Laws of Religion

Laws of Islam Concerning Women and Men


Finding a Spouse


Consent of Woman Before Marriage


From the hadith compilations of al-Bukhari and Muslim



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Consent of woman before marriage (hadith). Hadiths report that Muhammad said that a virgin must give her permission before being given in marriage.[1] The silence of a virgin when asked about a prospective marriage implies her consent.[2]


Muhammad said that a previously married woman[3] or a female slave[4] should be consulted before she is given in marriage. A previously married woman has more right to determine her own fate than her guardian has.[5] When a previously married woman did not want to get married to a man but her father gave her to him in marriage anyway, Muhammad said that the marriage was not valid.[6]


When Muhammad, himself, sought a woman in marriage she rejected him by saying, "I seek refuge with Allah from you." Muhammad sent her back to her family.[7] The woman apparently did not know who Muhammad was.[8]


The Qur’an verse (4:19), cited here, that forbids the inheriting of women against their will is explained in a hadith as ending the practice whereby a woman whose husband died would be required to do as her dead husband’s family wanted. Before this verse of the Qur’an was revealed, a widow would be required to marry a member of her husband’s family or given to someone else to marry without her consent, or not be given to marry at all.[9]


When a man offered his wife to a Muslim man, the Muslim accepted the offer. So the husband divorced the woman and the Muslim man married her. However, there is no mention made of the woman being consulted about this, though Muhammad himself approved of the marriage.[10] Similarly, although Muhammad said that a female slave is to be consulted before being given in marriage,[11] there are hadiths recording the marriage of a female captured in battle, and thus enslaved, without any mention of the female being consulted about the marriage. These include the marriage of Muhammad to Juwairiya of the Banu Mustaliq tribe[12] and to Safiyya of a Jewish tribe defeated at the Battle of Khaybar.[13] Muhammad said that a man will be rewarded if he educates a female slave, teaches her proper manners, frees her from slavery, and marries her.[14] Muhammad freed Safiyya from slavery before marrying her.[15]


If a widow promises to marry someone during her period of ‘iddah (the waiting period following the death of a husband), the marriage between them is valid.[16]



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Laws of Religion is a project of the Religion Research Society.


Updated October 12, 2016



Abbreviations used in footnotes:

QR:   Qur’an, with surahs (chapters) and ayahs (verses) numbered as in most modern translations, including those found here, here and here.

BK:    Hadith collection of al-Bukhari as found here (USC website) and here (ebook download). In a few instances, the hadiths on the USC website differ from those in the ebook download, either by having slightly different numbering of the hadiths or because the hadith appears only on the USC site and not in the ebook download. Such cases are noted in the footnotes by putting either “(USC)” or “(ebook)” after the relevant hadith number when it applies to only one of these two sources.

ML:    Hadith collection of Muslim as found here and here.

●  The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.

[1] BK 7:62:67, BK 9:85:79, BK 9:86:100, BK 9:86:100, BK 9:86:101, BK 9:86:98, ML 8:3303-3304, ML 8:3305, ML 8:3306, ML 8:3307, ML 8:3308

[2] BK 7:62:67, BK 9:85:79, BK 9:86:100, BK 9:86:100, BK 9:86:101, BK 9:86:98, ML 8:3303-3304, ML 8:3305, ML 8:3306, ML 8:3307, ML 8:3308

[3] BK 6:60:103, BK 7:62:56, BK 7:62:67, BK 9:86:98, ML 8:3303-3304

[4] BK 9:86:100

[5] ML 8:3306, ML 8:3307, ML 8:3308

[6] BK 7:62:69, BK 9:85:78, BK 9:86:99

[7] BK 7:63:181, BK 7:63:182-183, BK 7:69:541

[8] BK 7:63:182-183, BK 7:69:541

[9] BK 6:60:103

[10] BK 5:58:124, BK 5:58:125

[11] BK 9:86:100

[12] BK 3:46:717, ML 19:4292

[13] BK 1:8:367, BK 2:14:68, BK 5:59:512, BK 5:59:513, ML 8:3325-3326, ML 8:3328, ML 8:3329

[14] BK 3:46:720, BK 3:46:723, BK 4:52:255, BK 4:55:655, BK 7:62:20, ML 8:3327

[15] BK 1:8:367, BK 2:14:68, BK 5:59:512, BK 5:59:513, BK 7:62:22, BK 7:62:23, BK 7:62:98, ML 8:3325-3326, ML 8:3328

[16] BK 7:62:56