Muslim Marriage Contract 2008 by ivp13205


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									               Forced marriages disgrace Islam
                          Imam Dr AbdulJalil Sajid
The Brighton Islamic Mission
Muslim Marriage Guidance Council UK
8 Caburn Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 6EF, England
Tel: +44 (0) 1273 722438 Mobile: +44 (0) 7971 861972*

The Judith Trust Seminar and campaign against forced marriages undertaken in
partnership with NAWO (the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations) is to
be much welcomed.

Forced Marriages practice is un-Islamic and condemned by leading Imams
speaking out against the practice, common among south Asian Muslims in
Britain, of marrying off teenage girls against their will to unsuitable husbands
from "back home".

Islam abolished forced marriages because it was deemed a practice of pagans.
In a well-known hadith documented by Bukhari, Allah is the one who has
ordained marriage for His creatures. He has placed within marriage the blessings
of comfort, love, and mercy.

"And among His Signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves,
that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He put love and mercy
between your hearts. Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." [The Holy
Qur'an 30: 21]

For this reason, Allah had made one of the essential pillars of the marriage
contract that both the husband and the wife are willing parties to the marriage.
This is the essence of the offer and acceptance in the marriage contract. It is
not possible to contract a legal marriage in Islam without the willing
consent of two legally accountable people of sound mind.

As for the customs and traditions that exist in some parts of the world requiring
people to marry others who are chosen for them, these customs are not Islamic.
No one can be obliged to follow them. No man can be obliged to marry any
woman against his will. Likewise, no woman can be forced to marry any man
against her will.

The Sunnah provides us with a considerable amount of evidence for the legal
necessity of the consent of both parties to the marriage.

`Â'ishah narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "A virgin's consent
must be sought for marriage."
To this `Â'ishah commented: "But a virgin is too bashful."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "Her silence is her consent." [Sahîh al-

Buraydah narrates that once, a woman came to the Prophet (peace be upon
him) and said: "O Messenger of Allah, my father married me to my cousin in
order to raise his social standing, but I do not want to be married to him."

The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave her the
option of annulment. At this point, she said: "I have already reconciled myself to
my father's decision, but I wanted it to be known that women have a say in the
[Sunan al-Nasâ'î (3269), Sunan Ibn Mâjah (1874), and Musnad Ahmad
(25043) and authenticated by Shu`ayb al-Arna`ût et al in Tahqîq Musnad
Ahmad (41/493)]

Though a child must generally obey his or her parents, this obedience does not
extend to marrying an unwanted partner in life. Islamic Law permits a son or
daughter to refuse entering into any marriage he or she is displeased with, no
matter what their reason for refusing might be.

Without a doubt, it is better to refuse to get married from the outset than to
place oneself into an unhappy marriage. There is no reason for the people to
subject themselves to an unhappy home life or to an unstable marriage which
might very well end in a stressful and messy divorce.

If a man knows that the family of his bride to be is coercing her to marrying
him, then that man must himself refuse to enter into the marriage. It is not
lawful for him to marry a woman he knows is unwilling. Such a marriage has a
contractual defect in it, since the willing consent of both parties is part of the
contractual basis of a lawful marriage in Islam – even if that marriage takes
place in a court of law at the behest of the woman's legal guardian.

No one should enter into a marriage unless he or she is perfectly satisfied with it
and resolved to it. The consent of both the man and the woman must be utterly
free. This is the way to ensure that their married life has a good chance of
happiness and not be a source of continual grief for the couple and for their
respective families.

A woman should not be forced into marriage

Let us look at what the Holy Qur'an and the Holy Prophet of Islam (May Peace
and Blessings of God be upon him) said regarding this issue:

Allah Almighty said in the Holy Quran: "O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to
inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness- that
ye may take away part of the dower [money given by the husband to the wife
for the marriage contract] ye have given them, except where they have been
guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness
and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and
God brings about through it a great deal of good.” (The Holy Quran, 4:19)

The following Saying is an explanation to this Verse 4:19:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: "About the Qur'anic verse: 'It is not lawful for you
forcibly to inherit the woman (of your deceased kinsmen), nor (that) ye should

put constraint upon them. When a man died, his relatives had more right to his
wife then her own guardian. If any one of them wanted to marry her, he did so;
or they married her (to some other person), and if they did not w ant to marry
her, they did so. So this verse was revealed about the matter.
(Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number
2084)” So according to this Verse 4:19, a woman cannot be forced into marriage
by any man.

