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Arranged Marriage Is Not Forced Marriage

Hena Zuberi

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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.

Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She is also a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. She serves on the board of the Aafia Foundation and Words Heal, Inc. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. A mom of four and a Green Muslim, she lives and preaches a whole food, organic life which she believes is closest to Sunnah. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

100 Comments

100 Comments

  1. Avatar

    UmmAyat

    December 22, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    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?

    • Avatar

      Hena Zuberi

      December 22, 2011 at 9:20 PM

      Assalamalaikum Sister UmmAyat,
      Please read the entire article before commenting – Jzkillah Khayr

      • Avatar

        Ian Paul

        July 23, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        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

      • Avatar

        Anam

        May 19, 2015 at 5:51 PM

        Salaam Aleykum sisters and brothers. Although I’m not Muslim born I have lived and behaved like a Muslimah all my life and learning from the religion it is the religion that most appeals to me because I agree to it also. I haven’t officially converted as I have no Muslim figure or close person to guide me but I know this shouldn’t be an excuse, maybe I’m just afraid to make it official by myself, I feel like I need support and I’m scared to ask for it too. I was in a relationship with a Muslim for over 6 years, we both love each other or so I thought, he had expressed his serious intentions to me and his family,he brought me to his parents, many times he was about to marry me but he was scared I guess. We are not together anymore but he still contacts me,he went to his country and got engaged, he is going to marry someone else but he still contacts me and says that he still loves me with all his heart and that he will always love me, he says he misses me and he wants to see me but I have made it clear to him that he shouldn’t be contacting me and that I want nothing to do with him if he is engaged and going to marry another woman. He doesn’t want to understand. What do I do sisters and brothers? I love him too and I will always, it’s so difficult this situation and my heart is weak, I’m crying for help, this is killing me,losing him forever is a torture to me/us. If he really loved me he shouldn’t have gotten engaged but he says that he was pressured. Brothers sisters what can I do or what can he do? Should I go to the mosque and ask for help/guidance? Is there still hope for us? Is this situation considered forced? My friend had an arranged marriage and she didn’t want to marry but she married anyway, she was miserable months before she got married but her situation is different because she wasn’t in love with anyone.

    • Avatar

      Shebazza

      December 22, 2011 at 10:45 PM

      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.

      • Avatar

        Paul

        February 22, 2016 at 10:56 AM

        A forced marriage depends on the pressure exerted by other parties. But, If someone is not sure of their own feelings, or has doubts, but is too afraid to to stop the wedding, or if they are pregnant, and think it is their ‘duty’ to marry, this doesn’t make the marriage forced. The marriage is then dependent on that person’s confused feelings.

    • Avatar

      confetti

      October 26, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      I agree. Coercion and fear of social stigma is forced marriage..

    • Avatar

      Aaliyah Hussain

      November 14, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      This is simply not fair you should choose who to get married and then get the consent of your parents

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      January 12, 2015 at 3:44 PM

      Agreed.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous

        April 23, 2015 at 1:25 PM

        i agree with this statement

    • Avatar

      shufah

      April 3, 2016 at 3:49 AM

      I’m not forced but my parents also arranged my marriage to a relative and they told me about it when I was 12 and I have been disagreeing until I was 16 then I was desperate because every time I told them I hate him they would laugh and smile saying he’s a good man and then they’ll say we won’t force you but they never understand me serious and then I was desperate so I agreed and now I’m 17 but I’m still no saticefied with my choice but I already signed my marriage certificate but still we didn’t get married public and I’m still a Virgin and I only signed my certificate because I went back to America and they thought I should start I don’t know what to call it It’s the thing you do to order take your husband to America and now I’m 17 and 7 months and thinking I should get a divorce before I marry him for real because I hate him so much so can you help me and tell me the Wright thing to do please help me because I am scared to tell my parents and grandparents and confused what should I do please reply should i marry him then get a divorce or get a divorce while I am still a Virgin please help me I’m begging you ?

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      June 30, 2016 at 1:21 AM

      This is happening with me. Iam going to marry a person whom i don’t want to marry. Although this is an arranged marriage and my consent is taken but this was under emotional pressure that my age(im 23) is running out, think about my father he is already a heart patient don’t reject any proposal, society will start talking about you still at this age she is unmarried and many more. Its not that don’t want to marry i want to marry but how can i marry a man whom iam not attracted. i have seen only proposal photo of him neither we met nor we talked on phone nor we have seen each other atleast he has seen many pictures of mine whenever his family visited us they have clicked my photos and also he has seen me in our engagement video (he work in another country so in absence of him engagement took place) and after these many months of engagement also just seeing that one photo how can i marry him iam not ready for this marriage and the worst part is no one from entire relatives and friends is there to help to whom i can share my problem i cannot share it to anyone.

    • Avatar

      Imtiaz

      September 7, 2016 at 5:38 PM

      Salaam.

      I agree with what you are saying. Forced marriage is Haram in Islam. I came across this website call Hum Marriage Bureau, you sign up giving your name, age, height etc. Then you receive a dedicated matchmaker that sends you matches that are best suited to you. It is completely Halal and trustworthy as they have over 2000 members and a 98% marriage success rate. I recently got married through Hum marriage so it can help you or anyone you know that is looking to get married. http://www.hummarriage.com

      Jazak Allah.

