By Monis Ali
April 22, 2014
I may not be wrong in assuming that the main reason behind divorce and suicide amongst women and girls is increasingly that parents never see eye-to-eye with their daughters regarding their marriage
Recently, in Turbat, Balochistan, an 18-year-old girl who was forcibly married by her parents without her consent, suffered a lot at the hands of her husband and his family, as she was opposed to the marriage. Finally, the wife did herself in, which proved the boy’s parents guilty. It comes to me as no surprise that today many parents force their daughters into marriage without their daughters’ consent, especially in Pakistan, thinking that the consent of a girl or a woman is not essential and not allowed by Islam.
In the name of Islam, we are determined to accept everything without proof. For example, my grandfather, who was an Imam, used to say that there was no need for asking female consent regarding their marriages and, in case of disagreement about parental choice, women and girls had to be forced into marriage. After listening to him, many people practiced the same, including my father. No one even bothered to research whether forcibly marrying was really commanded by the Prophet (PBUH) or not.
If we cast a glance at the Prophet’s (PBUH) early life, we come to know that we are very far from the reality since in his time; girls and women were married after asking for their consent. As a trader, the Prophet (PBUH) worked for Hazrat Khadija, who was soon convinced by his honesty and truthfulness; she sent a proposal of marriage to him at the age of 40 despite having two sons and a daughter. Rather than oppose or accuse, Mohammad (PBUH) and his uncle, Abu Talib, accepted the proposal happily. Their marriage proved to be successful.
In 4 AH, when Hazrat Zainab Umaimah, one of the first cousins of the Prophet (PBUH) was divorced by her husband, he sent her a proposal of marriage. She did not accept it and wanted to consult God. The Prophet (PBUH) did not force her into marriage. Instead, he waited till a revelation came and, later on, they got married.
By looking at the audit, we will also come to know that Islam permits no men marrying off their daughters without their permission. The Prophet (PBUH) 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. Her silence indicates her permission” (Sahîh Bukhari). Hazrat Aisha reported: “I asked Allah’s messenger (PBUH) about a virgin whose marriage is solemnised by her guardian whether it was necessary or not to consult her. Allah’s messenger said: ‘Yes, she must be consulted’” (Sahîh Muslim). If we accept the life of the Prophet (PBUH) as an example for all of us to follow then we should learn from these examples on the matter.
I still remember helping one of my teenage relatives who had been beaten and forced into wedlock by her parents, but to no avail. Despite drinking poison to escape, she was married off in hospital. Very soon the marriage broke up, leaving the woman pregnant. Therefore, twice she attempted to do herself in. I may not be wrong in assuming that the main reason behind divorce and suicide amongst women and girls is increasingly that parents never see eye-to-eye with their daughters regarding their marriage and if, by some means, these girls try to choose their husbands, they are sometimes considered non-Muslims.
As far as our nation’s history is concerned, every Muslim man and woman dreamt that in a new country, they would live their lives according to the principles of Islam; many shed blood for the creation of the country in order to live in peace and get their full rights yet all Pakistanis have not gotten as much freedom as they dreamt of, especially females. In 1948, while addressing the students of Islamia College, Peshawar, Quaid-e-Azam said: “We did not demand Pakistan simply to have a piece of land, but we wanted an experimental place where we could test the Islamic principles.” Sadly, today I see Islamic rules hardly being practiced.
According to Pakistani law, women and girls cannot be forced into marriage against their consent. In case of forcible marriage, they can take help from the court but, as far as my knowledge is concerned, courts are sovereign remedies for forced marriages because marrying men of their choice by seeking justice from the courts is often unsafe as a number of cases have taken place where couples were killed in the name of honour after their marriage — investigation is often done for them by the police.
What upsets one is the fact that parents continue with this primitive practice even though forced marriages are against the law and Islam. First of all, the government has to boost the laws of the country to such an extent that each and every body should be safe from being forced into marriage. The government should also make sure that, after seeking justice from the courts, couples remain safe from being killed and tortured by jilted families. Let us save all girls and women from being deceived in the name of Islam. Parents need to remember that forced marriages not only ruin a family, but also lead to death. What is more, most of these forced marriages end up as early marriages where underage girls are married off to total strangers.