Opinion, September 2003, www.aljazeerah.info
Marriage and a Woman’s Consent
Adil Salahi, Arab News, 9/5/03
Q. I have selected a husband for my daughter, but she says she will only accept him just to please us. She prefers one of her fellow students at university. From every aspect, her choice is far inferior to the other man. She always reminds me that I cannot get her married without her consent. This situation is causing us problems because my relatives are advising me to get her married to the man I have chosen and do it without delay. May I ask whether it is appropriate for a Muslim girl to remain unmarried?
A. Let us clear the last point first: There is nothing wrong with a woman remaining single throughout her life. Some women simply do not like to get married, and there is no harm in that. They should be helped to lead the life of their choice, so that they are not made dependent on others throughout their lives. Such a woman may pursue her education so as to have a career as a teacher, nurse, doctor, or whatever may suit her talent and ability.
Your daughter is right when she says that you must not force her into a marriage without her consent. A woman complained to the Prophet that her father had married her to a cousin of his without her consent. The Prophet nullified the marriage. When he had done that, she said to the Prophet: “Now I accept what my father has done, but I only wanted to make it clear to women that men have no way over them.”
From the Islamic point of view, you can refuse to accept the man your daughter has chosen if you have concerns about his being compatible with her, or that he is socially unacceptable. With the description you have given me, you can easily refuse him. Therefore, you should tell your daughter that while you will not force her into a marriage she does not like, you will not accept the man she suggests because he is unsuitable. In order not to aggravate things, you should tell her your grounds for refusing him.
When she realizes that your objections to him are really valid, she may well see your point. The important thing is that she should feel that she is not dragged into a tug of war, and that she is not being forced to do what she dislikes.
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.