By Hena Zuberi
Arranged marriages are the cultural norm for (many) Muslims across the world. Men and women who are ready to get married may meet their future spouse through family or friends. Since, generally, Muslims do not “date” in the popular Western cultural sense, many couples look to arranged marriages as a means to wedded bliss. The expectation is that the seed for love is planted and will continue to bloom after the marriage.  Before any potential candidates are considered, families as a unit decide the values and characteristics that potential spouses should have so the couple  have a satisfying life together.

The traditional period of courtship is relative from culture to culture, family to family. After the initial introduction, some families grant the prospective groom and bride a chance to meet in private, under supervision; others allow them to get to know each other on the telephone, via text or email. Some families encourage the potential couple to go out in public, usually in a group setting.  People can be introduced through families, well-meaning community members, matchmaking services, on-line matrimonial sites, through imams, teachers and friends with the preplanned goal being marriage. Perhaps a better term for it should be arranged courtship.

Since couples in arranged marriages come together as a result of their extended family and community, they naturally think of their relationship as part of something bigger than just the two of them.  Many couples have extremely happy, arranged marriages. Half my siblings and friends are in varying degrees of arranged marriages. My cousin had a totally arranged marriage. She did not meet her husband until the day before she got married. They are one of the happiest couple I know, māshā'Allāh.  I chose not to go that route, I met my husband in college but my marriage included the consent of my parents and my husband's family.

Just like non-arranged marriages, not every arranged marriage or proposal works out for a variety of reasons. Nor are arranged marriages the only way a Muslim can get married.

The difference between arranged marriages and forced marriages

Forced marriage, on the other hand, occurs when a man or woman is coerced by the family to marry, using threats, emotional blackmail, fraud, and even bribes. Arranged against the person will, without consent or consent under duress. That is not a marriage in Islam; it is oppression and abuse. Marriage is Islam requires ijab and a qubul (proposal and acceptance). Forcing a woman to marry a man means that there was no qubul, this is the right of a woman, regardless of her age.  Without it the marriage is a sham, like living in zinā.

Some parents use the tactic of not speaking to a son/daughter for months at a time to convince them to get married to the person of the parent's choice. This is akin to cutting of the ties of the womb, which is a sin.  Other families threaten to disown the offspring if he or she does not accept the prospective spouse especially if it is a cousin from the homeland. In other places, the women are not given the right to even think that they can say no. They are brainwashed from a young age to obey their parents even if their hearts are screaming 'NEVER.' I have read through pages of testimonies of young women and men suffering through forced marriages.

Among the rights of our parents is that we obey them but this obedience is not blind, deaf and dumb. A nikāḥ is a spiritual contract and you can not have a contract when one of the parties or both of the parties have not committed their body and soul to the other for the sake of God. That is marriage in Islam.

Why do parents do force their offspring into an unwanted marriage?

They love you, take care of you, your mother carried you in her womb for months, nursed you, cried at your every pain. Your father worked days and nights to provide for you. Then why is it when it comes to the time when they should be your protectors and support you in the most important decision of your life, they are willing to submit you to abuse?

Many, many times it is culture. It is often family pressure: they have made promises or commitments to their relatives. Sometimes, their relatives are emotionally blackmailing them by threatening to cut off family ties. What parents often do not realize is in wanting to keep their kinships intact, they are destroying their own children.

Other reasons include a perverted notion of 'izzah “family honor”, ensuring land, property and wealth remain within the family, preventing relationships considered to be “unsuitable” for example outside a specific ethnic, racial group, helping relatives or caste/tribe members with residency and citizenship issues, controlling unwanted behavior and sexuality (including perceived or real promiscuity, or worries that their offspring is gay), and to provide a caretaker for a person with mental and/or physical disabilities.

They sometimes think that being parents gives them rights which are not given to them by God.

Islamic Rulings

 

Marriage without consent- In the Shāfi'i and Ḥanbali school of thought- the majority of scholars are of the view that if a woman is married off without her consent, then the marriage contract is invalid, because it is a forbidden contract which cannot be validated.

According to the Ḥanafi school of thought, the contract is dependent upon the woman's acceptance. If she gives her consent then it is valid, otherwise she may annul it. See al-Mughni, 7/364; Fath al-Bāri, 9/194

 

If the son or daughter likes someone else: Ibn Muflih al-Ḥanbali (may Allāh have mercy on him) said: The parents have no right to force their son to marry someone he does not want.

Shaykh Ibn Tayymiyyah said: Neither of the parents has the right to force their son to marry someone whom he does not want, and if he refuses, he is not sinning by disobeying them, because no one has the right to force him to eat food he finds off-putting when there is food that he wants to eat, and marriage is like that and more so. Food that one is forced to eat is unpleasant for a short while, but a forced marriage lasts for a long time, and it harms a person and he cannot leave it.  Al-Adāb al-Shar'iyyah (1/447)

 

 

Concerning a minor: According to Mufti E. Desai, since Islām does not allow a minor to conduct business or make financial decisions for himself or herself, a marital contract of a minor falls under the same premise. However Islām does not give a father the right to use his children's wealth without their permission, so how can he be allowed to decide, without the daughter's permission, how her body (which is more important than her wealth) is to be used, specially when she disagrees.

Concerning a young woman or a widow/divorcee: Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said: “A previously married woman may not be married without her command, and a never married woman may not be married without her permission; and permission for her is to remain silent.” (Al-Bukhāri, Muslim, and others) The exegis of this Prophetic tradition is that if she does not speak up that means that she is giving consent.  A wali (close male relative) is a command-executor in the case of the previously married woman, and is permission-seeker in the case of a never-married woman.

