The ruling on whether poor parents are obliged to marry off their daughters
Fatwa No: 310390

  • Fatwa Date:9-1-2016 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 29, 1437
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Is it obligatory for parents to get their daughters married, even if they cannot afford it? Are they responsible for unmarried daughters if their right age of marriage has passed and the parents feel shy to ask any one's help in this regard; to find a partner for their daughters. Is it wrong as Allaah tells us in the Quran to always seek His help and never ask anyone else.


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Allaah, The Almighty, commanded in His Book to marry off the women [or girls] who have no husbands, as well as marrying the men who have no wives. Allaah says (what means): {And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allaah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allaah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.} [Quran 24:32]

But what does this order mean? Al-Aloosi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his Tafseer (interpretation of the Quran), “It was said that the command here means an obligation according to the view of the scholars of the Thaahiri school (those who opposed the allegorical interpretation of religious texts, preferring instead a literal interpretation of the Qur'an and the Sunnah), and it was also said that the command means that it is recommended; and this is the view of the majority of the scholars.

Imaam Abu Bakr Ar-Raazi is of the view that even if we say that the verse indicates obligation, the Salaf (righteous predecessors) agreed in a consensus that it does not mean obligation for the following reasons:

"The first reason is that if it had been an obligation, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and the Salaf would have ordered the people to do it, and this matter would have been well-known and widespread due to the general need, but since we found in his era and all other eras after him that there were unmarried men and unmarried women, and he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) did not disprove of this fact, then it is confirmed that the command does not mean obligation.

The second reason is that we agreed in a consensus that if a previously-married woman (divorced or widowed) refuses to marry, then her guardian has no right to force her to marry.

The third reason is that all the scholars agreed that a master is not obliged to marry off his female slave or his male slave; so it also means (due to the conjunction in the verse) that it is not an obligation to marry the unmarried free men and free women alike.

The fourth reason is that the word ‘unmarried’ applies to both men and women, so since it is an obligation to seek the permission of men when marrying them; it is also an obligation to seek the permission of women when marrying them off [if it was an obligation to marry them off, then seeking their permission would not be needed, would it?]

Therefore, the parents are not sinful if their daughters did not get married. Even according to the view that marrying them off is an obligation, it is known that this is according to one’s ability. The jurists hold the view that being Islamically obliged to perform a religious duty is conditional on ability; as Allaah says (what means): {So fear Allaah as much as you are able.} [Quran 64:16]

Also, there is no harm on the father to search for a pious husband for his daughter, or propose her to a righteous man, and this is not the dispraised asking of other than Allaah. Indeed, Al-Bukhari reported a hadeeth from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar in which ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab proposed his daughter Hafsah to ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him when she became a widow after her husband Khunays ibn Huthaafah As-Sahmi  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him had died. Also, the righteous man offered one of his daughters to Prophet Moosa (Moses)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention as indicated in the verse in which Allaah says (what means): {He said: Indeed, I wish to wed you one of these, my two daughters.} [Quran 28:27]

It should be noted here that the guardian is forbidden from preventing his daughter from marrying when suitable and competent men propose to her. Allaah says (what means): {And when you divorce women and they have fulfilled their term, do not prevent them from remarrying their [former] husbands if they agree among themselves on an acceptable basis. That is instructed to whoever of you believes in Allaah and the Last Day. That is better for you and purer, and Allaah knows and you know not.} [Quran 2:232]

Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Preventing them means preventing a woman from marrying a suitable man if she requests that and each of them wishes to marry the other.” 

Al-Baydhaawi  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, while interpreting the verse {if they agree among themselves on an acceptable basis} that it means the suitors [who propose to marry the women] and the women.

On the other hand, it is known that it is the husband who is obliged to give the dowry to his wife, and not the opposite, Allaah says (what means): {And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.} [Quran 4:4]

In addition to this, the view of the majority of the scholars is that the wife is not obliged to equip the matrimonial home with furniture; rather, it is only the husband who is obliged to do that.

For more benefit, please refer to fataawa 269980 and 85873.

Allaah knows best.

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