  2. Avatar

    Sabeen Mansoori

    December 22, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    “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.

    • Avatar

      Mustafa

      December 23, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      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.)

      • Avatar

        Sabeen Mansoori

        December 23, 2011 at 10:11 PM

        Jazakallah Khair.

      • Avatar

        Mohsin

        December 24, 2011 at 4:14 AM

        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.

        • Avatar

          Mustafa

          December 25, 2011 at 2:39 PM

          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”.

          • Avatar

            Marijke

            December 28, 2011 at 3:16 AM

            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.

          • Avatar

            Mohsin

            December 31, 2011 at 4:43 AM

            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?

          • Avatar

            Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

            January 2, 2012 at 10:21 AM

            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

      • Avatar

        Devin Leery

        November 6, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        One of the things I appreciate about the Islamic religion/culture, is that the Qur’an has very few loopholes as opposed to the Bible.

        (This is my view as a Christian, and is not meant to offend anyone in anyway)

  3. Avatar

    Abu Ibrahim

    December 22, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    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.

  4. Avatar

    Mal

    December 23, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Yousef

      May 6, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      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

    • Avatar

      Muslimah

      December 31, 2012 at 5:50 PM

      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.

  5. Avatar

    Grace

    December 23, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    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

  6. Pingback: Arranged Marriage is not Forced Marriage – MuslimMatters | Down Town Bride

  7. Avatar

    Peter

    December 23, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    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

  8. Avatar

    Afaf

    December 23, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Afaf

      December 23, 2011 at 2:51 AM

      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

      • Avatar

        Mustafa

        December 23, 2011 at 1:00 PM

        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.)

    • Avatar

      Kashif Dilkusha

      December 23, 2011 at 6:54 AM

      @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?

      • Avatar

        Zain

        December 23, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        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.

      • Avatar

        Afaf

        December 23, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        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

        • Avatar

          Mustafa

          December 23, 2011 at 11:11 PM

          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

        • Avatar

          Mohd

          December 30, 2011 at 5:58 AM

          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.

    • Avatar

      Mustafa

      December 23, 2011 at 12:51 PM

      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

      • Avatar

        Afaf

        December 23, 2011 at 1:51 PM

        Salam Mustafa

        I replied above.

        :)

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  11. Avatar

    Faith

    December 23, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    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

  12. Avatar

    Umm Sulaim

    December 23, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    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

  13. Avatar

    Marijke

    December 24, 2011 at 3:47 AM

    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..

    • Avatar

      Afaf

      December 24, 2011 at 1:10 PM

      Its surprising to me that you dont know about engagement. Its no big deal. Its just a promise to get married. Family get together (usually just men) and read Surat Al Fatiha. here are some links that you can see.

      http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-the-scholar/family/engagement/169501

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O__pwDIehig

      Thanks.

      • Avatar

        Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        December 26, 2011 at 9:36 AM

        I believe what Marijke was trying to say was that Engagement ceremony is not an Islamic ritual and doesnt have to be a formal affair.

        • Avatar

          Afaf

          December 26, 2011 at 4:18 PM

          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.

          • Avatar

            Marijke

            December 28, 2011 at 2:51 AM

            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

          • Avatar

            Mohammed

            December 30, 2011 at 6:13 AM

            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. :)

      • Avatar

        Marijke

        December 26, 2011 at 10:02 AM

        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.

      • Avatar

        Mustafa

        December 26, 2011 at 6:26 PM

        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.

  14. Avatar

    Abu Ibrahim

    December 24, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    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.

    • Avatar

      henazuberi

      March 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM

      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.

  15. Avatar

    Sanjeev Kumar

    December 25, 2011 at 4:51 AM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Mustafa

      December 26, 2011 at 6:28 PM

      “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.

  16. Avatar

    RCHOUDH

    December 25, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    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.

  17. Avatar

    Abu Sumaiyah

    December 25, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    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.

    • Avatar

      RCHOUDH

      December 30, 2011 at 4:45 AM

      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).

  18. Avatar

    Ibn Mikdad

    December 28, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    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

  19. Avatar

    Olivia

    January 1, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    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. =)

    • Avatar

      henazuberi

      March 16, 2012 at 12:12 AM

      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 ;)

  20. Avatar

    sara

    January 3, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    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

  21. Avatar

    saima

    January 3, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Umm Mariam

      January 3, 2012 at 10:21 PM

      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.

      • Avatar

        saima

        January 4, 2012 at 6:46 PM

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

        • Avatar

          Huda

          April 7, 2014 at 10:50 PM

          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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  23. Avatar

    Turaipie musa

    October 6, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    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 ” .

  24. Avatar

    Prashant

    October 14, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    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.

    • Avatar

      islam

      October 15, 2012 at 2:21 AM

      Hi Prashant. I am also a moslem. Add me on my Facebook. nikozzgsc@yahoo.com. maybe i can help you.

  25. Avatar

    Harun Rashid

    January 8, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    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)

  26. Avatar

    Monaco

    March 2, 2013 at 5:34 AM

    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 =)

  27. Avatar

    yvonne

    December 1, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      December 1, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      Dear Yvonne

      If you’ve read the article above, the answer to your question will show up. In fact just the title would answer it somewhat.

