Short Answer: Of course not. “It is illogical for two people to be thrown together without knowing anything about each other and be expected to have a successful intimate relationship. For that reason, Islam recommends that the suitors see each other before going through with marriage; not only that, they are also allowed to be sure they are attracted to each other.” Moreover, arranged marriage is very different than forced marriage. “Islam does not approve of forced marriages. If it happens, the woman has the right to annul the marriage.” Love, according to Islam, is a gift from God and loving your spouse is a source of mercy directly from God himself.
Asalamu Alaikum Tesneem,
Thank you for trusting us with your question.
Your question touches on the nature of marriage in Islam, and whether it should emanate from one-to-one contact or spring up from a relationship arranged by others apart from the couples themselves.
With this question, you are also discussing the concept of consent, especially with regard to marriage.
Actually, this has been one of the issues that explain clearly the status of women in Islam.
Those who maintain that Islam discriminates against women use this point to validate their argument that marriage in Islam is an arranged relationship, implying that women are the victims of this “impromptu marriage” since it implies, according to them, force without consent.
So, your question has two parts: to what extent does Islam allow a one-to-one relationship between males and females?
And, if there are certain requirements for a marriage to be Islamic, does that make all Islamic marriages arranged relationships devoid of consent and love?
You Can Socialize Before Marriage – Within Limits
Though in regulating social relationships, Islam lays a great emphasis on decency and exhorts its adherents to steer clear of obscenity and lewdness, it does not prevent adherents from getting to know one another, sharing resources, and possibly proposing marriage.
Thus in Islam, males and females are allowed to socialize and interact with one another as long as they do not deviate from taqwa (piety and fear of Allah).
Taqwa is the yardstick for us to explain the difference between an Islamic relationship and a non-Islamic one, and it serves as the basis for the choice of a partner in Islam.
It is illogical for two people to be thrown together without knowing anything about each other and be expected to have a successful intimate relationship.
For that reason, Islam recommends that the suitors see each other before going through with marriage; not only that, they are also allowed to be sure they are attracted to each other.
Allowing the couple to make sure there is an attraction is by no means a call towards establishing a free-style courtship whereby the couple spend time together privately.
So according to your question, the fact that Islam puts certain moral restrictions on male-female interaction does not rule out consent as an integral part of marriage.
Consent From Both Parties is Required
When a girl reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave her the choice: either to accept the marriage or to choose to invalidate it. (Ahmad)
In another version of this hadith, the girl said:
Actually I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right (to force a husband on them). (Ibn Majah)
In another hadith, the Prophet made it very clear that ladies should not be married without being consulted first.
Abu Hurairah quoted the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying:
A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her, and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission. (Al-Bukhari)
So, the notion of “arranged marriage” that you referred to in your question is by no means a tool of discriminating against women or forcing them into building a matrimonial home not of their choice.
Though I am not saying here that such practices do not exist; they do, both in Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries.
What I am trying to say here is, according to the teachings of Islam, the female has the right to have a say in marriage proposals she receives.
Islam does not approve of forced marriages. If it happens, the woman has the right to annul the marriage.
Love, According to Islam
Without going into too many details, I would just like to say that the concept of love in Islam is unique: It is based on the same ingredient mentioned above, i.e. taqwa.
Love without piety leads to mischief.
When a Muslim loves something, it is to please Allah and that is the main objective which makes love lead to trustworthiness and fairness.
In the context of male-female relationships, the love recognized by Islam is one that leads to marriage; that should be the goal.
Thus, love should not be a means of purely satisfying carnal desires or material whims.
For love to have a healthy atmosphere where it would properly grow and be normally expressed, it should be covered by the protection of Islamic law.
In a nutshell, love in Islam is a divine gift from Allah the Almighty.
And in legislating marriage, love is one of the things Allah mentions as an ingredient for strengthening the marital bond:
And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). (Quran 30:21)
I hope this answers your question.
Should you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to write to us. Thank you.
(From Ask About Islam’s archives)