The Quran on seeking permission of parents before marrying chaste Muslim women
The Quran enjoins marrying chaste women from among the believers, only after gaining the permission of ‘their people’ (using the Arabic word “ahl” to describe her guardians/family):
“So marry them with the permission of their people, and give them their due compensation, according to what is acceptable..” [4:25]
To a newbie in Islam, it might seem outwardly ‘unfair’ that a women needs her guardians’ approval before marrying someone she wants to, whereas a man can go ahead and marry a chaste and religiously committed woman even against his parents’ wishes — although it is not at all recommended for him to do so.
One cursory look at ‘free’, secular and liberal societies where women are supposedly ‘free’ to marry whoever they please, or rather, men are ‘free’ to marry any woman they choose without seeking her parents’ approval first, will give us a clear picture of the inherent wisdom behind Allah’s command that is highlighted in the verse of the Quran above.
Fact: Women are the more vulnerable partner in marriage
Women are more prone to being emotionally and physically abused by husbands than vice versa, because the latter have been given more physical strength and emotional indifference as compared to them.
What this means is, that it is relatively easier for a man to roam around more freely outside in the world, as he is less at risk of harm to his self or life, and also because he never gets ‘tied down’ with the responsibility of child bearing and rearing as a result of his marriage(s).
Men in ‘free’ societies thus end up ‘enjoying’ one no-strings-attached sexual relationship after another with women, without committing to marriage or child maintenance (if a child is born).
Women, on the other hand, not only endure the physical rigors of pregnancy and birth if they conceive a child, but they are also unable to work at physically tasking jobs that require hard labor and constant travel, while simultaneously catering to full-time child rearing.
This narrows down their professional options in seeking suitable employment that will provide for them and their children without physically taxing them beyond their limits, such as office-desk jobs.
The ‘freedom’ from parental permission before marriage or romantic relationships with women, mostly leaves them as single mothers carrying a double burden: that of breadwinner as well as child-rearer.
Wisdom in Allah’s commands
Because of these physical and physiological differences between men and women, if the latter were easily available to men for marriage without the prerequisite of seeking their guardians’ approval first, it would allow men to go around marrying and divorcing women at their whim and fancy, without taking on the responsibility of their financial maintenance and that of their children.
It would allow men to marry anyone they want, and later on abandon her — when the onslaught of pregnancies and the addition of little children made her less sexually accessible and pleasurable, and more expensive to maintain.
Just taking a casual glance at the social dynamics of secular, “free” societies nowadays, where men do not need the elders’/guardians’ permission to court or marry a woman, and looking at how the women in these societies work full time as single mothers, compromising on their children’s upbringing by placing them in daycare because they have to go to work to provide for them, will make us appreciate the command of Allah that deters men from using women just for pleasure and procreation and guards single women like jewels, not available for all and sundry to use and discard at will.
Both the single Muslim youth today and their parents should aim to strike an optimal balance when the time comes for them to marry, which allows their parents to be involved in their choice of spouse, yet provides them with enough freedom of choice to not feel restricted due to adherence to obsolete and trivial cultural and worldly beliefs.
First published: March 2014Pages: 1 2