Relevant Hadith:

Khansa' bint Khizam al-Ansāriyyah saidMy father married me to his nephew, and I did not like this match, so I complained to the Messenger of Allāh. He said to me “accept what your father has arranged.” I said “I do not wish to accept what my father has arranged.” He said “then this marriage is invalid, go and marry whomever you wish.” (Fathul Bāri, Sharah Al Bukhāri 9/194, Ibn Mājah Kitabun Nikah 1/602). In another version, she went to the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and he annulled the marriage. Narrated by al-Bukhāri, 4845.

And it was narrated from Ibn ʿAbbās (may Allāh be pleased with him) that a virgin came to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and told him that her father had married her off against her objections. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) gave her the choice. Narrated by Abu Dāwūd, 2096.

According to scholars you should also not fear your parents du'ā' against you or their being angry with you, because that is a sinful du'ā' which Allāh will not accept from them, inshā'Allāh, unless you are transgressing against them, and not giving them their other rights. Because it is permissible for you to marry without adhering to their wishes, you will not be sinning or doing wrong. (From Islamqa)

Another misconception is that the bride and groom are not allowed to see each other before the marriage and this is somehow Islamic. The man has permission to see her face before agreeing to marry as the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, “Go and look at her (the woman you are considering marrying) because this will help your time together to be strengthened. ” (Ahmad) If our eyes are the path to our heart- how can the One who made us, forbid us from looking at the person who will become the most intimate part of our lives.

Some advice for someone being forced to get married

If you are facing circumstances where you are getting married against your will then SPEAK up! You are not your parent's property.  Don't ruin your life or your future spouse's life- s/he may not even know that you do not want to get married and will have to suffer through a loveless marriage for the rest of his/her life. You don't marry someone for your parent's sake, for your family's sake, or for anyone's sake.

You should actively and patiently do the following:

1. Very politely show your parents/guardians the relevant ayahs in the Qurʾān and refer them to the Sunnah, ḥadīth, opinions of scholars that Islam does not accept a forced marriage and gives the person the choice in regards to nikāḥ .

2. Ask your circle of mature friends and family especially your religious ones to talk to your parents on a regular basis. Impress on them that THEY are NOT exempt from ḥisāb (accounting) for not obeying the Qurʾān in their pride. The Qurʾān forbids us from following in the footsteps of our parents/grandparents if they are in the wrong. They sometimes think that being parents gives them rights which are not given to them by God.

3. Talk to your local imam/ youth group leader to speak to your parents.

4. Most importantly pray to Allāh- humbly, in qiyām (night prayers) , asking HIM to guide your parents and to prevent a social and personal disaster.

5. Make istikharah (prayer of counsel).

6. Seek out professional help. There are many organizations that can help you if you are being forced into a marriage.

Why are you refusing the match?

Analyze your reasons for refusing the match. Keep in mind marriage among families or friends of your family can work and so can marriages between two people raised in two different parts of the world. As long as there is mutual love and respect and a deep desire to keep the relationship focused around Allāh. In our community here in California, a young man recently married his cousin from India who is 4 years older than him. But it was his choice. He went to visit and liked her demeanor and personality.  He approached his parents and māshā'Allāh they are attending college together and just had their first baby.

 

If you honestly cannot stand the person or do not know enough about them to make a wise decision, or are not physically attracted to them, then let someone know.  Consider if you are spiritually on the same level as them? Are they better than someone you can find on your own?  Can you relate to them? Can you communicate with them? Do you share common goals and values? If the answers to all these questions are NO then please do NOT agree to the marriage.

However, do not reject the concept of marriage to a prospect introduced by your parents or your family just because you don't want an arranged marriage. S/he may turn out to be your soulmate.

78 Responses

  1. UmmAyat

    There are cases when the girl can’t say no to her parents so she says yes tbecause she doesn’t want to upset them and the parents just make her marry the person of their choice. So I would consider this forced marriage. Or when the parents tell the girl if you want my blessings then you’ll marry the person I pick for you…

    Also forced marriages are very common in our community so why are we pretending like they don’t exist?

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      • Ian Paul

        You don’t need to read the entire article. It’s pretty dumbed and one sided. Anyone in an arranged marriage is FORCED to marry, or their will be consequences to one sides family. While the other family or members victimized that family, until the marriage is accepted and fulfilled.

        AKA FORCED MARRIAGE.. lol

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    • Shebazza

      Assalam alekum

      There are many instances in society (regardless of culture/religion) when a woman marries a man, she may not really love or have thought too much about spending the rest of her life with, because he got her pregnant. Is that also forced marriage?

      Is any marriage in which someone is not strong enough to take a stand for themselves and own up to their true feelings a forced marriage?

      I don’t think so.

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  2. Sabeen Mansoori

    “A wali (close male relative) is a command-executor in the case of the previously married woman, and is permission-seeker in the case of a never-married woman.”

    Is marriage without a wali (for the girl) valid? (I have heard conflicting answers)

    Forced marriages are non-marriages in Islam but the arranged marriage system is a blessing that is generally misunderstood even by our own youth. The words ‘forced’ and ‘arranged’ are used interchangeably when they are clearly two very different concepts. A ‘forced’ marriage is conducted without consent and an ‘arranged’ marriage is finalized after a long period of consultation and includes the willing consent of both parties.
    Jazakallah Khair for an informative and insightful post.

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    • Mustafa

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      When Allah and His Messenger salalahualayhiwasalam have given clear instruction, there is no disagreement.

      “No marriage contract can be concluded without the presence of a Wali. A Sultan (authority figure) can act as a Wali for those without one.” (see Ibn Majah and Imam Ahmad, Hadith number 1880; also in Salih al-Jaami’, hadeeth number 7556.)

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      • Mohsin

        Wa Alaikum Assalaam,

        Actually, Sabeen, you’ve heard conflicting answers because there are in fact conflicting answers in the rich Islamic tradition. According to the Hanafi madhab, a woman can marry herself w/out a wali. I don’t have the time to elucidate the Hanafi opinion right now, but personally, I find the Hanafi logic quite elegant and convincing. I think it would behoove us not to simplify complex and rich fiqhi discussions by citing isolated ahadith.

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      • Mustafa

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        And I think we need to quit this, “Islamic jurisprudence is a rich, layered complicated and flexible set of laws, there are many interpretations, …….”

        A lot of nonesense just to disobey Allah when you don’t find it convenient. It is a practice of rebellious Jews and Christians.

        In Islam, permission of the wali is MANDATORY.

        One cannot use ones sheikh, madhab, or authority to disobey Allah and His Messenger salalahualayhiwasalam when the directive is clear. In that case anyone could follow whatever rebellious person there is claiming to be a sheikh and saying “I follow him since I can’t figure out the law myself”.

        It’s an excuse to disobey and it’s taking sheikhs as lords besides Allah.

        Allah is our only Lord-we obey Him and His Messenger salalahualayhiwasalam no matter what a “person with authority on these matters says”.

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      • Marijke

        Salam Aleykum Mustafa,

        I fully agree with you. Most matters in Islam are crystal clear and we make many excuses to do what suits us. We have been given the Quran and the Sunnah, we should make an effort to educate ourselves. Of course we need knowledgeable people to help us understand the texts, but much has been explained in detail by very early scholars. So let’s stick to the source or as close to it as we can, and always have the right intention.

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      • Mohsin

        Yo Mustafa, well done on taking down a straw-man argument you created.

        Also, you should take a trip out to places like Azhar and other institutions of Islamic learning and teach the Hanafis “true” Islam. Apparently they’ve been ignorant for over a thousand years, using ‘nonsense’ to justify disobedience to Allah.

        Good luck!

        p.s. Why was my other entry deleted by the moderators? Was it off topic?

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      • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        Mohsin

        I am sorry but I couldn’t find any earlier comment with your name that was deleted. There are multiple moderators and no way to keep track of the reasons for deletion for each comment. If you feel it was valid try submitting it again. If it was wrongfully moderated we apologize.

        Regards
        -Aly

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  3. Abu Ibrahim

    Arranged marriages are generally the best way to go for Western Muslims just like they are for Muslims the world over.

    As an American Muslim, my marriage was sorta arranged (going 13 years now). Even though my extended family is Christian (only my parents and immediate family are Muslims), I always knew an arranged marriage would be the only way I could get married.

    Truth be told, of my parents 5 children, 4 of us have arranged marriages. And all of them are successful.

    Whereas with my non-Muslim cousins of similar age…only one of them (out of 10 cousins) are married. Everyone else has children out of wedlock, or are divorced (usually the former).

    Anyone who tries to diss arranged marriages are just misinformed and biased. They are not perfect but they are the best option for the most Muslims.

    Of course, experiences will vary.

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  4. Mal

    Umm Ayat you are very wrong. That’s not a forced marriage– that’s a spineless girls who is ignorant of her deen. If Allah put a brain in her head and a tongue in her mouth, then surely he put them in their for a reason. She should know her rights if she opened a book. If she loves her parents, she will fear Allah’s anger upon them and correct them. If she stays silent, she is wronging herself and her family. I’m not saying this doesn’t exist, but I am saying that young women, through their ignorance and lack of faith in Allah, let this come upon them.

    Now, I will note: There are hadiths (I won’t quote since I’m not sure of the exact wording) that state if a young man comes to you and you and your family asking for your hand and you like his piety, his akhlaaq (behavior), and he can financially support you at the level you’re parents have supported you or higher, then you’re encourage to accept the marriage proposal (why let a man like that slip through your hands?). But if you are in love with someone else, speak up (The Prophet ‘s (PBUH) wife Khadijah purposed to him, for crying out loud..). If you do not feel comfortable with a man your family is pressuring on you for any reason, then so be it. Speak up because a woman’s silence can be mistaken for her shyness and approval (though NOT in this day and age). We have such amazing stories of strong Muslimah sahaabiyaat who’ve come to the Prophet (PBUH) and Ayesha (RAA) speaking up for their rights– 1,400 years ago in the deserts of tribal Arabia where her opposition to her parent’s will could have meant her death! You’re trying to convince me that in 2011 a woman (likely educated, with access to a cell phone) can’t bring her self to speak up to her swordless less-than-perfect Muslim parents, but the daughter’s of the Sahaabah, Allah’s most righteous, didn’t hesitate?? Please.

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    • Yousef

      How sad, and for your information not every muslima is a Khadija so cut them some slack 

      ”Or when the parents tell the girl if you want my blessings then you’ll marry the person I pick for yo” sounds like coercion to me and words like this should not be coming from parents, force doesn’t always have to be physical

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    • Muslimah

      This reply is directed to “mal.” I found your reply to be offensive and ill informed. The topic of consent is a very complicated one. Things are rarely ever black and white, so please do not assume that they are. And I ask that you think twice before blaming the children in those situation. It’s not from a lack of knowledge. It’s far more complicated than that.

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  5. Grace

    I remember Bilal Philips saying the same thing many years ago on his TV show on Sharjah TV

    That “arranged marriage is not forced marriage”

    thanks for the post

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  6. Peter

    Salaams Hena,

    I just needed to point out that arranged marriages are definitely not the “cultural norm” in the world’s largest population of Muslims – that is, in Indonesia. Please keep this in mind.

    Regards,

    Peter

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  7. Afaf

    I just wanted to clarify the word ”arranged”. It’s true that they meet through family an friends but that does not necessarily mean that theyr going to get married. They meet and if they like each other they get married but if not they don’t get married.
    SO since some of the times they dont get married it isnt really ”arranged” is it? because they have a choice. People like to refer to it as ”arranged” though but in reality its just a form of match making.

