There is an undeniable bond that a man and a woman share when they get married. Depending on the culture, the two can either marry independently or under their parents/ family members’ advice. We intend to find out what happens in Islamic marriages.
So, are Islamic marriages arranged? The Islamic law frowns upon male-female interaction, so it necessitates arranged marriages; this way, the union is about compatibility rather than lust. Often, Islamic marriages are assisted by both partners’ families. The family finds a suitable partner for their child, then introduces them to each other. However, the two parties have to consent to it; else, it will be a forced marriage.
In this article, we delve into the concept of arranged marriages to uncover its history, prevalence, the Islamic view on the practice, and how successful it is. Since Muslim men and women are not free to mingle, how do they find spouses? Read on as we bring these issues to light.
The History of Arranged Islamic Marriages
In a arranged marriage, the groom and the bride’s parents organize an engagement with both parties’ legal consent. Other family members such as the couple’s grandparents and any other relatives or a trained matchmaker can also be part of the process. They assist the two in finding the most suitable spouse.
Arranged marriages have been universally prevalent across all Muslim communities but over time some potential mates have felt that it was right for one to choose a life partner personally.
The marriage organizers would then plan everything about the wedding. As much as the marriage was on an arrangement basis, the law still required that the groom and the bride marry at their own free will; therefore, a marriage through coercion was invalid.
Similarly, informing the parties of their marriage on the day of their wedding was also illegal. Thus, young Muslims must have ample time to express their thoughts about marriage. In contrast, some intended spouses could only communicate via sharing pictures without physically meeting until the wedding day.
It is an Islamic belief that marrying a woman through an arranged marriage ensures that the man finds a woman to help him serve Allah. Secondly, this practice ensured that the spouse got married into the right family, mostly a reputable one.
It was also a way to counter divorce rates since arranged marriages were quite formal in Islam. These marriages were also prevalent to reduce the partners’ chances of engaging in haram activities such as sex before marriage.
Marriage arrangement in the Muslim religion was to compensate for dating, which is taboo in Islam. Since the couples knew each other through the family or friends, the marriage was a union of society, not just the couple. Therefore, it had to be a careful plan.
In traditional Islamic setups, arranged marriages could go beyond tribal lines, and in most cases, this was to quell frequent wars among neighboring tribes. Therefore, the marriage was to act as a peace treaty with the hopes of building better tribal relationships.
Muslims traditionally did not allow their young ones, especially of the opposite sex, to mingle freely. Consequently, it was difficult for a young man to identify an appropriate spouse for him to marry; this is where assisted marriages came in handy.
In some communities, the family or relatives had a spouse in mind, and they would arrange (under their supervision) for the two to meet. It was not automatic that their plans would be successful; sometimes, one or both parties would decline. Besides, the young Muslim would suggest his/ her option so that the parents can make the decision.
Types of Arranged Marriages
There are three types of arranged marriages. The type depends on the level to which the marriage has been arranged. These include the following. ;
Purely Arranged Marriages
In the purely arranged marriage, it is solely upon the bride or groom’s parents or relatives to decide by searching for a suitable partner to marry their child. People believe that in this type of marriage, the couple may not love each other initially, but their relationship may work with time.
Here, the bride and groom have no right to decline this arrangement since a refusal may bring shame and disrespect to the family. This type of marriage is rare among Muslims because the religion values consent on issues concerning marriages.
Child Arranged Marriages
For child arranged marriages, the two sets of parents arrange a future marriage through an espousal. This practice means that the children will have to get married to each other as soon as they age. However, they may meet and get acquainted with each other before the marriage.
The concern with this type of marriage is the issue of culture and the betrothal age. However, the notion behind this is that the two will learn to love each other with time. The practice of espousal was very typical among Islamic royal families.
With love-assisted marrages, whenever the child is ready for marriage, the parents invite suitors and introduce the bride and the groom. The suitors give some crucial details about their lives, for instance, their work or occupation, hobbies, likes, and dislikes.
The bride will then read through the details, and if she is interested, she informs the parents to invite the groom over to their home. Once she agrees that he is the right choice, they start the wedding arrangements, which locks out all the other suitors.
Causes of Arranged Marriages
Marriage brings forth children who are supposed to inherit their parents’ properties; therefore, wealth is an aspect to consider before marriage. Some affluent families in Islam may arrange marriages to conserve wealth by marrying another well to do families.
Others are also tough on marriage issues to streamline and instill their Islamic culture in the upcoming generation. Similarly, an assisted marriage may be a means of helping a struggling family to escape poverty by marrying their daughter or son to a well off family.
Mahr is another reason for a family to decide on the best candidate to marry their child. In most cultures, daughters are a source of wealth to their families and relatives. Thus, her brothers, parents, and uncles prioritize conducting the marriage according to the Islamic traditions by the full dowry payment.
Also, a factor like religion affects Muslim believers. The men can marry Christian or Jewish women for it is halal under Islamic marriage laws. However, a Muslim religion forbids woman by the law to marry outside her religion since it is taboo.
Children born out of these marriages may not follow the Islamic faith. Therefore, you cannot marry a Muslim woman unless you convert. Having an arranged marriage will prevent such controversies from occurring.
Another cause of Arranged Marriages is the lack of partners to choose from. For instance, Muslims do not allow boys and girls to interact easily. Hence, when the child becomes mature enough to marry, he/ she will have limited options for marriage.
It will then be upon the parents to jump in and assist the child in finding the most suitable partner. A relative or a religious leader can also find an appropriate mate for the bride or the groom. Late marriages can also prompt arranged marriages since most suitable mates may have already been married. Therefore, an assisted marriage would be the last resort.
What Is the Islamic View on Arranged Marriages
In most religions, including Islam, the family is a fundamental aspect of society. It is a blessing for a man and woman to unite and build a home for themselves and their children. The Muslims consider marriage as Allah’s sacred gift to provide a foundation for the entire society. Therefore, most of them strive to marry to create a home and adequately nurture their families.
Generally, religion encourages believers to find a befitting partner to marry and not engage in any haram practices legally. They should have followed the Holy Prophet’s sunnah to live a righteous life; as long as one finds a pious partner that draws him/ her nearer to Allah. He said that there are things for a man to look for in a wife; wealth, nobility, beauty, and religion. But the essential characteristic is to find a religious woman.
Since time immemorial, Muslims prohibit the interaction between male and female believers. Thus, when a young man or woman becomes of age, his/ her parents need step in to aid them in finding a suitable partner. Both parents from both sides may be close friends, relatives, or acquaintances. In other instances, the intended spouses may, for a long time, be aware of their parent’s intention to marry them. These marriages are sometimes known as introduction/ assisted marriages.
One important aspect to note is that an arranged marriage is not the same as a forced marriage. In this type of union, both parties need to consent to their parents’ approval. Therefore, they can object to the arrangement unless they are comfortable with the selection. The essence of these unions is to have the parents assist their children in finding partners, and in other cases, it is the children who suggest a suitable candidate.
This practice is still prevalent today in many Muslim families, especially where different genders are not free to mingle. Similarly, other religions, such as the Jewish and Christian communities, find it successful. The only factor to consider is that it should not be forceful; otherwise, it would be an infringement on human rights and may only end up in an annulment.
However, not all Islamic unions are an arrangement; there are cases of love marriages, especially in the modern world. Religion gives one the right to choose a partner, but it frowns upon a relationship outside wedlock. The best way to go about this is by learning all about your partner before getting married; this way, you know the one with whom you will be spending a lifetime. You can still marry the person you deem fit but only according to the Islamic laws.
First, meetings between a man and a woman should be purely official, and in the presence of both their relatives. The meeting should be business-like, intending to know each other more by discussing only the necessary matters. In case the two are already in a relationship, they should be hasty in getting married to avoid any haram.
We may conclude that Islam is okay with arranged marriages, but only if both parties consent to it. The religion may have reservations about it if the two are involved in any haram, as for love marriages. The remedy is to marry soon by the Islamic laws so that the union is valid and official.
What Makes Arranged Marriages Successful?
We have established that a Muslim marriage does not necessarily have to be an arranged marriage. However, some of these marriages work. There are several cases where the bride and groom end up falling in love even when they weren’t in any form of relationship previously. It is common to find them in a healthy relationship regardless of the initial arrangement. So, an arranged marriage is not all that bad as some may view it.
Certain factors contribute to the success of most arranged marriages. First, the modernization has ensured that the bride and groom can communicate before the wedding. Given that personal interaction is strongly forbidden, the most viable option to learn about your future spouse is virtual communication.
Another way to ensure that you get a befitting spouse is by working together with your parents or relatives during the entire process. Some people provide a list of all the attributes that they would want their future partner to have, this way, if he/ she does not meet the criteria, they are automatically out of the potential list.
Slowly, most young people are finding an arranged marriage useful. We attribute this to the fact that being that the decision is under the wise counsel of older family members, it is more likely to succeed. Unlike leaving them to decide independently, the more senior family members may know what is best for them.
They need to confirm that choice is suitable, then they can go ahead and marry. By carefully vetting the other family, the parents can select who is more eligible for their son/ daughter, based on safety, love, and stability.
Both partners’ commitment level is the only way to ensure that their marriage is successful, whether it is arranged or out of love. They should try hard to work out any marital issues that they encounter in their daily lives. The marriage will only end in separation. On a light note, some people argue that an arranged marriage is less likely to fail since both families will do everything in their power to ensure that the two stay married.
Current and Controversial Issues of Arranged Marriages
The modern customs are slowly taking a toll on the traditional aspects of Islam. We can confirm that education and exposure are the leading causes of most young people’s inclination to modern societal beliefs. They believe that the man and woman should be in a relationship first before deciding to get married.
Currently, the young seek partners at learning institutions or workplaces. It may be risky since there are high chances of them participating in immoral practices. They shouldn’t get intimate with multiple partners, all in the quest to find the perfect man/ woman to marry; Islam strongly prohibits such relationships.
Other people consider arranged marriages as an infringement on human rights, particularly women those of women. They feel that parents and family members making decisions on their children’s behalf denies them (the children) freedom of expression.
They also believe that love marriages are the go-to since the two are adults, capable of making their own decisions. However, it is notable that arranged marriages have been present in Islam for centuries.
On the other hand, strong supporters of arranged marriages state that love marriages are likely to fail, given that the two get into the relationship without any guidance from both families. Doing so leaves them susceptible to making poor decisions.
Most of the time, their decision is misguided because they have shut out the older generation’s involvement, who are arguably wiser in marriage matters. Most of these marriages are attraction or lust based, which is likely to blind a person when making such important decisions. Instead, it is advisable to attach your reasons to morality and religion. The marriage may have a higher success rate.
Every parent wishes for their children to marry a partner with outstanding qualities; here is where arranged marriages come in. In this type of marriage, the parents take center stage in finding a spouse for their children. However, the children still have a role to play in deciding whether they will marry the chosen partner or not. Otherwise, it would be a forced marriage, which violates human rights.
Ideally, the Muslim couple should not be involving themselves in any intimacy before marriage; therefore, it is necessary for a parent or relative to guide the bride in finding a befitting partner. Some find this convenient, while others consider it as a denial of freedom. Either way, the practice has been present and successful for centuries; therefore, it may be a viable option for any young Muslim.