What to Do When My Parents Reject My Choice of Spouse Because of Cultural Reasons?
Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: I want to marry a girl I’ve known for 2-3 years. She told her parents and I told mine. My parents refused to meet or see her family just because she is a Canadian Pakistani. She is a practicing Muslim and so is her family.
Now my mum wants me to come home to Pakistan and marry whom she wants just because I picked someone out. Is there a hadith I could share with my parents? Am I sinful for disobeying them?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah grant you ease in this tribulation.
Marriage and culture
“A woman may be married for four reasons: for her wealth, for her status, for her beauty, or for her religion, so marry one who is religious.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
Unfortunately, sharing a hadith with your parents is unlikely to make them change their minds. Some parents, particularly strongly cultural ones, feel that it is their right to choose spouses for their children. Although it sounds as if you have found a suitable match, in their minds, they know you better than you know yourself, and therefore feel better equipped in selecting your spouse.
Most parents dislike receiving hadith and Quranic injunctions from their offspring. Is there an elder in your community who can help to reason with them? It is a lot easier for parents to hear the exact same advice from another source, particularly if it is from someone even more senior to them.
I advise against rushing into marriage, knowing that it will devastate your parents. I also don’t recommend dragging this on for too long. That would be unfair to you, your family, and to your prospective wife. Do everything in your power to reason with your parents, both on your own, and with the help of community elders. Try your very best to reach a compromise before coming to a final decision. Ideally, it would be best for you to marry her with your parents’ blessings. If this is unlikely, then you must decide if you are ready for the consequences of marrying against their wishes.
Allah is the Turner of hearts. Stand up in last third of the night and beseech Allah for His Mercy, and for a swift opening. Ask yourself if there is anything lacking in your own worship. What obligatory acts are you missing? What recommended acts are you neglecting? Our outward trials are often a reflection of our inward states.
The reality is that even if you do end this relationship, you may not necessarily be compatible or happy with your parents’ choice of spouse for you. It would be unfair for you to marry another woman to please your parents, while your heart is attached to someone else. Always reassess your intentions because you are the one who will live with the consequences in both worlds.
How to decide
As difficult as it may be right now, I recommend exercising restraint with the woman you are considering for marriage. Please remember that until you are legally married to her, in the eyes of the Shari’ah, you are not yet her husband. Perform the Prayer of Guidance (Istikhara) and see for yourself, what unfolds. Be open to either possibility – of either marrying her, or ending this relationship – and ask Allah to grant you contentment with whatever He decrees. Excessive attachment to someone who is not yet yours is a sure-fire road to heartbreak.
At the end of the day, should you decide to go against your parents’ wishes, realise that this comes with heavy consequences. It is common for unhappy parents to cut off ties with their children, as a result of feeling betrayed. Usually, they come around with the birth of their grandchildren. Until that happens, know that it will be a difficult road for you and your future wife. Some marriages can fall apart from this pressure, while others may still thrive. Please remember that it is a lonely road for a wife whose in-laws reject her, so surround yourself with people who can support both you and your future wife.
If you do marry against their wishes, It is still important for you to maintain ties with your parents, no matter how poorly they treat you. You remain their son. Shield your future wife as much as possible from their anger, of course, but you must still visit them and treat them with love, compassion and respect. InshaAllah through your excellent character with difficult parents, Allah will elevate your station in Jannah. It may be hard to imagine right now, but your parents want what is best for you. They are simply doing what they think is right. May Allah grant us all patience with our parents, as they have been patient with us.
Please see the following links:
What is the best approach to take in convert marriage issues?
Would it be wrong to avoid interracial marriages for cultural considerations?
Can we get married without involving our parents?
Following istikhara in pursuing marriage
What can I do to marry a woman when our parents are strongly against it?
Supplicating so parents accept my choice for marriage
Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani