It has been a custom in the media frenzy to link forced marriages that are committed in some Asian-Muslim communities, to link it to Islam. This prompted me to write this article and show that Islam forbids forced marriages. In Islam for a marriage to be valid there has to be mutual consent from both parties.
1. Quran on Forced Marriage
Let’s see what the Quran says on forced marriage:
Quran 4:19 “O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may Take away part of the dower ye have given them,except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.”
So the above passage from the Quran is crystal clear that men cannot inherit women against their will. This passage alone is enough evidence that Islam forbids it, but we will go further.
2. Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (p) on Marriage
The following sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (p) makes it abundantly clear that in order for a marriage to be legal and not against God Almighty’s law, one has to ask permission from the female in marriage. A marriage cannot go ahead unless she is consulted and she has given approval for the marriage. If she refuses and says ‘I do not want to get married’, then her wishes must be fulfilled and not go against her decision.
(1) Abu Hurairah narrated that: The Prophet said: “A matron should not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin should not be given in marriageuntil her permission is sought, and her silence is her permission.” (Sahih) Reference: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1107 In-book reference: Book 11, Hadith 28. English translation : Vol. 2, Book 6, Hadith 1107
(2) Abu Hurairah reported the Prophet() as saying “A woman who has been previously married should not be married until her permission is asked nor should a virgin be married without her permission.“ They (the people) asked “What is her permission, Apostle of Allaah()? He replied “it is by her keeping silence.” Reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 2092 In-book reference: Book 12, Hadith 47. English translation: Book 11, Hadith 2087
(3) Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p) said, “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.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Messenger ()! How can we know her permission?” He said, “Her silence (indicates her permission). Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 5136 In-book reference: Book 67, Hadith 72. English Translation reference: Vol. 7, Book 62, Hadith 67
(4) It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘An orphan girl should be consulted with regard to marriage, and if she remains silent, that is her permission. If she refuses then she is not to be forced.’” Reference: Sunan an-Nasa’i 3270 In-book reference: Book 26, Hadith 75. English translation: Vol. 4, Book 26, Hadith 3272
(5) Abu Hurairah narrated that: The Messenger of Allah said: “An orphan is to be consulted about herself, then if she is silent that is her permission, and if she refuses, then do not authorize it (the marriage) for her” (meaning: when she attains the age of puberty and refuses it.) (Hasan) Reference: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1109 In-book reference: Book 11, Hadith 30. English translation: Vol. 2, Book 6, Hadith 1109
Thus, it is clear from the abundant sayings of the Prophet Muhammed (p) cited in the above Hadiths, that for a marriage to go ahead the person has to be consulted, her permission must be given. She cannot be given in marriage without her permission. Furthermore Professor Paul Gwynne in his book ‘World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction’, says that for a marriage to be valid in Islam there has to be mutual consent from both parties:
“Marriage is considered to be of the utmost importance in Islam and there is extensive material in both the Quran and the hadith on the vital role it plays in the life of faith. It is often described as having both a vertical and a horizontal dimension. On the vertical plane, marriage is understood as an act of worship in that it is pleasing to Allah and fulfills the divine plan. According to tradition, Muhammad declared that no institution is more loved by Allah. Moreover, when a person marries he has completed ‘half of his religious obligations.’ On the horizontal plane, marriage is a legal contract between two individuals. In this sense, it requires the usual elements of any contract: mutual consent between the parties, specified conditions, and public witness.
As in many cultures, Islamic marriages have been arranged for much of history and this is still common practice today. The involvement of parents and family in the selection of a suitable partner is based on the principle that marital success cannot be founded on romantic love alone. Long-term compatibility is an essential factor that includes considerations such as moral character and religious faith. Marriage is seen as not only the union of two individuals but also the joining of two families, and thus broader interests must be taken into account. However, an arranged marriage is not a forced marriage and Islamic law stipulates that the free consent of both parties is necessary for its validity, even if the bride acts through her official guardian, or wali.”
3. “Can a girl ask for divorce, if she was forced into marriage?”
The answer is yes, she can ask for divorce if she was not consulted into marrying someone. The blessed Prophet Muhammad (p) in the following Hadith, where a girl was forced into marrying someone by her father and Prophet Muhammad cancelled the marriage because she was not consulted.
Narrated Al-Qasim: ”A woman from the offspring of Ja`far was afraid lest her guardian marry her (to somebody) against her will. So she sent for two elderly men from the Ansar, `AbdurRahman and Mujammi’, the two sons of Jariya, and they said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for Khansa’ bint Khidam was given by her father in marriage against her will, then the Prophet () cancelled that marriage.” (See Hadith No. 78) Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 6969 In-book reference: Book 90, Hadith 16. English Translation – Reference: Vol. 9, Book 86, Hadith 99
Furthermore in another narration recorded a virgin came to the Prophet Muhamed (p) and mentioned that her father married her against her will, so the Muhmmad (p) allowed her to exercise whether she wanted to stay married or get a divorce.
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: “A virgin came to the Prophet (p) and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet ()allowed her to exercise her choice.” Reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 2096 In-book reference: Book 12, Hadith 51
English translation: Book 11, Hadith 2091
As you have read the above saying of Prophet Muhammad (p) gave the virgin a choice to stay married or get divorced.
Conclusion: We can see from the ample of evidences shown from the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (p) that forced marriages are not part of Islam. It is evident from everything shown that forcing to marry someone against their will in Islam is forbidden.
 World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction [Copyright 2009] By Professor Paul Gwynne