Narrated AbuHurayrah: "The Prophet (May Peace and Blessings of God be upon
him) said: An orphan virgin girl should be consulted about herself; if she says
nothing that indicates her permission, but if she refuses, the authority of the
guardian cannot be exercised against her will.
(Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: "The Prophet (May Peace and Blessings of God be
upon him) said: Consult women about (the marriage of) their daughters.
(Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: "A virgin came to the Prophet (peace be upon him)
and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet
(peace be upon him) allowed her to exercise her choice.
(Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: "The Prophet (May peace and blessing of God be
upon him) said: A guardian has no concern with a woman previously married and
has no husband and an orphan girl (i.e. virgin) must be consulted.
(Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number

The above Verse 4:19 and the Sayings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (May
peace and blessing of God be upon him) clearly explain that according to Islam,
whether the woman is virgin or not, her permission is a MUST. Her father or
older brother cannot force her into marriage as the Pagan Arabs and the
customs before Islam in the Middle East used to do; (see Deuteronomy 25:5 in
the Bible to see how women are forced into marriage).

Can the woman divorce herself from a marriage forced upo n her?
Yes Of Course! As we've seen above, it is clearly forbidden in Islam to force
women into marriage. But in case this ever should happen or have happened
already to any woman, then Islam allows for her to divorce herself from the
man she was forced to marry. Let us read the following: Narrated Abdullah ibn
Abbas: "A virgin came to the Prophet May Peace and Blessings of God be upon
him) and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the
Prophet (May peace and blessing of God be upon him) allowed her to exercise
her choice (Ikhtiyar-e-balooogh) and the marriage was declared Null and void.
(Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number

I must make it clear that Islamic position of the requirements of marriage in
Islam is as follows:

      full consent of both partners to the marriage,
      expressing the above consent
      through ijab (offer) and qabul (acceptance),
      the presence of two reliable witnesses.

Apart from the above, in the case of females, their guardian's consent has been
considered essential for the validity of marriage according to the majority of
imams and scholars. Imam Abu Hanifah, however, is of the view that a mature
woman is fully capable of contracting her own marriage. Thus in his view,
marriages finalized without guardian's consent shall be considered as valid so
long the woman has chosen someone who is considered as compatible.

As far as the teachings and recommendations of the Shari`ah regarding a Nikah
(marriage) ceremony are concerned, the basic necessary ingredients that should
be present in a marriage, according to the recommendations of Islam, are:
1. Marriage should primarily be a contract that materializes from the expression
of the intent of a man and a woman to live the rest of their lives as husband and
wife. This contract should be based on the free consent of the man and the
woman. In other words, it should not be a temporary contract (i.e. a marital
contract for a specified period of time) or one, which is based on coercion and

2. There should be a general declaration of the marriage in the society.
Islam does not recognize a secret marital contract. The declaration of the
marriage may take any shape or form that is generally adopted in the society.
For instance, inviting friends and relatives to the marriage ceremony is an
acceptable method of this declaration. Holding two or more persons as
witnesses to the marriage contract is also a legislated method for such
declaration adopted in various societies and cultures.

3. The man should give a mutually agreed upon amount as what the Islamic
Shari`ah (law) terms as 'Mehr' to the woman. The factors that may be
considered in the settlement of the amount of 'Mehr' include the financial
position and the social status of the man and the woman. A woman may refuse
marriage merely on the basis of the fact that she considers the amount of 'Mehr'
to be inadequate. 'Mehr' is a basically a token from the man, given to his wife,
to express and symbolize the fact that he is willing and capable of fulfilling the
financial responsibility of the family that would be formed subsequent to the
marriage contract. It may be mentioned here that although Islam does not
prohibit a woman to take up a financial activity of her choice, it puts the
ultimate responsibility of providing for the family on the husband. Now that
seems simple and reasonable. But we don't call him modernist for nothing.

