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Is it Necessary to Marry? The Legal Ruling on Marriage

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Daruliftaa.com

I fear falling into the sin of zina. I have communicated the problem with my parents but they are saying that I should resist. I have tried doing this but it is not working and I don’t seem to be able to continue to do this for at least 5 years until I finish my studies.

My parents are correct as I am only 18 and I wouldn’t be able to support my wife. But what I have suggested is that to perform nikah and to live together in my own house after I complete my studies. She would live in her house and me in mine in the meanwhile. my parents don’t like this idea, so respecting their authority as everyone should I am resisting; but I feel it would be better for my imaan and well being if I did go ahead with my proposed idea.

If I wanted to I could fall into haram but I have to choose Allah above my parents. I am confident to go ahead and to put my trust in Allah. But I wanted to know how do I go about proposing? I have a few women in mind (that I have not talked to but I know of them) how am I supposed to propose to them? Can I talk to them on the basis of marriage? Should I be alone with them, in a public place, could we exchange numbers? How does it EXACTLY work? I cannot go through my parents as I am trying to convince them. I know talking before marriage is very dangerous but what are the limits if you want to marry them etc.

ANSWER

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

The Hanafi jurists (fuqaha) have explained in detail the ruling (hukm shar’i) with regards to marrying, and have categorized this ruling into many categories, in accordance with the situation of the individual intending to marry.

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Durr al-Mukhtar:

“Marriage is necessary (wajib) when having an overwhelming level of sexual desire (tawqan). If one is certain of fornicating (zina) if remained unmarried, then it would be obligatory (fard) to marry. This is when one (m: the male) is capable of paying the dowry (mahr) and maintaining a wife, otherwise one will not be sinful for not marrying…And marrying in moderate circumstances is an emphasized Sunnah (al-Mu’akkadah) according to the preferred opinion, thus one would be sinful for not marrying, and rewarded for marrying with the intention of chastity and gaining children. The meaning of “under normal circumstances” is when one has the ability to have sexual intercourse, pay the dowry (mahr) and maintain a wife…And it will be disliked (makruh) for an individual to marry who fears being unjust to their spouse, and if one is certain of being unjust, it will be unlawful (haram) to marry.”

Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) explains the above text of al-Haskafi in his super-commentary (hashiya) known as Radd al-Muhtar. He states:

“(al-Haskafi’s statement: “when having an overwhelming level of sexual desire”)…meaning in a way that one fears fornication by not marrying, because it is not necessary that by having a high level of desire one will fear fornication. And it seems that the ruling will be similar for a person who cannot prevent himself from looking at the unlawful or from masturbation, and thus, it will be necessary (wajib) to marry even if one did not fear actual fornication (zina).

(al-Haskafi’s statement: “If one is certain of fornicating (zina) if remained unmarried, then it would be obligatory”) meaning it is not possible for one to abstain from fornication except by marrying, for when one is not capable of staying away from the unlawful except through one means, that means becomes obligatory (fard)…

(al-Haskafi’s statement: “This is when one (the male) is capable of paying the dowry (mahr) and maintaining a wife”) this condition is connected to both situations, meaning Wajib and Fard. And in al-Bahr (m: name of a major Hanafi reference book known as Bahr al-Ra’iq by Ibn Nujaym) another condition has been added which is to not fear being unjust and oppressive to one’s spouse. It is stated that, if there is a clash between fearing fornication in the event of not marrying and being unjust in the event of marrying, then the former will be given preference, thus it will not be obligatory to marry, rather, it will be disliked (makruh)…because being unjust and oppressive is a sin connected to the rights of the servants of Allah, whilst the prohibition of fornication is from the rights of Allah Most High. And the right of the servant is given precedence over the right of Allah in the event of conflict between the two, for the servant is in need of his right, whilst Allah Most High is Sovereign….

(al-Haskafi’s statement: “marrying in normal circumstances is an emphasized Sunnah (al-Mu’akkadah) according to the preferred opinion”)… The proof for it being Sunnah in normal circumstances is following the example of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), and him strictly rebuking the one from his Ummah who intended to remain single for the purpose of worshipping Allah Most High, as mentioned in the two Sahih collections of Hadith (m: al-Bukhari & Muslim) when he (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever turns away from my way is not from me”.. Thus, marrying is more virtuous than engaging in teaching and studying, as mentioned in Durar al-Bihar, and we have stated previously that it is more virtuous than freeing yourself for voluntary worship….(and al-Haskafi’s statement: “It will be disliked”) meaning prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman), as mentioned in al-Bahr.” (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 3/6-7, Chapter on Marriage)

The same has been, more or less, been mentioned in other major Hanafi Fiqh works. See for example: Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar, 2/101, al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/267, Kasani, Bada’i al-Sana’i, 1/228 and others.

To summarize what the fuqaha have mentioned, we can divide the ruling on marrying into six categories:

1) Obligatory (fard). This is when an individual has an overwhelming level of sexual desire in a way that he/she is certain of committing fornication (zina), and there is nothing besides marriage to prevent him/her, provided one (the male) has the financial means to marry, and that one does not fear being unjust or oppressive to the spouse.

2) Necessary (wajib). This is when an individual has an overwhelming level of sexual desire in a way that one fears committing fornication, or one cannot prevent himself from looking at the unlawful or from masturbation, provided one has the financial means to marry, and that one does not fear being unjust or oppressive to the spouse.

