Forced Marriage

Q: I have been hearing that a forced marriage isn't valid. What does it actually mean? What if the couple in question have spent 20 years together and have children, after all these years, is their marriage still not valid?

I have basically spent the last 20 years crying continuously and praying to Allah to change my condition. I ask because I was forced into a marriage with a total stranger, moved to the US where I lived with his overbearing family for 10 years and subjected to extreme harassment and neglect from husband and in laws years before buying our own home. Although I begged him to move into a separate home earlier, he refused except for 1.5 years and then moved back to his parent’s home after being convinced by his mother.

My husband did not provide spending money to me from the beginning but handled all finances himself and hardly helped with childcare at home. I was embarrassed to ask him for any money even though I was completely dependent on him. My anger and hurt was too great. Once I started working, I contributed regularly to household expenses and childcare cost completely. Till date, I pay my portion of mortgage fully on car, food and some other bills while he pays for some of the others.

I have never felt taken care of as a wife, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially and I suffered a great deal spiritually for this. Physical intimacy has been minimal to zero from the very beginning as he is not able to perform as a man. We have zero connection emotionally, physically or intellectually and it has been and is just a living arrangement between two people where we each live together with our two daughters and take care of the regular chores to maintain a home. I think he is delusional that this is a marriage.

I have never been able to truly accept this marriage and have always felt that I will apply for divorce once my daughters have completed their bachelor’s degrees. It's not a life I would have chosen for myself, ever, and though I have tried my best to live a conflict free life, things have been difficult between us especially in the beginning. I have learned to emotionally shut off, shut him out and disengage from my husband to the point that I do not talk to him much and mostly when necessary. I've not been able to accept that it's what was written for me. I forgive my parents and I don't want my parents to have any punishments from Allah for this. I can't stand the thought of them suffering in this life never mind the next.

Does this make my marriage invalid? Considering how I truly feel, is it ok for me to wait another 4 years before seeking divorce? 

A: May Allah Ta'ala assist you and remove your worries. As far as your nikaah is concerned, if you were not happy but accepted the nikaah at the beginning, then the nikaah is valid. Hence, you are living in halaal.

We suggest that you discuss the matter with some pious, experienced aalim living in the area and ask him to guide your husband in regard to him fulfilling his marital responsibilities and in particular, seeing to the running expenses of the home. It is not correct for him to make you work and burden you with the responsibility of contributing to the running expenses of the home. Seeing to the running expenses of the home is entirely the responsibility of the husband.

Taking out a mortgage is not permissible as it is a means of one getting involved in the grave sin of riba with the bank. The hadith has cursed those who have any involvement in riba. Hazrat Jaabir (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) cursed the one who consumes riba (interest), or feeds it to others, the one who records it (i.e. the transaction) and those who are witness to it (i.e. the transaction). And he said, “All of them are equal (in sin).”

You should make sincere taubah for getting involved in this grave sin and try your best to come out of it as soon as possible.

If you feel that you cannot manage to fulfil your marital responsibilities on account of the difficulties you are experiencing and seeking a separation will be better for your deen, then it is permissible for you to ask your husband for a talaaq.

And Allah Ta'ala (الله تعالى) knows best.


Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)