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Forced Marriage Has Ruined My Life

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

May 04, 2018

Question

Salam ‘Alaykum.

I just got married recently with my cousin. The marriage was fixed by my parents without my consent or the girl's consent. My parents agreed to the proposal from the girl’s parents several years ago when I was very young. Since I became aware of this, I have been refusing this marriage. I know her since we were kids, although I grew up in a different country with my parents and studied abroad while she studied in India. Everyone, including her, was aware of my decision of refusal. She was never attractive to me and I never wanted to marry her, however, over the last few years, they have convinced me since she was in the family. I have never really spoken to her in the last couple of years except after marriage as they would not let girls speak to the boys in our place once they reach that certain age.

I am now married to her for less than a month. I have not had any physical contact with her so far and do not even wish to as I don’t find her attractive. However, I must admit that she is a good person, although not the type of girl I wanted to marry. People also told me (in a negative way) how different we both look. I studied abroad and am surrounded by beautiful women where I work and live. She grew up in India to a poor middle-class father and is not that beautiful which I have always known. I don’t enjoy spending time with her or even deal with her. Even her presence is enough to make me upset as I have to accept her. I have not really shared these feelings of mine with her.

On the other hand, she seems to be happy with the marriage and love me so much. But I just can’t create this feeling of love for her. I only feel sympathy since she loves me. I do not wish to hurt her or grow her expectations further. I am afraid that I will commit more sins since I am not satisfied with her. I don’t know what to do. I cannot enjoy my life anymore, and I stay away from her as much as I can by being outside the home and making plans to travel. Please share your opinion on such situations. May Allah guide us all.

Counselor

Answer


Forced Marriage Has Ruined My Life

In this counseling answer:

• You can respectfully decline a request from your parents or show them kindness and care without obeying them.

• Marriage is ultimately left to your own personal choice. Parents can at best only offer you advice or suggestions.

• There is nothing wrong with looking for personality compatibility and attraction in a marriage for these forces are necessary for a long-term successful partnership.


-Salaam ’Alaikum brother,

I would like to address my response to you in a few sections:

  • Blind obedience to your parents is not allowed
  • Marriage without consent is not allowed
  • Take your own decision; it’s your life before Allah (swt)

Blind obedience: Muslim cultures emphasize obedience to parents as a religious duty. Contrary to what many Muslims believe and have been taught, the Qur’an does not have any verse that uses the exact word of obedience (ateea’) regarding parents. The word in Arabic for actual obedience is not found in any verse that mentions one’s parents. This is a cultural custom that people have used or have interpreted as such to justify cultural expectations.

All the verses in the Qur’an, according to my knowledge and research, that talk about parents says in Arabic “bil walidayn HUSNA” and with your parents have HUSNA which comes from hasana, meaning beauty, excellence, and goodness. The word for obedience is not found. HUSNA can be understood in many ways. Are obedience and being dutiful part of being good with our parents? Sure, sometimes they are, but it is not the whole picture.

This makes a lot of sense considering if our parents were not Muslims or corrupt people who called us to wrong, it would not befit God (swt) to command us to obey our parents blindly no matter what they say or call us to do. However, the meaning of having IHSAN and HUSNA towards our parents despite their belief and character makes more sense. If your parents are bad or not Muslims, you should have goodness and respect towards them, but that is not the same as blind obedience. You can respectfully decline a request from your parents or show them kindness and care without obeying them.

“And We have enjoined on humanity to be good and excellent to his parents; but if they strive to make you join with Me (in worship) anything (as a partner) of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Unto Me is your return and I shall tell you what you used to do.” (Quran 29:8)

The above verse cited is telling us to be good, excellent, and dutiful as long as you do not disobey God (swt) and His Messenger (saw).

“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.” (Quran 4:59)

In this verse, the word “to obey” is ATEEA’ which is not found in the verses talking about parents.

Marriage without consent: This goes without saying that forced marriage is haram, even if the sister (your wife) is now okay with it. The fact that you felt pressured and has realized this was a mistake is enough to do something about it. Your parents, although acting out of care for your security around marriage, made the mistake of marrying you as if you are a token of their property without your own needs. They should not be surprised that you are unhappy. Use Ihsan and wisdom in explaining this with them.

Furthermore, AboutIslam’s scholar states that: “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.

… Once, a girl approached the Prophet (saw) complaining that her father had given her away in marriage without her consent. The Prophet (saw) 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!”

Make a decision: Based on your circumstances, you should make a decision soon. When you meet your Lord (swt) and are shown your account in life, will you feel comfortable with the choice of getting a divorce considering there is no love, attraction and it was forced? Or do you want to stay married and risk it provided all the current concerns you have? There is nothing wrong with looking for personality compatibility and attraction in a marriage for these forces are necessary for a long-term successful partnership. Yes, your wife will be hurt if you decide to divorce her, but to be hurt after a month of marriage is better than ten years of neglect and dissatisfaction. Think long-term in this life and the next. You have to do what is best for the sake of yours and her soul.

May Allah (swt) give you patience and correct action and guide your family to the truth.

Amin,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

Read more:

Arranged Marriage: Out of Date or Best Option?

How to Get Out of My Forced Marriage?

I Married My Love to Escape from a Forced Marriage




About Karim Serageldin

Karim Serageldin, founder of Noor, completed his BA in psychology & religion, followed by an MA in east-west psychology with a specialization in spiritual counseling. He is a certified life coach with years of teaching and community outreach experience. His practical work and research includes developing a modern framework of Islamic psychology, relationship, family and youth coaching. He provides seminars and workshops in the United States. You can contact Br. Karim at: http://www.noorhumanconsulting.com or facebook.com/noorhumanconsulting

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