In some segments of Muslim society, girls are compelled to marry against their wishes. The consent acquired from her is superficial and extracted under duress of parental pressure. In this regard, the following Shar’i facts should be noted:
1) It is not permissible to compel a baalighah (adult girl) to marry against her wishes even if the man proposing is a Wali (saint). The episode of the Sahaabiyah Hadhrat Bareerah (Radhiyallahu anha) will be a salubrious reminder for errant parents. She was a slave woman who was given in marriage by her master to Hadhrat Mugheeth (Radhiyallahu anhu). On being set free, she immediately invoked her right to opt out of this marriage which had been arranged against her wishes.
Her husband who was deeply in love with her was shattered by her decision. He pleaded and begged her to remain as his wife. But she refused. He was so heart-broken that he wandered in the streets of Madinah sobbing. Taking pity on him, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) called Hadhrat Bareerah (Radhiyallahu anha) and advised her to marry Hadhrat Mugheeth (Radhiyallahu anhu).
In response, she asked: “O Rasulullah! Are you instructing me to get married or are you advising me (i.e. giving me mashwarah)?”
When Nabi-e-Kareem (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) told her that he was giving her mashwarah, she promptly said that in that case she opts not to marry Mugheeth.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) upheld her right, and no one criticized her for not accepting the mashwarah of even Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In fact, her attitude constitutes a daleel for a senior’s mashwarah not being incumbent. It is the right of the baalighah to refuse a proposal regardless of the goodness which others discern in the proposal.
2) Another important issue to understand is that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had advised the prospective couple to view one another before getting married. This viewing is extremely brief, perhaps a minute or two. Now what is the purpose for the permissibility of mutual viewing? It is quite obvious that the moral character and disposition of the couple cannot be ascertained from such a fleeting view.
The objective of viewing is not to ascertain the person’s character, for this is impossible from a look of a minute or two. The moral condition has to be established by investigation.
The purpose of the brief viewing is to ascertain if the couple is attracted to one another physically/emotionally. If there is no physical/emotional attraction at first sight, then the marriage will head for serious problems. Therefore, if the girl does not feel inclined to the boy, it will be a grievous error to compel her to marry the person.
(3) The very fact that the Shariah stipulates that the marriage can be performed only with the free and happy consent of the girl, is ample evidence for the fact that Allah Ta’ala has given her the final say. This right is not given to the father in relation to the baalighah. If the father’s right had to supersede the right of his baalighah daughter, Allah Ta’ala would not have vested her with the final say nor would He have ordained the validity of the Nikah on her free, happy and wholehearted consent.
It is therefore unwise and not permissible to compel the baalighah into a marriage against her wishes. Allah Ta’ala, The Creator, knows best the wisdom underlying His commands. It is haraam to seek to supersede Allah’s orders with traditions of a people.
There is no reason for the parents to become distressed and depressed on account of their daughter’s refusal to accept a proposal. It is her right, and there is profound wisdom in the commands of the Shariah, and whatever happens is Taqdeer.
Source: THE MUJLISUL ULAMA OF SOUTH AFRICA