Let's now hear from Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid:

There are the pillars or conditions for the marriage contract in Islam:
* 1. Both parties should be free of any obstacles that might prevent the
marriage from being valid, such as their being mahrams of one another (i.e.,
close relatives who are permanently forbidden to marry), whether this
relationship is through blood ties or through breastfeeding (radaa') etc., or
where the man is a kaafir (non-Muslim) and the woman is a Muslim, and so on.

* 2. There should be an offer or proposal (eejaab) from the wali or the person
who is acting in his place, who should say to the groom "I marry so-and-so to
you" or similar words.

* 3. There should be an expression of acceptance (qabool) on the part of the
groom or whoever is acting in his place, who should say, "I accept," or similar
words. The conditions of a proper nikaah (marriage contract) are as follows:
1. Both the bride and groom should be clearly identified, whether by stating
their names or describing them, etc.

* 4. Both the bride and groom should be pleased with one another, because the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "No previously-
married woman (widow or divorcee) may be married until she has been asked
about her wishes (i.e., she should state clearly her wishes), and no virgin should
be married until her permission has been asked (i.e., until she has agreed either
in words or by remaining silent)." They asked, "O Messenger of Allaah, how is her
permission given (because she will feel very shy)?" He said: "By her silence."
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4741)

* 5. The one who does the contract on the woman's behalf should be her wali, as
Allaah addressed the walis with regard to marriage (interpretation of the
meaning): "And marry those among you who are single…"
 [al-Noor 24:32]
and because the Prophet (peace and blessi ngs of Allaah be upon him) said: "Any
woman who marries without the permission of her wali, her marriage is invalid,
her marriage is invalid, her marriage is invalid.
(Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 1021 and others; it is a saheeh hadeeth)
* 6. The marriage contract must be witnessed, as the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "There is no marriage contract except
with a wali and two witnesses."
(Reported by al-Tabaraani; see also Saheeh al-Jaami', 7558)

It is also important that the marriage be announced, as the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Announce marriages."
(Reported by Imaam Ahmad; classed as hasan in Saheeh al-Jaami', 1027).

Present situation regarding Forced Marriages:

What we are getting is girls running away, getting into real dangers, families
being ruined by hostile feelings, girls getting involved with unsuitable people as
a result of their parents' foolish pressure, perhaps sending in pregnancies,
depression, suicide, drunkenness, drugs etc. We are getting girls seeking refuge
with the authorities, and protection from the very people who should be loving
and supporting them into adulthood.

Another major problem is that the mothers of the girls are often quite opposed
to what the fathers want, but dare not go against his wishes for one reason or
another. Sadly, this reason is frequently because the father is abusive and a

bully - both highly un-Islamic attributes. It is extremely hard in practice for a
wife or daughter to stand up against the father of a family; and sometimes the
girls involved are going through agonies of grief and soul-searching because they
really do not want to cross their parents.

What advice can one give them?

As I understand it, the ruling in Islam is that womenfolk should disobey their
husbands/fathers request which is clearly against Islamic teachings. On those
occasions, they have the right (whether or not they can find the courage) to
point this out, and refuse to do the un-Islamic thing. A forced marriage is not
only totally un-Islamic, in shari'at law it is considered null and void, and could
be dissolved immediately.

