Marriage is an important social contract between a man and woman, because it is the very foundation of the family and therefore of society. Islam has paid great attention to the issue of marriage, and based it on the purity, surrounded by a frame of affection and love. It is evident from the rules and regulations of marriage in Islam that it is fully in conformity with human nature and public taste.
Age of Bride in Hindu Scriptures
Some Hindu scriptures are strict in specifying the age of marriage for a girl. If a girl has reached her puberty, then her forefathers in the other world are for ever drinking the blood she sheds every month. In addition, there is a well-known statement that asserts that when a girl completes her tenth year she becomes a Kanya or maid, with this she becomes a physiologically perfect woman. If a maid in her father’s house sees her monthly courses without having been married, she is to be looked on as a inauspicious who is hated by everyone and whoever takes her for himself without more delays he is not guilty as she has thereby canceled her right of marriage and woe to him that yet takes her.(1)
R. Ragoonath Row (a follower of Hindu religion) says in this connection: “Therefore, marry a damsel before she attains menstruation, (8 years appears) to be the best age to marry.”(2)
He adds: “The proper time for disposing of a damsel in wedlock precedes puberty.”(3)
R. Ragoonath Row states in his another book: “Pre-pubescent marriage has probably been in existence in India for thousands of years past.”(4)
It is well known that Islam did not specify certain age for the marriage, but it gives the authority to the parent or guardian. The environment has a great role in the growth of a girl; it varies from one country to another, from one race to another race. Sometimes it may be as early as 7 years of age. In this subject, an article entitled “Growing up too soon? Puberty strikes 7-year-old girls” has been published in NBC News.(5)
That is why Islam did not specify a fixed age for a girl or boy for the marriage, so that the matter would be decided according to the growth and maturity of a girl or boy in the light of experiences and common rules.
Is Marriage an Obligatory Duty?
It is generally believed that it is incumbent upon every Hindu to enter into a married life; but this is not founded upon the ordinations of Hindu Law. According to this law, marriage is optional. The Hindu religion indeed holds the unmarried, in greater reverence than the married. R. Ragoonath Row views that these principles are mentioned in the Vedas and Shastras.(6)
It is noteworthy that Islam does not give the life of celibacy any superiority to the marital life as we find in Hinduism. There are many Hadiths that show that marital life is better than the celibacy; rather, celibacy is forbidden and contrary to the principles of Islam. The life of the Hindu priests, in the past and the present, is full of corruption, adultery and moral deviation. I think that all these corruptions spring from choosing the monastic life which is contrary to the human nature.
To Whom a Girl should be given in Marriage?
It is highly meritorious in Hinduism to give one’s daughter to a Brahman, a penitent, or a holy man. Under the “Brahmanic” form of marriage the father gives the daughter to a Brahman for nothing. And this method has been put at the head and distinguished, with its name by the priesthood or ‘Brahmanic Vivah’, of course not on moral basis, but on very selfish grounds. The quite gratuitous marriage of a princess with a Brahman, a holy man, or a penitent is found, too, in many of the tales in the Epic. And in the Brahmanic view a very great honor is done to a ruler when the pious man accepts such a gift. It is no wonder that a whole set of pious kings of the fabled earliest times have their praises trumpeted as having thought otherwise and given their daughters to the Brahmans and as a reward gone into the worlds of the blest together with all their kinsfolk.(7)
I do not know what is the basis upon which the superiority of Brahman caste over other human beings is based? Why Hindu scriptures prefer Brahman to other people who are good and have good manners? Brahman is always meritorious although he may be a thief or murderer.
Mahabharat, xiii, 24.9 states in this regard: “He that does not give his own grown-up fair daughter to a worthy wooer, let him be held for a Brahman-murderer.”
The Curse of Dowry in Hindu Marriages
One of the evils of Hindu marriages is the curse of dowry system. The amount of dowry can be a very large amount, depending upon the financial status of the parties involved. Sometimes greedy mother-in-laws and husbands subject the poor brides to countless hardships for not meeting their expectations in respect of the dowry. Cases of bride burning are not unknown. Hindu marriages are also very expensive because of the status, dowry, expensive gifts, family prestige and other issues involved. The bride’s parents have to bear the impact of most of the expenses and in many cases it leads to their financial indebtedness.(8)
The curse of dowry in Indian society leads to many evils; some of them are subject to infanticide, constant humiliation and disrespect. Unlike Islam which considers the women with fewer dowries more blessed. It was narrated by `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The most blessed women are those who are less in expenses.” (Ahmad).
The Islamic principles and teachings have exalted the value of woman and gave her an honorable place within her family and society. There is no room for any kind of insult or contempt for woman; she has never been regarded as a burden as seen in Hindu society. Islam comprises teachings and injections for honoring the woman as a daughter, mother, wife, sister, aunt married or widow, not only this, but also Islam has honored woman at every stage of her life. (For more information on this subject, please, click here.)
Wishes for Sons in Hindu Marriages
The earlier lines showed that Islam does not discriminate between male and female in merit or value. Therefore, a Muslim welcomes a newborn, whether it is a male or female, without any partiality for any of them. On the contrary, the teachings of Hinduism -as were mentioned in its ancient scriptures- prefer the male to the female. For example, Rig Veda says: “O Bounteous Indra! Endow this bride with great sons and fortune. Give her ten sons and make the husband the eleventh. (Rig Veda X.85.46)
That is why the birth of a daughter is, in general, not an object of wishes; rather the daughter is the bitterest woe in Hinduism, a daughter is known for a misfortune.(8)
(1) Johann Jakob Meyer, Sexual Life in Ancient India, New York, Barnes & Noble, Inc. 1953, 55.
(2) R. Ragoonath Row, Hindu Law on Marriage, C. Foster & Co. 1882, p 9.
(4) R. Raghunatha, The Aryan Marriage, Cosmo Publications 1908, p.3.
(5) See:http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38600414/. Last accessed on 27-10-2013.
(6) See: R. Ragoonath Row, Hindu law on Marriage, C. Foster & Co. 1882, p.1.
(8) Johann Jakob Meyer, Sexual Life in Ancient India, New York, Barnes & Noble, Inc. 1953, p. 7.