insanity when the entire time all they had to do was annul the marriage.

          Having witnessed this level of family pressure where the family one trusts go this far to manipulate a marriage I think this man should've annulled his marriage. It's not good for the girl to have a husband that was forced to be with her and not good for the man. He should really just marry his girlfriend that he has had a 2 year relationship with. He'll have kids that witness a good marriage instead of a forced one. And really other than attending a dinner party this guy has done nothing that constitutes a marriage. Just attend a divorce party and get it annulled, if he hasn't settled on a Mahr then he doesn't even have to pay that.

          Forced marriages don't make sense in Islam. The guy or the girl will not be able to stay within the limits set by Allah so the divorce is inevitable.

  13. the first response was a bit harsh.

    I know of a man, who loves a woman before he even got engaged.

    however his parents like the woman for him. the man tried to cancel the engagement a lot of times.
    however the parents really want to proceed. his father started to get sick and his mom started to blame him, and plead to not give any hardship for his father. however he really would not like the woman to be the one he will stay with there is nothing wrong with the woman. she is religious and all however there is already that woman he wants to marry. so he tried to cancel.

    but because of all the pressures given by family, he had to go through the wedding.. but even the day before his wedding he tried to commit suicide and was in the hospital without his parents knowing. the following day he had to go through the wedding smiling and all but his face looks more of a person who grieves than joyful.

    in this instance,

    I do understand it is essential to follow the parents, as per the teachings of Islam. however this seems to be a forced marriage if I am right. will it ever result to something good, the man even have some stress and paranoia even after the wedding..

    as from all that I have read and heard, Forced marriage is unIslamic and cultural.. however there are still a lot of people who go through with their culture, and sadly they claim it Islamic.

    I do not know what my question would be but I am a new muslim and I am just curious about this issue

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