I’m from the UK. I work full time as a shop assistant. I would like to inform you of my personal situation and require your help and advice more than anything. My family got me engaged about 2-3 years ago to my first cousin. At that time they asked me and I was against the idea as she was more like a sister to me due to the fact that we had lived in the same house most of our lives. I just could not think of her in a ‘wife’ way. But still knowing this they went ahead and confirmed the engagement.
Couple of years have passed and my situation remains the same that I don’t want to marry her. Last month I found out that my cousin was only informed 6 months ago that we are engaged. My family is scared their reputation will go if they break this engagement and is trying to convince me to go ahead with it because of what people will say.
To cut the long story short, I wanted to ask you sir if you could please tell me. Do I have to obey my parents in this matter? They are not speaking to me and making me feel guilty, saying that I’m going to be punished by Allah for not obeying their commands and that nobody will ever speak to me again. Who is in the right? Please inform me on what is the best step to take. Mashā-Allah I am just standing up for what I believe in, which is Islām. Islām says: marry of your choice. My parents keep ignoring these Qur’ān and Hadith facts and keep going back to their culture. PLEASE HELP ME, PLEASE.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
It is indeed sad that your parents find it difficult to loosen themselves from the clutches of an unislāmic custom. It is a well-known culture among some sectors of society that they prefer marriage within the family circles. This sometimes leads them to force their children to abide by this tradition as it seems to be in your case.
Whilst a person is required to show obedience to his parents, Islām has not made this command open-ended. Their obedience is conditional to conformity with the dictates of Shari’ah. Nevertheless, this principle should not be misunderstood. Although a person should not obey his parents in a command they issue against the Shari’ah, their general respect in other matters should not be lost.
According to Shari’ah, a person who is legally mature should have the personal choice of spouse. Yes, his parent’s counsel is desirable when they keep his welfare at mind.
Think of a few people who understand your situation and sympathise with you, whilst at the same time they are people who maintain some type of noteworthy relationship with one or both of your parents. They may be family friends, relatives, or prominent Ulamā’ (learned scholars) of your area. Approach them and request them to explain the following points to your parents:
· The first thing they should be told is that until actual Nikāh takes place with anyone, there is absolutely nothing wrong with cancelling a mere decision to marry that person.
· If they wish that their child lives in happiness after getting married, they should not sacrifice this happiness for the pressure of society. True care for their child in this instance means being least concerned with what people say about them calling off the marriage.
· Even if people would talk about such a decision, it will one day become a thing of the past.
· If they find it difficult to ignore society’s comments, they should ponder over the following: if people come to find out that their son was forced to marry someone he did not wish to marry, what would they say about the parents of such a child?
· By going forward with the marriage, not only are they being inconsiderate to their child, but to their niece as well. If he is not happy marrying her, he might not look after her as a husband ought to care for his wife. Worse than this, if the marriage ends up in divorce, even the relationship between the two families of blood ties will be jeopardised!
· How would they feel if they had to be forced to marry someone they were not comfortable with being a marriage partner?
· By forcing their son to marry his cousin, they are going against the grain of Shari’ah for the sake of mere custom, and/or pressure from society. One cannot expect blessings in such a decision. The Shari’ah takes precedence over any norm and culture in conflict with it.
· Allowing their son to choose his spouse is much more important than being neglectful in this regard because of the fear of people who have very little concern for his welfare. Such people who frown on a decision to cancel the future marriage, have no concern for them or their son. Why then worry about what such people would say?
· They should pull together courage within themselves and do what is needed to safeguard the rest of their son’s life.
By getting more people to speak to your parents about this issue, you will help them release the pressure they feel from society in changing their decision. However, remember to employ wisdom in doing so. This would ensure that you do not distance yourself further away from your parents by what they might misconstrue as rebellion.
On an individual basis, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your parents is make Duā and pray earnestly to Allah Ta’āla that He makes them understand and opens the way out for you. Everything is in His control. No decision can supersede His. Whatever He wills will come to pass.
A person who is sensible and can make his own informed decisions should never enter into a marriage with someone he does not wish to marry. He will be doing injustice to himself and the person he marries against his will.
Maulana Mahmood Patel
Azaadville, South Africa
Checked and Approved by
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.