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Parents Forcing Children to Marry

Question and answer details
Saad
Parents Forcing Children to Marry
2005-07-26
As-Salamu `alaykum. It is stated that it is fard `ayn (an individual obligation) to listen to parents as it is obligatory on us to offer the Prayer, but it is only a sunnah to get married. Thus many parents force children to get married by using this principle. Please clarify this because I am in a similar predicament.
Ahmad Kutty
Answer

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother in Islam, we are very pleased for the great confidence you have in us, and we commend your apparent interest in having a better understanding of the teachings of Islam and the rulings of this great religion in all matters. In fact, Islam is a religion that encompasses all aspects of life and secures guidance and light for all mankind.

One of the main duties upon man is to be dutiful to his parents because Allah the Almighty says: (Thy Lord has decreed, that you worship none save Him, and (that you show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, say not ‘Fie’ unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word) (Al-Israa’ 17: 23).

However, parents are not allowed to force their children to marry someone they don’t wish to. All in all, children are commanded to keep good ties with their parents and seek their pleasure and make du`aa’ (supplication) for them.

Responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

It is fard `ayn for you to obey your parents in matters which properly belong or fall under their authority. But your marriage does not fall under this category, for, according to the teachings of Islam, marriage is ultimately left to your own personal choice. Parents can at best only offer you advice or suggestions based on their own personal experience or preferences. You are either free to accept them or reject them. Rejecting their advice in this matter does not amount to disobeying them. But still you should consider whether there is anything of value or significance in their suggestion or advice, for most of the time parents have only the best interests of their children in their minds.

We must further add that parents have no right in Islam to force their children to marry someone they don’t wish to. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has categorically stated, “A woman who is never married before cannot be given in marriage without her consent; while a woman who is married before cannot be given in marriage without her order!”

Once, a girl approached the Prophet complaining that her father had given her away in marriage without her consent. The Prophet asked the father if it had been the case. When he was told it was so, he ordered for the annulment of the marriage, but then the girl stepped forward and said, “I have accepted my father’s choice, but I wished to let the women know that they cannot be given away in marriage without their consent!”

In light of the above, let me state that while you are obliged to obey your parents in matters that belong to their rights, they have no right to force you to marry someone you don’t like to marry. For marriage is a life-long partnership, and, therefore, you have the right to choose your partner. Imam Ibn Taymiyah has rightly said, “Just as parents cannot force their (grown-up) children to eat foods they do not wish to, they have no right to force them to marry someone they don’t like.”
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