      -Aly

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  29. Avatar

    Kayvee

    January 5, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    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

  30. Avatar

    Commander

    January 29, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/forced-arranged-marriage-young-british-2715692#.UukwhjK9KSM

    Oh look, arranged marriages and rape. Good job, keep lying to yourselves.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      January 30, 2014 at 6:33 AM

      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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    Huda

    April 7, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    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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    A realist Pakistani origin Muslim

    July 26, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Sir Magpie De Crow

      June 26, 2016 at 3:50 PM

      I had a friend, he was Christian… and more importantly he was a good man.

      He met a girl in college. Muslim and of Pakistani decent. It really sounds like they were in love and committed to getting married. One big problem was the parents from back home, especially the mother of the girl wanted him to convert to Islam. He refused because if he did he would not be a true believer, he lived as a Christian Catholic and wished to continue to live as a Catholic.

      You know… the whole no compulsion in relgion that so many people talk about as being important in the faith.

      Her parents would rather have her married to a false adherent to the Islamic faith than accepting a good man who held no animus to the Islamic Faith, no racism towards anyone and had no opposition to his future wife’s contiunued practice of the Islamic faith.

      Things went worse from there. Her brother(s) were threatening violence against both her and death to him. Think about that, threatening death to someone under those circumstances. Unfortunately because of that bullying, she broke it off (maybe in part to protect him), then left the United States for Pakistan where she entered into an “arranged marriage” there.

      I believe she most likely married a cousin.

      The whole episode disgusted me not just because of any heartache for my friend for what he went through, but because that woman is probably not living the life she wanted (or deserved), not living the life where she is allowed to make important decisions on who she spends her life with, not allowed to decide who will become the father of her children or putting her intellect/education toward the carreer that was almost certainly waiting for her in the United States.

      The threats of violence (and the actual violence probably used) had made her in my mind a hostage to an atavistic mentality that I think most right thinking people would never embrace or tolerate.

      There are all kinds of slavery in this world and I refuse to accept any of it.

      She didn’t choose her people/religion over a worthless “kuffar boyfriend” as some might advocate, she chose to remain safe and for him to be unharmed. And I think the arch-conservative traditionalists on websites like this need to be asked… what kind of choice is that?

      What gives a family (any family!) or culture the right to dictate a woman’s destiny like that?

  38. Avatar

    Amit Tripathi

    August 4, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    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. :)

    • Avatar

      Manish K

      August 5, 2014 at 2:07 AM

      Hey Amit,

      Every religion may have its own constraints and we all should respect that but I would surely second that opinion of yours to go digital for your matrimonial search. Sites like muslimshaadi.in, nikahexplorer.com, shiamatch.com are all geared towards providing the best online experience with best possible privacy options for users to choose from. I will put my trust on muslimshaadi.in since they are well know brand for matrimony and have been into this business for last 17 years,

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      August 7, 2014 at 1:16 AM

      Dear Amit

      Thanks for your comment. You may want to read the following articles on MM that are related to your POV.

      http://muslimmatters.org/2013/09/27/muslim-marriage-crisis/
      http://muslimmatters.org/2013/10/09/love-net/

      Best Regards
      Aly
      CommentsTeam Lead

      • Avatar

        imran

        October 14, 2015 at 7:26 AM

        Assalamualaikum
        i need some help regarding this matter can we talk somewhere in personal jazak Allah

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    • Avatar

      Asad

      October 16, 2016 at 5:17 PM

      Yes, it is true “even in educated families”. I am a man from a very educated family living in UK. My family arranged a marriage for me in a very educated family in Pakistan. My wife’s parents never asked my wife if she accepted the marriage. When my family flew over and we went to see them a week before our marriage, I met her whole family but my wife was kept in a separate room. I met my wife for the first time when she was handed over to me at rukhsati ceremony. Before that, we had only seen a couple of photos of each other.

      The first time my wife and I heard each other’s voices was when we were in bed on the wedding night. Up to that time I had never had any friendship or experience of a girl, even growing up in UK, and I was looking forward to sex. Within an hour of meeting my wife I had intercourse with her. Sex with your wife is 100% allowed in Islam, even if you don’t know her at all!

      Once I told this to someone and he said that having sex with your wife just after meeting her for the first time on the wedding night is like marital rape. So I said, all right, then have me charged by the police with the crime of marital rape. At my trial my defence will be that my wife’s family handed my wife over to me willingly, in front of the public, and they knew that sex was likely to happen. I didn’t kidnap my wife, I didn’t ask that she should be given to me in marriage. So my wife’s family are responsible.

      Fast forward a few years. My wife’s younger brothers grew up. And guess what? Her parents allow them full freedom to choose and marry whoever they like. At my marriage they were following a different Islam, but now when it came to their own sons they suddenly discovered a new Islam which allows the man and woman to meet and decide if they want to marry each other. This is the sick hypocrisy of Pakistani society.

      If you want to know about even more sick hypocrisy, I know parents who had a love marriage themselves but when it came to marrying their children they suddenly discovered the importance of sticking to our traditional culture of arranged marriage. Two doctors met each other at medical college in Pakistan and fell in love and married. Years later they arranged marriages of all their children, and in one case against the child’s will.

      All the above are true facts which I have seen and witnessed. I am prepared to swear in Allah’s name on the Quran Shareef about this.

