Nada al-Ahdal, 11 Year Old Yemeni Girl


بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

cc-2013-nada

Recently, the case of an 11 year old Yemeni girl was brought to light and it has been making airwaves since. However, some persons have chosen to use this poor girl’s experience as an excuse to malign Islam. However, in appealing to the girl – she herself never blamed Islam but that of the cultural practises of her parents – in fact she even begins the very video by invoking the Islamic greeting of ‘Salaam ‘Alaykum’. Islam is clear that forced marriages are haram (read: impermissible) and that such marriages contravene Islamic law:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai says on one who is forced to marry:

If a female was compelled to consent to marriage due to fear of being  killed, the marriage will be invalid. The father is guilty of depriving his daughter of her independent right to choose her marriage partner.

Mufti Abdullah Patel says about forced marriages:

In the Name of Allah, the Inspirer of Truth.
Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

All the scholars agree that “offer and acceptance” (Al-Ijaab wa al-qubool) are amongst the pillars of marriage. Both bride and bridegroom must agree to the marriage contract, in order for the marriage to be valid. Forced marriages are a misnomer (an incorrect or unsuitable name) in most cases. I don’t think many persons are “forced” to get married. What we must stress here is where someone is coerced into a marriage contract, employing both physical and emotional pressure, it is not permitted, and a highly reprehensible act.

Sure, at times, persons may have family pressures to get married to so and so, which can be termed an “arranged marriage” of some sort. One wishes not to rock the boat and gets married to this person, whilst quietly regarding it as a kind of coercion. Whilst that may be the case to some extent, Islam gives the undeniable right NOT to get married, so one should refuse quite clearly if one is not comfortable for whatever reason – this is your Islamic right.

(1) Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (R.A) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “A previously married woman should not be given in marriage until she is consulted (i.e. gives her consent directly and verbally) and a virgin is not to be given in marriage unless her consent is taken. The Sahabah (R.A) enquired, “How does she give her consent?”

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, “By remaining quiet.” (i.e. a virgin’s silence is considered as her approval).

(Bukhari and Muslim)

(2) Hadhrat Khansaa Bint Khizaam (R.A) narrates that her father gave her in marriage against her wish while she was previously married (i.e. not a virgin). She came to Raulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and he rejected the Nikah. (Bukhari).

To conclude, forced marriages where the bride or bridegroom have not agreed to marry, are not permitted or accepted in Islam. Where, the persons have been convinced and pressured into agreeing to marry a person, then the act itself may not be permitted, however the marriage itself is valid and accepted.

And Allah knows Best

Lastly, Mufti Ebrahim Desai has two other fatawa, previously referenced on this website about this issue:

See this fatwa by Mufti Ebrahim Desai [db]:

“Knowing the importance and sacredness of a marriage commitment, the boy and girl having consulted with their seniors and making Istikhaara, should make their own independent choice.

They should not be compelled to marry against their wishes as the consequences (non-compatibility, divorce, disputes, custody of children, etc.) are too ghastly to bear. Parents should not compel their children to marry against their wishes due to economic status reasons.”

As well as this fatwa by the same Mufti (Islamic Jurist):

“As an adult, you have an independent right to choose your marriage partner. You should not be forced into marrying someone against your choice. Those forcing you are guilty of depriving you of your Shar’ee right and committing a major sin,

You should simply say no if you are not confident of marrying against your choice. The consequences of forced marriages are too ghastly. There are great possibilities of a marital breakdown. That will lead to disunity among many families. The matter will be clouded even more if there is a child born through the marriage. Considering the many negative consequences of a forced marriage, you should never give in to being forced to marry against your wish. It will be you and no one else who will have to bear the burdens in future. You may forward this email to those forcing you to marry against your wishes.”

In conclusion – in the case of our Muslim Sister Nada al-Ahdal, both forced marriages (as seen above) and honour killings (as detailed in this link) are completely forbidden acts in Islam. We celebrate that she has stood up against an unIslamic practise and that she has defended herself against being wronged by seeking the rightful authorities – may Allaah ta ‘aala continue to guide her and preserve her, Ameen.

4 comments

  • You see a little girl who knows nothing about life, getting asked if she wishes to marry an adult man cannot know that this means she will soon start having intercourse with this man (if she even knows what intercourse is, God forbid) and not long after will start having children. So her silence can be explained that way.

    Another way to explain her silence is that she will not think it is her place to say no to this, since her parents are enthusiastic about this marriage. If the parents were not enthusiastic about this marriage, the child would not even be asked, because if the parents say no, the minor has no chance or marrying that person.

    And what is so striking that it is well known that pedophiles in court often state that the young girl did not resist, giving himself an excuse for his actions by supposedly not knowing she did not want this to happen. And we know that this is typical for little girls and boys, to simply go along with it since they are not sure if this is wrong or right and they are afraid and too shy to speak out against an adult, let alone their parents.

    So your ruling in Islam is completely backward I’m sorry to say. Because even if you ask the childs consent, the marriage is still legal if she does. This legal child marriage (which is indisputable) may cause mistakes, like the one made in the case of this Yemeni girl, to occur easily. Something which would never happen if child marriage is banned altogether.

    This is why you have these problems. You can’t simply allow child marriage from an Islamic Sharia perspective and then when these terrible problems like the Yemeni girls case happens say “this is not Islamic”. Islam is what has kept child marriage alive.

    It is exactly the same with the problems surrounding female circumcision. There is misconduct where people take away too much and damage the young woman and/or do it against their will. And then you say this is not Islamic. But Islam has embraced female circumcision. I admit, it has less severe conditions for this practice than what is often the case. But again: if you would have banned this practice altogether there would not be a misunderstanding and you will have no problems with people taking female circumcision too far.

