Marriage in Islam
Marriage is a religious and social contract between bride and groom. For a valid marriage, certain conditions must be met:

1. Consent of both parties, which is called Ijab and Qubul.
2. Mahr – a gift from the groom to his bride.
3. Two witnesses.
4. Khutbatun Nikah – to solemnize the marriage.

Both parties mutually agree and enter into the contract. One matrimonial party, express ‘ijab’ willing consent to enter into marriage and the other party expresses ‘Qubul.’Acceptance of the responsibility in the assembly of the marriage. This contract must be written and signed by the bride and the groom. It should be entered into with total commitment and full knowledge of what it involves. It is not like buying a new dress where you can exchange it if you don’t like it. Your partner should be your choice for life.
Mahor: Mahr is a gift from the husband to his wife. A marriage is not valid without Mahr. It does not have to be money or gold. It can be non-materialistic. The amount of it is not legally specified, but it is the husband’s responsibility to pay his wife the requested amount. It is better to pay cash on the day of marriage, or it can be deferred to a later date. But it must be paid by the groom when requested by his wife.
Hazrat Abu Hurayra (p) reported that Prophet Muahammad (pbuh) advised “a woman is married for four things;

1. Her wealth
2. Her beauty
3. For her worldly status
4. For her devotion to religion

You should achieve success by marrying a woman who is devoted to religion. Go may you find goodness.”
The marriage should be publicized and not be kept a secret as it would lead to suspicion and troubles within the community. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said “O young people! Whoever among you can marry, should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze and guard his modesty. And whoever is not able to marry should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.
Hazrat Abdullah-ibn-Umor (p) reported the messenger of Allah said “The whole world is a place for gaining profit and the best thing in the world to profit by a virtuous woman.”

Forced marriage and Islam
Force marriage is totally unacceptable in Islam. A girl came to Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) and informs that her father had married her to her cousin against her wishes. Where upon the prophet (PBUH) allowed her to exercise her choice. She then said I am reconciled to what my father did but I want to make it know to women that father have no say in this matter: Father have no right in their daughter matters.(Ibn Majah) When prophet (PBUH) realised that her father wanted to forced her into marriage she did not wants ,prophet (PBUH) gave her freedom to choose and save her from the oppression of a father who wanted to force her into an unwanted marriage. Islam teaches that consent from both man and woman is a must before a marriage can take place. The Qur’an states “O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion …” (4:19). The Sahih al-Bukhari, one of the most revered sources of hadith (Islamic practice) amongst Islamic scholars, reports the Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be upon Him) as saying: “The widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until her order is obtained, and the virgin girl shall not be married until her permission is obtained.” (Bukhari, 67:42). The next chapter of the Sahih al-Bukhari states: “When a man gives his daughter in marriage and she dislikes it, the marriage shall be repudiated” (Bukhari, 67:43). There are further hadiths that provide examples of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be upon Him) cancelling such marriages in which the daughter’s consent was not sought. (Al-Sahih al-Bukhari, by Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammed, Ibn Isma’il al-Bukhari)

Both the Quran and hadiths are clear and unequivocal about the issue of forced marriage therefore it is not an issue of religion, but a cultural practice that violates your right as a woman and as a Muslim. The act of forcing someone to marry is in fact an act that is against the practices and teachings of Islam.

Secret marriage: Secret marriages whilst recognised are severely disliked in Islam and even no bless when it goes against the will of the parents. Marriage can only ever obtain spiritual comfort if the dua’s of on mother and father is with them. Secret marriage maybe valid it does not mean it is right and blessed.