I will quoting the case of Qaylah, which is perfectly clear on the points I have

     Qaylah bint Makhramah had several daughters. When her husband
     died, her husband's brother Athub b. Ashar seized them, intending to
     arrange their marriages to the persons of his choice. None of the girls
     wanted these particular marriages. Qaylah managed to rescue and
     hide one of the girls, Hudaybah, and set off with her to find the Holy
     Prophet of Islam (May Allah peace and blessings be with him).
     Hudaybah was rolled up in a woollen blanket. They got away, but
     were so terrified of Athub that when their camel suddenly refused to
     go on they supposed he was using sorcery against them.
     By the time they got moving again, they could actually see Athub in
     pursuit in the distance. However, they got to Madinah, where Qaylah
     had a sister residing, but Athub caught them before they could gain
     shelter in her house. A struggle ensued, in which this 'Muslim' man
     struck Qaylah with the flat of his sword and knocked her bleeding to
     the ground. Then he seized the terrified girl and carried her off over
     his shoulder. Qaylah managed to get to her sister's house, and in the
     morning was able to join the deputation of Bakr b. Wa'il of Banu
     Shayban that had come to see the Prophet (pbuh). They arrived at
     the mosque at the time of fajr prayer, and in the darkness Qaylah
     joined the rows of men until the man next to her realised she was a
     woman and directed her to the women's rows behind them. When the
     sun came up she got her interview with the Prophet (May Allah peace
     and blessings be with him), who passed judgment in her favour, and
     had his scribe write for her on a piece of red leather: 'Qaylah and the
     daughters of Qaylah should not be oppressed or forced to marry.
     Every faithful Muslim should offer them help. Muslims should do
     good deeds and not evil ones.' As a result, Athub was obliged to let
     her daughters go.

What could be a clearer case than that, of the Prophet's (May Allah peace and
blessings be with him) genuine care for the plight of young girls being forced
into marriages against their will? May God bless all Muslim parents with wisdom
and understanding, so that they may carry out their genuine duties with nobility
and tact and gentleness, and not tyranny (tughyan); and may God bless all those
who are obliged to face up to tyranny - whether from state, boss, parent or
anyone else, - with courage and humility and unswerving sense of fair play and
respect for the 'opponent', but above all the desire to put Allah's will and
guidance into practice.

'Truly Allah has totally forbidden disobedience (and the subsequent hurt) to
mothers, burying alive daughters, with-holding the rights of others, and
demanding that which is not your right.'
(Hadith Muslim 4257. Recorded by Mughirah b. Shuba).
With these simple words our Beloved Prophet of Islam (May Allah peace and
blessings be with him) expressed so much that should convince any Muslim
person seeking to force a marriage upon a daughter (or son) that what they are
intending is not only terribly wrong, but also in direct opposition to the true
spirit of Islam

European Campaign
A well known Islam Scholar Dr Tariq Ramadn at the launch of a European-wide
campaign against forced marriages in Rotterdam led by SPIOR (The Platform of
Islamic Organisations Rijnmond) said,

"Something has to be said about practices that are very often presented as
Islamic while they are betraying the very essence of the Islamic message. The
contemporary Muslim conscience is actually facing two major problems:
     the literalist reading and reductive interpretation of the scriptural
       (The Holy Qur'an and prophetic traditions –Sunnah) on the one hand
     and the great confusion between religious principles and cultural
       practices on the other. "

"Forced marriages are at the crossroad of these two very serious challenges:
some 'Ulamâ', Muslim scholars, are keeping silent or even accepting these
practices by relying on some texts read literally without referring to the overall
Islamic teachings (and their objectives) or at least contextualizing these very
marginal scriptural sources. Muslims are very often confusing cultural practices
with religious principles and they think that forced marriages, to which they
were used in their culture (the current one or the culture of origin) are in fact
Islamic. The literalist and cultural readings of the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah
are two dangerous phenomena for they mislead the believers and betray the
very essence of Islam in numerous fields : gender issues, human rights, political
systems and, of course, family life, marriages, etc."

"I say with full authority that forced marriages are not acceptable and we need
to launch a vast awarene ss-raising campaign within our European societies to
put an end to such practices. Forced marriages are not Islamic and must be
condemned in the name of Islam! This is our message, this is our ca ll! The
reader will find in the booklet launched for the SPIOR European Campaign (May
14 2008) an interesting short article, written by the Muslim scholar Mualla Dr.
Muammer Kaya, stressing the main Islamic principles and addressing the issue as
it should be:

“Nothing, in the overall Islamic teachings, can justify forced marriages and this
is why we should spread around a better knowledge of Islam among Muslim

parents and young Muslim men and women. Knowledge and education are key
factors if we want to succeed."

