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.
Dear brother in Islam, first of all, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake. We would like to stress certain points before giving you the answer:
There is a difference between love and romance. Romance, if not checked, may mean wasting time, effort and dignity. Islam teaches us to be truthful and realistic. Besides, the concept of love in Islam is very unique, when a Muslim loves something or somebody, it must be for the sake of Allah; the same applies to hatred. Islam teaches us that marriage is the finest, purest and permissible relationship that should exist between a male and female; it should be the goal that they both have in mind. There is no room in Islam for illicit affairs or the Western vogue-word of boyfriend and girlfriend.
All those stories of media and movies are not helpful to make a person comply with the teachings of Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says, “Three qualities, if found in a person, will help him have perfect faith: Having Allah and His Messenger as the most beloved ones, loving a person only for the sake of Allah and hating getting back to kufr (disbelief) the way one hates to be thrown into fire.” That means love is a fruit of piety. Love without piety is mischief.
There is no concept of courtship in Islam as it is practiced in the West. There is no dating or living in de facto relationship or trying each other out before committing to each other. There is to be no physical relationship whatsoever before marriage. The romantic notions that occupy the mind of young people often have proven in most cases to be unrealistic and harmful to those involved.
We only have to look at the alarming divorce rate in the West to understand this point. To give an example, the couple know each other for years, are intimate, live together and so on. Yet somehow this does not guarantee the success of the future marriage. Romance and love simply do not result in an everlasting bond between two people.
In most cases, romance and love die out very quickly when couple find themselves with the real world. The unrealistic expectation that young people have is what often contributes to the failure of their relationship.
The West makes fun of the Islamic way of marriage, in particular arranged marriage. Yet, the irony is that statistically arranged marriages prove to be more successful and lasting than romantic types of courtship. This is because people are blinded by the physical attraction and thus do not choose the compatible partner. Love blinds people to the extent of overlooking potential problems in the relationship.
There is an Arabic proverb that says: “Love is blind, it makes zucchini turn into okra”. Arranged marriages, on the other hand, are based not on physical attraction or romantic notions, but rather on critical evaluation of the compatibility of the couple. That is why such marriage often proves successful.
From an Islamic perspective, in choosing a partner, the most important factor that should be taken into consideration is Taqwa (piety and consciousness of Allah). The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, recommended the suitors to see each other before going through with marriage procedures.
That is very important because it is unreasonable for two people to be thrown into marriage and be expected to have a successful marital life, full of love and affection, when they know nothing of each other. The couple are permitted to look at each other.
This ruling does not contradict the Qur’anic verse that says, “…believing men and women should lower their gaze” (An-Nur 24:30)
The couple, however, are not permitted to be alone in a closed room or go out together alone. As the Hadith says, “When a man and a woman are together alone, the Shaytan (Satan) makes their third.” One of the conditions of a valid marriage is the consent of the couple.
Marriage by definition is a voluntary union of two people. The choice of a partner by a Muslim virgin girl is subject to the approval of the father or guardian. This is to safeguard her welfare and interests. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until she has consented to that and the virgin shall not be married until her consent is sought.” The Prophet did nullify the marriage of a girl who complained to him that her father had married her against her wishes.
Though love is something nice, and it is recommended for a man to marry a woman whom he loves, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “There is nothing better for two who love each other than marriage.”(Sahih Al-Jami`, 5200)
However, this love should not be overwhelming and cause a person to forget other characteristics which he should look for in the person he wants to marry. The most important characteristic is religious commitment.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says, “A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her commitment to religion. Choose the one who is religious, may your hands be rubbed with dust [i.e., may you prosper]!” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Dear brother in Islam, we hope that the main points of the issue have become clear. Now, let’s assume that you are the subject of the hypothesis you draw in your question: On what basis would you like to choose your partner? Wouldn’t you look to her commitment to Islam – does she pray regularly, for example? Does she adhere to the Islamic Hijab prescribed by Shari`ah?
If the lady you want to marry is religious, of good manners, and obeys Allah and His Messenger, and both of you want to please Allah in this world in order to earn reward in the Hereafter, then you have made a perfect choice, and we ask Allah to fulfill your hopes and bring you together in a good way. If she is not, then you should reconsider your choice. May Allah help you to do what He loves and what pleases Him!
As for the second part of your question, i.e. the girl’s refusal to marry a person who has asked her hand in marriage, we suggest that, if such thing happens, the person in question can make efforts and seek all permissible ways to persuade the father or the guardian of the girl to give her in marriage to him. One can just bring mediators from within the family, i.e. he can resort to those people whose word carries weight to help in the issue.
One can also seek the help of the Imam of the Islamic Center where the girl’s father goes, to talk with him about this, and always pray earnestly to Allah to help realize the dream if it’s good. But we have to emphasize that it is not lawful to compel a girl to marry someone she does not want.
Allah Almighty knows best.