Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- Muslims are not allowed by any way to have physical relations with the opposite sex outside marriage.
2- So, it is the duty of the Muslim families and societies to facilitate marriage, especially for those who are getting older than the normal age of marriage.
3- If a man or a woman is forbidden from marriage for any a certain reason, he/she should observe abstinence and have patience asking Allah Almighty to get him/her rid of that obstacle.
In his response to the question in point, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states the following:
It is a very sad thing to see that Muslim women or men suffer unmarried life due to un-Islamic social factors. We must blame our un-Islamic social customs and materialistic outlook that cause some men and women to remain unmarried.
Some young people or their parents have very high expectations for their spouses. They set a very difficult standard of education, profession, wealth or physical features for any prospective suitor. The result is that such women remain single because the suitors fail to meet those standards.
We, Muslims, must emphasize that the best criterion according to Islam is good character. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “If someone whose faith and morals you trust makes a proposal of marriage to you then marry him, otherwise there will be trials and much corruption in the land.” (Ibn Majah)
As Muslims, it is also our duty to help our Muslim brothers and sisters get married. Allah Almighty says, “And marry such of you as are solitary and the pious of your slaves and maid servants. If they be poor; Allah will enrich them of His bounty. Allah is of ample means, Aware.”(An-Nur 24:32)
However, if for any reason men or women are not able to marry, then they must observe abstinence. They have no other way. Allah says that the believing men and believing women guard their private parts from committing any illicit sexual act.
He Almighty says, “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do.”(An-Nur 24:30)
He Almighty also says, “Lo! men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and men who believe and women who believe, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth, and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard (their modesty), and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward.”(Al-Ahzab 33:35)
Sexual relations are allowed only among the married couples. Sex outside marriage is not allowed in Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “O young people, whoever among you can afford to marry, let him/her get married, because marriage protects the private parts of the body (i.e. from illicit relations) and it guards the eyes from straying. But those who cannot afford to marry then let them fast, because fasting will curb their sexual urge.” (An-Nasa’i)
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.