Al-Hāfidh Ibn Hajr (rahimahullāh) said:
988: Narrated from Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyallāhu anhumā) who said:
“A virgin girl came to the Prophet (salallāhu `alaihi wasallam) and stated that her father had married her off against her will. So Allaah’s Messenger allowed her to choose [to either stay with him or to leave him].”
(Ibn Hajr said: Reported by Ahmad (2469), Abu Daawud (2096, 2097) and Ibn Maajah (1875). It is considered defective due to a taabi`ee narrating from the Prophet (mursal). Shaikh Fawzaan stated Its chain of narration is Saheeh (authentic)).
Shaikh Sālih al-Fawzān (hafidhahullāh) said:
This hadeeth has a defect in that it has irsaal, meaning that a Taabi`ee (a scholar of the generation after the Companions) is narrating from the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam), without making mention of the Companion. However, the narration is Saheeh (authentic) due to other chains of narration that are fully connected, having no defect.
“A virgin girl.” Meaning, a young woman, and a virgin who has not previously had sexual relations through marriage. “She came to the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) and stated that her father had married her off against her will.” She did not agree with this marriage, so the Prophet gave her a choice. If she wishes, she may remain with this man as his wife – and if she chooses she may nullify the marriage to repel the harm caused to her.
So a benefit of the hadeeth is that it clarifies the impermissibility of forcing a virgin into marriage. It is not allowed for her father to force her, nor anyone else. And there has already preceded a hadeeth (no. 984) clarifying that:
“A virgin cannot be married off until she gives her consent. He was asked: “And how does she give consent?” He replied: “By her silence.”
So this proves that the guardian of a woman cannot marry her off except with her permission, even if she is a virgin. So long as she is an adult woman, and sane, there is no compulsion upon her. So she has the right to choose or refuse. If the guardian contracts a marriage without her being pleased, she has a free choice, if she wishes to remain (then the marriage is sound), because the contract is completed with its conditions. However, she has a choice to repel the harm she has been caused – so if she wishes, she can proceed (and accept) the contract, and if she wishes she can nullify it.
This is a very important affair since there are many verifiers amongst people of knowledge who have said this: “Indeed the virgin cannot be forced by her guardian into marriage.” Yet you find those who oppose that claiming that the guardian has a right to compel the virgin girl. So this hadeeth is a clear evidence in this matter.
In this hadeeth also is proof that to invalidate a marriage is a particular duty assigned to the ruler because of the fact that this woman came to the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) – and that clearly proves that if such an affair was to take place [in our times] then it is referred to a Sharee`ah Court. Then the court will investigate the matter so that the people do not fall into confusion.
Adapted from volume 4, no. 988 (Eng. 841): Kitābun-Nikāh (The Book of Marriage) from Shaikh Sālih al-Fawzān’s explanation of Bulūgh Al-Marām min Adillatil-Ahkām of Al-Hāfidh Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalāni (born 773H, died 852H), entitled Tas-heel al-Ilmām bi-fiqhil-Ahādeeth min Bulūghil-Marām and is printed in seven volumes.