I had to break up the engagement du...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

I had to break up the engagement due to my parents' disapproval. Am I to blame?


I had to break up the engagement due to my parents' disapproval. Am I to blame?


To start with, a Muslim should always fulfill his promises. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) described the non-fulfillment of a promise as a sign of hypocrisy. This, however, applies mainly to breaches without reasonable justification. But if one is unable to fulfill a promise, one should explain to the other party the reasons behind this. It may be that going back on a particular promise may cause the other party some harm. In such a case, the two should try to work out some sort of arrangement to mitigate the harm as much as possible.

A promise of marriage is like all promises. It should be kept unless there are compelling circumstances. If there are good reasons for not going ahead with the marriage as in the case when a man learns that the woman he intends to marry is of questionable character or that her moral standards leave much to be desired, then the breach of the promise is justified. However, if it is likely to cause her some harm, then it will be good if the man gives her some compensation in the form of a present. The point is that both the man and the woman has the right to terminate marriage by divorce and thus it is permissible not to go ahead with the marriage even after the engagement has taken place if he realizes that the marriage is likely to be an unhappy one.

If the non-fulfillment of the promise is not due to any fault with the woman but is due to an unreasonable attitude by the groom’s parents, then he should try to balance the two alternatives i.e. going ahead with the marriage and breaking up the engagement.

Parents do not have the authority to prevent their son’s marriage without justification. If the prospective bride is a good person, strong of faith, with high moral values and a good character, then there is no reason to cancel the marriage simply to satisfy one's parents' whims. One should try hard to convince one's parents to accept the marriage by demonstrating to them her good character. A son is not obliged to obey them if they continue to refuse the marriage because he has made a commitment to another party and there is no reason to go back on that commitment.

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