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- Dating, as it is currently practiced in much of the world does not exist among Muslims where a young man and woman (or boy/girl) are in a one-on-one intimate relationship, spending time together alone, “getting to know each other” in a very deep way before deciding whether that’s the person they will marry.
2- Rather, in Islam pre-marital relationship of any kind between members of the opposite sex is forbidden.
Answering your question we would like to cite the following:
This question revolves around the issue of choosing a life partner. How does Islam view it? Does it need dating to decide whom to marry?
In the first place, there are two main points to be highlighted and stressed:
1- Islam combats evil inclinations, wicked desires and corrupt tendencies. It forbids involvement in sin or even approaching it. It calls for purity, cleanliness and chastity in word and deed.
2- Islam offers lawful alternatives and pure channels for satisfying human desires. It forbids adultery, but urges marriage. It sanctions illicit affairs or dating, but provides clear ways of proposing to a woman in marriage. It forbids any kind of liaison or affairs between unmarried male and female or being together without a Mahram. So what Islam caters for here is organizing man’s conduct in a way that will bring him benefit and enhance stability and ethical values in the society.
Dating, as it is currently practiced in much of the world does not exist among Muslims – where a young man and woman (or boy/girl) are in a one-on-one intimate relationship, spending time together alone, “getting to know each other” in a very deep way before deciding whether that’s the person they will marry. Rather, in Islam pre-marital relationship of any kind between members of the opposite sex is forbidden.
The choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions a person will make in his or her lifetime. It should not be taken lightly, nor left to chance or hormones. It should be taken as seriously as any other major decision in life: with prayer, careful investigation, and family involvement.
So, in today’s world, how do young people manage? First of all, Muslim youth develop very close friendships with their same-sex peers. This “sisterhood” or “brotherhood” that develops when they are young continues throughout their lives. When a young person decides to get married, the following steps often take place:
1- Young person makes duaa (supplication) to Allah to help him or her find the right person.
2- The family enquires, discusses, and suggests candidates. They consult with each other to narrow down potential prospects. Usually the father or mother approaches the other family to suggest a meeting.
3- Couple agrees to meet in chaperoned, group environment. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) quotes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “Not one of you should meet a woman alone unless she is accompanied by a relative Mahram.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is also quoted as saying: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan is the third among them.” (At-Tirmidhi)
When young people are getting to know each other, being alone together is a temptation toward wrongdoing. At all times, Muslims should follow the commands of the Qur’an to “lower their gaze and guard their modesty….” (An-Nour 24:30-31)
Islam recognizes that we are human and are given to human weakness, so this rule provides safeguards for our own sake.
4- Family investigates candidate further – talking with friends, family, Islamic leaders, co-workers, etc. to learn about his or her character.
5- Couple prays Salat al-Istikharah (Prayer of Seeking Allah’s Guidance) to seek Allah’s help in making a decision.
6- Couple agrees to pursue marriage or part ways. Islam has given this freedom of choice to both young men and women – they cannot be forced into a marriage that they don’t want.
This type of focused courtship helps ensure the strength of the marriage, by drawing upon family elders’ wisdom and guidance in this important life decision. Family involvement in the choice of a marriage partner helps assure that the choice is based not on romantic notions, but rather on a careful, objective evaluation of the compatibility of the couple. That is why these marriages often prove successful.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.