Five years ago I was coerced into a forced arranged marriage; I mumbled the words “accept” as I wanted to return back to the UK. Since that day I have had no contact with my “wife” and my family have realized that I am not happy.
After 5 years they are ready to bring her over from Pakistan, however I do not feel that I can take her as my wife. I can’t seem to see the qualities in her for a wife, and there are too many cultural differences, she is uneducated and I am a professional. I neither find her attractive and can’t see any good characteristics. I wish for a practicing strong Muslim who will make my children good strong Muslims. I have tried to ask myself sincerely whether I could live with her as husband and wife, and if I can change her – but realistically I can’t, and there is no common ground. Though I am closer to my din than before, my family is non-practicing. Several discussions have occurred with my parents regarding this issue; all they believe is that it will work as they did the same. I intend to do istikharah. What do I do, and what is the ruling.
If you did accept her as your wife meaning that offer (ijab) and acceptance (qabul) did take place in the presence of two male witnesses, then you are considered Islamically married, hence she is your wife and you her husband. You state that you did say “accept”, thus I presume your marriage is valid.
If you were forced into marrying her and you do not wish to remain married to her, then there would be nothing wrong Islamically in divorcing her. It is your right whom you marry, hence the decision is yours. At times, it is better to part ways in the early stages and before consummation, rather than have problems later on.
Thus, you need to really discuss matters with your parents, family, relatives and a local scholar of knowledge and piety. If you think you will not be able to maintain her as a wife and fulfill her rights, you may divorce her, as this would be lesser harm.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK