Marriage
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This article has been written by Megha Garg, from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.

Introduction

Matrimony is clearly one of the most notable social and genuine institutions in the country. At the heart of most families lies the socially and honestly seen relationship between a man and a woman. Nonetheless, there is no simple formal definition of marriage. Its significance is indissolubly associated with culture, religion and social class. Marriage is a significant foundation in each religion. In the public arena, it has been practised to wed at the beginning stage of their life, yet some decide not to wed, yet Marriage, from the Islamic viewpoint, is a huge bit of building sound and protective associations, families, and social requests. In Muslim systems far and wide, marriage takes on various close by conventions and social structures. 

Islam allows this pleasant social assortment as long as the activities do not cause harm, as long as they do not explicitly contradict the Islamic law rules that aim to ensure that people are protected. In Islam, marriage, nikah, is an outstandingly serious understanding. In any event, it is not exacting in the context of establishing a service, but rather in the context of knowing the content of Is Islam. It is a typical understanding legitimizing sexual relations and augmentation. 

As indicated by the Quran, each and every individual who is genuinely, intellectually and monetarily prepared to do so doing has the commitment of going into a marriage (Qur’an 4:58). Each general public has explicit social elements identified with the family and marriage that influences early or late age at marriage. When all is said in done early relationships were favoured by the conventional social orders. For wedding, Islam really hasn’t provided a definite age, whether for the men or even for the women. Be it as it can, Islam has lately recommended considering marriage at a young age. Since marriage may keep a person from sins at a youthful age. 

There are also many benefits of marriage at a young age, such as possessing both physical and otherworldly integrity. Virtuousness is known as one of Islam’s most important things. Till they get married, a good Muslim must have the capability to control his celibacy. A Muslim guards his celibacy well by getting married early. In Islam, the age of marriage is when the child hit Puberty. They consider this as age for the marriage because according to Islam when they hit puberty they become mature and are able to handle the burden of the marriage. While arriving at the time of pubescence isn’t the main standard for choosing a suitable age for marriage. 

Different factors, for example, the general development of an individual, their capacity to separate between what is fortunate or unfortunate, he should have the option to support or object insignificant choices of life. These things have to be contemplated. Islamic writings don’t indicate a base legitimate age for marriage yet express that the two guys and females should have arrived at complete maturity, among different conditions. 

People arrive at development at various ages and this is mostly dependent upon their way of life, environment, social desires, socialization forms and other logical variables. The minimum criteria in Islam for those going into marriage is that they ought to have arrived at pubescence as well as have the far-reaching development to comprehend their privileges and duties in marriage, and have the option to satisfy them. The Qur’an draws a qualification between arriving at pubescence and arriving at an age, past puberty, where one is full-grown enough to deal with their undertakings and go into legitimate understandings. In the case of managing the affairs of orphans for example, the Qur’an[4:6] states: “Test orphans until they reach marriageable age; then, if you find they have sound judgment, hand over their property to them.” 

That’s why according to Quran reaching puberty is not the correct age for marriage, but reaching the age of maturity is the right age of marriage. In Islam, Marriage is a strict obligation, an ethical shield and a social responsibility. As a strict obligation that must be satisfied; however like every single other obligation in Islam, it is urged uniquely upon the individuals who are fit for meeting the duties included. 

That’s why the right age of marriage is one of the important factors for marriage, otherwise it can create many problems. Islamic Relief believes 18 to be the least age at which youngsters today have the adequate development to convey conjugal duties, assemble solid families and ensure against the damage brought about by right on time marriage. Marriage sooner than the age of 18 can be the reason for genuine medical issues for girls, especially the individuals who become pregnant furthermore, have kids early. It can likewise have a negative impact on their enthusiasm and mental prosperity, just as the wellbeing of their youngsters. 

Islam necessitates that Muslims secure themselves, and those in their consideration, against any practices which bring about mischief. Islamic researchers by and large perceive the alternative of giving minors into marriage before adolescence, and they for the most part liken the beginning of adolescence with the start of self-ruling marriage limit. Without physical signs, insightful suppositions accept that adolescence starts at somewhat extraordinary lunar ages which, contingent upon the school, are either the equivalent for both genders or somewhat higher for male companions. 

The scope of eligible ages for guys stretches out from 15 years as indicated by the Hanbali, the Shafi’i and the Jafari schools to 17 or 18 years in Hanafi and Maliki instructing. The present study intended to explore the following objectives i.e. study the difference between reaching puberty and reaching an age beyond puberty, study the effects on the health of girls when they marry at an early age and study the sayings of the Quran and Sunnah about the age of marriage in Islam. 

