Short Answer: Forcing someone into marriage against their will is not allowed in Islam. Parents cannot also forbid their children to marry without legitimate reason. There is no doubt that marriage is recommended in Islam. But if you are unable to find a suitable partner, it would be better not to marry.
Salaam alaykum sister,
Thank you for submitting these questions.
Insha’Allah, I will break them down and address them point by point.
To what extent must we obey our parents in the marriage process?
In my experience, the topic of obedience to parents has a lot of misunderstanding surrounding it.
As a parent, myself, this is a topic that weighs on my mind a lot.
Of course, I want my children to do as I say and follow my directions.
But oftentimes Muslim parents get so caught up in our rights over our children that we forget that our rights have limitations.
It is a well-known fact that forcing someone into marriage against their will is not allowed in Islam.
There is a chapter in Al-Bukhari’s Book of Marriage that has been given the subheading: “No father or mother or any close relation can force his/her children to marry any one against their free will and consent.”
People do tend to get caught up in technicalities of language, however, so we must be careful to check our intent.
Force is not only executed by violence or threats of violence. Force can also mean manipulation; harassing a young person (most often a woman) to marry until she agrees.
All of this behavior is wrong and forbidden.
It is also important to note, that parents cannot forbid their children to marry without legitimate reason.
Trying to prevent our children from marrying their chosen spouse just because we don’t like them or they don’t have the right degree, or they don’t come from the right culture – we will have to answer to Allah for all of this.
How can we know our spouses before marriage?
This is an excellent question.
There is a lot of discourse and disagreement as to what extent we can get to know a future spouse.
It is commonly documented that women and men interacted in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) so it is certainly not necessary to rely solely on the words of others to determine whether someone will be a good spouse.
Though it may not be reliable to rely solely on a person’s reputation, it shouldn’t be discounted.
The way a person presents himself, or herself, can say something about their character.
The one thing that is clearly haraam is being alone together before marriage, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that a man and a woman who are not mahram but are alone have Shaytan as their chaperone.
This does leave other methods open to interpretation.
Some say that it is okay for potential spouses to go out together as long as it is in a public place where they will not be alone. Some say that even a phone call without someone in the room is forbidden.
I think it is advisable to follow what feels most comfortable to you, but also falls within the lines of Islam.
If going by someone’s reputation suits you, then that is fine, insha’Allah.
But if you desire to get to know a person before choosing to marry him, you would be hard-pressed to find evidence to forbid that.
Can I remain unmarried?
This is a contentious topic.
Everyone knows the famous Hadith that declares that marriage is half of our deen.
There is no doubt that marriage is recommended. But is it required?
The answer to that question is a matter of opinion.
I, myself, have never seen compelling evidence that marriage – or at least attempting to find a spouse, as we can’t guarantee that we will find a suitable partner, even if we desire it – is required in Islam.
In my own experience, when people make such claims, they pull on weak evidence, citing Hadith and verses of the Quran that strongly encourage marriage. But I have never seen it spelled out in black and white that it is an obligation (fard).
In my opinion, marriage is not required, as long as you are confident that you will not engage in forbidden activities.
If you are unable to find a suitable partner, I believe it would be better not to marry than to settle for someone who will bring you unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life.
Allah knows best.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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