Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Asalaamu alaikum
I have a problem regarding marriage. I am in my early twenties and my family wants me to get married soon.  There are a number of families asking for my hand in marriage through my parents, but  I personally do not know any of them. I’m being pressured to choose and that I’m being told I’m a disobedient child and I’ll be punished for not choosing a suitor to marry. 

There is a brother I’m intersted in, but my parents don’t approved because he is in a different caste.  I’m being told if I go through with marrying the brother I’ll be punished by Allah and I’ll have an unhappy marriage. 

Is there any Islamic support for not marrying those in a different caste?  I don’t want to upset my family, but I also want to have a happy marriage.  How would you advise me?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I hope you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

If one does not wish to marry one of the prospective that have been offered to one, one can politely refuse.

According to the Hanafi school, one’s guardian (wali) cannot force one to marry a prospective without one’s permission. [Quduri/Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab; Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar li ta`lil al-Mukhtar]

Refusing Suitors and choosing based on the Religion (Deen)

One should realize that choosing to marry someone is one of the most important decisions of one’s life. One needs to consider carefully and make a serious, mature decision. And one would optimally choose someone that oneself, and one’s parents, are happy with.

The Messenger of God (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “A woman is married for four reasons: for her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious inclination, choose the one who is religious (or) you will be ruined.” [Bukhari; Muslim] The phrase, “you will be ruined”, was used, as Imam Nawawi (Allah be pleased with him) explains, to indicate something that is frowned upon, discouraged and not a literal ruining. [Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]

As the narration (hadith) notes, one should seek out a pious and righteous spouse. Realize that one wants somebody who knows something about an Islamic marriage, looking after a family and responsibility. Even though this is not the only criterion, somebody serious about their religion would not take this point lightly.

Castes and Legal Suitability (Kafa’ah)

Being a legal, suitable match (kafa’ah) is a consideration when selecting a compatible spouse.

As for marrying within one’s caste, some people like to attach a huge amount of importance to it. (One would do well to research what the caste system is all about) Often, it is considered highly problematic to marry ‘lower’ castes; the reason is simple: pride. Boasting, arrogance and pride are sinful activities. As for doing so based one’s ancestry and lineage, it has been specifically condemned by the Messenger of God (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Verily Allah has removed from you the stupidity of the pre-Islamic era (Jahiliyya) and their boasting of their ancestors. Whether you are god-fearing believers or wretched sinners, you are the sons of Adam, and Adam was created from dust” [Abu Dawud]

However, a caste, in some sense, could be considered akin to ethnicity. Therefore, if one had a number of prospectives of different nationalities, one could use this as a consideration. Though one should remember that this is not the only, nor primary, consideration in a prospective spouse.

Obeying Parents

Being good to one’s parents is an unconditional duty.

“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and do good to parents. If any one of them or both of them reach old age, do not say to them: uff (a word or expression of anger or contempt) and do not scold them, and address them with respectful words, and submit yourself before them in humility out of compassion, and say, ‘My Lord, be merciful to them as they have brought me up in my childhood.’” [Qur’an, 17.23-24]

There are many manifestations of being ‘good’ to one’s parents and obedience is often one of them. There are some cases in which one would not obey one’s parents; such cases include obeying them in leaving obligations (fard), doing something unlawful (haram), non-fulfillment of rights and the like. However, one is still duty-bound to be ‘good’ to them, as per the Qur’anic command.

And when one does obey them, one has to be careful to do so in a manner that entails being ‘good’ to them; both in word and deed. Someone respectfully disobedient could still be fulfilling the duty of being ‘good’ to their parents. The opposite, too, is true.

Final Thoughts

One of the most important things to remember is to ask Allah as He loves to be asked, “And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright.” [2:186] Know that He has showered His blessings upon you throughout your life; be grateful for the blessings you have, ask Allah for what you want, with conviction, and you will, insha’Allah, find what you are looking for.

In addition, it’d be highly recommended to read Hedaya Hartford’s book, Islamic Marriage, as well as taking the course on marriage, here at SeekersGuidance.

May Allah give you, and all those who are in a similar situation, tawfiq in their search for a pious spouse. Amin.

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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"Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward"-- The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)