Parental Consent in Marriage
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Can a woman marry without the consent of her parents/guardian?


The word Nikāh (marriage) in the Arabic language means a declared union between a man and woman to live willingly as a husband and wife forever. Islam gives two additional directives in this regard, which though are not conditions of this union, yet may be instrumental in its annulment, if a lack of their compliance has no sound basis. These two additional directives are:

i) The marriage should be according to the customs and traditions of the society (See 2:232).

   ii) The husband is required to pay a certain mutually agreed sum called Mahr (dower) to his bride before the Nikāh ceremony (See 2:236-7)

According to the customs and traditions of an Islamic society, the consent and presence of the parents/ guardians is an understood norm. Islam regards the institution of family as the basic unit of a society and stresses that it is the need of every individual if his life is viewed as a whole. Man is basically a weak and an insecure being. He has spiritual as well as material needs. If he needs to develop a strong relationship with the Almighty to fulfil his spiritual needs, he needs to develop a strong relationship with his fellow human beings to meet his material needs, which may be physical, emotional and psychological. His family and clan fulfil these needs. Couples who live in isolation are deprived of this support. Consequently, the consent of the parents, who are the foremost guardians, is something extremely important in a marriage. It is in the interest of the couple to be part of a larger family. In this regard, if on the one hand, the children must respect the wishes of their parents, on the other hand, the parents should not impose their wishes on the children. A difference of opinion in this regard should be settled with magnanimity and accommodation on the part of the parents unless of course they have some sound grounds in opposing such a marriage. The Prophet (sws) also while explaining this social stance of Islam is reported to have remarked:

It is not proper that a Nikāh1 solemnise unless it takes place through the guardian, and if someone does not have a guardian, the ruler of the Muslims is his guardian. (Tirmidhī, Kitāb al-Nikāh)

However, as is evident from the Hadīth also, there can always be an exception to this general principle. If a man and a woman feel that the rejection on the part of the parents has no sound reasoning behind it or that the parents, owing to some reason, are not appreciating the grounds of this union, they have all the right to take this matter to the courts. It is now up to the court to analyse and evaluate the whole affair. If it is satisfied with the stance of the man and woman, it can give a green signal to them. In this case, as is apparent from the Hadīth, the state shall be considered the guardian of the couple. On the other hand, if the court is of the view that the stand of the parents is valid, it can stop the concerned parties from engaging in wedlock. Similarly, if a case is brought before the judicial forums in which the marriage has taken place without the consent of the parents, it is up to the court to decide the fate of such a liaison. If it is not satisfied with the grounds of this union, it can order for their separation and if it is satisfied, it can endorse the decision taken by the couple.

It is evident from this discussion that the consent of the parents/guardian is not a legal requirement to solemnize a marriage. However, since this consent is an accepted norm of an Islamic society and since according to the Qur’ān the norms of a society themselves must be taken into consideration in marriage, therefore a lack of this consent can annul a marriage if it has no sound basis in the eyes of the court.



1. The particle of negation Lā (No) here is used in the sense Lā Yambaghī (It is not proper …). For an example of this usage see the Qur’ān: Lā tabdīla li khalqillāh (It is not proper to bring a change in the [human] nature created by Allah) (30:31).

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