Dating in Islam – Q&A

Young Muslim faces

Dating in Islam -
Q & A

by Yasmin Mogahed
Reprinted from SuhaibWebb.com

Question: Is dating allowed in Islam so that I can get to know someone for marriage? It’s hard to get married and dating is normal in our society. Arranged marriages aren’t realistic for us nowadays.

Answer:

As-salamu `alaykum brother,

Thank you for the honest question you asked regarding dating. There are a number of issues that you brought up. First, you have pointed out that you live in a society where dating is the norm. While I understand and sympathize with that struggle, it is important to make clear that just because something is the norm in one’s society, does not justify participating in it. In the society that the Prophet (sal-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam)  lived, burying little girls alive was the norm. Of course, the principles of Islam prohibited such barbarism – regardless of what was widespread at the time.

In fact, the Prophet (sws)  has told us that those who follow the right path will always be ‘different’ or ‘strange’ to the mainstream. In one beautiful hadith, the Prophet (sws) says: “Islam began as something strange, and will revert to being strange as it began. So give glad tidings to the strangers.” Then the people asked, “Who are they (the strangers), O Messenger of Allah?” He answered, “Those who are pious and righteous when the people have become evil.” (Ahmad)

Secondly, you state the concern of getting to know someone for marriage. You explain that dating is needed since arranged marriages are not feasible. However, by saying this you imply that these are the only two routes to getting married. What you are forgetting is that there is a third option: the option taught to us by our beloved Prophet (sws). Let us examine each of the three options for meeting a marriage partner:

1) Dating

One option is dating. This option is prohibited for a number of reasons. First, the Prophet (sws) has taught us that it is haram for a non-mahram (unrelated) man and a woman to be alone together. This is called khilwa. He warns that if this happens, Shaytan (satan) will be present with them. The Prophet (sws) said: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman the Devil makes a third.” (Sahih Bukhari) Now it is important to note that Allah never prohibits something unless it is harmful to us. Let us examine for a moment the harm in this.

First, most reports of sexual abuse are not committed by strangers. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 68% of young girls raped knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend or casual acquaintance, and 60% of rapes of young women occur in their own home or a friend or relative’s home – not in a dark alley. So, overwhelmingly, it is those people who you are out on a ‘date’ with that commit these crimes. Also, as dating has become more widespread in a society, so has unwanted pregnancy, as well as sexually transmitted diseases. By prohibiting khilwa, Allah, in His infinite wisdom, is protecting us.

Also, as you know even consensual extra-marital intercourse (zina) is a grave sin in Islam. But Allah did not just tell us not to commit zina. He says in the Qur’an: “Do not come close to zina for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).” (Qur’an, 17:32). One does not leave their infant to play on a highway, but hope they will not get hit by a car. One important Islamic principle is: prevention before cure. You do not come close to fire, and then wonder why you got burned. Therefore, Allah has prohibited anything that may lead to zina, namely khilwa (being in seclusion). Now if just being in seclusion is prohibited, what can be said about physical contact and the whole institution of dating?

In support of dating, some argue that it is needed in order to find a spouse. The irony in this is that dating does not increase marital success. In fact, the United States is a culture where dating is the norm. However, 50% of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology. And according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, couples who lived together before marrying have nearly an 80 percent higher divorce rate than those who did not. So if dating is putting you at a higher risk of sexual abuse, sexually transmitted disease, and unwanted pregnancy, and it makes you no more likely to find a successful marriage partner – but in fact less likely – what logical person would chose this option, even if it were not prohibited by Islam?

2) Arranged Marriage

There is also the option of completely arranged marriages. While it is fine for parents or mutual friends to introduce two prospective partners, the Prophet (sws) has told us not to go into a marriage blindly. Once a man came to the Prophet (sws) and told him that he was going to get married. The Prophet (sws) asked if he had seen the woman. When the man said no, he said: “Go and look at her for it is more likely to engender love between the two of you.” (Ahmad)

3) Islamic Courting

Islam provides the balanced solution to courting, which protects the individual and the society, but does not have people enter marriage blindly. If there is a woman you are considering for marriage, you should approach her mahram (male relative). From there, many avenues exist to get to know her better, without having to be in seclusion or engaging in physical contact. Talking to someone over the phone, through email or the internet, or in the company of a mahram, gives you a chance to find out more about them, without crossing the boundaries set by Allah in His infinite wisdom. The Prophet Muhammad (sws) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not have a private audience with a woman without her mahram.” (Ahmad)

This is the way designed by our Creator, who made everything in the universe, who knows what is hidden and what is open, who knows the future and the past, who knows us, better than we could ever know about ourselves. How could we ever think that a better system could exist than the one prescribed by our Maker and the master of the universe?