    Regarding girls saying yes even though they dont want to and people not getting to know each other or love each other before marriage that is really their choice. But in Islam the Prophet (SAW) encouraged people to look for love and also the ”engaged” period was created so that the two can discover each other in a Halal way. People that dont go by these simple and easy guidelines probably have other social or private issues in their way.

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    • Afaf

      Also I wanted to add that there is no particular way of getting married attached to Islam. As long as it’s Halal then it’s fine. So arranged marriage is also not religiously attached to Islam either. And where im from full on arranged isnt seen that often because people go for the more match-making way along with other ways where the couple just meet. SALAM

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      • Mustafa

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        I believe witnesses are need and consent of the girl’s parents/guardian.

        “No marriage contract can be concluded without the presence of a Wali. A Sultan (authority figure) can act as a Wali for those without one.” (see Ibn Majah and Imam Ahmad, Hadith number 1880; also in Salih al-Jaami’, hadeeth number 7556.)

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    • Kashif Dilkusha

      @Afaf, I just got confused after reading this “But in Islam the Prophet (SAW) encouraged people to look for love and also the ”engaged” period was created so that the two can discover each other in a Halal way. ” Can you please provide some reference that where LOVE is encouraged in Islam and how can two discover each other in HALAL way during engagement period?

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      • Zain

        If anyone knows something about the Prophet sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam and his wives then it will be obvious that love between spouses is something encouraged in Islam. This is something clear in his sunnah. For example,
        The Prophet sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam said: “I do not think there is anything better for two who love one another than marriage.” [Ibn Majah; Al-Albani graded it Saheeh]

        As for the halal manner of doing so this requires a longer discussion in an academic and practical manner.

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      • Afaf

        Salam Kashif
        Please make sure that you read this entire comment before replying again.

        Well what I meant about engagement was that the couple wont be dating. They would be two people who want to get married and can get to know each other and see each other rightfully because theyre engaged. You see a lot of people (around me at least) get married really quickly and either end up divorced or end up having problems. I was saying this with regards to people who are forced to marry each other or barely know each other and get married because they do not get a chance to do that. AKA people should get engaged and not be forced into a marriage or rush.

        Engagement exists in Islam and I was stating my opinion about engagements and addressing bad situations in where people get married in forced ways or so.

        There are numerous ahadith about love, respecting each other, kindness, marriage, and so on. I will state actions by the Prophet (SAW) and provide some ahadith.

        The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:

        “When a man marries a woman he should look for four: 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 you will prosper”.
        (Bukhari and Muslim)

        Our teacher told us that these things should be considered because if one is not satisfied with these things it may create problems in the relationship. Then the hadith emphasizes on religion and character which means they are important.This is what I was taught in class.

        We took this when learning about looking for a future spouse and engagement.
        It clearly shows the two should get a long and like each other.

        Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Go and look at her (the woman you are considering marrying) because this will help your time together to be strengthened. ” ( Ahmad)
        I think this speaks for itself.

        The Prophet (SAW) said: “I do not think there is anything better for two who love one another than marriage.” [Ibn Majah, Al-Albani)

        Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi was sallam) said, “The believer with the most complete faith is the one with the best character, and the best of them are those whom treat their women the best. ” (Tirmidhi)

        The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:`The most perfect believer in faith is the one whose character is finest and who is kindest to his wife.’ ( Quotes on marriage from Tirmidhi and Nasa’i)

        Cuddling and being kind to one’s wife. This action of following the example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) grants a man Allah’s reward, his wife’s love and cooperation. Therefore a man is commanded to cuddle and treat his wife kindly. Also We can see from the life of the Prophet (SAW) that he would help his wives with housework and would engage in games with them as well. One of the forms of cuddling and well treating one’s wife is that the Prophet (SAW) did was feeding her with his own hands. (Ahmad kasem El Hadad)

        Calling one’s wife with the name she loves most or with a nickname or a musical name is one of the forms of pampering and being kind to one’s wife. This can be seen in the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who, in a saying ‘Hadith’ that is agreed upon by scholars, used to say to his wife ‘A’isha: “O ‘A’ish, this is Gabriel saying peace be upon you.” She replied:” and may peace and Allah’s Mercy and Blessings be upon him. You see what I don’t” (She meant the messenger of Allah (PBUH)

        Narrated by ‘A’isha (The Prophets (SAW) wife), she said that Muhammad (PBUH) said that the best of the believers is the one who is best in manners and kindest to his own wife.

        “Live with them honorably. ” (Al-Nisa4:19) This is from the Quran

        I dont know what more I can present to you that shows that people are encouraged to love each other in Islam.

        Furthermore I want to say that this is what I believe and what I consider proof enough. I consider the Prophet’s (SAW) ahadith very important. If you still want to disagree with me about love being encouraged in Islam then I advise you to take it up with some one more qualified than me. You can refer to Sheikh Yusuf Estes or Dr. Bilal Philips if you want. Or you can refer to some one else of your own preference.

        Thank you. Salam

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      • Mustafa

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        No disagreement those hadith were very nice. I think I thought you said there was some specific “engagement period” where the boy and girl can get to know each other before marrying. If two have fallen in love without transgressing and join in marriage, or they know each other and speak to each other in front of parents or whatever setting is allowed in Islam and marry thats all good.

        That being said, falling love beforehand doesn’t always mean a good marriage. Allah give success to whomever He wills,

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

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      • Mohd

        Ofcourse engagement exists in Islam -_-

        here are more specific references even

        You commit no sin by announcing your engagement to the women, or keeping it secret. GOD knows that you will think about them. Do not meet them secretly, unless you have something righteous to discuss. (Quran 2:235)

        The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH): If one is engaged to a woman, if he is able to see reasons in her that motivate him to marry her, then he should do so. (Muslim)

        Ofcourse I prefer them in Arabic because some of the meaning is lost in translation so I advise you to have an Islamic teacher explain from the original text.

