A lady from India wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa that she was developing some thoughts as advocated by feminists that were contrary to the teachings of Islam. She also asked the following questions:
• When getting married, why can the bride not set the amount of the mahr herself?
• Why is the bride’s silence considered her consent?
• Why are modesty and quietness in women so admired, while we live in a society where women’s rights are debated and discussed?
• At the time of the announcement of her nikah, if the bride herself is not physically present in the room, could her wali not misrepresent her deliberately?
Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 18 June 2021, provided the following guidance to the questions:
“[…] As far as your questions are concerned, they have also risen due to misunderstanding and insufficient knowledge of Islam’s teachings. According to Islamic teachings, a bride’s consent is of utmost importance in a marriage and no nikah can be officiated against her will. And to say that her silence is taken as her consent is also inaccurate. For marriage, not only the bride’s formal consent is sought, but a nikah form is also signed by her and her signature on the form must be accompanied by the testimony of two witnesses, who testify that the bride has willingly signed the nikah form in front of them. Taking silence as consent is not an Islamic tenet, but a regional and traditional custom [on account of some girls being too shy as is mentioned in ahadith].
“Otherwise, it is true that in addition to the consent of the bride, Islam has also declared the approval of her guardian [wali], who may be her very close relative i.e. her father or brother etc., to be necessary for marriage. The great wisdom in this directive is that since a girl moves from one family to another after getting married, it has been made clear to that other family by incorporating the condition of guardianship into the marriage contract, that although women are generally considered more vulnerable out in society than men, if this girl is wronged in any way, she has a family who will support her and will hold those who wrong her accountable.
“Even in this condition of having a wali, the will of the bride has been prioritised in this way that even though the wali is a very close relative of the bride, about whom it is assumed that he would definitely look after the interests of the bride, nevertheless, if a girl has any reservations that her wali may intend to marry her to someone against her will, then according to the sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa, the Khalifatul Masih can, as the spiritual father of the Ahmadi woman, rightfully marry her to someone according to her own will, by annulling the guardianship of the biological wali and appointing a wakeel to represent him. By the grace of Allah the Exalted, this is practised in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and several Ahmadi girls have been able to secure this right through the Khalifatul Masih.
“The declaration [ijab-o-qubul] part of the nikah solemnisation ceremony is a public gathering where non-mahram men are also present and Islam, in view of many a wisdom, has prohibited the unbridled interaction between non-mahram men and women. Thus, keeping in view the dignity and honour of a woman, Islam has instead instructed her wali to declare her will on her behalf during that ceremony. However, before that [final proclamation], the will and consent of the bride have been fully prioritised in settling and deciding all matters related to the marriage. Hence, during the blessed era of the Holy Prophetsa, when the Holy Prophetsa once instructed a companion to take a look at a girl before marrying her, and the girl’s father refused to show his daughter to the man, who was not yet related to her, [it so happened that] when the girl heard that the Holy Prophetsa had given the instruction, she immediately opened the door, came out and said to the companion that if the Holy Prophetsa had instructed him, then he may see her. (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab an-nikah, Bab an-nazri ’ila l-mar’ati iza ’arada ’an yatazawwajaha)
“Thus, Islam has, like in the case of other commandments, given full authority to women in matters of nikah and marriage within the permissible limits.
“Where religion imposes certain curbs on women in certain matters, it also imposes certain restrictions on men. Regardless, Satan keeps inventing various ways to deceive man everywhere and in every era. Likewise, in this age, the forces of the antichrist [dajjal], who are in fact the representatives of Satan, are trying their utmost with all their might to lead people astray from the path of God Almighty. They are trying to turn people, especially the younger generation, against religion by instilling various kinds of doubts in their minds and using different ploys.
“Thus, it is the duty of every Ahmadi man and woman, on the one hand, to save themselves from the evils of the societies they live in, and on the other hand, to convey the true message of Islam to the people around them by demonstrating the best examples of Islamic values. Rather than forgetting Islamic teachings and becoming blind captives of social evils, they should try their level best to promote them in society. So, now you have to decide for yourself whether you want to beautify your world and the hereafter by obeying the commands of God Almighty and by following the path of faith, which is no doubt somewhat challenging, or if you want to follow the seemingly dazzling and alluring ways and flattering words of Satan and these dajjali forces and destroy your world and the hereafter.”