COMPELLING A GIRL INTO MARRIAGE
[By Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]
In some segments of Muslim society, girls are compelled to marry against their wishes. The consent acquired from her is superficial and extracted under duress of parental pressure. In this regard, the following Shar’i facts should be noted:
1) It is not permissible to compel a baalighah (adult girl) to marry against her wishes even if the man proposing is a Wali (saint). The episode of the Sahaabiyah Hadhrat Bareerah (Radhiyallahu anha) will be a salubrious reminder for errant parents. She was a slave woman who was given in marriage by her master to Hadhrat Mugheeth (Radhiyallahu anhu). On being set free, she immediately invoked her right to opt out of this marriage which had been arranged against her wishes.
Her husband who was deeply in love with her was shattered by her decision. He pleaded and begged her to remain as his wife. But she refused. He was so heart-broken that he wandered in the streets of Madinah sobbing. Taking pity on him, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) called Hadhrat Bareerah (Radhiyallahu anha) and advised her to marry Hadhrat Mugheeth (Radhiyallahu anhu).
In response, she asked: “O Rasulullah! Are you instructing me to get married or are you advising me (i.e. giving me mashwarah)?” When Nabi-e-Kareem (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) told her that he was giving her mashwarah, she promptly said that in that case she opts not to marry Mugheeth.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) upheld her right, and no one criticized her for not accepting the mashwarah of even Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In fact, her attitude constitutes a daleel for a senior’s mashwarah not being incumbent. It is the right of the baalighah to refuse a proposal regardless of the goodness which others discern in the proposal.
2) Another important issue to understand is that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had advised the prospective couple to view one another before getting married. This viewing is extremely brief, perhaps a minute or two. Now what is the purpose for the permissibility of mutual viewing? It is quite obvious that the moral character and disposition of the couple cannot be ascertained from such a fleeting view.
The objective of viewing is not to ascertain the person’s character, for this is impossible from a look of a minute or two. The moral condition has to be established by investigation.
The purpose of the brief viewing is to ascertain if the couple is attracted to one another physically/emotionally. If there is no physical/emotional attraction at first sight, then the marriage will head for serious problems. Therefore, if the girl does not feel inclined to the boy, it will be a grievous error to compel her to marry the person.
(3) The very fact that the Shariah stipulates that the marriage can be performed only with the free and happy consent of the girl, is ample evidence for the fact that Allah Ta’ala has given her the final say. This right is not given to the father in relation to the baalighah. If the father’s right had to supersede the right of his baalighah daughter, Allah Ta’ala would not have vested her with the final say nor would He have ordained the validity of the Nikah on her free, happy and wholehearted consent.
It is therefore unwise and not permissible to compel the baalighah into a marriage against her wishes. Allah Ta’ala, The Creator, knows best the wisdom underlying His commands. It is haraam to seek to supersede Allah’s orders with traditions of a people.
There is no reason for the parents to become distressed and depressed on account of their daughter’s refusal to accept a proposal. It is her right, and there is profound wisdom in the commands of the Shariah, and whatever happens is Taqdeer.
THE WIFE’S RIGHT TO SEPARATE QUARTERS
In some Muslim societies, it is an incumbent tradition to reduce the daughter-in-law into serfdom. The in-laws regard it as their right to be served on by the daughter-in-law. They deprive her of privacy. In some communities this evil is so degenerate that she is compelled to serve even her brothers-in-law. This set-up is not permissible in terms of the Shariah.
It should also be well-remembered that the Shariah has given the wife the right to ask for a separate home where she can live and enjoy her privacy without the interference of her in-laws.
In some societies this is unthinkable. The woman is never allowed this right. Due to age-old customs, unjust and baseless traditions, it is believed that women have no such right and that they should live together with and serve their in-laws. But this is decidedly un-Islamic and a gross violation of the Waajib right of the woman.
SUPPORTING THE EX-WIFE
My ex-husband has financially supported me and his children for many years. Now that I am on the verge of old age and sickly, he informed me that he will no longer be supporting me because it is not the obligation of a man to support his ex-wife. He says that I should look for work and support myself. In all the past years I have remained at home. Now he insists that I go out and search for work. He will continue paying for the secular education of his sons who are adults according to the Shariah because he wants them to have degrees and get good jobs. He says that he is not responsible for maintaining his baaligh children. All four children are baaligh. I had embraced Islam and have no Muslim relatives to whom I may refer for assistance. What is the Shariah’s ruling for me?
It is unjust and not permissible for the children’s father to suggest that you leave the home precincts, work and support yourself. As long as the children (the sons) are unable to support themselves, it remains the duty of their father to support them even if they have reached Buloogh (puberty). Only when they are capable of earning and fending for themselves, will supporting them not be obligatory on their father. However, as far as the girls are concerned he has to continue supporting them until they are married.
Although it is not incumbent on a man to support his ex-wife, in your case it remains compulsory for the menfolk of your husband’s family, to support you since you have no Muslim male mahrams on whom to rely. It is not permissible for them to compel you to leave the home to earn. They have to support you.
In fact, if one’s neighbour is destitute and unable to earn, then despite not being a family member, it is incumbent to support him and his family.
If your ex-husband and his family refuse to support you, then it will be compulsory for your sons to work and support you. It will not be permissible for you to work to earn. Your sons will have to abandon their studies and support you if their father refuses.
The claim that after they are married you will be on your own is utterly baseless in terms of the Shariah. It will remain the duty of your sons to support you as long as you are alive or as long as you have not married again. The duty of supporting a woman devolves on the closest male members of the family, and in a case where there are no Muslim male relatives, then the obligation will be on the males of the in-laws. If there are no relatives to support, then the obligation settles on the Muslim neighbours, then on the community as a whole.
However, the problem with the Muslim Ummah today is that in addition to being totally disorganized, they have enormous amounts of wealth for squandering on unnecessary luxuries, touring, bogus ‘umrah’ trips, haraam wedding functions and many other haraam activities.
Sister, remain at home. Make dua, and remove your sons from secular studies to enable them to earn and support you, if your in-laws refuse to fulfil their duty towards you.[By Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai
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