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    • Mustafa

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      “But in Islam the Prophet (SAW) encouraged people to look for love and also the ”engaged” period was created so that the two can discover each other in a Halal way. People that dont go by these simple and easy guidelines probably have other social or private issues in their way.”

      I don’t disbelieve you, but it’s impossible to believe you unless you provide evidence. If you say things without evidence of the Prophet salalahualayhiwasalam you stand a chance of telling lies about him.

      That being said, you might have evidence and it shouldn’t be surprising to me that I don’t know it if there is evidence.

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

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  8. Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Friday, December 23 – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs

    [...] Muslim Matters: Arranged Marriage is not Forced Marriage Arranged marriages are the cultural norm for Muslims across the world. Men and women who are ready to get married may meet their future spouse through family or friends. Since, generally, Muslims do not “date” in the popular Western cultural sense, many couples look to arranged marriages as a means to wedded bliss. [...]

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  9. Belief Blog’s Morning Speed Read for Friday, December 23 « Missionary Lds « Missionary LDS

    [...] Muslim Matters: Arranged Marriage is not Forced Marriage Arranged marriages are the cultural norm for Muslims across the world. Men and women who are ready to get married may meet their future spouse through family or friends. Since, generally, Muslims do not “date” in the popular Western cultural sense, many couples look to arranged marriages as a means to wedded bliss. [...]

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  10. Faith

    Jzk hena and Muslim matters for tackling this issue- really important that the Muslim community speak up on issues like these and clarify what many non Muslims and even Muslims are unaware of.

    Muslim matters is fab masha Allah

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  11. Umm Sulaim

    MM is really full of surprises: sometimes its articles get me enraged and at times, such as this, I wonder whether an Angel wrote the article. More servings of this kind of posts please (Oliver Twist!!!).

    NOT, still
    Umm Sulaim

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  12. Marijke

    Salam Aleykum,

    Since I don’t have Muslim family, apart from my mother who recently reverted as well Alhamdulilah, it is nice to have a better understanding og the difference between arranged and forced marriage. I believe sometimes when we are looking to get married we might oversee qualities we should be looking for. And a loving parent who knows you well sometimes sees things we don’t see or know that we don’t know are good for us.

    With regards to engagement mentioned by Afaf, I have never read any evidence that there is such a thing as an engagement. Once you have your name and signature on a contract, you are married. As far as I know engagement does not exist in Islam. If there is I would like to see evidence of that. Many young couples now get “engaged”, which means they sign a contract but do not live together and do not consumate. There is actually a time frame in which a marriage should be consumated, depending on whether the bride is a virgin or not the time frame is longer or shorter. Unfortunately I’m not able to post hadith to back up my argument, I am in the middle of moving so my books are all in boxes..

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      • Afaf

        This is my last comment.
        Ok. when i made my first comment i was asked for references so i gave them. then i was faced with another set of questions so i informed about them. now this is ridiculous
        yes i know what engagement is, im a muslim u know :)
        Im aware that its an unofficial affair and that everything haram stays haram till theyr married (its in the article and the sheikh in the video said so!) AND i never said otherwise so i dont know y there’s an argument. in my first comment i said in a halal way as in when the two are engaged the parents know and theyr supervised. as opposed to dating behind the parents (and sometimes even everyone’s) back. i didnt think tht part needed explaining.

        I recite Surat al Fatiha before an exam and even before I sleep. If you ever get engaged then dont recite it, thats ur choice. I posted the links to simply inform about engagements and how they go (at least where i come from) so i honestly take offense when u pick a fight with me over this point.

        All im saying is that even though its unofficial and not all muslims do it, its still better than dating!! where i come from people do it. the parents know, the couple takes the time they want and its pretty peaceful.
        its not a haram practice, u know, so i dont get y ur so angry. its generally a neutral matter really, not discouraged and sometimes encouraged (as the sheikh in the video said)
        AND i dont know y iv had to come back to this article so many times to talk about this when this article isnt about this and the point of my first comment wasnt about this either!
        lets stop diverting away from the subject especially that its about a matter thats not even serious
        Im sorry but i hate it when i get trouble and get into debates about sub-topics that are away from the original point and especially when its a religious topic. If someone wants to make a point or state an opinion then at least do it politely and drop the ”matter-of-fact” tone. If ur going to go ahead and ask me to get u more references and sheikhs about this petty matter then i really feel sorry for u. if u really want to argue join a debate club and stop bothering me. i bet i can find u a hadith about how its no good to just keep debating aimlessly.
        Salamu alaikom.

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      • Marijke

        Salam Aleykum Afaf,

        I am not picking a fight with you, I am merely stating that there is no evidence in reciting Surah Al Fatiha during engagement. And it is not a sub topic, it is about inventing things that hold no base in Islam. It is not at all a petty subject at all Afaf, anything that is innovation is something very serious, and with all due respect, just because something happens a certain way because it is done that way where you are from, doesn’t make it right in Islam. And then you can get offended by my words or matter of fact tone, it is about facts here. And it is my right to ask for evidence when that is not given, either from hadtih or Quran. About any topic in Islam. Whether it is about engagement or anything else.

