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Exploiting the Innocent Girl

Questioner

S (29-female-US)

Reply Date

May 26, 2017

Question

As salamu `alayikum, My friend is Muslim. She has a very sweet younger sister. They are not Arab. The younger sister to whom we are talking about works with an Arab man who liked her, and proposed to her secretly. This was just a word of proposal from a man who had no intention of marrying her. To make the story short, they "…fell in love?" (I quote their words). The good thing is, the girl is well versed in Islam, and has a firm understanding on all the guidelines placed as a Muslim, and hence forbade any extramarital relationship with this man. However, the man is insisting to get to know her well before marriage (physically). After a long emotional struggle between the two, the girl came to find out that he is actually engaged to be married to another person from his ethnic background. He goes on to tell her that there is no way he would disobey his parents on that regard (personally I do not dispute anything that remotely involves parents; but the guy is 33 years old and claims he still loves her (15 years old). Doesn't he have a say? Anyway, he further proclaims Islam states that one should marry among yourselves (?). I believe this can be a sensitive subject, and I mean no insult to anyone rather try to understand the whole concept. I do admit that I am an Arab, but I hold racism in abhorrence and I totally go against any form of racial discrimination. Yet from my understanding when it comes to Islam, I have come across a little bit of contradiction. What exactly does Islam encourage when it stated that we should marry amongst ourselves? Does race come into play? Are Arabs held in high regard than other races? When the prophet (SAW) married the 11 wives (RA) his intentions was to set examples for the next generation e.g. to eradicate slavery status when he married Mariam (RA) or to set an example of allowing to marry women who were widowed or divorced etc. However among his wives none was of a different race other than Arab (or Jew in the case of Mariam; who by the way are also categorized as Semitic with those similar/close to the Arab race). So why not marry a Pakistani? Or white (European), or even black to set an example of discouraging race discrimination? And please do not say that it is because there was no other races close by because if you think of it, at that time they had slavery that consisted of different races among which are Africans (black). Prophet Muhammad (SAW), also had knowledge of other races like Asians. So why not travel to marry and set an example? (These are just debatable thoughts and questions posed to me by others). Hence, since there is no proof of discouraging race discrimination during Prophet Muhammad's era, is it okay to think as this guy who wants a relationship with this girl outside marriage without marrying her she is not Arab?

Counselor

Answer


innocent girl

As salamu `alaykum,

Dear sister, thank you for your question. Unfortunately, I do not feel qualified to answer your very interesting questions about marrying within one’s own ethnicity as I think that the question, from a fiqh perspective, should be answered by a more qualified individual because it involves interpreting and understanding the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) in regards to marriage, race and ethnic relations.

Nevertheless, from what I do know, let us remember that Prophet Muhammad(SAW) in his final khutba (sermon) said very clearly:

“All Mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; in addition, a White has no superiority over a Black nor has a Black any superiority over a White except by piety and good actions.”

Also, from Sheikh Gibril F. Haddad in reference to a related statement by Imam al-Shafi’i:

“Whatever ruling Imam al-Shafi`i meant when he said he preferred Arabs to marry Arabs, does not have a bearing on affirming superiority in the eyes of Allah but only with custom and on condition that those concerned are people of taqwa, (piety). Imam al-Shafi`i never said that he would prefer a non-muttaqi Arab over a muttaqi non-Arab. It is likely, also, that what the Imam meant by “Arabs and non-Arabs” in this particular ruling was as a euphemism for free men and slaves, and this sense is also implied in the narration “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab.” Meaning – of a free man over a slave or former slave, because slaves and former slaves were overwhelmingly non-Arabs, since the earliest centuries in Islam.”

From these and many other references it is clear that anything hinting at a preference for a specific ethnicity in regard to marriage or anything else must only be related to ease and/or custom, i.e. so as to not overly burden the parties involved. Clearly, the priority in marriage is always piety, i.e. taqwa, regardless of the ethnic background of the people involved. Prophet Muhammad, remember, often reminded us to make things easy for each other, and do make things unnecessarily difficult.

Being in a mixed marriage with someone from a different ethnicity than my own, I can tell you that there are many challenges in marrying into another ethnicity and culture. Many marriages end tragically due to the inability to overcome the cultural differences that exist. As such, there is often a unique challenge in marrying across ethnic and cultural lines. So perhaps – and this is only my opinion, and should be confirmed through qualified scholarship – Prophet Muhammad was advising us to not bring undue hardship onto ourselves, meaning that people from the same culture and customs might find married life a bit easier.

In reference to the specific circumstances regarding the Arab man and your friend’s sister, I think the important issue here is not the ethnic difference. From a counseling perspective, I cannot help but be very suspicious of a man who proceeds as this man has.

It is quite obvious from the way you have described it that this man is interested in having relations with this young woman and has thrown around the “L” word (love) to get what he wants, which appears to be sex with this young woman. Whether he’s really interested in marrying her is known only to Allah. As such, I feel this young woman should proceed with much caution and do not give into this man’s invitation to engage in sinful premarital relations.

We have to understand that some men will say anything to get women to give into their invitations for sex. I know I am being very blunt in saying this but it is the unfortunate truth. I have seen it, and been around men who think that way.

Women have to be wary of this. In the case of this young woman, I would advise her that if this man really loves her, he needs to either prove it by marrying her or say goodbye. She is a Muslimah, and there is no compromise on this issue. Either he does it according to Islam, i.e. through a lawful marriage, or there is no chance of them being together. Then she will see what his true intentions are, in sha-Allah

Salam

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.




About Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah

Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.

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