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Is it the Right of Parents to Force Son to Marry a Woman of their Choice?

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
My father wants me to marry a relative of his although I don`t want to marry her?


All perfect praise be to Allah The Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all of his family and companions.

Disobedience to parents is that which causes them harm and emanates from whimsicality. It isn`t obligatory upon a person to obey his parents in every matter, however, one should treat them kindly. It is stated in the Hanbali book Khash-Shaaf al-Khinaa`, 8/5 {What means}: "It isn`t permissible for the parents to force their son to marry a woman of their choice." When parents force their son to marry a certain woman, this will harm both of them.

Explaining the borderline between matters to obey parents in and matters not to obey them in, Ibn Hajar stated in his book entitled Al-Fatawa Al-Fiqhiyah Al-Kubra, 128/2-129 {What means}: "A man banned his son from seeking knowledge under the pretext of fearing for him. Should the son obey his father in all matters, including seeking knowledge and Aqhida (Islamic creed), even if it displeases his father? In addition, in case the son was prudent, what is the dividing line between obedience and disobedience to his parents?

If there were evil people in the marketplace and the son was likely to get harmed if he went there, then he should comply to the order of his father and not go out, because the father knows what is in the best of his interest. However, if the father, out of foolishness, ordered his son to divorce his wife, for example, then he shouldn`t comply, as indicated by the scholars of Sharia. 

In addition, if the father ordered his son to do something permissible and involves no hardship, then he should comply since disobedience is that which leads to harming himself and his father in customary matters. Whereas, the son isn`t obliged to obey his father for no valid reason, such as being asked to divorce his wife. Another example is that the son isn`t obliged to respond to his father while performing obligatory prayer, unlike voluntary prayer. This is because the son should obey his father in matters that could cause harm to the latter. However, if such matter is likely to cause harm to the son, then he doesn`t have to obey his father in that respect.

In addition, obeying one`s father in all matters isn`t an obligation unless it was found out that the son doesn`t have the needed knowledge about them or was negligent. In this situation, the son should obey his father since disobeying him involves serious consequences. And Allah the Almighty knows best. 

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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