        Wa’salaam

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      • Mohammed

        Dear Afaf and Marjike, (this is long but please both of you read it)
        I must say it took me a while (4 hours) to figure all this out especially because the comments aren’t in order. But it was worth it because I hate seeing Muslims fighting. After reading everything, though, I saw that there’s no real problem between you two and that it’s just a misunderstanding.
        Now Marjike this is your comment:
        ‘’ Engagement is not more than making the intention to get married, but no reason for celebration and does NOT allow the couple to be alone together, it is the time where a woman considers a man’s proposal, and when no other man can approach her.
        A couple can be alone only when they are married. Couples use it as a way to spend free time together without the marital commitment, but this does not exist in Islam.
        I have viewed your link about Surah Al fatiha, but the author has no evidence to support his argument that it’s good to recite Surah Al Fatiha during “engagement”. So I can’t take this seriously. there is no hadith nor evidence that our beloved prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) did this, nor is it in the Sunnah.’’
        In the article it said in the 3rd paragraph it says that the man and woman are not considered married and are not allowed alone time.
        And in the 8th paragraph it says that an engagement is nothing more than a promise and that the couple are still considered strangers and what was previously haram stays that way and isn’t now halal. It also says that no one else can approach either of them so long as they’re engaged.
        The sheikh in the video also makes similar points.
        In the 4th 5th paragraphs it is clearly stated that the reading of Al-Fatiha during an engagement is not a condition and cannot be prescribed as a set ritual in religion. Then in the 6th paragraph it continues to say that the reading of Al Fatiha should not be shunned either because it is part of the Quran still.
        As in even though reading Al Fatiha isn’t mandatory or supported by evidence it’s an ok practice. Reciting Al Fatiha at engagements is just a thing people do but it is not something that one has to do religiously.
        So when you ‘’merely stated’’ that there is no evidence about Al Fatiha it would sound like you were trying to pick a fight to Afaf’s ears because that info is already spoken for in the article.
        Im sorry to say but you both missed the point of each other’s comments.
        Afaf was talking about how engagements can be an alternative to dating or parents should consider it before forcing their children into marriage or whatever. Marjike was talking about the details of this or the technicalities so to speak.
        So Marjike was saying that there’s no official evidence about Al Fatiha and Afaf had mentioned the reciting of Al Fatiha when trying to explain engagements. So Afaf was too preoccupied explaining engagements themselves.
        Also when Afaf said it was a ‘’sub topic’’ she meant it was a sub topic with regards to her FIRST comment. And to her Al Fatiha was just a practice that is done in engagements and daily things that is considered good. But Marjike didn’t think it was a ‘’sub topic’’ because she was talking about engagement as the topic and Al Fatiha that relates directly. And it was serious to her because she was talking about evidence.
        Now even though I agree that innovation is dangerous in Islam but to be honest Marjike what you said in your last comment was not fair because Afaf had provided references.
        And in conclusion whether or not someone has a reference I still think one should check up on the matter by asking a qualified person such as a scholar both ways. After all, no matter how hard we try a comments section cannot be considered as a reliable source of information.
        Salamu Alaikum. :)

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      • Marijke

        Dear Afaf,

        Engagement is not more than making the intention to get married, but no reason for celebration and does NOT allow the couple to be alone together, it is the time where a woman considers a man’s proposal, and when no other man can approach her.

        A couple can be alone only when they are married. Couples use it as a way to spend free time together without the marital commitment, but this does not exist in Islam.

        I have viewed your link about Surah Al fatiha, but the author has no evidence to support his argument that it’s good to recite Surah Al Fatiha during “engagement”. So I can’t take this seriously. there is no hadith nor evidence that our beloved prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) did this, nor is it in the Sunnah.

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      • Mustafa

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        I stick to what I said earlier. This is just like the hadith which says we are going to follow the ways of those who came before us. They created engagements and so we follow them?

        Then what about dating, is that going to become standard Muslim practice as well?

        I am completely opposed to this. We don’t need to innovate in our religion. We cannot innovate in our religion. We have to fear Allah.

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  13. Abu Ibrahim

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Jazakum Allahu khayran for the article. I would just like to point out, for the sake of academic correctness, that the opinion attributed to the Shafi`i school in the article is incorrect.

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    • henazuberi

      Assalam ‘alaykum, my research was from a reliable source. I apologize if there is a mistake, I will have it re-checked by a scholar, inshaAllah.

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  14. Sanjeev Kumar

    Namaste, dear Hina, do you know arrange marriage is not applied in only islam bt it is applied in many other religions too :)

    Itz nt property of islam.

    You must know before islam, there many religions have applied it, as Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, etc…these religions are very old religions than islam.

    That’s good you’re appreciating youths for arrange marriage bt nt only in islam bt in many religions it has been applied before islam. It is said by historians that islamic culture is just a copy of ancient indian culture.

    Jai Shri Ram.

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    • Mustafa

      “It is said by historians that islamic culture is just a copy of ancient indian culture.”

      Yeah, Hindutva historians who would have a heart attack if anything less than their biased narrative was found in school books.

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  15. RCHOUDH

    Mash’allah this article does a wonderful job explaining the difference between arranged and forced marriages. I personally just like to refer to marriages performed through the Islamic method as being “Islamic marriages” because I feel the arranged marriage concept carries with it alot of negative connotations (usually unintended because it so often gets mixed up with the forced marriage concept here in the West). So to clarify matters to those (Muslims and nonMuslims) who would like to know how Muslims are supposed to marry, I just use Islamic marriage as the term to describe it.

    Another reason why I distinguish (for myself) arranged marriage from Islamic marriage is because arranged marriages occur in many other cultures/religions, particularly in South Asia. Arranged marriages also imply that people of the same culture often get married, even though in Islam there is no such requirement. I’ve seen for myself couples who went through certain aspects of the “arranged marriage” process but were of two (or more) different ethnic backgrounds. So based on all that I just use different wording to describe how marriage occurs in Islam so as not to confuse people unfamiliar with it.

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  16. Abu Sumaiyah

    As-salamu alaikum

    Okay, so the girl agrees to go through an arranged marriage on the day she is supposed to get married she sees her husband and is turned off. tell me, how is she supposed to just back out now. this is now a forced marriage. this article is trying to justify a strange practice. really, i dont know why. arranged marriages are forced marriages. the girl or guy has no way to back out at any time and will feel compelled to do so.