This research paper follows the Doctrinal research methodology. As the research covers the aspect of the age of marriage under Muslim law and how it affects the children who married at an early age. Most of the data of this research paper were collected from primary sources and secondary sources such as Quran, research papers, publications, article, books, internet sources.  

Issues at hand

There are also some issues or research questions that are going to be answered in this research paper are:

  • What are the effects of marriage when girls reach the age of puberty, not at the age of maturity?
  • What is the difference in the opinions of Quran and Muslim expositors on the age of marriage?

The minimum age of marriage 

Marriage under Islam is a matrimonial arrangement and an association that legalises sexual intercourse between a woman and a man for the purpose of reproduction of children, the propagation of love, togetherness and the existence of families that are deemed to be an integral unit in society. Like the Hindu religion, Islam is indeed a fierce promoter of marriage. Even then, the Muslim interpretation of marriage differs from the Hindu interpretation that marriage is not just a legal agreement but perhaps a sacrament. But according to some scholars, marriage in Muslims is a divine obligation. All should wed in order to satisfy his or her wish to procreate children lawfully. Justice Mahmood observed:

“Marriage among Mohammedans is not a sacrament, but purely a civil contract; and though it is solemnized generally with the recitation of certain verses from the Quran, yet the Mohammedan law doesn’t positively prescribe any service peculiar to the occasion.”

For marriage, Islam has not provided any particular age, either for the male or for the female. Islam, though, has only proposed getting married at a young age. That a child may escape sins by marrying at a young age. Sex at a young age often has certain perks, such as having both physical and moral chastity. In Islam, chastity is viewed as among the most crucial matters. Till they get married, a decent Muslim must be able to defend his celibacy. As Allah says in Quran, Al Mu’minoon:

“And they who guard their private parts. Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed.”

Marriage saves a Muslim from committing major sins like “Zinnah”. Since individuals undoubtedly have certain impulses once they see the opposite gender, Islam has asked a Muslim to really get married young if he really is unwilling or are unable to manage sexual needs effectively. Marriage serves as just an escape for sexual urges and controls it so that one should not become such a subject with one’s wants. Whereas, meeting the age of puberty shouldn’t be the only criterion for assessing the required age for marriage. Other considerations, such as a person’s overall maturity, intelligence, his or her capacity to discriminate between good and evil, must be able to accept or disapprove of significant life decisions. 

All these items need to be taken into account. Among those going into marriage, the basic requirement in sharia law is that they must not only have completed puberty but also have the full maturity to recognise and be able to meet their rights and obligations in marriage. Islam also allows Muslims to abide by the rules of the land wherein they live, and most nations, including Muslim countries, specify 18 as the minimum legal marriage age, some with parental consent enabling marriage before this.

Islamic Relief, an international aid agency, considers  18  to be the minimum age at which young people today have the sufficient maturity to carry marital responsibilities,  build healthy families and protect against the harm caused by early marriage.

Under this the fact about the minimum age of marriage will be explained i.e. for those who go into marriage, the basic rules in Islam are that they should not only have achieved pubescence but also have the thorough maturity to recognise and be able to fulfil their rights and obligations in marriage. The minimum age is set so that they cannot force girls for early marriage because Marriage before the period of adolescence is unsuitable and disregards the Shari’ah. Marriage after pubescence requires exhaustive maturity and sound, grown-up judgment – given that it is a legitimate agreement which happens with Ayesha because she was married at six which is early marriage and disregarded by Islamic law.

Marriage earlier than 18 years of age can cause severe health problems for women, particularly ones that become pregnant and have kids early. It may also have a negative impact on their physical and cognitive well-being as well as on the wellness of their babies. Islam allows Muslims to protect themselves, and those in their custody, from all activities that could cause harm. 

Child marriage is indeed the cause why so many females leave school and stay undereducated, intensifying the patterns of extreme poverty. Islam puts tremendous focus on education as a right, with parents and guardians gave clear orders to ensure that their children are learned. Early marriage may have traditionally been the practice in civilizations where girls were not supposed to research, find work, pursue self-benefit or make any commitment to a larger community except raising a family. 

Nevertheless, it’s no longer an issue with many women all over the world who perform a variety of roles in adulthood and are traditionally required to grow and are very well prepared with adulthood before they marry. Islam says that if you believe that you are emotionally ready for marriage and that you can handle the costs of your partner, you should be married. Only when he is emotionally and intellectually mature to fulfil the conditions of marriage that Islam imposes upon him, the perfect age for a Muslim to marry would be. Therefore, the most important factor of marriage is mental maturity. And there is no fixed age of maturity, it develops at different ages of different individuals.

