60: Woman’s right to refuse marriage to someone


I have a question for my friend. She is 17 years old and they just moved here from their home country and her guardians and mom want her to marry her cousin who lived in their same house back home but this girl really refuses to marry him because she dislikes for some reason and she is begging and crying in front of her mother not to make her marry him. This girl is saying she will not be happy with him
My question is does any girl have the RIGHT to say no for her marriage if she does not like the man? This girl is Islamic and going to school and she doesn't know anybody to talk to but she really doesn’t want to marry him and her mother is utterly pressuring her by telling her she will die and she will be destroyed if she doesn’t marry this guy and her mother is telling her that nobody will marry her because she is not beautiful and rich.
Sorry it was long question but please reply me as soon as possible.

Al-hamdu lillah (praise be to Allah). This situation about which this sister is asking is a common one and occurs often as a result of a clash of desires between parents and their daughter. It could be for a benefit or interest the mother or father sees and the young woman doesn’t, and each regards the issue from a different perspective or with a particular consideration. And perhaps the opinion of the parents is the appropriate and correct one as a result of their prior trials and longer experience in life, and perhaps the woman sometimes looks to the appearance of the groom more than anything else, whereas the parents may look to other considerations, such as his family status, or his long-term career or employment. Of course none of this means that the woman’s opinion isn’t sometimes more correct and preferable, particularly when the opinion of the parents stems from a benefit they may realize if the marriage is accomplished, and they do not actually make the priority their daughter who is the most important thing in this issue. And while being vigilant in advising you of the importance of obeying one’s parents and struggling with oneself to realize their wishes and desires and giving their opinion the priority, the point must clearly be made that the following two hadeeth from the Prophet (peace be upon him) must be abided by and carried out, as within them are the complete answer to your question and questions from others in similar situations:

The first hadeeth:

If he whose character and deen (practice of religion) pleases you, approaches you in marriage, then marry him, for if you don’t, their will be fitna in the land and vast corruption. (Tirmidhi and others, see Sunan Tirmidhi #1085 and it is hassan (reliable) as per Sahih ul-Jaami’ #270). (“fitna” here can be understood to refer to the temptation for fornication, enmity and the cutting off of relations among the people and relatives, and the spreading of hatred)

The second:

Buraida (may Allah be pleased with him) said that a young woman came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, “My father married me to his brother’s son (i.e. her cousin) in order to raise his standing among the people,” so the Prophet (peace be upon him) put the matter in her hands (i.e. asserted that the validity of the marriage is conditioned on her approval and negated by her refusal). So she said, “I authorize and endorse what he has done but I wanted women to know that fathers cannot force their will in these matters.”

And it was narrated by Nisaa’I via Abdullah ibn Buraida via Aa’isha that a young woman came to her and said, “My father married me to his brother’s son in order to raise his standing among the people and I am unwilling (to agree to it)”, so she said, “Sit until the Prophet (peace be upon him) comes.” So the Prophet (peace be upon him) came and she informed him of the situation, so he sent for her father and invited him (over) and asserted that the matter is in the bride’s hands. So she said, “Oh Prophet of Allah I have authorized and endorsed what my father has done, but I wanted to know if women had a say in the matter or not.” (Sunan al-Nisaa’I, Kitaab al-Nikaah min Sunanihi and it is sahih).

I ask Allah for you success and guidance to that in which there is blessings for you and your family, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad .

Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
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