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    • RCHOUDH

      Wa alaikum salaam Abu Sumaiyah,

      I don’t see this article talking about girls not getting to see their husbands until the day of the marriage. In fact I see it explaining that both brides/grooms should meet and discuss with their potential spouses under supervision, first before leaping into marriage as this is the practice of Sunnah. Other than that I agree with you that using the term “arranged marriage” to describe what is really “Islamic marriage” is problematic and confusing just because of all the negative connotations that get stuck to the “arranged marriage” term (such as it being confused with forced marriage).

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  17. Ibn Mikdad

    Assalamu alaykum Abu Sumayya,

    If you agree to do something, you cannot claim that you have been forced into it. And if a girl agrees to marry a man whom she hasn’t seen, aware that she might be turned off by him when she does meet him, then it’s nobody’s fault but hers; jut because she suddenly changed her mind doesn’t mean it’s ok to violate the right of a person with whom she have made a contract. More importantly, a situation like this should not happen since Shariah encourages future spouses to see each other before they marry; if she went against in that case, it is again nobody’s fault but hers Also, scholars say that finding the husband physically repulsive is a legitimate reason for a woman to ask for a divorce:

    “Shaykh Ibn Jibreen (may Allah preserve him) said, explaining what justifies seeking talaaq or khul‘: If the woman dislikes her husband’s character, such as if he is harsh or hot-tempered or quick-tempered or gets angry a great deal for the slightest reason and rebukes for the slightest shortcoming, then she has the right to seek divorce by khul‘.

    Secondly:

    If she dislikes his physical make-up, such as if he has a defect or is ugly or is lacking in one of his senses, then she has the right to seek divorce by khul‘.

    Thirdly:

    If he is lacking in religious commitment, such as if he does not pray or is careless us about praying in congregation or breaks the fast in Ramadan without any excuse, or he does haraam things such as zina, drinking alcohol, listening to songs and music, and so on, then she has the right to ask for divorce by khul‘.

    Fourthly:

    If he denies her her rights to maintenance, clothing and other essential needs and he is able to provide that, then she has the right to ask for divorce by khul‘.

    Fifthly:

    If he does not give her her right to regular intimacy and that which will keep her chaste because of impotence (inability to have intercourse) or because he is not interested in her or is attracted to someone else, or he does not divide his time equally (among co-wives), then she has the right to ask for divorce by khul‘. ”

    Wassalam

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  18. Olivia

    I just wanted to say that, no offense, all those terms in the poll are pretty lame. Why not just call it courtship? Marriage is marriage and you can say you got their by courting your potential spouse. I mean, that’s how it used to work until recent times and that’s what it was called. I term I sometimes use is self-arranged. People asked me if I dated by husband or if my marriage was arranged, so i tell them it was self-arranged. =)

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    • henazuberi

      Those terms were suggested by our twitter and facebook fans :) I agree a lot of them leave much  to be desired. It is a sometimes organic and sometimes framed process, which differs from couple to couple.
      Thanks for dropping by Liv. My marriage was self-arranged too ;)

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  19. sara

    Assalamua alaikum,

    I liked this post but feel that the recent statements about khul and talaq are way off base, and not a remedy to forced marriages, or failure to properly contemplate suitability. The fact is the chances of remarriage for most women in most of our societies is smaller and she is considered of less value once she has been divorced. Failure to allow the sisters to properly ask questions of the prospective husband and contribute to the content of her marriage contract has dire results for too many young sisters who must later choose between horrible, abusive, or prepetually conflicting marriages and disgrace. This is a huge, unislamic injustice that our communities and leaders fail to address publicly and redress effectively.

    Sara

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  20. saima

    I am married to someone who i didnt even get to see, as far as my dad was concerned if i get to see him i might not like him, so he married me of to this person and i agreed fearing what he will do to me if i disagreed, and until this day i am having problems and i cant do anything about it , i just feel my dad has ruined my life fr ever..I have been married fr 17yrs.

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    • Umm Mariam

      Sorry to hear that sis, may Allah ease your pain. This kind of situation is more common than we think and I believe a good father wouldn’t marry his daughter off to a man she has never seen or met. Some father are selfish and are doing things like this for their own selfish reasons. I am not saying your dad was like this but many do this to their daughters. The girls end up being in unhappy marriage and sometimes stay in it because they don’t have support from their parents or community if they were to seek divorce. To many immigrant Muslims divorce is worse to them so they’d rather see their daughters suffer physically, mentally and emotionally.

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      • saima

        Jazakallah sister Umm Mariam for your thoughtful words, so nice to know someone understands, everything you mentioned is exactly what I am going through.

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      • Huda

        I’m so sorryy to hear that, Umm Mariam. I’m going through a somewhat of a similar situation as you. My dad wants me to marry who ever comes a long.. They don’t even show me a picture, or even tell me details such as his age etc.. I don’t even think they will even ‘ask’ ask me.. I even over heard him tell my mom that he’ll just marry me off to an old man if I don’t get married. The thing is, they just want to kick u out because ‘girls’ in general are a burden. Some Parents just want to get rid of them. Some become sad over time that their daughters have reached such an old age like 23-30 and they are in a rush. When they are in a rush, they do harsh things.. I don’t know if I trust my parents.. Fathers are much harsher than mothers.. they force you. they blackmail you.. they play with your emotions until u give in due to fear.. i don’t understand why parents do this?! they abuse their power allah has given them. I always thought that if I had a daughter.. i would give her the world, I would be supporting her all the way. I would never treat her the way my parents are treating me. But the sad part is, my mom plays along with him and doesn’t say anything to him!

