Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
My parents suggested a girl to me for marriage who happens to be my second cousin whom I haven’t been in contact since childhood, so I practically know nothing about her.
They want me to agree to the marriage without meeting/seeing her, which to me seems impractical. I do not want to blindly say yes either.
How do I convince them to let me talk to her first? If they are not convinced, can I outright dismiss the idea?
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayr for your question. May Allah reward you for desiring to do striving to please your parents as best as you can.
Marriage is a major decision in life, and one must ensure that they are not rushed or pressured into it. Despite parent’s and family’s best wishes in arranging marriages, ultimately it is the couple who have to live together for the rest of their lives, not the family, so the willingness of both prospective spouses, and their compatibility and agreement that is essential.
Looking at one’s Prospective Partner
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ is reported to have said, ‘If one of you proposes marriage to a woman, if he can look at her to see that which will encourage him to go ahead and marry her, then let him do so’, [Abu Dawud], and, when learning that a Sahabi had not looked at his future spouse, he ﷺ said, ‘Look at her, because it is more fitting that love and compatibility be established between you.’ [al Daraqutni]
The encouragement to look at a prospective spouse is so that one can be confident in their decision to marry the person, and so that neither spouse will have regrets after marriage.
Obedience to parents and sin and dismissing
Allah has order ‘that ye be kind to parents’ [17:23], which means to honour them and treat them with respect, gentleness and kindness. However, the relationship is not unconditional, and one is not obliged to follow everything they command.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the marriage set-up or the prospective spouse, then you are in your right to either request that you see the girl, or to just end the talks completely. There will be no blame or wrong doing on your behalf.
However, you are obligated to do this in a kind and gentle manner when dealing with your parents, and bearing with any annoyance from them at your decision. Remember, to your parents, this is just the way they see that life works, and they may not quite understand your way of thinking.
Convincing you Parents
You mentioned that there is no elder to mediate on your behalf. Perhaps try speaking to a local scholar to mediate if one is available.
If not, then let them know your decision, but continue to be patient with them. If they show anger or annoyance for not going through with the marriage, show that you are listening to their opinion, speak to them light heartedly, and try to diffuse any tension by smiling and being gentle. Also, try to soften their hearts by giving them expensive gifts you know they will like. Sooner or later, they’ll give in to you.
May Allah Ta’ala bring every good to you, your parents, and grant you a happy and blessed marriage in the future.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.