"We cannot remain silent anymore! This would be a kind of cowardly complicity
while we know that some young Muslims (mainly girls but not only) are
subjected to forced marriages and do not know how to escape from such a dark
destiny. We must speak out and give the opportunity for parents and young
people to talk, to share their views and to discuss the problem. This is why it is
also important to be involved at the grassroots level, to set up meetings,
debates and lectures around this sensitive issue.”

In every single Muslim community, [we need] to raise awareness, offer a space
for free speech, teach the true Islamic message and resist cultural negative
habits. […] The statements that are drawn and highlighted after the meetings
with the imams, the girls, the fathers and the mothers are very interesting to
get a sense of the kind of perceptions one should take into account (and from
where one should start the whole process). These are common statements we
heard everywhere and they are true all the way from Rotterdam to the UK, from
Turkey to Pakistan, etc.”

The SPIOR programme has a Step-by-step plan for detection and taking action.
This will help the activist and/or the average Muslims, the social workers, the
teachers and all the people working on the ground. It is based on experiences
and there are very important, necessary and wise advices to be taken into
account wherever similar campaigns are going to be launched or practical
actions are going to be thought and set. The section Points for attention for
setting up a preventive project is completing the picture by providing the social
workers, the activists and the teachers with a kind of a strategy to deal with the
issue. One should salute and support this local initiative which tries to tackle a
so important challenge: it is indeed at the local level that such an endeavour
will be the most effective and the most successful.

This European campaign needs to spread a global awareness while relying on
local practical and effective initiatives. This is the way forward and this is the
meaning of our call to champion this timely initiative.

"Muslims and non Muslims must work together clearly stating what is wrong with
forced marriages as well as wisely acknowledging the need for psychology and
time to change mentalities. It is important to recall the Islamic principles, to
repeat that forced marriages are not Islamic and to act against such practices
but it is not less important to listen to both the parents (their hopes and
concerns), and the young (their questions and their suffering) and to try to set
the reform movement in motion by marrying wisdom and determination. It is
not an easy task but it is an imperative one if we are serious about being
faithful to the Islamic principles and teachings as well as about trying to reform
the wrong understandings and misleading established customs. Let us face up to
our respective responsibilities, work together and try to change the situation
while respecting the people's expectations, hopes and dignity."

"We need a strong and clear Islamic message and the Muslims should be at the
forefront of this campaign because too many things are done (or understood as
being done) in the name of their religion that indeed are against the very

essence of the Islam. Verses and prophetic traditions (hadîth, plur.ahâdîth) are
clear about the issue and so many scholars throughout our history have repeated
that a marriage must be a union between two free minds and wills. In the name
of this message, human rights and dignity, it is time to speak out and to act
accordingly against some of the contradictions we see among Muslims. A self
critical approach and a reform process must shape and feed our spiritual and
religious conscience in order to be more consistent with our values and our

Forced marriages in the West:

An inquiry into forced marriages - believed to involve more than 1,000 people in
Britain every year – was headed by two Asian peers. The independent working
party, which consulted widely with the strong Asian and Muslim community, was
chaired by Bangladesh-born Baroness Uddin and businessman Lord Ahmed.
[Their report was published in 2000 as Choice by Right.]

In the West, forced marriages are becoming increasingly common.
Spero News in an article on forced marriages gives data from a number of
European countries []:
In 2003 in Norway, the authorities moved to dissuade the custom by demanding
that foreign marriage partners should be over 23, or capable of supporting a
partner. Last year, a school counsellor claimed to be annually contacted by five
to six students, who said their studies had to cease because they were being
married against their will.

In March 2004 immigration minister, Ema Solberg, launched a campaign to
inform all immigrants that forced marriage and female genital mutilation were
forbidden under Norwegian law. In May 2005 two people became the first to be
jailed for plotting a forced marriage. The Kurdish father and brother of a 17-
year old girl had planned to make her marry a man from northern Iraq.

Between 1999 and 2004, cases of forced marriage tripled in Norway, with 60
cases in 2003 alone. In September 2006 Terje Bjøranger, who advises a
government taskforce, claimed that there were 2,000 cases of forced marriage
between 2004 and 2006.

