Do Muslim Women Have a Say on Marriage?
Name of Questioner: Maria
Date: 30-12-2015 02:21:34 PM
Consultant: Ask About Islam Editorial Staff
Is it true that Muslim women cannot choose their own husbands?
Salam dear Maria,
Thank you for your question.
In some cultures, many first marriages of young Muslims are arranged by their parents. However, this does not usually mean that the people involved are strangers, or have not agreed to the arrangement.
To be valid, in Islam, marriages should never be forced. If they are, that is certainly not what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) intended, and flies in the face of his teaching. Islam does not condone the marriage of strangers.
In one instance, a woman complained to the Prophet Muhammad that her father had married her off to his nephew without first asking her consent. The Prophet immediately annulled the marriage.
Once this was done, and the woman was free again, she said to him: ‘Now I am free, I willingly consent to this marriage. I only wanted it to be known that men have no say over women in their marriages.’ (Ibn Majah)
She had deliberately done this to establish a precedent for which many women have been most grateful ever since. Of course, it is unrealistic for youngsters to expect their parents not to be concerned for their welfare.
Most Muslim youngsters are quite happy for their parents to arrange introductions for them. Divorce, although discouraged, is allowed to Muslims, and is usually much more easily arranged in Islamic law than in English law. If an arranged marriage ends in divorce, both parties may choose their own partners.
As for arranged marriages of older women, many widows or divorcees might not wish to live alone, but would have some difficulty in finding a suitable partner. Such people could turn to caring relatives, or the person of authority at the mosque, to match them with another spouse. This process is a religious version of the western match-making system.
Taken from a book entitled “What Every Christian Should Know about Islam”