Is it permissible to marry a girl who is older than you?
Submitted by on Wed, 29/07/2009 - 19:35
Dear Brother / Sister,
A woman can marry a man younger or older than her. There is no drawback to it. Our Prophet (pbuh) married Hazrat Khadijah, who was older than him.
It is very important for the peace of the home to be established and the training and education of the children to be born that the man choose the girl to marry carefully and the parents of the girl choose the son-in-law carefully. Our Prophet, who advised us to be careful in choosing the son-in-law and daughter-in-law, wanted us to be cautious by saying, "People are like mines in terms of good deeds and bad deeds."(1) Hazrat Umar tells the following three things to his son who asks him about the rights of a child regarding his father: 'Choose a mother with high ethics and good manners, give him/her a nice name, and teach him/her the Quran." (2)
First of all, the main purpose of a marriage is to bring up good children; it is also important because marriage prevents the person to be married from committing some sins and ensures him/her to have a regular life. Otherwise, it is certain that an attempt originating only from the desires of the soul and based on only satisfying some temporary pleasures will cause constant problems in the future.
When Imam Ghazali lists the principles of our religion regarding the issue, he mentions the following two qualities in the first two places:
(2) high ethics.(3)
A similar or equal level between the couples is very important so that the marriage will not break in the future. It is certain that a religious girl and a frivolous man will not make a good couple. Such a marriage will probably break down because it usually becomes impossible to live in harmony for spouses with different lifestyles. Similarly, the marriage of a religious man with a woman who does not act in accordance with the divine commands and who is not religious will cause a lot of problems and will be difficult to continue. Thus, Islam prevents possible incidents beforehand by taking necessary measures. So, it ensures the continuation of the system in the community on sound principles.
Our Prophet (pbuh), who attracts attention to the issue, gives believers the following advice:
"Women are preferred for four qualities in marriage: for her property, nobility, beauty and religion. Prefer the religious one, you will be happy."(4)
It is the advice of the Prophet to give importance to the religiousness of the woman apart from the other qualities. Therefore, it is the most important point to be taken into consideration by Muslims.
When Hazrat Umar asked the Prophet, "What kind of goods should we obtain to meet our needs?", he answered: "The best goods are a tongue that mentions the names of Allah (dhikr), a heart that thanks Allah and a believing woman who helps her husband in Islamic activities regarding the hereafter."(5)
Our Prophet regards the woman who helps her husband in Islamic activities as one of the most important wealth.
Our Prophet, who often warns us regarding the issue, wants us to be more careful with his following advice: "Do not marry women only for their beauty because their beauty may put them in danger. Do not marry them only for their property because their property may deprave them. Marry the religious one. Doubtlessly, a black female slave with a cut nose, and pierced ear is better that a woman who is not religious."
A man should look for a religious woman to marry; similarly, it is the duty of the parents of the girl to give importance to the religiousness of the man to marry their daughter. The parents who give importance only to beauty, wealth and social status but not to religiousness may cause disturbance and mischief.
A man whose daughter’s hand is asked for marriage goes to Hasan al-Basri and asks him; “To what kind of a person shall I give my daughter?" Hasan al-Basri says, "Give her to a man who fears Allah. If he loves your daughter, he will treat her well; if he hates your daughter, he will not oppress her."(6)
Badiuzzaman says; " According to the Shari’a, the husband should be a good match for the wife. That is, they should be suitable to one another. The most important aspect of this being suitable is from the point of view of religion. Happy is the husband who sees the wife’s firm religion and follows her, and himself becomes pious in order not to lose his companion of eternal life. Happy is the wife who sees her husband’s firmness in religion and becomes pious so as not to lose her eternal friend."(7)
When both parties take the aspect of religiousness into consideration, they will naturally give importance to other aspects. Another quality to be sought in the woman is being good-tempered and having high ethics. After all, most of the women who are careful in their religious life will try to act in accordance with the Islamic ethics.
The opinion and preference of the woman about the man should not be forgotten and neglected because marriage is a lifelong togetherness that will go in the eternal life too.
Another point to be taken into consideration is that the mahr of the woman should not be much. That is, it should not cost a lot for the man. Today, in some regions, bride price, which is a custom of ignorance, still leads to the prevention of marriage.
Islamic scholars state that the poverty of a good and virtuous candidate will not be a barrier for equality between the husband and wife and for the marriage. Then, if the spouses agree to marry, an inequality in terms of richness and poverty will not be a serious drawback to marriage.
In addition, if the religiousness and ethics of a woman has the desired quality, the fact that she is from a rich family and that she has her own property can be an additional reason for preference. That quality is mentioned as a different reason in the hadith.
1. Musnad, 2: 539.
2. Tarbiyatu'l-Awlad, 1: 38.
3. Ihya, 2: 38.
4. Ibn Majah, Nikah: 6.
5. Tirmidhi, Tafsiru'l-Qur'an.- 48, Ibn Majah, Nikah: 5.
6. Ihya, 2: 43.
7. Lem'alar (Flashes), p. 186.
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