Norway was the only country in Europe where forced marriage was illegal until
2006. In March 2006 Belgium's cabinet approved a move to outlaw forced
marriage. A study from 1999 found that 27% of Turkish and Moroccan women
over 40 had been forced into marriage. Forced marriages affected 13% of
Turkish girls aged 17 to 24, and 8% of Moroccan girls of the same age. The
proposed legislation would invoke a jail term from one month to two years, or a
maximum fine of between 500 and 2,500 Euros. In November 2004, a Belgian
senator of Moroccan origin, Mimount Bousakla, was forced to go into hiding,
after receiving death threats. Her crime had been to criticize forced marriages,
at a meeting held by the Council of Europe on this subject.

In France in 2003 a report by the government body the High Council of
Immigration found that there were 70,000 cases of marriages in the country
which had been arranged using force. A French women's rights group claims that

30,000 forced marriages have taken place in France since 1990. One arranged
marriage which began with apparent consent ended in tragedy:

     Samira Bari, a woman brought up in France, had married a man
     eight years her senior, who had been brought up in southern
     Morocco. When Samira refused to have sex with him, he ripped
     out her eyes, a court heard in March 2006.

Many French forced marriages have taken place with young people involved, and
as a result in March 2006 the authorities raised the minimum age of marriage
from 15 to 18 years. One obstacle faced by young women who are not born in
France and are subjected to forced marriages is the law itself. Even if she holds
a permit of residence for 10 years' duration, if she is taken to live outside of
France for three consecutive years, she loses the right to live in France.

Many marriages amongst Muslims are "arranged" marriages. In October 2006, the
Islamists who then ruled Somalia ordered that any marriages conducted without
parents' permission were against Islam. In many cases, it is hard to say where an
"arranged marriage" becomes a "forced" marriage”.

In Britain, the majority of cases of honour killings have involved victims who
rejected arranged marriage, or chose their own partner. Most British forced
marriage cases involve a girl being sent to the Indian subcontinent to become
wed to a relative.

In May 2006, the Home Office reported that an 11-year old British Muslim girl
had been rescued from a forced marriage, which had taken place in Bangladesh.
A more typical case involves three sisters, aged 21, 22 and 15, who in year 2000
had been sent to Pakistan, on the pretext of seeing their dying grandmother.
Once there, the girls found that there were three men already arranged to be
their husbands. The sisters were kept as virtual prisoners in their grandmother's
house for six months.

     Narina Anwar said:
     "They wanted me to marry my first cousin. He was 26 and I had
     not seen him since I was 11. He was uneducated and could not
     speak English or even write Urdu."
     The girls escaped and telephoned the British High Commission who
     sent people to rescue them.

In 2001 the UK government suggested that it could make forced marriage a
crime, but after many deliberations, it was still not illegal. In 2004, when 200
forced marriage cases were happening each year, the government again
announced that it might change the law, and made the same claim in 2005. On
6 June 2006 the government announced that it had bowed down to Muslim
pressure and had abandoned its plans. [NB: Forced Marriage was made illegal in
2007 in the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act.]

The Muslim Council of Britain had argued that such a law would see children
giving evidence at their parents' trials. This happens in abuse cases, and forced

marriage is abuse. The MCB also said such cases would make the Muslim
community further "stigmatized".

Sometimes, the threats and pressure involve emotional blackmail. In 2002, a
marriage was annulled in Edinburgh which had taken place when the girl had
been 16. Her mother later admitted that she had threatened to commit suicide
to force her daughter into marriage. The girl had met her "husband" only a week
before the wedding. The husband's mother had wanted her son to gain British

     In July 2006 another forced marriage was annulled. The girl had
     been taken for a "holiday' in Pakistan, ostensibly to celebrate the
     end of her school exams. She was kept in Pakistan in a remote
     location, and had her passport removed. Both her parents
     threatened to commit suicide if she did not marry her cousin. After
     some months she relented and, aged 17, married. The judge in the
     case, Mr Justice Munby, told the High Court in London:
     "Forced marriages, whatever the social or cultural imperatives that
     may be said to justify what remains a distressingly widespread
     practice, are rightly considered to be as much beyond the pale as
     such barbarous practices as female genital mutilation and so called
     'honour killings'."

