The scene of marriage in Islam in the mind of a non-Muslim fellow is usually as follows: A young Muslim girl, who is crying her heart out, is being suddenly and forcefully declared a wife to an old man who is so BIG, so UGLY, and so RICH. Her parents take a wealthy sum of money and the girl becomes Mr. Grand pa’s own property.
While cases like this one happens in extremely rare occasions, we definitely cannot say that this is the norm in Muslim Marriage. Simply enough, women in Islam are not forced to get married to someone they do not like, so the “crying” factor here is rejected by all means in Islam. That is, unless the bride is happy, she has the right to say no. The proof is when Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) consented to the divorce of a wife who did not like her husband, and please note the word “like” here.
Latest statistics have shown that cases of Muslim girls who get married under the age of 16 are about 10%. It means that this is not the ordinary age women in Islam get married at. It, too, indicates that these girls could be 15, or 14 and not necessarily 9 or 10. Naturally, all these girls have reached their puberty, so they are marriageable and marriage will not deprive them of their childhood.
Mercifully, Islam does not specify a certain age for men or women to get married at. I will tell you why this is considered optimal mercy: firstly, because people are different, so, not all of them reach adolescence at the same age. If a girl at the age of 13 or 14, who has already reached maturity, and wants to get married while Islam only allows marriage at the age of 16, then she would be oppressed. Recklessly, she could resort to illegal affairs which leads to endless problems, such as an early pregnancy, psychological troubles and more importantly, disobeying God. Unfortunately, this problem is somewhat popular in the USA for example. Although, there, it is considered shocking, some young people commit this mistake as marriage at young age is not encouraged.
So, Islam has endowed us with the liberty of getting married at the age we see as proper according to the physical and societal circumstances, be it 10 or even 50! What is sure here is that this liberty protects young people from illegal affairs, helps them to be self-dependent, while at the same time protects society from moral deprivation and parentless children.
Sometimes marriage in Islam can be misunderstood by many non-Muslims. We find them depicting young Muslim girls as being forced to marry someone so BIG, so Ugly, and so RICH in exchange of a wealthy sum of money to the parents.