The Women and Their Social Independence in the Society (2)

The Women and Their Social Independence in the Society (2)

THE FATHER'S PERMISSION  

The question, which needs examination from the point of view of the authority exercised by fathers over their daughters, is whether the father's consent is essential in the case of a maiden's first marriage. From the Islamic point of view certain things are indisputable. The boy and the girl both are economically independent. Every sane adult is entitled to have full control of his or her property, provided he or she is mentally mature, that is, capable of taking care of themselves. A father, a mother, a husband or a brother has no power of supervision or intervention in this respect. 

Another point, which is indisputable, relates to marriage. The adult and mature boys have full liberty in this respect and nobody else has any right of intervention. The position of the girl, who has been married once and is now without a husband, is the same. But the case of a maiden, who wants to marry for the first time, is a little different. It is beyond any doubt that the father cannot force even a maiden to marry any person against her will. We already know what the Holy Prophet told the girl whom her father had given in marriage, without taking her consent.

The Prophet said that if she was not happy, she could marry someone else. But there exists a difference of opinion among the jurists as to whether a maiden can contract a marriage without the consent of her father and whether the validity of her marriage is in any way conditional to the consent of her father. There is one more point about which there is absolutely no dispute. If the father withholds his consent without a sound reason, he loses his right. The jurists are unanimous that in such a case the daughter is free to contract a marriage with anyone of her choice. 

But otherwise, as we have pointed out, the jurists differ on the point, whether the validity of the marriage of a maiden depends on the consent of her father. Most of the jurists, especially the later ones, are of the view that it does not. But still there are some who are of the opinion that it does. This being a disputed point, it is not possible to discuss it from the Islamic point of view. Anyhow it can be discussed from a social point of view. 

MAN IS AFTER SEX, WOMAN IS AFTER LOVE  

The basis of the rule that the maidens must not or, at least, should not marry without the consent of their fathers is not that they are considered to be less mature than the boys. Had it been so, there should have been no difference between a 16 year old girl, who had previously been married, and as such does not require her father's consent, and a 17 year old maiden who requires it according to the view of some jurists. Moreover, had Islam considered girls to be immature it would not have regarded the transactions, involving money and properties, made by them independently, as valid. Apart from the legal arguments, this point has a definite philosophy which cannot be ignored. 

It is not a question of the immaturity or intellectual inadequacy of woman. It is related to a definite aspect of the psychology of the two sexes i.e. man's instinct of alluring and woman's instinct of credulity in regard to man's faithfulness and truthfulness. Man is after sex and woman is after love. Man is overpowered by his sexual urge, whereas, woman, according to the psychologists, has a greater capacity of controlling and concealing her desires. It is the melody of love, sincerity and faithfulness which subdues woman and brings her to her knees. That is what we mean by credulity of woman. As long as the woman is a maiden and has had no experience of men, she can easily be lured by his love songs. 

Professor Reeck, the American psychologist, says that the best sentence which a man can say to a woman is 'Darling, I love you'. He says that good luck for a woman means to be able to win the heart of a man and to retain it for the rest of her life. The Holy Prophet, the divine psychologist, clearly expressed this truth 1,400 years ago. He has said that if man expresses his love to a woman, she never forgets that. The men who are after enticing a woman fully exploit this womanly feeling. The words, 'I am dying for you' are the best lure for enticing girls who have had no experience of men. That is why it is essential that a girl, who has had no experience of men, should consult her father and should obtain his consent prior to contracting a marriage. Fathers know the mentality of men better and, leaving aside very exceptional cases, wish their daughters well. 

In this case, the law has in no way degraded woman, but has taken a step to protect her interest. To raise an objection against the necessity of obtaining a father's consent in the case of girls is more illogical than to ask why a father's or mother's consent has not been made necessary in the case of boys. I wonder how the people, who daily come across incidence of the evils of free romance between boys and girls, still advise the girls to revolt against and he indifferent to the advice of their guardians. In our view this act amounts to a sort of collusion between those who claim to have sympathy with women and those who are after enticing them. The former prepare the ground for the latter and make their job easier. 

The girls have an absolute option in the matter of marriage. Only its validity depends upon the consent of the father, provided that he does not withhold it with any bad intention, or because he is not competent to exercise his judgment rightly for any special reason. Can anything be wrong with such a rule, or can it be regarded as against the basic concept of human liberty? It is just a precaution to safeguard the interests of inexperienced girls and is based on a sort of suspicion about the male nature. 

In this respect no objection can be raised against the Islamic law as such. What is objectionable is the custom prevailing among the Muslims. Most of the fathers still think that they have absolute authority and regard it as against her modesty, if a girl expresses her views about the selection of her partner in life, who is to be the father of her future children. They mostly do not pay attention to the intellectual maturity of the girl, which, according to the Islamic law, is an indisputable necessity. Many marriages, which take place before the girls are mature, are legally invalid and void. Mostly no inquiry is made about the maturity of the girl and puberty is considered enough. But we know what the great jurists have written about testing the intellectual maturity of the girls.

Some jurists have regarded religious maturity also as a condition of marriage. They hold that only those girls who know the principles of religion with reason and proof are fit for marriage. Unfortunately, most of the guardians and those who preside over the religious ceremony of the marriage do not observe these conditions. It may be mentioned that in all old marriage deeds the words 'adult, sane and mature' are found along with the names of the bride and the bridegroom. Anyway, according to the Shi'ite law, a woman who is adult and mature and has once been married does not require her father's consent.