What is option of puberty under Muslim personal law?

Option of puberty

(1) Introduction 

In pre-Islamic era, there were several ugly forms of marriage. Islam has forbidden all these ugly forms of marriage and has presented its own concept of marriage. Through this concept, Islam has declared that free consent of major man and woman is necessary for marriage between them. Even Islam has presented its own concept of marriage during minority of man or woman.

(2) Meaning

According to Islamic law, minor has option to repudiate marriage on attaining puberty when his/her guardian, who is other than his/her father or father’s father, has contracted his/her marriage during his/her minority. Such right is called option of puberty.

(3) Explanation

Following points are important for explanation of option of puberty:

  • (a) Option of puberty against marriage contracted by father or father’s father
  • (b) Sunni school of thought
  • (c) Shia school of thought

(a) Option of puberty against marriage contracted by father or father’s father

Although it has been settled in Islamic law that no minor can repudiate his/her marriage, which his/her father or father’s father has contracted during his/her minority, yet minor can repudiate such marriage on attaining majority due to following reasons:

  • (a-i) Fraud or negligence
  • (a-ii) Marriage with lunatic
  • (a-iii) Disadvantage of minor

(a-i) Fraud or negligence

When father or father’s father has acted fraudulently or negligently, minor can repudiate marriage on attaining puberty.

(a-ii) Marriage with lunatic

When minor has been married to lunatic, minor can repudiate marriage on attaining puberty.

(a-iii) Disadvantage of minor

When marriage has been contracted to manifest disadvantage of minor, minor can repudiate marriage

on attaining puberty.

(b) Sunni school of thought

As far as option of puberty is concerned, following points are important for explanation of concept of Sunni school of thought:

  • (b-i) Repudiation of marriage
  • (b-ii) Loss of option of puberty
  • (b-iii) Decree of court
  • (b-iv) Silence of girl
  • (b-v) Inheritance

(b-i) Repudiation of marriage

Marriage of minor subsists until minor repudiates such marriage on attaining majority when such marriage is contracted by person, who is other than his/her father or father’s father.

(b-ii) Loss of option of puberty

Due to silence of girl, option of puberty is lost.

(b-iii) Decree of court

Decree of court is necessary for repudiation of minor’s marriage when his/her marriage is contracted by person, who is other than his/her father or father, during his/her minority.

(b-iv) Silence of girl

Silence of girl is considered her consent for her marriage when her marriage is contracted by person, who is other than her father or father’s father, during minority.

(b-v) Inheritance

If any of married parties dies before exercise of right under option of puberty, other party can inherit from deceased party.

c- Shia school of thought

As far as option of puberty is concerned, following points are important for explanation of concept of Shia school of thought:

  • (c-i) Ineffective marriage
  • (c-ii) Loss of option of puberty
  • (c-iii) Decree of court
  • (c-iv) Consent of girl
  • (e-v) Inheritance

(c-i) Ineffective marriage

Marriage of minor remains ineffective until minor verifies such marriage on attaining majority when such marriage is contracted by person, who is other than his/her father or father’s father.

(c-ii) Loss of option of puberty

Due to compromise of girl, option of puberty is lost.

(c-iii) Decree of court

Decree of court is necessary for repudiation of minor’s marriage so as to make court witness.

(c-iv) Consent of girl

Consent of girl should be expressed for validity of her marriage when such marriage is contracted by her father or father’s father during her minority.

(e-v) Inheritance

If any of the married parties dies before exercise of right under option of puberty, other party cannot inherit from deceased party.

(4) Conclusion

To conclude, it can be stated that option of puberty should be exercised without any unreasonable delay. It reveals that option of puberty should be exercised immediately on attaining puberty.

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