3) Emphasized and confirmed Sunnah (sunnah al-Mu’akkadah). This is for an individual who is in a moderate state, in that the sexual desire is not overwhelming as in the above two categories, and one is capable of having sexual intercourse, paying the dowry (mahr) and maintaining a wife. Also, one does not fear being unjust to the spouse and being neglectful of other obligatory acts.

4) Prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman). This is for an individual who fears being unjust or oppressive to the spouse, even if there is an overwhelming level of sexual desire, for the rights of servants are given precedence over the right of Allah.

5) Unlawful (haram). This is when one is certain of being unjust or oppressive to the spouse, even if there is an overwhelming level of sexual desire.

6) Permissible (mubah). Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) adds this category quoting from Bahr al-Ra’iq. This is when one’s desire is not overwhelming; neither does one fear being unjust to the spouse. However, one marries solely to fulfil one’s needs and does not have an intention of implementing the Sunnah, for the reward of Sunnah will only be gained when one has the intention of following it or being chaste. If one marries with the intention of saving one’s self from sinning, it will be regarded as an act of Ibadah.

The above is the summary of what Imam al-Haskafi, Allama Ibn Abidin and other Hanafi Fuqaha (Allah have mercy on them all) have explained in their respective works. As such, each individual would qualify to be included in one of the abovementioned six categories.

Thus, if a man was capable of maintaining his wife and did not fear being unjust or oppressive, then it would be obligatory (fard), necessary (wajib) or Sunnah al-Mu’akkadah for him to marry. If he abstained from marrying, he would be sinful, as Imam al-Haskafi explains that, even in the situation when marriage is Sunnah, one would be sinful for not implementing this great act of worship.

If a man fears that he will be unjust or oppressive to his wife, then it will be either unlawful (haram) or prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) for him to marry. If he does not fear being unjust but is not capable to maintain a wife financially, then marriage will not be obligatory or necessary upon him. However, if one is not capable to maintain a wife, then it will not be unlawful or disliked to marry, for one is capable to take a loan or acquire wealth from some other means. (Radd al-Muhtar)

Based on the above, if you regard yourself to be included in the first two categories (i.e. fard and wajib), then it would be necessary for you to marry even without the permission of your parents. The reason being is that, obedience to parents is not unconditional and absolute. If one’s parents forbid one from one’s fard, wajib or confirmed sunnah duties, one may not listen to them, as is the case if they order one to do something unlawful (haram) or prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman).

Thus, if you are certain of (or fear) committing fornication or you cannot prevent yourself from gazing at what is unlawful or from masturbation, then it would be necessary for you to marry, provided you are capable of paying the dowry and maintaining a wife.

You state that you would like to marry but live separately until you are capable of maintaining a family. But it should be kept in mind that financial support and maintenance (nafaqah) for the wife becomes necessary by merely contracting the Nikah.

Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“Financial support will be necessary even if she (the wife) was in her father’s house, according to the Zahir al-Riwayah, for Nafaqah is necessary (wajib) from the time of contracting a valid marriage nikah sahih), even if the woman has not as yet moved into her husband’s home. Some late Hanafi scholars stated that, it will not be necessary until she moves in with her husband, and this is also narrated from Imam Abu Yusuf and chosen by al-Quduri, but the Fatwa is not on this opinion.” (Radd al-Muhtar, 2/575)

Thus, the preferred opinion in the Hanafi School is that, the husband will be responsible for maintaining his wife even before she moves into his house. As such, if you are not capable of maintaining her, it would not be necessary (wajib) for you to marry, thus you will require the permission of your parents. And in the case of not marrying, one would be obliged to employ other means in order to save oneself from fornication, such as fasting.

Ibn Abidin also states that, in the case of being certain of committing fornication, it will become necessary (wajib) to take a loan in order to support one’s wife. In such a case, marrying would then become Fard. (Radd al-Muhtar) One’s wife can also relive one from paying her Nafaqah, although this will remain her right, and whenever she demands it, one will have to provide it.

As for how to find a suitable girl for marriage is concerned, firstly what you need to do is convince your parents. Explain to them the ruling on getting married in light of what has been discussed above. Use the intermediary of some local scholar or someone whom your parents respect. Persist with them on this matter along with having the utmost respect for them. If you be polite and gentle with them, eventually they will agree with you, Insha Allah.

Explain to them with wisdom that, you wish to marry in order to be a good Muslim. There are many young people out there who are involved in different forms of fornication and evil acts. Thus, your desire is to be a good and practising Muslim by safeguarding yourself from the evils that are widespread in the society. I am sure if they were explained in a proper manner, they would give their consent for you to marry. Thus, if they do agree, then they would be the ideal people finding you a wife.

However, if you fail to convince them, then if (in light of what has been mentioned above) it is necessary (fard, wajib or sunnah) for you to marry, you will have to look for a wife through the medium of friends, relatives and other family members who don’t have a problem with you marrying.

You must remember that in order to find a wife, you must do so by approaching her thorough proper channels. Informal interaction with someone of the opposite sex is unlawful, thus you must avoid befriending a girl and being intimate with her.

If you go about things in a proper manner and you have the right intention, Allah Most High will surely assist you. May Allah Almighty choose whatever is best for you in this world and the hereafter. Ameen

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

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This answer was collected from Daruliftaa.com, which is headed by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari. He’s based in the United Kingdom.

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