About Islam - Forced Marriage
A forced marriage is not the same as an 'arranged marriage', though force can hide behind the notion of an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages are more akin to using family members as a marriage agency with the total consent of the potential partners. A forced marriage is one where one or both parties are coerced into a marriage against their will and under duress
- Duress includes both physical force and emotional balckmail.
- In 2000, a Forced Marriage Unit was set up and early in 2005 a new joint Home Office and Foreign Office Forced Marriage Unit was set up to offer further assistance to those confronted by this type of abuse.
- The Government has since produced guidelines for Police, Social Services, Education Professionals and will be preparing similar guidelines for Health Professionals later on this year.
- The minimum age for marriage entry clearance has been raised from 16 to 18, as a Home Office spokesman has stated “at 18 they are more able to resist parental pressure and are likely to be much more confident of their own decisions about whether they want to get married to someone living abroad whom they might have never met”
- Perpetrators – usually parents or family members – have been prosecuted for offences including threatening behaviour, harassment, assault, abduction and murder.
- The majority of cases of forced marriage encountered in the UK involve families from the indian subcontinent, Sikhs having a higher incidence per head than Muslims.
However, despite appearances, this is not solely an "Asian" problem as cases have involved families from East Asia, Europe and Africa. Some forced marriages take place in the UK with no overseas element while others involve a partner coming from overseas or a British citizen being sent abroad.
Government officials said the special unit within the Foreign Office had dealt with almost 1,000 cases of forced marriage since it was set up in 2000 (2005)
In the past two years:
- Nearly 500 people have asked for help to avoid being forced into marriages
- 492 cases have been reported to police forces in England and Wales
- 500 forced marriages have taken place in London while the national figure is believed to be much higher
- The unit also rescues and repatriates to the UK around 70 young people a year from overseas. International co-operation has become vital, and in support of this an extra entry clearance officer has been established in Islamabad. This officer helps reluctant spouses, as well as assisting those who have been abandoned in Pakistan by their partners, and who have a right to return to the UK
- Proposals are to create a specific criminal offence of conspiracy to cause a forced marriage. At present prosecutors have to rely on proving offences such as kidnap, assault and false imprisonment against parents and relatives of victims.
Islam abolished forced marriages deemed as a practice of pagans. In a well-known hadith documented by Bukhari, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:
“A previously married woman shall not be married without being consulted and a virgin shall not be married without her consent.”
This statement clearly establishes the principle of the female’s right to choose a marriage partner.
- Neither the legal guardian nor anyone else can coerce a female (or male) to marry against her wishes, since Islam emphatically disallows forced marriages.
This is clear from an incident in the life of the Prophet (saw) documented by Nisaa’ie. The Prophet’s wife ‘Aishah reported that a young female came to consult the Prophet, saying,
“My father has married me to my cousin to raise his social standing and I was forced into it.”
The Prophet sent for the girl’s father and then in his presence gave the girl the option of remaining married or nullifying the marriage.
“O Messenger of Allah, I have accepted what my father did, but I wanted to serve a lesson to other women (that they could not be forced into a marriage).”
recorded by Bukhari, and Ibn Majah, "Khansa bint Khidhan who had a previous marriage, related that when her father married her and she disapproved of that, she went to the Messenger of God and he revoked her marriage."
Abu Da'ud, on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas recorded that "A [girl who was not married] came to the Messenger of God and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet allowed her to exercise her choice."
Women permitted to propose themselves
Bukhari and Muslim recorded that,
"A woman came to the Messenger of God and offered herself to him (in marriage). When she had stood for a long time (without receiving an answer) a man got up and said: 'Messenger of God! Marry her to me if you don't want to.' He asked the man if he had anything to give her as dower (marriage gift), and when he replied that he had nothing but the lower garment he was wearing, the Prophet said: Look for something, even though it be an iron ring." The report ended with the man offering the teaching of the Quran he knew as a marriage gift.
Saudi Arabia banned forced marriages, warning fathers and male relatives of the victimized brides that they will end up in prison. Mufti and Head of the Council of Scholars Sheikh Abdel Aziz Bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh said. “Those following this pre-Islamic distasteful tradition will not be released until they change their minds”
It's a shame that some sections of the Muslims still follow this unIslamic culture, giving large sections of the media enough evidence to malign Islam with it, or to blur Islam's clear cut and agreed upon stance on this issue. There is not a single Islamic lawyer (Alim) in the world that argues it is allowed because it is such a clear issue of sin. Those Muslims that practice this don't envoke Islamic evidences to justify forced marriage, but refer to localised cultures from where they originate. This distinction, we believe, is allowed to be blurred by some in the Media who wish to malign Islam