  40. Avatar

    azraa

    March 29, 2016 at 5:03 AM

    I was married at the age of 16 I’m divorce 5 years now I’m 20 now I wan to get married again and my father los his wright so do I need paymison to get coz I was married

  41. Avatar

    muji

    March 29, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    I wish to marry a muslim girl who doesnt pray to jesus , doesnt regard him as son of god, believes in one god,
    but my parents opposing me to marry what shall i do
    me and her have made many plans and in every way she welcomes islamic way of life also wish to grow the childrens as muslims
    how do i convince my parents

  42. Avatar

    F

    April 28, 2016 at 4:43 AM

    Assalamualaikum,
    Id be glad to hear any form of advice.

    Im currently in relationship with a women. We both love each other dearly and have thoughts about settling down together. The only problem is her parents who strictly opppose to her marrying someone of her choice. They brought her up saying that she has a responsibility and she is to marry someone of her parents choosing. Her parents have found out about me and have gotten very upset. They have informed her to leave me or leave the family. I do not wish to put her in such a predicament to choose as no one should ever be made to make such a decision. She believes that I am the one for her but at the same time she does not wish to go against her parents wishes. She feels that it is her fate that her life is filled with choices not made by her. I have constantly tried being the level headed one and being there for her emotionally but it has come to a point where i feel that my advises are akin to me asking her to go against her parents. Althought they are based on the above article. I keep believing that this is a test for us but everyday it gets harder for me to see her in so much distress. Her parents sees me as a hindrance to thier plans and want nothing to do with me. What should i do?

    • Avatar

      Mariya

      May 8, 2016 at 7:48 PM

      It would be best for you to do istikhara

  43. Avatar

    Faiza

    July 22, 2016 at 9:24 PM

    As Salaam Alaykam, I am 22 years old female. I have been in a situation for quiet some time and I’m not sure what to do or who to ask help for (of course I make Dua and pray when I can I am not perfect but I try my best) ive been in a relationship with someone for 6 years now and Yh it was all hidden from the family and stuff and when my brothers found out they hit me a lot and stopped me from going college uni or even work until now it’s been 5 years. My life is very restricted I can’t have a phone speak to any friends or even go out its been more than a month I even went out. I have no cousins here so I just basically sit at home all day and everyday. Of course I understand from their point of view why they restricted me because they don’t want me to marry him so they don’t want me to talk to him or anything but it’s too much now. My family said to me I can never get married to anyone who is not a Sayed so they didn’t even consider him an option. Now they have done my Nikkah with this person who I don’t even wanna get married to he is recently came from back home does not speak English his mentality is different his thinking his lifestyle everything is different, I am not happy with this marriage it was done by mentally torturing me and blackmailing me all the time and my mum tells me I can’t go to her funeral when she passes away she will tell everyone she has no daughter.. She tells me I either save her respect of choose her death.. I get all this said to me all the time it’s so hard for me… I have tried to move on from the person I’m in a relationship with but it’s very hard and we both want to get married and settle the right way I don’t wanna run away or anything I could of done so if I wanted but I know it’s wrong and it’s very hard to live like that.. My family is forcing me to the limit where I am thinking of doing things I don’t want to do because my family is all about the “respect” so it will make it worse for them, my brother is very strict and even recently he hit me very bad jus because I said I’m not happy with the marriage and they want me to be happy and make plans for the walima but I can’t do that. So I wanted to know where I stand in this situations and what I can do.. My brothers or family don’t listen to no one and my older brother is willing to kill me and go to prison for 30 years these are his own words so it makes it very hard for me to even do anything when I’m living in this fear 24/7 of being killed at any time. Both of my older brothers have had love marriages and both my sister in laws are not Sayed because I’ve been told it’s okay for a boy to marry a non Sayed girl but a girl can’t do the same and I’ve been told that this is how it’s been going on from the prophet PBUH time and I can’t change that..I am the only girl so all my brothers are allowed to marry a non Sayed girl but I can’t do it because I’m a girl.. I want to know islamically what I can do as just something else which unfortunately I have to add is that I was pregnant in the past with the person I’ve been with and carried his child for 6 months but I was so scared and fearing I couldn’t carry on with it but that decisions still haunts me until today and I regret it very badly every day of my life I think about that child and cry and make Dua. But not that I want to be with anyone else but because of what I’ve gone through what I did with that person I don’t want to marry anyone else I don’t think the marriage with ever be successful he will found out about me being with someone else and plus I will never be able to give him a wife side of me. Please advise me with something I can do. It would mean the world to me because I feel very unsafe and stuck in this situation I can’t even go to a mosque to asks anyone regarding this situation. Jazaak’Allah Khair

    please don’t judge this is very hard for me as it is I know I made very big mistakes in the past but I repent to Allah for those mistakes and will always ask for forgiveness and hope the most merciful forgives me Insha’Allah..

  44. Avatar

    sameena

    August 7, 2016 at 7:24 PM

    interesting article, all i can say is people should have an open minded approach. Parents should listen to how their child feels, and work with their likes and dislikes. Finding a spouse for your child isn’t wrong, its helpful if anything, but let them make their own minds up about it all. Just guide them in the right direction. I used a marriage bureau to find my daughter a husband, she turned down a few herself after i vetted them and arranged a meet. But she eventually liked one and now i sit here wise and developed in my experience and i can confidently say this – listen, work with your child, use a marriage bureau if you do not know anyone who is suitably matched, and make sure your child is happy. That is very important. We used Hum marriage bureau as they were the cheapest we could find. Id recommend them to anyone looking for a partner. It is all halal! here is a link to their website http://www.hummarriage.com
    Good luck to anyone and everyone!

  45. Avatar

    Hillary Smotherman

    May 15, 2018 at 2:11 PM

    Hello,

    I’m working on a documentary series about traditional marriages in the Muslim culture. I would love to speak with anyone whose parents are arranging a marriage for their daughter or son. Please contact me at hsmotherman@pilgrimstudios.com for further details

  46. Avatar

    Syed Ayman

    September 8, 2019 at 10:01 AM

    Good article, I come across. We as Muslims differ from other communities, Islam plays important rule in every aspect of our life, such as raising children, even how to select a life partner. Today’s world rapidly changing, we need to use technological advancements but at the same time we should not give away our Islamic principles.

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#Society

Guilting Victims Is Disobeying God: The Abuse of Forgiveness

Umm Zakiyyah

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It is undeniable that God loves forgiveness. It is also undeniable that God views forgiveness as exponentially more superior than blame, punishment, and retaliation. Personally, I highly doubt that there is in existence a single survivor, even one trapped in toxic anger and bitterness, who would deny this fact. So the question here isn’t really about God loving forgiveness. Rather, the question is about whether or not we—the judgmental outsiders (even if we happen to be survivors)—accept that God also loves justice.

The question is also about whether or not we sincerely accept that God supports whatever decision victims of wrongdoing make in addressing what happened to them, so long as they don’t violate anyone’s rights in the process.

In forced forgiveness culture, the answer is no to both of these questions: No, we don’t accept that God loves justice, and no, we don’t accept that God supports victims’ right to choice. Yes, many of us give lip service to acknowledging this. But the words are like a dismissive wave of the hand before we get right back to guilting survivors of abuse into doing what we say they must, God’s teachings be damned.

Ironically, in this forced forgiveness approach, it is we ourselves who are in danger of falling into sin and wrongdoing. And this danger is much more imminent than the hypothetical possibility of a survivor’s heart being filled with anger and bitterness if they don’t forgive. However, we are too busy imagining that we know better than everyone else, God included, to even perceive the looming harm hanging over our own hearts and souls.

In Islamic tradition, there are many places in the Qur’an in which God describes the traits of sincere believers. In one part, He prefaces this description with a reminder of the nature of the things humans enjoy in this worldly life. He says what has been translated to mean:

“So whatever you have been given is but a passing enjoyment for this worldly life, but that which is with Allah (i.e. Paradise) is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord” (Ash-Shooraa, 42:36).

Given that several verses that follow address both forgiveness and wrongdoing, this introduction is quite profound in that it reminds every person, regardless of circumstance, the nature of this transient world and how we should understand our experiences in it. This allows the reader to put his or her mind in the right place before even processing the traits of the sincere believers who will be in Paradise. God goes on to list several traits of these believers:

“And those who avoid the greater sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive. And those who have responded to [the call of] their Lord and establish the Salaah (obligatory prayer), and who [conduct] their affairs by mutual consultation, and who spend out of what We have bestowed on them” (Ash-Shooraa, 42:37-38).

For those involved in forced forgiveness, they would read this description and immediately think, See! This is what I’m talking about. God says that true believers forgive wrongs! So what’s going on with all these angry, bitter people refusing to forgive those who wronged them? However, in this description of those who forgive, God didn’t mention wrongdoing at all. He mentioned only that they are angry. He doesn’t even mention why they are angry. Yes, wrongdoing is certainly implied in the verse, but it is not mentioned specifically. This is no small point.

Some people might say that this wording is merely a technicality, and that I’m being nitpicky in even pointing it out. Thus, they argue that this wording has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that everyone should forgive, no matter what abuse, oppression, or wrongdoing they suffered. However, when we say this, what we fail to realize is that not only is the emphasis on anger quite significant; it is also the point, as the verses that follow make undeniably clear.

Before quoting the verses about wrongdoing, I think it is important to mention how we should understand the wording of things in the Qur’an, especially when the same topic is addressed more than once in the same context. Generally, whenever a topic is discussed more than once and in some detail, what is and is not mentioned in each context points to important traits we are to focus on in understanding them. In some cases, these important traits are found in contexts outside the Qur’an, such as in the reason for revelation and in the prophetic example. However, in this case, the important traits are mentioned quite clearly in the verses themselves.

In the above context, when forgiveness is mentioned as the immediate response, the emphasis is on the fact that the person is angry, not that he or she has been wronged. The profound wisdom in this emphasis cannot be overstated.

In our daily lives, there are many things that anger us: A friend refuses to speak to us, and we have no idea why. Someone is late picking us up to an important appointment. A business partner agreed to do something then dropped out at the last minute. A person cuts us off in traffic or quickly steals our parking space. Our husband or wife is focused more on their smartphone or career than on us. And the list goes on.

One lesson we can glean is this: When facing day-to-day things that incite anger, for the sincere believer, the default response is that of forgiveness. By praising this trait in His servants, God lets us know that our daily behavior should foster environments of peace, understanding, and empathy instead of hostility and retaliation. No one is perfect. Thus, from time to time, we’ll all be insensitive, unreliable, and even flat out wrong, thereby inciting justifiable anger in others. However, as a general rule, it is in everyone’s best interests to be forgiving and merciful in these circumstances. Otherwise, the world would be full of quarrelsome, vengeful people who feel justified in avenging even the slightest offense.

This is not to say that none of the scenarios I listed are sometimes more serious than they initially appear, or even that we have to forgive these scenarios every single time. I give these examples only to make the point that what is being described in the Qur’an is the fact that sincere believers—those endowed with authentic spirituality—have a forgiving nature. And this nature is manifested most when they are justifiably angry yet still choose to forgive.

However, when an egregious wrongdoing has occurred, the emphasis is no longer on forgiveness; it is on justice. In this case, the sincere believers are described as follows: “And those who, when an oppressive wrong is done to them, they help and defend themselves” (Ash-Shooraa, 42:39).

In the verse that follows, it is only after it is explained that the retribution should fit the crime that the option to forgive is mentioned:

“The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto [in degree]. But if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Verily, He loves not the wrongdoers” (42:40).

Interestingly, God does not stop here in discussing the rights of those who have been wronged. He goes on to let victims know that not only do they have full right to not forgive, but also, should they exercise that right, no one has the right to blame them in any way. He says:

“But if any do help and defend themselves after a wrong [done] to them, against such there is no cause of blame. The blame is only against those who oppress people and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice. For such there will be a penalty grievous” (42:41-42).

Here is where seeing and understanding the original Arabic would be tremendously helpful in comprehending the powerful message being conveyed here. However, to get a glimpse of the deeper meaning, I offer this explanation: What is being translated as “there is no cause of blame” (i.e. against the victim who decides to not forgive), a more literal translation would be “there is no path, road, or means [that can be taken] against them.” By using the Arabic word sabeel—which is translated as cause above but has the literal meaning of waypath, or road—God is shutting down every possible justification anyone can use to criticize, blame, or harm a victim who chooses to not forgive.

In other words, it doesn’t matter whether this justification of blame, criticism, or harm is rooted in good intentions or not, if it is directed at the victim of wrongdoing, God simply does not allow it. If we do take this pathway of blame, then we are the ones who are wrong.

Even if we are simply perplexed or sincerely disappointed at their choice to not forgive, once they make their decision, we have no right to express disappointment or criticism, as this expression itself can be a sabeel (a pathway of blame) against them—no matter how harmless, innocent, or well meaning it appears to us.

After God makes this point crystal clear, He then effectively tells us: If you still feel in your heart or mind any inclination to criticize, blame, or express disappointment toward anyone as a result of this circumstance [which resulted in the victim not forgiving], then shift all of your attention back to the one who started this whole problem in the first place: the abuser, wrongdoer, or oppressor: “…The blame is only against those who oppress people and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice.”

Only after God establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt the victim’s full right to choice—and the prohibition of any form of blame or harm against them as a result of their choice—does He return to the topic of forgiveness:

“But indeed, if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs” (42:43).

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#Society

Be A Caller Not A Judge

Sh. Abdullah Hasan

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I am sure the readers will have come across numerous notices at some mosques discouraging certain types of people attending the mosques. Here is an example of many I have had the displeasure of reading:

‘We will not assist in counselling unless you are Islamically and decently dressed’.

I am not sure whether the advocates of this notice really understand the purpose of counselling or what the role of the imam should be in the community.

To discourage people from seeking help because they may not be ‘appropriately’ dressed in one’s eyes defeats the very purpose of counselling. It takes enormous courage and bravery to seek help and to read these dogmatic and crude attitudes is very disheartening. The job of an Imam/counsellor is not to judge but enable people to explore their concerns and worries.

Counselling is not about preaching to people. It is not about changing people the way you may want others to be. It is certainly not about imposing your understanding onto others. It is not about judging others by how your own worldview is. A counsellor is not there to sit you down and tell you what to do – instead they will encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you in order to uncover any root causes and identify your specific ways of thinking. The counsellor may then look to create a plan of action to either help you reconcile your issues or help you to find ways of coping. A lot of the time those who seek help simply want to be heard and listened to and the counsellor will facilitate that.

Imams/counsellors will encounter diverse groups of people from all backgrounds. It is the responsibility of the imam/counsellor to exhibit empathy with everyone without being judgemental.

One of the impediments of being an effective Imam counsellor is the lack of awareness of other people’s states and conditions as well as the lack of appreciation of the multi natured or the diversity of approaches and intellectual foundations people are exposed to. In order to be effective helpers and practitioners in the community, Imams/counsellors should take into consideration what may be termed as the ‘Diversity- and relationship – oriented empathy’ attitude towards the members of the society.

What is empathy?

Different theoreticians and researchers have defined it in different ways. Some see it as a personality trait, a disposition to feel what other people feel or to understand others ‘’from the inside’’, as it were. Others see empathy, not as a personality trait, but as a situation-specific state of feeling for understanding of another person’s experiences. Covey (1989), naming emphatic communication one of the ‘’seven habits of highly effective people,’’ said that empathy provides those with whom we are interacting with ‘’psychological air’’ that helps them breathe more freely in their associations and connections. Finally, Goleman (1995, 1998) puts empathy at the heart of emotional intelligence.

