Does Islam Allow Courtship Before Marriage?

14 February, 2019
Q As-salamu `alaykum. Does Islam allow courtship for long period before getting married? If yes, how can one go about it and how long does it take? If it is no, give out the reason.


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:

If you mean by “courtship” dating and hanging out as commonly practiced in Western communities, it is not allowed in Islam.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

What do you mean by courtship? Do you mean dating as commonly practiced in the West today which entails going out to movies and isolating with a girl or a boy one wish to marry? Then the answer is no.

Islam does not allow any isolation or hanging out together with a member of the opposite sex unless they are married or they are close blood relations known as mahram.

We are ordered to guard ourselves against suspicions. One of the best examples that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) set for us in this regard was:

Once while he was escorting his wife Safiyyah at night from the mosque, from far he noticed two of the Ansar men passing by. He called out and said, “This is my wife, Safiyyah.” On hearing this, the Companions said, “Allah be glorified! How can we suspect you, O Allah’s Messenger?” He said, “I know you won’t. However, I didn’t want the Devil to whisper evil suggestions in your minds!

While explaining this tradition, some of our great scholars tell us that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) acted that way only to set a precedent for his followers on how to deal with similar situations. For no one can even think of harboring a suspicion against the Prophet without risking his faith.

So the only reason the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said so was to impress upon us that we must guard ourselves against actions that may cause suspicions. If, for one reason or another, we find ourselves in such situations, it is our duty to clarify ourselves.

Therefore, you are advised not to be isolated with a girl or practice what is so-called courtship before marriage.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.