Wallahu `alam.

I pray that what I’ve said has been beneficial to you. Anything I said that was right, it is from Allah. Anything wrong, is from myself.

The End

That’s the end of Yasmin’s piece. I’d like to add a few comments of my own. Sister Yasmin’s article is informative and of course correct in all it’s statements of fact, but doesn’t really offer practical alternatives for men and women getting to know each other. Yasmin says, “If there is a woman you are considering for marriage, you should approach her mahram. From there, many avenues exist to get to know her better, without having to be in seclusion or engaging in physical contact.” Of course this is true, but how do you get to that point of choosing someone that you might be interested in for marriage? Just by seeing someone at work, school or a conference? That feels like taking an important step based on insufficient information.

I have three suggestions that would allow singles to meet in an Islamic manner, to get to know each other for marriage:

1. Internet matrimonial services. Of course we have online matrimonial services now – like Zawaj.com! That’s a good place to start, and does not require breaking any Islamic rules. Young people can read one another’s profiles, exchange a few anonymous messages through the matrimonial service’s messaging system, then if they find each other interesting they can take it offline and contact each other’s families.

2. Marriage events. I’m talking about organized marriage events where men and women can meet in a structured and supervised environment. This should be a more widely considered option. There are some organizations doing this already, but they tend to be held only occasionally in larger cities. Smaller cities rarely see such marriage events. I think local mosques should take the lead in organizing marriage events for the singles in their communities.

And every major Islamic conference should include such an event.

3. Imams as matchmakers. Maybe the Imam of each community (and his wife) should take it as one of the office’s functions to maintain a database of single brothers and sisters, and make suggestions and introductions. I’ve read about an Imam in New York who does that quite successfully.

We seem to have these two extremes – either an arranged marriage between cousins, which is generally unhealthy and seems to end in misery more often than not, or a free-for-all where young people must fend and seek for themselves, and often fall into sin.

As a community we must develop modern alternatives that satisfy Islamic requirements and allow single Muslim men and women to meet.

Wael Abdelgawad
Zawaj.com Editor

Related Posts:

Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

Choosing a Spouse

11 Comments

  1. I need a lady between 36 and 40 for marriage

  2. Assalamu-alaikum,

    Hi again. There were a few comments I wanted to make about an article I read here titled – Dating in Islam Q & A. First of all, I am coming back after a long time so bear with me, in my attempts to learn how the site works. You have a different layout and format than you did a few years ago.

    I wanted to point out that in the article (and perhaps you have another somewhere that talks about this) chaperoned “dating” was not addressed. There is such an option. And it simply means that an accompanying mahrem (your brother, son… requirements being he is not underage and he is sane, or even a sister, mother etc.) be along with the brother and sister that are interested in each other.

    I think one of the fundamental problems that we fail to address is the cultural dimensions that play into the entire “dating” dynamic. Most of us are either immigrants, or first generation immigrants. And in the eastern cultures the way you find a bride is by networking, by family looking, etc. And it works wonderfully in many cases… I am in total agreement with Jennifer on the stats of how arranged marriages in many cases can be better than “love” marriages. But, there are many dimensions to arranged marriages – one of which is the fact that your family knows you well enough to know what kind of spouse will pair well with you. Second dimension is the networking itself, which entails the fact that you live in either a muslim country or a country that is predominantly muslim, so the chances of you finding a spouse are much higher.

    In the west, its a whole different ball game. For one thing, there is aspect of being a minority in a Western, non-muslim culture, where the population of muslims is significantly much lower – which also means your chances of finding someone is cut, and the chances you find someone you mesh with is cut down drastically. And you address this in your article by saying there are matrimonial services like your own, which can help, to an extent.

    But, when one lives in a different culture… tying in all the different dimensions that minimize your chances in finding someone… it would make plausible sense to “date” ensuring there is a mahrem along at all times. In fact, lots of muslim brothers and sisters, do this. They meet a brother or sister of a friend, they all hang out as a group, get to know each other, and in many instances it ends in blissful matrimony. Technically it is networking. Many even go on to marry “aqd nikah” so they can continue to go out, unchaperoned, only they do not live together. Which I personally think is a wonderful option.