There is a debate about the age of Hazrat Aisha (RA) when she got married to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). It is widely believed that she was just 9 then, and this is used as an excuse for child marriage and sexual and physical exploitation. Every culture has its own traditions, so we just shouldn’t be interested in what age this really is. If the expectation of today’s society is for a woman to marry at least at the age of 18, it could mean 25 or 30 up overnight, it doesn’t necessarily mean that any people who married at the age of 18 are perverts. It all depends on the norms, Islam does not require us to marry at this early age or at any specific age, but it depends on the maturity of the individual and the norms of the society in which they reside. 

Quran and Sunnah : on the age of marriage

The practice of child marriage is one area of Islamic law that has been the subject of much debate as of late. Some tend to caricature Muslims as morally depraved people who force their young girls into marriages with elderly men for financial gain, continuing to view Islam suspiciously. Several polemicists speaking on this practise having hurled virulent epithets to the Prophet Muhammad, whom they consider to be the originator of this abhorrent practise.”The two authoritative sources of Islamic Law sine quibus non, are the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

The Qur’an frames marriage as a relationship that promotes modesty, procreation and  the love and enjoyment of the spouses. The marriage of a male and a female is very pleasing to God and is described in the Qur’an [4:6].

The Qur’an draws a differentiation between reaching puberty and arriving at an age, past puberty, where one is sufficiently experienced to oversee their affairs and go into lawful understandings. Quran gives a rule and notices circumstances and conditions that ought to be considered before marriage which clearly indicates what is the minimum age of marriage. “The Qur’an is relatively silent on the issue of marriageable age, albeit for one verse which states, and test the orphans [in their abilities] until they reach marriageable age. Then if you perceive in them sound judgment, release their property to them”. According to this verse, there seems to be an affinity between being of marriageable age and the age of mature intellect

Deriving from such an analogy, “Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqi” argues that the fundamental aspect of possessing a developed intellect is the capacity to recognise that one has options and the ability to select a preferred alternative. Thus, the age of majority, the word Siddiqi, is equal to the age of marriage and the age of mature justification exists only after puberty.

He further states, “A man or woman who has not attained puberty is unable to exercise his or her choice in matters of sexual matters and is unable to decide whether he or she will like or dislike a certain woman or man as wife or husband”. 

Thus, one should not marry until she reaches the age of maturity or when she can understand what she is looking for. As the Quran does not give much information about the age of marriage, so many jurists turned to the Sunnah for this. “It begins with the most highly regarded collections of hadith in the Sunni tradition, the Sahih al-Bukhari and the Sahih Muslim”.

The very well-established, but just not completely accepted, “practice of Lady Ayesha ‘s age at the time of the marriage of Prophet Muhammad comes from a hadith in one of the most credible collections – Sahih al-Bukhari“, in which Ayesha, herself, says: “The Messenger of God married me when I was six and ended my marriage when I was nine“.

Of all the ridicule that Islam has faced since it came onto the scene as a new faith fourteen centuries ago, the marriage of Muhammad to Ayesha was not one of them until recently. Muslims, those who uphold the Islamic tradition, would argue that the reason for the lack of such critique is that marriage and age are so traditionally and culturally contextual. So, for example, it means something completely different from being 9 years old in a culture where life expectancy is low relative to long-life standards in the developed West. 

In fact, the notion of young girls marrying and even conceiving was very popular in mediaeval times. In Christianity, for example, it is generally believed that Lady Mary was between 12 and 14 years of age when she was married to Joseph and when she was born to Jesus as a virgin. 

So, the marriage of the Prophet to Ayesha was nothing out of the ordinary at the time this marriage took place. “Insisting on 21st century (Western) views on morality and marriage, which have developed in their own right, for a very different time and place“, is a historic approach.

According to the same hadith collection, Ayesha was only 18 years old when the Prophet died. She knew the Prophet inside-out, sharing intimate space and home with him for 9 years and being at his side during major events. As such, Ayesha’s recollection of the Prophet’s Way (sunnah) was considered to be among the most reliable. Much of the authenticated hadith collection in Sunni Islam comes from the narratives of Ayesha, including some of the most intimate affairs of home life. In Sunni Islam, it is often said that “one-third of the Shari’ah [sacred law] comes from Ayesha”. After the Prophet’s passing, Ayesha was considered one of the most important early scholars of the developing Islamic tradition until her death four decades later. 

In any case, it is important to know that when Muslims look to the sunnah they have the example of the Prophet marrying women who were significantly older than himself and widowed as well. And, when it comes to the sacred law (Shari’ah) not everything the Prophet did is taken as precedence for doing. Rather, those who interpret the sacred law [fuqaha] and its application for every age and place have long ago established that culture and custom [urf] has significant weight. As such, many Muslim countries of, at least on paper, banned child marriages not in defiance of the sunnah or shari’ah, but rather in accordance with its principles and maxims.

