Rafed English

Social Independence of Women

One day a girl, who looked very perturbed, came to the Holy Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah! My father has done me a great injustice".

"What has your father done?"

"He has a nephew and he has married me to him without taking my consent".

"If so, agree to what he has done and be the wife of your cousin

"I don't like my cousin. How can I be the wife of a person whom I don't like".

"Then nothing has gone wrong. If you don't like him, go and choose another person whom you like".

"By the way, I like him very much. I don't like any other person. I won't he the wife of anybody else. But, because my father gave me in marriage without taking my consent, I intentionally came over to have a talk with you. I wanted you to say what you have said. I wanted all the women to know that the fathers no longer had a right to decide as they pleased and give their daughters in marriage to whomsoever they liked".

The incident has been narrated by eminent jurists in such books as the Masalik (by Shaheed Thani) and the Jawahirul Kalam. During the pre-Islamic period the Arabs, like all other people of those days, thought that they 'had full authority in regard to their daughters and sisters and sometimes even in regard to their mothers. They did not acknowledge the rights of women to choose their husbands, this choice being the exclusive privilege of the fathers or the brothers and, in their absence, of the paternal uncles, so much so that prospective fathers could give their daughters in marriage even before they were actually born. A man could enter into a contract with another man pledging that if a daughter was born to the former, she would, when grown up, be the wife of the latter.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari"

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