Forced Marriage

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Forced marriages are sanctioned in Islam despite what the Muslim apologists claim to the contrary. Shari'ah fails to protect the most vulnerable--children. A father's consent is all that is required to marry a young girl to an adult man, and the burden is upon her (once she reaches puberty) to seek an annulment or a divorce. In the meantime, the girl is vulnerable to spousal abuse and childhood pregnancy which greatly jeopardizes her health and future. Child marriages occur all over the world, especially in Muslim countries that practice Shari'a.

The Story

A Muslim father pledged his 7-year-old daughter in marriage to his 45-year-old, devoutly Muslim friend. They agreed that the consummation of the marriage would not take place until menarche. At the age of 10, the girl menstruated for the first time, and her husband attempted to consummate their marriage. She refused even though she was told by her family that she must obey her husband and have sex with him whenever he asks. The man forced himself upon her anyway. Since they lived in a rural area and she had little to no education, the girl did not know where to go or who to turn to for help. Her community told her that she needed to stop refusing her husband. One day her husband, irritated with her lack of compliance in the bedroom, told her that he no longer wanted her, and he divorced her (proclaiming the necessary words three times over). She went back to live with her relatives, but two weeks later her husband changed his mind and decided that he wanted to remain married to her. She was returned to her husband by her father, and she was given no choice in the matter.

Does Islamic law allow this?

One may ask; does Islamic law allow this? The answer is 'yes, it does'. Due to Muhammad's marriage to six-year-old Aisha, a child can be betrothed by her father without her explicit consent.[1][2] In fact, a virgin's silence is taken as consent.[3] Consummation of the marriage takes place when the father and husband believe she is ready for it. Since Muhammad consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was nine,[4] there is nothing wrong Islamically with an adult consummating his marriage to a 10-year-old who has reached menarche. In fact, Islamic law allows adults to marry pre-pubescent girls and does not stipulate when sexual relations may occur.[5] Islam mandates that a woman have sex with her husband whenever he asks for it unless she is menstruating or severely ill.[6][7][8] In Iran, for example, tamkin is the word used to describe a woman's obligation to be sexually available at her husband's whim.[9] There is no law in Islam that protects a woman from rape by her husband. In fact, a wife is a man's tilth, and he is permitted to approach her however and whenever he feels like it.[10][11] If she feels that she is being mistreated, she must seek a divorce from an Islamic court and prove the mistreatment. If her husband divorces her, but changes his mind before the mandatory 'idda is over, he may take his wife back whether she desires to remain married to him or not.[12][13]

Marital Rape and Domestic Violence

[It is] un-Islamic to stop husbands from having sex with their wives even if they were doing so without their consent.[14]
Dr Aamir Liaqat Hussain, Pakistan's minister of state for religious affairs
A husband has the right to be intimate with his wife and the wife must obey. If the wife refuses, then the rule of 'nusyuz' (disobedient) applies and the husband is not required to provide financial assistance to her.[15]
Malaysia's Perak state mufti Harussani Zakaria
Similar to almost all Arab and Islamic countries, Bahrain offers women no protection from their sexually abusive husbands. Only in cases of physical injury will the courts grant a divorce. For those who bear no physical marks, victims of sexual abuse feel helpless, as marital rape isn’t penalized in this part of the world.[16]
A medical examination which proves the occurrence of sexual abuse is required when a woman decides to pursue legal action against her husband. If she can’t provide the evidence then she wouldn’t be able to seek a divorce later.[17]
Abdul Aziz Al-Qasim, a professor at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University
From an interview with Mohammed Asif Mohseni, a conservative Shia cleric:

"The law ... which I created I see as correct for both men and women," he said. "We have given rights to both men and women, even better than rights given to women in the West. We give women more in this law."

I asked him about reports that if a woman does not comply in having sexual relations with her husband, then the husband can refuse to feed her. "Yes, I said that," Mohseni said looking me in the eye. "When a couple marries, sex is a part of marriage, and they agree to that."

He went on to explain that a woman isn't obliged to have sexual relations every single night or if she is told by her doctor to refrain. But otherwise it is her obligation and something she signed up for when she got married. He calls it the wife's duty.

Mohseni added that a wife wearing makeup "prevents a man from thinking about other women on the streets and he can just think of his wife."

He continued: "It is natural that women (wear makeup). Don't they in the West? Their women wear it on the streets and in shops. Women should put make-up on for their husbands as it will increase the love and attraction between the two."

The cleric also explained that a woman is not required to ask the permission of a man to leave the house if she has a job and needs to go to work. But they do need to get permission if they are leaving for other reasons.