Marriageable age under classic Islam Law

Eligible age as per old style Islamic law agrees with the event of pubescence. The thought of pubescence alludes to indications of physical development, for example, the outflow of semen or the beginning of the feminine cycle. Without such signs, the Hanafi school accepts that adolescence will happen no later than eighteen years for guys and seventeen years for females. At these ages, the companions are esteemed to have accomplished full lawful ability to enter a marriage and are not, at this point thought about minors in such manner. While eligible age isn’t equivalent to the period of lawful lion’s share in common law, the two age cut off points may in any case compare. 

In contrast to the Hanafi opinion, both the Shafi’i and the Hanbali school set the age of the legal capacity to marry at fifteen years for both sexes, while the Maliki school draws the line at seventeen years. According to the Jafari school, fifteen years for boys and nine years for girls is considered as the age of majority. According to the Hanafi school, there is a presumption that girls do not reach puberty until the age of nine and boys not until the age of twelve. In Islamic teaching, girls cannot, therefore, be deemed to have reached puberty any earlier than nine, while for boys the minimum age is twelve. 

Even though they reached their full legal capacity, they still need to consent free to the marriage. However, in Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali teaching, a woman cannot conclude a marriage contract on her own and is required  –  despite her legal capacity  –  to obtain the consent of her guardian, or wali. In contrast, both the Hanafi school and the Shia doctrine allow the woman to act on her own behalf, without an intermediary.

Withstanding this, a cultural practice for an adult female to allow her guardian to negotiate the particulars of the contract in her presence is widely practised. Despite the necessary condition of mutual consent, all schools accept the power of a parent to marry out of his child before she hits maturity, but it is not unusual for this to happen soon after the birth of the female infant. In this case, the consummation of the marriage must be postponed until puberty. Classical views, however, accept that this right of objection should only be exercised by a court of law and that it is only applicable to marriages contracted by a person other than the minor’s father or grandfather.

Conclusion and recommendations

Marriage is one of the most important institutions in our culture whether it is an Islamic marriage or Hindu marriage. But nowadays the importance and sanctity of marriage is lost. Just for the sake of money, parents are marrying their children at such a young age and without their consent. Sometimes, they marry their children even before the age of puberty which is very wrong. 

Even though in Islamic law marriage is allowed at an early age, that does not mean to marry their children at the age of 5. The age of puberty is the age of maturity. When the girls hit the age of puberty they are free to marry with their consent to anyone. This is also according to the sayings of Sunnah, in which Lady Aisha’s example is given. The most important thing is the girls and boys should only marry when they are mature enough to understand everything and are able to find the right person they are looking for themselves. 

Even Qur’an says that one should marry when they are mature enough, not when they still are a child. Sometimes the age of puberty and age of maturity contradicts. It’s not always true that one immediately attains maturity when they hit the age of puberty. Some can attain maturity at the age of 5 or even 30. At the end, it only depends on us when we want to marry. It’s high time, even in Islamic law, that parents should give their children choice when to marry, not when they attain puberty.

References

BOOKS

  • J. L. ESPOSITO & N. J. DELONG-BAS (Eds.), Women in Muslim Family Law, 15 (2nd Ed. 2001).
  • Z. MIRHOSSEINI, Marriage on Trial. A Study of Islamic Family Law, 31 (2nd Ed. 2000).
  • Jeremiah J. Bowden, Marriageable Age in Islam: A Study on Marriageable Age Laws and Reforms in Islamic Law, 2(1) LUX: A Journal of  Transdisciplinary Writing and Research from Claremont Graduate University, 4-15 (2013).
  • Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqi, The Family Laws of Islam 68 ( KAZI Publications, 1984).
  • Nicholas Awde, Women in Islam: An anthology of the Quran and Hadiths, 7 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000).
  • Cf. A. A. AN-NA’IM, Islamic Family Law in a Changing World: A Global Resource Book 16, passim (2002);  L. WELCHMAN, Women and Muslim Family Laws in Arab States: A Comparative Overview of Textual Development and Advocacy, passim (2007); J. J. NASIR, The Islamic Law of Personal Status, 34 (3rd Ed. 2009).
  • Cf. L. BAKHTIAR, Encyclopaedia of Islamic Law. A Compendium of the Major Schools, 403 (1996).
  • M. ZAHRAA, The Legal Capacity of Women in Islamic Law, Vol. 11 No. 3 Arab Law Quarterly 245-263 (1996).
  • Cf. A. A. KHAN & T. M. KHAN (Eds.), 3 Encyclopaedia of Islamic Law, 48 (2007).
  • A. A. KHAN & T. M. KHAN (Eds.), 6 Encyclopaedia of Islamic Law,  22 (2007).

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