    The moral of the story is: accept your responsibility and acknowledge that Islam is the reason that people are doing child marriage and female circumcision, all be it that they take it too far. Which simply means they are following Islam but taking it too far. They are not following Hinduism. They are following Islam and making the mistake of misinterpreting the conditions for the practice. If you take the practice away entirely these problems will disappear.

    Thank you for your time.

  • As a Christian, is your responsibility not to be dishonest (as per the 10 commandments). Your issues have been answered:

    1. She is too young to know what this entails – incorrect, once she is baligh (mature – has had her period), it is the responsibility of the Wali (guardian) to explain what rules and rights, responsibilities come with being mature. Including acts of a sexual nature and the required purification from such acts (ghusl). So yes, when marriage is concerned, she would be told of these things.

    2. She can think what she wants, you are assuming the young woman (as she is no longer a child – a child is one who has not reached the age of sexual maturation), is making such a decision in front of a room of persons or her parents. To the contrary, she is making the decision with her Wali (guardian) and it is advisable to have two witnesses of her choosing to advise her on the proposal:

    See:

    As for remaining silent, the jurists consider it also a form of consent in virgins as long as the silence is not out of sorrow or disapproval.

    Shaykh Qudri Basha (may Allah have mercy on him) states:

    “An adult free woman may not be forced to marry, whether she is a virgin or a non-virgin. Rather, it is necessary to seek her permission and approval. If she is a virgin and her immediate guardian (wali) or his agent (wakil) or messenger (rasul) seeks her approval before marrying her off… and she knows the husband and the dowry, and remains silent from refusing, without being forced…, then this is considered an approval.” (Al-Ahkam al-Shar’iyya fi ’l-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya P: 33, Item no 53)

    As such, there is no obligation of having witnesses present at the time of obtaining permission from the bride – neither the two witnesses who witness the actual Nikah nor some other witnesses. The Nikah would be perfectly valid in such a case. The jurists, however, do recommend having witnesses present especially when there is a possibility of denial and disagreement in the future between the woman and her agent. It is even better to have the woman’s consent in writing and signed by her to avoid possible disputes.

    (Source: http://www.daruliftaa.com/question?txt_QuestionID=q-17484973)

    3. You’ve also contradicted yourself in saying a young woman would not be able to speak out for fear of her parents – which is contradicted by the fact that this 11 year old Muslim girl did. So either you are lying, or the girl herself did the impossible.

    4. Marrying a girl out of fear, i.e. not putting her silence into context, is haram and considered forced and thus illegal. Simply because you’ve failed to understand what the context of the various levels of her silence means, does not mean we have not.

    5. There is no such thing as child marriage in Islam. Scientifically + Bilogically, once a child has their menses, they are no longer a child but a young adult. According to the Shari’ah they automatically become adults at the age of 15 if they do not have their menses or for males – wet dreams:

    A girl will be regarded to be Baligh (reach the age of puberty) if she experiences Haidh (menses) or she becomes pregnant. If she does not experience menses by the age of 15, she will be regarded to be Baligh and all the Laws of Shariah will apply to her. (Shaami Vol.6 Page 580 H M Saeed)

    The above ruling of 15 years has been deduced by the Hadith of Abdullah bin Umar (Radiallahu Anhu). On the occasion of Uhud he presented himself to Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to participate in the expedition while he was 14 years. Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not allow him as he was too small. The following year in another expedition he presented himself and Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) accepted him to participate.

    (Source: http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/15636).

    6. As for female circumcision, it is a legal practise in the United States, or the form of which Islam allows, it is referred to as a clitoral hoodectomy and costs usually in the thousands of dollars at highly priced plastic surgeons. You seem to not know that what Islam allows, is perfectly legal in most 1st world nations as a luxury:

    https://callingchristians.com/2012/04/27/a-treatise-on-genital-mutilation-in-islam/

    7. In conclusion, Islam does not permit child marriages and both Muslim and Christians and Jewish scholars and teachings permit marriage from the age of puberty:

    For instance, an early Christian writer and Church Father, Clement of Alexandria, wrote:

    It is not only fornication, but also the giving in marriage prematurely, that is called fornication; when, so to speak, one not of ripe age is given to a husband, either of her own accord or by her parents. (Clement of Alexandria, IX.-Fragment of the Treatise on Marriage, Early Church Fathers – Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume II; online edition; bold and underline emphasis ours)

    The Mishnah sets the age of maturity for a female at twelve years and six months:

    “she won her case in court before she matured [at the age of twelve years and six months], lo, they belong to the father.” Mishnah Ketubot, 4:1.

    The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible in volume 2, page 1407, under “Marriage”, states this about Jewish marriage customs:

    “Subsequently, minimum ages (for marriage) of 13 for boys and 12 for girls were set.”

    Jim West, Th.D., writes in an online article titled, “Ancient Israelite Marriage Customs”:

    “The wife was to be taken from within the larger family circle (usually at the ‘outset of puberty’ or around the age of 13) in order to maintain the purity of the family line.” (http://www.theology.edu/marriage.htm)

    8. Therefore your claims against Islam, have not only been proven false, but you yourself should be ashamed that what Islam teaches is legal (in the case of circumcision) and in terms of marriageable age – legal according to Christian and Jewish theological sources. As a Christian, you should be ashamed of your fear mongering, dishonest and hypocrisy, go and repent.

  • The problem with the Christians is that in terms of laws they have a “modern secular liberal” mindset, while only in church-matters do they come out as Christians.

  • The authenticity of the whole story is put to question:
    http://www.majalla.com/eng/2013/07/article55243853

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