In this counseling answer:
• We can see clearly why even seemingly minor relations with members of the opposite sex can lead to more serious sins. Thus, the best is to avoid it or make it halal through marriage.
• It might be time, if you feel comfortable, to approach both your and then her family to discuss the matter.
• Be sure that they are in a good state of mind and not caught up emotionally with something else.
• Once you have the support of your own family, it might be easier for you to go forward to the girl’s family with your proposal.
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh dear brother,
It is understandable why you feel this situation very difficult. You have found someone you want to marry and she has accepted your proposal, too, but you have doubts whether now is a good time as you have not finished the university yet. You also have the added pressure that the family will reject your plan due to the cultural expectation that you need to finish university first. What seems to distress you most is that if you leave the issue until you finish university, any communication with this girl is classed as zina as you are not married.
According to Islamic principles, any relationship with a woman outside of marriage is haram.
Narrated ibn ‘Umar: “Behold! A man is not alone with a woman but the third of them is Ash-Shaitan.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)
Narrated ibn Abbas: “I did not see anything so resembling minor sins as what Abu Huraira said from the Prophet, who said, “Allah has written for the son of Adam his inevitable share of adultery whether he is aware of it or not: The adultery of the eye is the looking (at something which is sinful to look at), and the adultery of the tongue is to utter (what it is unlawful to utter), and the inner self wishes and longs for (adultery) and the private parts turn that into reality or refrain from submitting to the temptation.” (Bukhari)
So, we can see clearly why even seemingly minor relations with members of the opposite sex can lead to more serious sins. Thus, the best is to avoid it or make it halal through marriage.
This might be hard for you to hear given that you are very fond of this girl. But you need to know that from an Islamic perspective, there is no obligation for the man (or anyone) to complete university or even have a stable job before marriage. Of course, this might be an ideal situation because you might feel in a better position to provide for your new family, but it is not a necessity. In fact, Islamically, you are more obliged to get married to prevent the act of zina and protect yourself from falling into sin. This is more important than any other aspect of marriage such as education and wealth.
There are many matters in which you find blurred boundaries between culture and religion. It is important that we make this distinction if we are to be true followers of Allah and not our forefathers. It is understandable, however, how this can be difficult if the family does not offer the support of the marriage based on cultural expectations, such as the need to complete university before marriage. But, again, from an Islamic perspective it is not necessary.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ood reported that Allah’s Messenger (saw) said to us: “0 young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford it should observe fast for it is a means of controlling the sexual desire.” (Muslim)
From what you say, she has a positive influence on you in terms of strengthening your deen. Your fear of committing zina further reinforces this which is the most important thing in a marriage and choosing a spouse. However, this doesn’t discard the fact that any relations with her is haram at this stage. It is possible, though, to turn this situation around and make it halal by repenting and actually pursuing the marriage to her.
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Moving forward with this proposal will be difficult without any family support, so it might be time, if you feel comfortable, to approach both your and then her family to discuss the matter. Explain to them that you would like to marry for all the right reasons as a protection for both you and the girl. This piety that you move forward with should be the most important thing to the girl’s family, knowing that a man of piety will treat their daughter with respect in line with the teachings of Islam.
Once you are firm in your heart that the reasons you wish to marry this girl are for the sake of Allah, this should give you strength and conviction to make it a matter you can discuss openly with your families. Once you know how both families feel about the proposal, you will be able to take action.
There are a few steps you could take to make this discussion more comfortable.
Firstly, since you say you are ready to discuss the proposal with your family, you might go to them first. If there is someone in your family whom you feel particularly comfortable with, approach him first and explain the situation. This will help you to feel comfortable to discuss the matter with other family members. With this person, you might be able to come up with a plan regarding how to approach the rest of your family in a way that is most fitting for your family circumstances.
When approaching this person and/or the rest of the family, make sure to do so at a good time. Timing can often be crucial to the tone of the conversation. Approach the other person when they are not busy with other things and when you know they have time to sit down and listen to you without interruption.
Also, be sure that they are in a good state of mind and not caught up emotionally with something else. Prepared in your mind exactly what you want to say, making clear to them why you want to marry this girl.
Once you have the support of your own family, it might be easier for you to go forward to the girl’s family with your proposal. You could perhaps approach them with a senior member of your family to make the situation more comfortable for you. Again, have a plan in your mind about exactly what you want to say. Make it clear to them that you wish to marry their daughter for all the right reasons, in accordance with Islamic principles.
May Allah make it easy for you to move forward with this proposal. May Allah grant you a wife who will bring you much happiness and whom you will grow together in faith, in sha’ Allah.
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