Are Child Marriages allowed in Islam?

Edited by Zafar Khan

Woman has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals. Her consent is a prerequisite to the validity of the marital contract, according to the Prophet’s teaching. It follows that if an "arranged marriage" means the marrying of a female without her consent, then such a marriage may be annulled if the female so wishes:

Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of Allah, and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice...(between accepting the marriage or invalidating it) (Ahmad, Hadith no. 2469). another version of the report states that “the girl said: ‘Actually, I accept this marriage, but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right to force a husband on them.’” (Ibn-Majah).

The Muslim scholar, Dr. Bilal Philips had to say the following about Chilad marriage in a recent interview:

The concept of child marriage, of course in Islam, if a person classified as a child is married, when they reached the age of puberty and maturity, then they have a right to choose whether to go on with that marriage or not. So it becomes a marriage on paper. You know, they take place on paper on agreements with families; it is not going to be done again between individuals where the possibility of exploitation is, you know, more prevalent; but once the person reaches of age, it could be between two young people or could be a younger person and an older person, you know, either way male-female, female-male and when they reach that age of puberty then the decision is theirs. I know there has been something in the newspaper quite recently also, you know, concerning there is a girl in some place in the States who is about 13 years old got married, you know; it was a big thing to do that , particularly in the States; that State doesn't have clear laws prohibiting it. So there was a big uproar about it, you know. But it had been going on for quiet a long time … in the previous century the nineteenth, eighteenth … this is something not uncommon. The desire to want to protect young people is a genuine desire; but where, you know, families are involved, people are not being forced etc, then this is not something which should be looked at in the negative light. But before we go on to another issue, there is another point that I think is important, to touch on in the arranged marriage setup. Why it is that the West is so much opposed to this and that would … I think this is an important point because if it was common in the West before but now it is looked at so negatively there must be some factor and I think this is what we need to address that really from a Western point of view because the families are broken up to such a degree that individuals are now on their own - a young woman leaves her home, she reaches her mid teens or whatever, she has to go out on her own and fend for herself. The idea of parents coming after that by telling who's good for you to marry this one or that one, it becomes ludicrous because she is now on her own taking care of herself. Why would anybody now want to come and tell her whom she should marry or would be good for her to marry. This is something totally in her own hands. Similarly with the young man : no suggestions, why suggestions because he is taking care of himself and so it is in this context that the idea of an arranged marriage may seem so unnatural whereas in the context where families are intact, you know, and children remain in the home until, you know, they reach the point of marriage and then they leave the home, then, it is not unreasonable or not, you know, it should not seem strange and it doesn't to those people to marry on this basis.

Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the highest religious body in the Sunni world, has recently released a new manual on the rights of Muslim children.

"Marriage in Islam is regulated by certain rules, namely, children must reach puberty and maturity so that they can get married," it reads.


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