It is the individual’s ‘’social radar’’ through which he or she senses others’ feelings and perspectives and takes an active interest in their concerns. These and other academics, although they provide us with different definitions, nevertheless, their language is lyrical in giving us the maqsad (spirit) of what empathy denotes. It is a natural trait (jibillat) which also can be acquired through learning and understanding one’s own condition and experiences of others.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was fully cognisant of the pivotal role empathy plays in developing astute and diligent human beings and always was keen to educate people from an early age on this important value.

Below are some examples:

  1. Anas Ibn Malik narrated that “the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to mix with us (the children) to the extent that he would say to a younger brother of mine, ‘O Abu-‘Umayr! What did the Nughayr (a kind of bird) do?’ “(Bukhari). This demonstrated to the children that they were valued. This was the Messenger of Allah, who was a leader of thousands, a husband, father – despite these and other heavy duties and obligations, he had time to play with the children. This made them feel that they are loved, cared for and appreciated.
  2. Whenever he would enter Medinah he would carry his grandchildren and other children nearby on his mount. Again, given them the important attention children need.
  3. In another well-known tradition, a young companion related that he spent many years with the Prophet and not once did he complain or rebuke him.
  4. He would carry his granddaughter Umamah on his shoulders even while he was praying. Some narrations mention that he hastened to complete the prayer because of them. These and other examples show the great teacher and counsellor the Prophet was (peace be upon him).

Learning, inculcating and teaching empathy may solve many of the problems we face in our society.

The WAVE Trust, an international charity dedicated to raising public awareness of the root causes of violence in the society and the ways to reduce it, commissioned research that came up with some amazing findings: ‘’Empathy is the single greatest inhibitor of the development of propensity to violence. Empathy fails to develop when parents or prime carers fail to attune with their infants’’ (Hosking & Walsh, 2005, p.20). To attune to a child means ‘’attempting to respond to his or her needs, particularly emotionally, resulting in the child’s sense of being understood, cared for, and valued’’. (p. 20)

In many instances, it is argued that those who carry out acts of violence or cruel behaviour in the society have had issues and problems at their early life which were not dealt with but suppressed, and in their later stage of their life some external agent (s) or incident triggers some of the feelings and they lash out expressing their inner turmoil which results in cruel and sometimes inhumane behaviour.

As stated above it is of paramount importance for Imam counsellors to understand that the people they serve originate from diverse backgrounds. People will differ in ability, age, economic status, education, ethnicity, group culture, national origin, occupation, personal culture, politics, religion – to name a few. It is from the prophetic methodology to incorporate these variables and factors in one’s dealings with people. Below are some examples from the sunnah to illustrate some of the approaches being discussed:

  1. While the prophet was once returning to his house after talking to his companions in the mosque, a Bedouin pulled him by the collar and said rudely: ‘O Muhammad! Give me my due! Load up these two camels of mine. For you will load them up with neither your own wealth nor the wealth of your father.’ To this impertinence the prophet responded without expressing any sign of offence: Give that man what he wants! (Abu Dawud). The Prophet understood the nature, cultural difference, economic status, and psychological state of the Bedouin and did not resort to rebuke him for his rudeness and disrespect towards him.
  2. Zayd ibn San’an narrates: Once, Allah’s Messenger borrowed some money from me. I was not yet Muslim then. I went to him to collect my debt before its due time, and insulted him, saying; ‘You the children of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, are very reluctant to pay your debts!’ ‘Umar became very angry with this insult of mine and shouted; ‘O enemy of Allah! Were it not for the treaty between us and the Jewish community, I would cut off your head! Speak to Allah’s Messenger politely!’ However, Allah’s Messenger smiled at me and, turning to Umar, said; ‘Umar, pay the man his debt! And add to it the amount of twenty gallons because you have frightened him!’ Umar relates the rest of the story: ‘We went together. On the way, Zayd spoke to me unexpectedly; O Umar! You got angry with me. But I have found in him all the features of the Last Prophet recorded in the Torah, the Old Testament. However, there is this verse in it: ‘His mildness surpasses his anger. The severity of impudence to him increases him only in mildness and forbearance.’ In order to test his forbearance, I uttered what I uttered. Now I am convinced that he is the Prophet whose coming the Torah predicted, so, I believe and bear witness that he is the Last Prophet.’ (Suyuti, al-Khasais). The mildness and empathy of Allah’s Messenger sufficed for the conversion of Zayd, who was on another religion and culture.
  3. Even in the realm of worship, the Prophet was diligent and understood the different abilities and circumstances of the people. When a complaint was circulated about an imam because he prolonged the prayer, the Prophet climbed the pulpit and said: O you people! You cause aversion in people from prayer. Whoever among you leads a prescribed prayer should not prolong it, for there are among you people who are sick or old or who are in urgent need.’ (Bukhari). He even reproached his beloved companion, Muadh ibn Jabal when he prolonged the night prayer, saying, ‘Are you a trouble-maker? Are you a trouble-maker? Are you a trouble-maker? (Muslim)
  4. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, ‘No Arab is superior over a non-Arab, and no white is superior over black (Ahmad), and superiority is by righteousness and God-fearing alone (Sura Hujurat, 49, 13). He also declared that even if an Abyssinian Black Muslim were to rule over Muslims, he should be obeyed. (Muslim). During the time of the Messenger of Allah, the same kind of racism we encounter today, under the name of tribalism, was prevalent in Makkah. He understood the biases and prejudice people had and eradicated it from the outset.

