Thursday, 28 April 2011

Is it obligatory for a woman to get married

Is it obligatory for a woman to get

Praise be to Allaah.

In response to your question, we will look briefly at what some of the
Muslim fuqahaa’ have written on this topic. In Mawaahib al-Jaleel it
was said: “Marriage is obligatory for a woman who is unable to feed or clothe herself
unless she gets married.” In al-Sharh al-Kabeer, concerning obligatory
marriage it says: “If a person fears that he may commit fornication, it (marriage) is
obligatory on him.” In Fath al-Wahhaab, it says: “For the woman who has
(physical) desires, marriage is sunnah, just as it is for the one who needs maintenance
and the one who fears being taken advantage of by immoral persons.”

In Mughni al-Muhtaaj, it says: “(Marriage) becomes waajib
(obligatory) if a person fears fornication… And it was said that it becomes
obligatory if a person has made a vow (nadhr) to get married.” Then concerning
the ruling with regard to women: “If she needs to get married, i.e., she has physical
desires, or needs maintenance, or she is afraid that immoral people may take advantage of
her… it is preferable (mustahabb) for her to get married, because this will
protect her religion and her chastity, and she can enjoy what her husband spends on her,
and other advantages.”

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his book al-Mughni:
“Our colleagues differed as to whether marriage is obligatory. The best-known opinion
in our madhhab is that it is not obligatory, except when a person is afraid of committing
a forbidden deed if he does not marry. In that case he should make himself chaste (i.e.
get married). This is the opinion of the majority of fuqahaa’.”

When it comes to marriage, people are of three types, one of which is
those who fear that they may commit forbidden deeds if they do not get married. It is
obligatory for such people to get married, according to the majority of fuqahaa’,
because it is obligatory for them to make themselves chaste and protect themselves from
haraam. In Subul al-Salaam it says: “Ibn Daqeeq al-‘Eed said that some of
the fuqahaa’ said that marriage is obligatory for the one who fears sin or hardship
(because of suppressing physical desires) and is able to marry… and it is obligatory
for the one who cannot avoid fornication unless he gets married.”

In Badaa’i’ al-Sanaa’i’, it says:
“There is no dispute that marriage is an obligation when desire is strong. If a
person has such a strong desire for women that he cannot be patient, and he can afford to
pay the mahr (dowry) and support a wife, then if he does not get married, he is a

From the above discussion, we can see a number of situations in which
marriage is obligatory. You might ask: “How can we imagine a woman fulfilling this
obligation when usually it is the man who goes around knocking on doors looking for a
partner? This is not the woman’s role.” The answer is: what a woman can do to
fulfil this command is not to refuse marriage when a suitable, compatible man comes with
an offer of marriage.

Muslim women and men need to understand the high status which marriage
has in Islam, so that they will be more keen to marry. There follows a useful summary on
this topic by Imaam Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisi (may Allaah have mercy on him), from his book al-Mughni:

The basis of the legitimacy of marriage is the Qur’aan, Sunnah and
ijmaa’ (consensus of the scholars). In the Qur’aan, Allaah says (interpretation
of the meanings): ‘… marry women of your choice, two or three, or
four…’ [al-Nisaa’ 4:3] and ‘And marry those among you who are
single and (also marry) the saalihoon (pious, fit and capable ones) of your (male) slaves
and maid-servants (female slaves)…’ [al-Noor 24:32]. The Prophet
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O young men! Whoever among you can afford
it, let him get married, for this will lower his gaze and protect his chastity. Whoever
cannot (get married), then let him fast, for fasting will be a protection for him.” (Agreed
upon). There are many other ayaat and reports like these. The Muslims agree
that marriage is legitimate.

Ibn Mas’ood said: “If I only had ten days left to live, and I
knew that I would die at the end of them, and I was able to get married, I would do so,
for fear of fitnah (temptation).”

Ibn ‘Abbaas said to Sa’eed ibn Jubayr: “Get married, for
the best of this ummah are those who have more wives.” Ibraaheem ibn Maysarah said:
“Taawoos said to me: ‘Either you get married, or I will say to you what
‘Umar said to Abu’l-Zawaa’id: There is nothing stopping you from getting
married but either impotence or immorality!’ According to al-Mirwadhi, Ahmad said:
‘Celibacy has nothing to do with Islam. Whoever calls you not to get married is
calling you to something other than Islam.’”

Then he said (may Allaah have mercy on him):

The benefits of marriage are many. They include: protecting one’s
religion and helping one to adhere to it; protecting and taking care of women; and
producing offspring and increasing the ranks of the ummah, thus achieving the pride of the
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), etc. [Translator’s
note: there is a hadeeth which indicates that the Prophet
(peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) will feel proud of the large numbers of his ummah in the Hereaster, so
Muslims are encouraged to marry and have many children.]

It should now be clear that the benefits of marriage are
many. No wise Muslim woman would hesitate to get married, especially if an offer of
marriage comes from a person who is strongly committed to Islam and is possessed of a good
character and morals.

Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid


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