Allah is the one who has ordained marriage for His creatures. He has placed within marriage the blessings of comfort, love, and mercy.
"And among His Signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." [Sūrah Rūm: 21]
For this reason, Allah had made one of the essential pillars of the marriage contract that both the husband and the wife are willing parties to the marriage. This is the essence of the offer and acceptance in the marriage contract. It is not possible to contract a legal marriage in Islam without the willing consent of two legally accountable people of sound mind.
As for the customs and traditions that exist in some parts of the world requiring people to marry others who are chosen for them, these customs are not Islamic. No one can be obliged to follow them. No man can be obliged to marry any woman against his will. Likewise, no woman can be forced to marry any man against her will.
The Sunnah provides us with a considerable amount of evidence for the legal necessity of the consent of both parties to the marriage.
`A'ishah narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "A virgin's consent must be sought for marriage."
To this `A'ishah commented: "But a virgin is too bashful."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "Her silence is her consent." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
Buraydah narrates that once, a woman came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, my father married me to my cousin in order to raise his social standing, but I do not want to be married to him.”
The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave her the option of annulment. At this point, she said: “I have already reconciled myself to my father’s decision, but I wanted it to be known that women have a say in the matter.”
[Sunan al-Nasā’ī (3269), Sunan Ibn Mājah (1874), and Musnad Ahmad (25043) and authenticated by Shu`ayb al-Arna`ût et al in Tahqīq Musnad Ahmad (41/493)]
Though a child must generally obey his or her parents, this obedience does not extend to marrying an unwanted partner in life. Islamic Law permits a son or daughter to refuse entering into any marriage he or she is displeased with, no matter what their reason for refusing might be.
Without a doubt, it is better to refuse to get married from the outset than to place oneself into an unhappy marriage. There is no reason for the people to subject themselves to an unhappy home life or to an unstable marriage which might very well end in a stressful and messy divorce.
If a man knows that the family of his bride to be is coercing her to marrying him, then that man must, himself, refuse to enter into the marriage. It is not lawful for him to marry a woman he knows is unwilling. Such a marriage has a contractual defect in it, since the willing consent of both parties is part of the contractual basis of a lawful marriage in Islam – even if that marriage takes place in a court of law at the behest of the woman's legal guardian.
No one should enter into a marriage unless he or she is perfectly satisfied with it and resolved to it. The consent of both the man and the woman must be utterly free. This is the way to ensure that their married life has a good chance of happiness and not be a source of continual grief for the couple and for their respective families.
And Allah knows best.