These are few examples out of many where the Prophet showed and articulated diverse and multicultural competencies. The more Imam counsellors understand the broad characteristics, needs, and behaviours of the people they serve, the better positioned they will be to demonstrate the true compassionate nature of Islam.

Below is a basic list of competencies adapted from different books, articles and experiences of individuals:

  1. Beware of your own personal culture, including your cultural heritage, and how you might come across to people who differ from you culturally and in a host of other ways.
  2. Beware of the personal-cultural biases you may have toward individuals and groups other than your own.
  3. As an Imam/counsellor, be aware of both ways in which you are like any given individual you are helping and ways in which you differ. Both can aid or stand in the way of the support process.
  4. Come to understand the values, beliefs, and worldviews of groups and individuals you will encounter. In other words, to feel what other people feel or to understand others ‘’from the inside’’, as indicated above.
  5. Come to understand how all kinds of diversity, group, cultural, ethical or otherwise, contribute to each person’s dynamic make up.
  6. Be aware of how socio-political influences such as poverty, oppression, stereotyping, discrimination, prejudice, and marginalisation might have affected people with whom you encounter or with those you are trying to have a dialogue.
  7. Establish rapport with and convey empathy to people. Both in the individual and collective capacity.
  8. Initiate and explore issues of difference between yourself and the people you are working with. Always bearing in mind that Islam does not place any barriers between people. In the end your interactions (and the barriers between us and them) with people are personal.
  9. Design non bias strategies and plans for people that factor in the diversity, education and upbringing they received.
  10. Finally, asses your own level of competence and strive to improve in all areas outlined above.

To conclude, our approach should be about working with people the way they are, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, however, it does not imply that you need to apologise for who you are.

Written in 2009, posted with minor modifications.

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UK Faith Leaders Launch Call For UK Government To Take Critical Action On Violence Against Women

Sh. Abdullah Hasan

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Faith leaders group photo

Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu faith leaders gathered in the House of Lords to launch a joint call for UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women – and for MPs to support the Istanbul Convention Private Member’s Bill (PMB) by voting for it on 16 December.

The gathering, hosted by Lord McColl and organised by the IC Change campaign for the Istanbul Convention, Restored and Faith Action, follows on from faith leaders’ declaration against domestic abuse launched in 2015.[1]

This call from faith leaders comes as, on average two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner and 85,000 women are raped and more than 400,000 sexually assaulted each year.[2]

Violence against women and girls takes many forms and is widespread in the UK. The Istanbul Convention is the strongest tool in the box that the Government has to respond.

The Convention – aptly described as ‘the best thing you’ve never heard of’ – is a set of life-saving minimum standards on tackling violence against women for a State’s response to the epidemic.

If the UK Government ratified the Istanbul Convention, it would bring unprecedented positive change for women and girls – supporting those experiencing violence, ensuring a stronger prosecution system, and stopping violence from happening in the first place by dealing with its root causes. It would protect funding for domestic violence shelter, rape crisis centres and ensure education on healthy relationships in schools.

The Government promised to make the Convention law over four and a half years ago and it still has not happened.

That’s why faith leaders have united to call on the UK Government to demonstrate its commitment to ending violence against women by making the Istanbul Convention UK law.

More immediately, faith leaders are calling on MPs to attend a debate on 16 December on a life-saving bill for women that would require the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – and to vote in its favour. And they are asking people across the UK to write to their MPs to ask them to do this. Please find details below on how you can get involved!

Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, says: ‘Violence against women is an injustice and a violation against the dignity of human beings made in the image of God that the Church must speak out on. The Istanbul Convention provides a strong, practical framework to help us tackle the issue comprehensively in a way that has never been done before’.

‘As faith leaders it is our duty to combat the menace of domestic abuse in our society. We must show unity to call our leaders to do whatever it takes to protect the most vulnerable people in the society,’ Abdullah Hasan, Imams against Domestic Abuse.

This December we have a rare opportunity to change the individual stories of women and girls across the UK who face violence every day and secure this vital protection from violence for them.

Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, adds: ‘We urgently need a stronger framework in which to combat such evils, to make people more aware, to enable us to combat it, to prosecute the perpetrators and prevent its recurrence. This is exactly what the Convention provides’

Faith leaders are calling on people to support this bill by writing to their MP and asking them to go to the debate and vote for the bill.

So what can you do to get involved?

We need to make sure that 100 MPs turn up to Parliament to support it so that it can pass on to the next stage.

However, the 16th December is on a Friday morning – a time when many MPs would normally be in their local constituencies. That’s why we need your help to it’s essential for to contact your MP and to tell them why it’s so important for them show up and support the Bill.

Please write to your MP or arrange to meet them to ask them to attend the debate on 16 December and vote in favour of the Istanbul Convention bill.

You can find all the resources you need here on the IC Change website, including a template letter to help you write to your MP and top tips for meeting your MP. Let IC Change know at info@icchange.co.uk if your MP says yes.

@ICchangeUK I #ChangeHerstory #IstanbulConvention I www.icchange.co.uk/pmb

 

 

[1] http://www.restoredrelationships.org/news/2015/07/16/press-release-house-lords-interfaith-meeting-stop-domestic-violence-uk/

[2] http://icchange.co.uk/about/violence-against-women/

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