More importantly, he said, a couple needs to make clear the day they marry whether or not she will need permission to leave the home. If they disagree then they should not get married.[18]

Slaves and Captives

We must not forget the others whose lives are at the mercy of those known as owners. Although Islam promotes the freeing of slaves by promising divine rewards in the afterlife, it also institutionalizes the practice by sanctioning the capture and enslavement of enemy (kuffar) noncombatants as well as promoting an indulgence-style requirement of manumitting a slave for the compensation of sins committed.[19] The buying and selling of human beings like livestock is permitted in Islam, and there is no limit to the number of slaves a Muslim can own so long as he (or she) can afford to feed, clothe, and shelter them. Slaves have no right over their own persons. A slave may not get married without his or her master's permission, and a slave can redeem his or herself only if the master allows it.

A female slave may be used for sex by her master. He does not need her permission to practice al-'azl, and after having sex with her he may sell her to another man or ransom her back to her family (if she had been captured during a battle or raid). If he desires her as a wife, he may marry her and does not have to pay her a bride price. Her freedom is considered her mahr. This can come in handy when a man is poor and yet desires to have a wife. A captured woman costs nothing, and he does not have to pay any money to marry her. A man may have sex with his captives and slaves without the permission of his wife (or wives).

The woman, of course, has no say in the matter. However, it would probably be in her best interest to get married seeing as though she might never experience freedom otherwise. Mandatory freeing of a female slave only occurs upon her master's death IF she has given him a child. Whatever the scenario, a female slave has absolutely no control over her life. Her master can have sex with her if he wants (rape), sell her to another man, or give her in marriage to another man. Her wishes are meaningless and her compliance unnecessary. The only thing her master cannot do is earn money by prostituting her to other men.[20]

Muhammad's slave girls and captives


Juwairiya was a captive from the Banu Mustaliq tribe. She was given to one of the Muslims, and she entered into an agreement with him to purchase her freedom. She then sought assistance from Muhammad for the payment amount. He offered to pay the price of her freedom if she married him (since she was very beautiful). So, she married him and the captives were released because they had become the relatives of Muhammad by marriage. On account of Juwairiya, one hundred families of the Banu al-Mustaliq were set free.


Safiyah was a Jewish captive from Khaibar and chief mistress of the Quraiza and An-Nadir tribes. After the brutal death of her husband Kinana, she was given as war booty to one of the Muslims. Muhammad was informed of her great beauty, and so he ordered her owner to give her to him in exchange for another slave girl. He married her shortly thereafter, and considered her manumission to be her mahr. Of his nine wives, Muhammad spent the least amount of time with Safiya.


Mariyah was a Coptic concubine sent as a gift from Egypt to Muhammad. She gave birth to Muhammad's son Ibrahim, but he died by the time he was two. They were never married, but he had sex with her because she was his property.


Rayhana was a Jewish captive from the Quraiza tribe. One source says Muhammad offered her marriage instead of slavery, but she declined and remained Jewish. Another source says he married her, and her manumission was her mahr.

This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Women which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic Core part.png

See Also

External links


  • Karma Nirvana - A registered charity based in Derby, supporting victims and survivors of forced marriages and honour based violence




  1. Sahih Bukhari 7:62:18
  2. Al-Muwatta 28 2.7b
  3. Sahih Bukhari 7:62:68
  4. Sahih Bukhari 7:62:64
  5. Qur'an 65:4
  6. Sahih Muslim 8:3368
  7. Mishkat al-Masabih Book I, Section 'Duties of husband and wife', Hadith No. 61
  8. Al Tirmidhi Hadith No. 1160 & Ibn Ma’jah Hadith No. 4165
  9. Ilkkaracan, Pinar. (2008). Deconstructing Sexuality in the Middle East. (p. 129). Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.
  10. Qur'an 2:223
  11. Cleric: Rape, beating OK for wives - Mark Dunns - The Daily Telegraph, January 22, 2009
  12. Qur'an 2:228
  13. The wife’s consent is not a condition of taking her back after divorce - Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 75027
  14. No, it is unIslamic to stop husbands: Aamir - Daily Times, August 26, 2006
  15. Row erupts in Malaysia over marital rape - Agence France-Presse, August 23, 2004
  16. Saud Hamada - Bahrain Offers Women No Protection from Spousal Rape - The WIP, June 29, 2009
  17. Najah Alosaimi - Outlaw Marital Abuse, Demand Saudi Women - Arab News, April 10, 2007
  18. Atia Abawi - Afghan cleric defends controversial marriage law - CNN, April 21, 2009
  19. Qur'an 4:92
  20. Qur'an 24:33