Short Answer: Before everything, it’s necessary to ensure one has pure intentions in pursuing marriage. Then, one searches for a suitable mate in a suitable way. Next, one should make one’s interest known to both the intended and his or her family—and yes, women can propose marriage. Next, the families should meet together to arrange a healthy marriage contract, and the engaged couple should be given privacy to get to know one another better, within halal means, keeping in mind that after they sign the contract, they are Islamically married. Finally, one ensures that one’s wedding day is free of haram elements to invite God’s blessings into the new marriage.
Salam Dear Mohamed,
Thank you for this important question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
Your question is really needed in our current times for many Muslim families.
May Allah benefit all the Muslims seeking marriage and reward you for seeking knowledge.
Let me first congratulate you and your whole family on the engagement and pray Allah to make it a blessed marriage.
First of all, we need to understand some things about marriage and its philosophy in order to proceed through its steps as Islam prescribes and gain the maximum of benefits.
Being a sign of Allah and an indication of His great mercy to people, marriage represents a union between two families, rather than just two individuals.
When we think of marriage this way, we will realize that the ultimate aim is to link different people, regardless of their color or ethnicity, relying on one of the most important basis between two individuals: the relation of marriage.
Marriage Affirms Belief
One of the important hidden wisdoms of marriage is its being a form of affirming our belief in the Oneness of Allah.
Some people may raise a question mark here.
Here’s the explanation: When we marry, we are indirectly and practically saying that we need a partner, that this is part of our nature as human beings.
In this way, we confirm that only Allah does not need a partner.
It is through marriage that people refresh two types of relations: their relationship with Allah and their relationship with their society.
Likewise, when people marry, they refresh their relationship with society by practically saying that they are actively
participating through building a good family and shouldering its responsibility.
The unity of two families together, namely the family of the bride and the family of the groom, is really a happy event.
Therefore, both families are required to share the happiness, and that is why Islam generally requires a guardian for the bride in most schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
It does not carry any negative message about the bride; rather, it gives a message that this marriage is a unification of two families together.
Of course in the West, or in cases where the bride does not have an involved family for whatever reason, especially if she is a convert, these requirements can be flexible.
Marriage… One Step at a Time
Step One: Set a Good Intention
Coming to the steps of the marriage, we need to realize that it all starts with the intention.
A person who intends to get married or to whom a marriage proposal is given is supposed to review his or her intention and purpose behind that marriage.
Defining the purpose is very important as it affects all the decisions that will follow.
Next: Find a Suitable Partner in a Suitable Way
Moving on to another step, we realize that once the person has reviewed his or her intention, he or she will be taking practical steps to find a partner.
Once he or she finds Mr. or Mrs. Right, the question is raised: “How should I approach my partner-to-be? Or whom should I approach first, the family or the partner?”
Personally, I believe that the lady or gentlemen — and not their family — should be approached first, because he or she is the one who will be getting married.
However, this should be done in the proper way.
Using a third party is a brilliant idea here. This third party should be someone who is just, trustworthy, and acceptable by both sides.
That could be a friend of the lady in case a man is proposing, or a friend of the man in case a lady is proposing.
Side-note: Yes, Women Can Propose Marriage!
Yes, I meant to say: “in case a lady is proposing”!
This should not sound strange to anyone as we find that Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) used this way when she intended to get married to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
She actually sent one of her friends, known as Nafisah bint Munabbih, who took the responsibility to find out if Prophet Muhammad will be interested in such a thing.
Following this step (i.e. once it is ascertained that the other party is interested in marriage), then the family should be involved.
The person should be speaking to his or her family and taking them to the other family and start the marriage process.
After The Engagement, Before the Marriage: Keep Things Halal
After the engagement, the fiancé and the fiancée should bear in mind that they are still not legally married.
This means they are allowed to utilize this period of engagement to explore each other’s characters and personalities without forgetting that they are still unmarried.
They are not allowed to have any type of physical contact or to get involved in any improper talk.
They can simply share their mutual views about their future together. They can plan the upbringing of their children and leading a life that will end them up in Paradise.
Once they have got a full, or at least enough, exploration of their lives, they will start thinking with a family-oriented mentality, rather than with an individualistic one.
Next Step: The Marriage Contract, Know Your Rights
The following step is the marriage contract that necessitates that each of the two should be studying and reading about the rights and responsibilities of a husband and a wife in order to be able to go smoothly with the life ahead of them.
Both should bear in mind that after the contract, they are Islamically husband and wife.
They should be given some privacy to discuss closely and can exchange words of love and attraction freely.
This should be an introduction to the final step: the wedding day.
Final Step: The Wedding Day
It should be a very special, memorable day in the life of both families. It actually represents the culmination of all this process.
It should not involve anything that will bring the husband and the wife the wrath of their Creator.
In fact, the wedding day should be a chance again for reviewing and renewing the intention so that the couple remind themselves that they are at the threshold of a new life and that they should be up to it.
They should remind themselves of the purpose of this life and live for that purpose.
In this way, they can find a meaning in every day they live together, and the families will really enjoy such a union.
I hope this answers your question. Please remain in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)