Encouragement in the Shariah for young men and women to marry, and the right to refuse an unsuitable proposal―

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation; may the peace and blessing be upon our noble Prophet Muhammad, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him precisely until the establishment of the Hour.

It is from Islam for young men and women to get married due to what marriage contains of preserving chastity, protecting the gaze from looking at what is impermissible and increasing the number of righteous Muslims, as well as perfecting the religion and making its practice easier. Allah stated in His Book:

وَأَنكِحُوا الْأَيَامَىٰ مِنكُمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَائِكُمْ ۚ إِن يَكُونُوا فُقَرَاءَ يُغْنِهِمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ – 24:32

“And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (An-Nūr, 32)

And Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

يَا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبَابِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْكُمُ الْبَاءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ فَإِنَّهُ أَغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ وَأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصَّوْمِ فَإِنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ

“O young people! Whoever from among you is able to get married, then you should do so for verily it is the most effective in keeping the gazes lowered and maintaining chastity. And whoever is not able to marry, then let them fast because fasting is a shield that diminishes desire.” (Sahih Muslim, no 1400)

The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade the Muslims from celibacy and permanently avoiding marriage. He forbad ‘Uthmān bin Madh’ūn (may Allah be pleased with him) from celibacy and remaining permanently unmarried (see Bukhāri, no. 5073). And he (ﷺ) commanded with marriage in his saying:

تَزَوَّجُوا الْوَدُودَ الْوَلُودَ فَإِنِّي مُكَاثِرٌ بِكُمُ الأُمَمَ

“Marry women who are loving and fertile, for I shall outnumber the rest of the nations due to you [on the Day of Judgement].” (Abu Dāwūd, no. 2050) So, women should not delay their marriage until they are old because as they age, they become less fertile. People should marry while they are young so they can enjoy each other’s companionship and build a happy young family.

It is legislated for young men and women to marry as soon as they can and to have a desire to marry due to the great benefits that can be found in married life. To sit around without getting married has inherent dangers ― so it is not befitting for a young person who is able to marry to delay it. And if a suitable man comes to the attention of a woman and he proposes to her via her guardian, she should not refuse him.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

إِذَا أَتَاكُمْ مَنْ تَرْضَوْنَ خُلُقَهُ وَدِينَهُ فَزَوِّجُوهُ إِلاَّ تَفْعَلُوا تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ فِي الأَرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ عَرِيضٌ

“If there comes to you a man whose character and religious commitment you are pleased with, then marry your ward (daughter) to him, for if you do not, there will be fitnah in the land and widespread corruption.” (Ibn Mājah, 1967)

However, if she has a valid excuse to refuse him that she does not wish to reveal to the people, then she has a right to do so since she knows her situation better― maybe she has no desire or a shortcoming (or an illness) that prevents her from sexual relations. The point is that she is more aware of her condition as to whether she can excuse herself from marriage to a particular suitor.

But if she has nothing preventing her from accepting a proposal, then she should not refuse it because marriage is from the Sunnah and it is legislated for her to make haste in getting married when a suitable man comes along who is religious, practising and a man of Sunnah. And if he is not suitable, does not match her, or is irreligious (or upon innovations) then she is excused from marrying him and she is not blamed for refusing. So, if an evil man proposes to her, one who is known for corruption, or abandoning the Prayer, or drinking alcohol, or other similar sins― then these types of individuals are not to be married. The one who knows that the Prayer (Salāh) is obligatory and its abandonment is unbelief, and yet he still refuses to pray, leaves the fold of Islam and it is not allowed for a Muslim woman to marry him (and vice-versa).

So, if a man proposes to a young Muslim woman via her guardian and he is suitable for her, can provide references and he ticks all the right boxes: he is religious, a man of Sunnah and Salafiyyah, he prays the prayers, is able to provide for her, shelter her, clothe her and feed her, he is respectful to her parents and elders in general― then she should make haste in accepting the proposal. She should not remain unmarried due to what that entails of danger and opposition to the Sunnah. However, if she has a valid Shariah excuse to refuse a proposal because she knows what she is like, and she knows about herself that which others don’t, then she can refuse― or because the one who proposes is not suitable; or she lives in a corrupt environment or society and she cannot find anyone suitable for marriage, then she is excused for the time being.

(Based around a fatwā from Al-Imām Ibn Bāz (rahimahullāh), see Al-Jāmi’ fī Fiqhil-‘Allāmah Ibn Bāz (pp. 872), also Majmū Fatāwa of Ibn Bāz)

The American author and columnist, Suzzanne Venker rightly stated:

“…Our culture drills home the idea that men and women are “equal,” or interchangeable—as though the sexes aren’t demonstratively and gloriously different from one another, which is what makes a relationship work.

The result is a generation of angry, unhappy, and resentful men and women who either can’t find a partner or whose relationships are mired in conflict.

… Over time, as women began to make their own money and take advantage of the newfound birth control pill, they came to believe that women don’t need men.

They were wrong. Biologically, women are wired to depend on men—regardless of much life has changed. Most women still want to be mothers, and when they do they become vulnerable. Even today, women know instinctively that they will ultimately need a man if they want to have a family and if they want the option of being home at all, if only for a period of time.

Indeed, research shows that what matters most to women—even to those who are economically independent—is knowing they have a man on whom they can rely. It’s the feeling of being safe and in good hands—yes, even financially—that matters most. That is what’s known as hypergamy, and it is alive and well in 2019.”

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