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  21. Belief Blog’s Morning Speed Read for Friday, December 23 | StigmaBot

    [...] Muslim Matters: Arranged Marriage is not Forced Marriage Arranged marriages are a informative normal for Muslims opposite a world. Men and women who are prepared to get married might accommodate their destiny associate by family or friends. Since, generally, Muslims do not “date� in a renouned Western informative sense, many couples demeanour to organised marriages as a means to married bliss. [...]

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  22. Turaipie musa

    Salamu allaykhum, my Brothers and Sisters in Islam

    I also Agree. , because ALLAH said “do not hurt the feelings of other people” Because its ” HARAM ” and i think forcing ur daughter/son to marry the person which is not of his/her choice and he/she signed the nikah unwillingly by the force or fear of his/her parents is like your also Hurting someone that means ” HARAM ” .

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  23. Prashant

    Sallam, I am in love with a muslim girl. We both love each other very much, however I can’t walk upto her parents now as she is only 21 and I don’t have a home. I am ready to accept islam as well. 2 days ago her parents chose her a groom and she has to answer it whether she wants to marry him or not. Her mother put forth a condition stating that if her answer is No, then she has to give them a reason. I don’t understand how can she give a reason for the guy whom she has met. The guy’s family is very nice according to her. I need your help what needs to be done in this matter and what can I do in future. I am working very hard so that I can earn some good money and get us a home and then talk to her parents. However I also don’t know what things I can mention to them so that they are fully convinced by me.

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  24. Harun Rashid

    I had an arranged marriage where I met (with family) my wife and within a few months we were married.

    Ours was a traditional one, primarily based on compatible values, however, what I can say is that I have definitely met my soul mate (if there is such a thing)

    So I too agree with the fact that a prospect introduced by parents or family should be strongly looked at. The person that you think or have met by yourself may not be guaranteed to be the person you will be happy with.

    I know of people who have had love marriages, and even then the marriage lasted only a few months, where probably the realities of marital life settled in.

    I also believe that love is stronger when built through a marriage.

    Harun Rashid
    (familylinxs.com)

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  25. Monaco

    What avenues/options are available to break the contract of marriage? (No children, dowry monies paid and Not interested in any return, marriage 4 weeks)
    Any sources or advice would be greatly appreciated. Also, yes- It is understood a contract is a commitment and one is not to sign it and indeed it is their fault. So please, spare the lecture. Thank you =)

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  26. yvonne

    hi. my religion is Roman Catholic but I have friends from different religions and i never got a problem with our difference. we all respect each other. but tonight, my heart is breaking.. i feel so sorry for my Muslim friend. she was forced to marry someone she doesn’t love.. she was told that she’ll be disowned, she will cause embarrassment and more complicated problems to her family if she said no. is this really normal in Islamic Culture? can’t anyone choose someone to marry? it’s my friend who’ll be living with the person for the rest of her life.. not the other family members. she will have to wake up beside the guy everyday. how can she not say no? she’s still crying until now. and it breaks my heart even more to know that i can’t help her in this.

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  27. Kayvee

    Jazakallah khair for this informative article

    Perhaps one day we will have a hotline for muslim girls who are being forced into marriage.

    Or if they have access to this article, it will greatly help them

    I just wanted to add something

    To the best of my knowledge, a man very briefly see the womans hair uncovered for the purpose of marriage. It has to be in the presence of a mahram of course.

    I read this on Islamqa.com

    If I find it I will post the link here

    Salam

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    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      Bro, I think you need to understand the word forced. Forced love marriages don’t exist. ;)

      -Aly
      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

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  28. Huda

    What if your parents tell you not to work? And stay at home, and go the things women usually do.. If emotionally blackmailing a woman to not to work just so that she can get married, is that forced too?

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  29. A realist Pakistani origin Muslim

    What about a “compelled” marriage, where the girl is not actually refusing to marry, so it’s not “forced”, but she knows through her upbringing that she must marry wherever the parents decide, and the parents simply don’t bother asking her for her consent?

    What about situations where the same girl’s brothers are allowed by the parents to find and select their own marriage partners, but she is not allowed to express any opinion about her marriage out of shame?

    What about cases where bride and bridegroom are not allowed to meet at all, even after nikah, until “rukhsati” has taken place? They meet for the first time in the wedding bed. Yes, they have been saved from immorality, but where is the morality in going to bed with a total stranger who (however good and kind he may be) has sex with you straightaway?

    What about when both sets of parents in the above cases are university educated persons and fully aware of the teaching of Islam? You could say that the parents are 50% westernised because they give full freedom to their sons as in the West but none to their daughters as in Pakistan traditionally! Make your sons westernised, and make your daughter eastern and find for them eastern type husbands.

    You don’t think this happens. All the above happened to my wife when she was married to me in Pakistan. Welcome to the real world, not the world of articles and quotations from the Quran and Hadith.

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  30. Amit Tripathi

    Today’s youth ideally like to go for love marriage. They want to spend life with the person of their own choice. According to Hena, “Muslims do not date”. Men and women who are ready to get married may meet their future spouse through family or friends. In this case chances to meet the ‘One’ is very less. Parents forced their children to marry a person of their choice. Marriage is Islam requires ijab and a qubul (proposal and acceptance). Forcing a woman to marry a man means that there was no qubul, this is the right of a woman, regardless of her age.

    In this digital era arranging love is that difficult? Simply visiting Muslim matrimony anyone can find a person of their own choice. Important things about these matrimonial is a broad scope . Take an example of this page: http://www.shaadi.com/matrimony/muslim-matrimony . Here i can see 3.2 millions Muslim matrimony profiles.

    Seriously technology easing human life in all aspects. Even helping people to find their better half. So it’s time to stop all family tragedy & dramas on love marriage, arranged marriage & all Blah blah blah……

    Go Digital. :)

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