“Adl”, which is defined in Shariah as a father preventing his daughter from marrying a suitable man, exists in the Kingdom despite the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “If a man whose religion and manners you approve of comes to you (proposing your daughter), then give her in marriage to him, otherwise there will be turmoil on the earth and great corruption,” as narrated by Tirmudi and Ibn Ma’aja.
By preventing their daughters from marrying, fathers breach the trust that Allah has placed in them regarding the welfare of their daughters. When a young man comes to ask for their daughter’s hand, they may delay him or reject him for no good reason, citing baseless or trivial excuses. The father’s concern may be how much the young man’s salary is or what his career aspirations are, rather than his practice of religion, his manners and his honesty. Some fathers even delay their daughter’s marriage in order to benefit from her salary. Indeed some fathers see their daughters as nothing more than pieces of merchandise to be sold to the highest bidder at an auction.
Such fathers do not realize that this kind of behavior amounts to oppression and betrayal. Are these fathers unaware of the harm and pain they are causing? Do they not consider the consequences of their actions? Indeed making marriage difficult results in destroying homes, and spreading evil and immorality.
Another reason for this evil phenomenon is the exorbitant dowries that some fathers request, so much so that marriage becomes impossible for some men. The greed which some display is truly dismaying; they ask for amounts which the suitor could never afford even if he were to save for half of his life. Such greed and materialism have resulted in turning honorable women into merchandise to be bought and sold, which has resulted in a large increase in the number of unmarried women.
Dr Ibrahim Al-Faris, assistant professor at King Saud University in Riyadh and advisor to Al-Usrah “Family” Magazine, said, “There are some methods for the treatment of the “Adl” problem
He said that in line with the concept that “prevention is better than cure,” there is a need for enrolling fathers, especially future fathers, in family training courses to teach them about the best methods of dealing with their children and wives. “This would instill the principle of prevention in fathers’ minds which will make them more effective in handling the problems facing their children, particularly their daughters. In other words it would broaden their minds to help them make decisions which will affect their children’s future.”
Dr. Al-Faris also suggests that if a father is preventing his daughter from marrying, he should be approached by senior members of the family, relatives or close friends who might be able to persuade him to change his mind. “It is also advisable that the daughter prepares a handwritten letter to her father that she puts under his pillow. Such methods can yield positive results as they may miraculously soften his heart,” he said.
Dr Al-Faris warned that the “Adl” phenomenon is very dangerous as it has many negative emotional, social and behavioral consequences; especially these days when there are more easily accessible means of corruption and readily available ways of unlawfully fulfilling one’s desires. Thus marriage is the only way to protect young people from becoming involved in immorality and evil.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Humaid, Head of Courts in Tabuk, said that “Adl” is strictly forbidden in Shariah as is mentioned in the Holy Quran:
When ye divorce
Women, and they fulfill
The term of their (Iddah)
Do not prevent them
Their (former) husbands,
If they mutually agree
On equitable terms,
Is for all amongst you,
Who believe in Allah
And the Last Day,
That is (the course
Making for) most virtue
And purity amongst you,
And Allah knows,
And ye know not, (Quranic Verse 232 –Al-Baqara)
Sheikh Al-Humaid said, “Being a guardian, a father should marry his daughters to those suitable young men who propose to them. Rejecting suitable men and delaying women from marriage jeopardize and endanger men, women and indeed the community as a whole. Suitable men are those whose practice of Islam is sound, whose manners are good and who are kind, honest and from a good family. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Marry the one who has (i.e. practices) religion and you will rejoice.”
Citing reasons for Adl, Sheikh Al-Humaid said some fathers delay their daughter’s marriage in order to benefit from her salary while others insist on marrying their daughter to a relative from the father’s side of the family even if she has received a proposal from a man suiting her in age and academic standard.
He added that some fathers refuse to marry their daughters by giving excuses that they want their daughters to complete their studies and that marriage would prevent them from doing so.
However, marriage is not an obstacle to one’s studies as it is known well that marriage helps in freeing the mind and relaxing the soul.
Dr Saleh Al-Rumah, Professor of Sociology at King Saud University in Riyadh, said the “Adl” phenomenon is associated with the boom witnessed by the Kingdom in the early 70s, when some fathers used to fabricate baseless excuses to delay their daughter’s marriage in order to buy time to benefit as much as they could from their daughter’s salary.
He added that sex is a natural instinct and denying it through “Adl” could lead to corruption which often begins when obstacles are put in the way of marriage. Dr. Al-Rumah said, “Moreover, immorality, prostitution, traveling abroad to corrupt places and illegal sexual relations have become widespread due to problems with marriage, as well as the widespread availability of immoral material broadcast, for example, on satellite television channels which has turned the world into a global village.
Dr. Al-Rumah said that “Adl” is directly responsible for the spread of spinsterhood in society, adding that this problem and many others like it are due to unclear understanding, weak faith, lack of practice and misconceptions regarding the objectives of Islam.
He said forced marriages also have a negative effect on women and their children pointing out that this type of marriage can cause irreparable damage to families especially to wives who may be under severe psychological stress that may lead to the breakup of the family and eventually to the disintegration of society.
In order to curtail this phenomenon, he suggests that fathers should fear Allah, advise one another and be reasonable regarding these matters. Also scholars must address this issue and the media should educate people, highlight solutions and offer them to people.
Furthermore, he states that those who carry out marriage formalities should probe the testimony of the witness to make sure that daughters have given their consent for marriage. Finally, he says that daughters whose fathers have prevented them from marrying should not hesitate to approach the courts to facilitate their marriage or to file an “Adl” case against their fathers. – Okaz/SG