In 2004 it was announced that The Council of British Pakistanis, Scotland, had
found that nearly half the marriages between Scottish south Asians and a
partner from abroad had involved coercion. Labour MP Ann Cryer announced
that a 15-year old girl from Bradford was "sold" by her father for the sum of
approximately £15,000, to pay off his gambling debts. The girl was due to be
sent to Bangladesh to marry a far older man, a friend of her father. Ms Cryer
"The girl is absolutely petrified. I am terrified the family will put her on a plane
within the next few days."

In Scotland, which has its own parliament, it was revealed in one report that in
Edinburgh alone, 85 people a year were being forced into marriage. Malcolm
Chisholm, Scottish Communities Minister, suggested that imams and clerics who
presided over forced marriage could be jailed for up to five years. This proposal
was never made into law.

In Denmark, there is a law that requires that both partners in a marriage
involving someone from abroad must be at least 24 years old. This law,
introduced in 2002, has been claimed by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
to have reduced cases of forced marriage. The Danish Immigration Service has
guidelines to "root out" suspected cases of forced marriage. Earlier this month
the Danish Social Liberal Party launched a leaflet campaign, aimed at teachers,
to help them identify the signs of young people being pressured into forced

In Germany, a study amongst female Turkish immigrants, conducted in 1996,
found that 24% of respondents had been forced into marriage. ARD, a German
national television network, claims that there are 30,000 women who are in
forced marriages in Germany. There are an estimated 3 million Muslims in
Germany, mostly from Turkey. In Austria, where Turks comprise most of the
400,000-strong Muslim community, the figure for women in forced marriages is
said to be less than 1,000. In Germany, women in forced marriages also come
from Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Albania, Iran and India.

Although forced marriage is now illegal in Britain; the maximum sentence is
6 months! How much of a deterrent is this! The association of chief police
officers believed it would make no effect and I believe unless there are more
draconian measures introduced people will not care about such a silly piece of
legislation, especially as other offences such as assault, kidnap, and other
sexual offences all carry harsher penalties.

A study has found that the practice of forced marriage among immigrants in
Britain is much more common than previously assumed. Thousands of young girls
-- and boys -- have gone missing, many of whom might have been abducted by
their own parents.

      Nora was only one year old when her fate was decided. "My
      father promised my grandmother that my marriage would be
      arranged," says the young woman from the southern English city
      of Luton. Her parents didn't even like the groom. “In fact”, as
      Nora puts it, “No one had the courage to fight for me”. And, so,
      when she was still a teenager, Nora's parents took her to
      Pakistan and forced her to marry a man she didn't love. Her
      father wept during the wedding ceremony but he kept his
      promise to her grandmother despite the misery caused to his
      young daughter.

Take, for example, the northern English city of Bradford. The majority of the
city's population of 500,000 is Muslim. Kevin Brennan shocked his fellow MPs
when he reported that 33 Bradford children under 16 of age have disappeared
without trace. He wasn't sure if the police in Bradford were even looking for the

According to Brennan, the statistics look similar in an additional 14 communities
with a high percentage of immigrants. All told, hundreds of children have
disappeared from the school registers in Great Britain --whereabouts unknown.

The figures have triggered a public debate about religion, archaic family
traditions and British identity. The government now estimates that 3,000 forced
marriages take place in Britain per year.

Even girls who do extremely well in school and are preparing for university --
are forced into marriage, some at 16 or younger...the girls are usually cowed
into submission by threats. They are warned that if they refuse to wed their
arranged partner, the dishonour will force her parents to divorce, for example.
Or that the mother will commit suicide. They are bribed with gifts and
penalized with rape. Moreover, not all of the disappearing children are girls. In
fact, 15 percent of all cases concern young boys forced into marriage.

