CAIRO, April 13, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – Saudi Arabia banned Tuesday, April 12, forced marriages, warning fathers and male relatives of the victimized brides that they will end up in prison.
“Those following this pre-Islamic distasteful tradition will not be released until they change their minds,” Kingdom Mufti and Head of the Council of Veteran Scholars Sheikh Abdel Aziz Bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh said in statements carried by the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
He cited a 1989 fatwa that coercing women into marrying someone they dislike or preventing them tying the knot with appealing suitors is un-Islamic and unlawful.
“Those suitors, particularly male relatives, who blackmail women into marrying them will face the same fate,” Al-Sheikh warned.
“They are indeed doing great injustice to these women” Al-Sheikh said. “In doing so, they disobey God and his Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The 1989 religious edict was motivated by the incident of a woman from the southwestern city of Al-Asir district.
The woman and her father were open to blackmail from her cousin, who threatened to harm them if she got married to a suitor.
Abdel Aziz Al-Qasim, a Shari`ah expert, told the Arabic language daily that forced marriages in Saudi Arabia are primarily aimed at benefiting from women.
“The greedy coercers are a drain on women’s inheritance or wealth,” he said.
Qasim also expressed concerns about red tape and foot-dragging in Saudi courts in settling lawsuits filed by women.
“It might take them three years to get a court verdict,” he said.
Qasim said many women skip courts and seek to reach settlement with the coercers to spare themselves the heavy psychological burden and painstaking efforts to have a fair ruling.
In Islam it is not permissible
for the guardian to compel the one under his guardianship to marry someone she does not desire to marry.
Rather, it is necessary to seek her consent and permission due to the hadith of the Prophet (PBUH): “The virgin is not to be married until her consent has been sought.”
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