    I think it is important to remember that what worked best in the Eastern cultures, may not work as effectively in the West. This is not because they are any lesser. I do not raise a distinction in cultural superiority. We are farther apart, fewer, we know much less muslims, than our parents or cousins would have known back home. We are constantly in contact and exposed to non-muslims, and we have no substantial means of finding a companion amongst the differences and mismatches. It’s like being a salmon in a big river… when its spawning time, you are constantly swimming against the tide, trying to get to that perfect spot, and you are around lots of other fish. I know of plenty that have been to matrimonial sites, to events, to imams and still have not found what they are looking for. So being able to meet people becomes all the more important, because its the question of meeting the one single person, just one single person that you know is the right one.

    I think one of the problems that is not being addressed by muslims is the fact that we are no more in the east. We are outside our element. We are a minority in terms of religion, culture and what we believe and what we value as muslims is our reality. And we have to make that work for us, within our current realities. The best analogy I can think of is a rubix cube. You have to do the right things in order to get all right colors on each face of the cube. And for muslims in the west, many of us are struggling and isolated. But, that is going into a whole different dimension, perhaps saved for another day.

    All I am saying is, we have to integrate ourselves into the new culture, whilst holding fast to our beliefs and values, and that is not going to come by sticking to the old method of making things work. It worked for our parents, it works back home, it will not work here… not to the extent it does there. And we simply need to find the middle group, the intersection, where all our needs are met without compromising our belief system and values.

    Wallahu Alam.

    Siddiqua Haswarey
    Senior Undergraduate student of Psychology.
    Pacific University,
    Forest Grove, Oregon.

    • Hey, Siddiqua! Wa alaykum as-salam,

      So good to hear from you, and your comments are much appreciated. You’re right about the website, the format is entirely new and much more manageable from an administrative point of view, though the old site is still up and there are links to it from the home page, including to your old page here:

      http://www.zawaj.com/ourfamilies.html

      And the old “Ask Bilqis” site has transformed into a very active website of its own: http://www.IslamicAnswers.com/

      Regards,

      Wael
      Zawaj.com Editor

  3. Assalaamu ‘alaykum,

    I am not Muslim: however, I believe in educating myself on a wide variety of subjects because I believe such is the key to respect.

    While researching Islamic teachings on sex and sexuality in response to questions on another site, I came across your website. It has been most informative and I thank you for this.

    HOWEVER, I believe you may wish to take a closer look at the ads being displayed on your pages.

    At the bottom of the page on “Defining pornography in Islam” in your Straight Talk About Sex, there was an ad from “gaydar.net”, a homosexual website, advertising “Join For Free”.

    I feel this is extremely insulting to your faith and that you should know about it.

    This is the link to the page, however the ads change periodically:

    http://www.zawaj.com/articles/pornography_whatis.html

    I took a screenshot of it with the intent of emailing it to you; however, I could not find any such method of contacting you. So I am resorting to this. If you wish me to email it to you so you can verify this, then contact me by my email address provided. Please be sure to put “ZAWAI” in the subject line so that I will not discard the email as spam.

    • Glenn, thanks for pointing this out, and I will ban that particular advertiser.

      Wael
      Zawaj.com Editor

      • You are most welcome!

        Again…many thanks for such an informative website. You can be sure I will refer to it in forums where people raise questions about Islam.

  4. muslim need marry for life is coming good life and honesty beautiful brides is in and out must honesty and thinking about allah

  5. Assalamu Alykoom fellow muslims,

    I recently came across this website while looking for something on the internet. The answer you gave to question is a pretty good one. However, I disagree with some of your opinions. Firstly, talking to a non-mahram on the phone is not a solution, as it comes under the heading of being “alone” with a woman. Even though physically, the two of you are not together but you are talking to each other in private, which believe it or not, gives rise to temptations. If the woman is talking with the speaker on and a male mahram is with her and listening to the conversation and the husband-to-be knows about it then that should be okay in my opinion.

    Secondly, you are not to choose on the basis of the meeting. Rather, what happens is, after you have made up your mind about marrying a woman based on the knowledge you have of her taqwa, knowledge, lineage, financial resources etc only then you are allowed to do meeting with her in the presence of a male mahram of hers to make a final decision.

    Whatever of the above is true, it is from Allah, and the rest is from me.

    Assalam o alykum

  6. Slmz

    Glory be to Allah and Salutations on our beloved Prophet SAW, the atticle by Yasmin was much informative and needed.

    Just a comment on those replies regarding the small availability of single muslims especially in some western countries. 1stly I appreciate the need to be pragmatic in such circumstances, however as muslims we tend to forget our most powerful tool, that being faith and dua, if it is meant to be and it is good for us, with dua, Allah will provide.

    Jazakallah again for a great website

Leave a Response


five + 5 =