Even when the women manage to escape from the grip of the families,
fear remains.
     Emine, a student, is in hiding in Luton. She flew with her parents
     to Pakistan for a vacation. Once there, her parents forced her to
     marry a man who only married her so he could get legal residency
     in Great Britain. "I just cried, even in the wedding video," says
     Emine. "But no one cared." After the wedding, Emine's relatives
     made it clear to her that she was her husband's subject. "I had to
     do whatever he told me to do." She returned to England with him
     after three years and left him. Her ex-husband came to terms
     with it, but not her parents or brother. They have threatened to
     kill her because she has brought "shame" on the family. Emine is
     dependent on an association in Luton that helps women. She is an
     outsider in her old circle of friends because she refused to obey
     her parents.

The large number of victims and their testimony have fuelled a debate --
originally prompted by the terrorist attacks of July 2005 -- about the values of
British Muslims and of British society. Some 1.6 million Muslims live in Britain,
which represents about 3 percent of the population. That seems like a small
figure at first glance, but Muslims have on average significantly more children
than other groups. In many parts of London and in the old industrial cities of
northern England, Muslims form a rapidly growing minority. In some places, the y
will soon be in the majority.

In the past, the British state has tried to keep out of issues affecting ethnic
minorities...You didn't have to speak English to get by. Many official forms are
available not only in English, but in Arabic, Urdu and Bengali as well.

The state also kept out of religious questions, allowing radicals to redefine
archaic practices, such as wife-beating, as an expression of cultural identity.
Until 2001, Islamic hate-mongers were allowed to invoke holy war.

After the terrorist attacks of 2005 the British government started demanding
that immigrants learn English and commit themselves to British values. But as
recently as six weeks ago, Archbishop Rowan Williams, the head of Anglican
Christians, was openly pondering the incorporation of parts of Shari`ah into the
British legal system.

Last fall, the BBC scored a quota hit with the show , "Arrange Me a Marriage," in
which British singles looked for their dream partners with the help of an Asian
matchmaker. Arranged marriage, a common practice in immigrant families, was
suddenly fashionable. The scandal of the missing children is likely to put an end
to this trend. Even though the vast majority of arranged couples are formed
voluntarily, the practice is falling into disrepute.

Parliament's first step will be to summon employees of the British embassy in
Pakistan to answer questions...Muslim representatives, however, like to recall
that forced marriage is also practiced in other cultures in which the father plays
a dominant role in the family.

*The author of the report - Dr. Nazia Khanum - has made it clear that she thinks
"Forced marriage has nothing to do with religion. It is a part of a patriarchal
system where parents believe they know what is best for their children." But
let's also be clear here: while arranged marriage is not unique to Muslim
societies, the problems we are seeing are among Muslim immigrant groups.
Honour killings, oppression of women, rejection of Western legal traditions,
alliance to a trans-national ideology as opposed to the nation state, rejection of
the Western society, suspicion of Western modes of governance and the role of
the individual in society, Western gender roles and so forth are coming out of
the Islamic world and Islamic immigrant communities.

     Nora, following a forced marriage, has regular contact with her
     parents again. "Sometimes I hate them, but this makes me feel
     guilty," says the young woman. "If I had grown up in another
     culture, my parents would never have been forced to do such
     things to me." Nora has returned to Luton, together with her
     husband. She doesn't want to be his wife, but she won't consider
     divorce. Obedience takes priority.

Imam Dr Abdul Jalil Sajid
Chairman Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony UK (MCRRH);
Chairman National Association of British Pakistanis (NABPAK);
President Religions for Peace UK and Deputy President of European WCRP
-Religions for Peace;
Chairman Taskforce for 2008 European year of Inter-cultural Dialogue;
Deputy President and International Secretary World Congress of Faiths
Adviser to European Council of Religious Leaders/Religions for Peace
Adviser to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Europe and International
Affairs Committee (EIAC);
European reprehensive of the World Council of Muslims Inter-faith Relations
Link Officer Brighton and Hove Interfaith Contact Group (IFCG) for National
and International Inter-faith matters;

8 Caburn Road , Hove, East Sussex, BN3 6EF, England
Tel: +44 (0) 1273 722438 Mobile: +44 (0) 7971 861972

web: <

Note: This material was extracted from a longer piece and edited by the Judith
Trust for the Seminar; „Forced Marriages of People with Learning Disabilities‟
held in London, 23rd July 2008.


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