Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Can love come before marriage and can you fall in love with a stranger?

love dream

Hi Everyone,

I've been following this site for a while and have noticed everyone gives such fabulous advice - Alhumdulliah you guys are doing such a great job. Unfortunately something as been on my mind for a while and I have not been able to find any 'concrete' solutions and thought I would post here in the hopes of receiving some guidance.

A few months ago my family and I randomly went to visit another state in the premise of having a short holiday (3-4 days). The timing was incredibly awkward and it was not a time when I would normally consent to a holiday given that it was at the peak of my university schedule - but somehow I ended up agreeing (my dad has been trying to get us to visit this state for the last 4 years, and this is the first time I've actually come around/found the time).

While we were there we were invited to have dinner at a family friends house - I completely objected and did not want to go as the ride to get to their house would be very expensive in taxi fare ($100+) and I dont like wasting money - I didn't think it was worth it to spend so much to just have dinner with family friends we haven't seen in a decade. But again somehow we managed to get a ride by someone else and went to this house.

From the moment we stepped into their house - something very bizarre happened. But before that, just a bit of background on me.

I'm super conservative when it comes to the opposite sex. I've only ever fallen for one guy that was when i was 16 (am 22 now), since then I've been focused on studies/family and not particularly interested in guys since I know we cant date etc so what is the point really? Now that I am nearing the end of my degree my mum has been encouraging me to think about marriage and good proposals have come through but nothing that strikes my attention (not that I'm picky, I only want a good practicing guy from a good family with a good education) but nothing ever seems to feel 'right' when i hear about the proposals.

Before I go back into my story - I just want to mention that family is INCREDIBLY important to me. It has always been the first thing I wanted to consider when it came to marriage. I want to be very involved with my family and my in laws and would love a big extended family. Growing up in the West I dont have much immediate family so I have always prayed that I marry a good man from a good family with whom i can wholeheartedly immerse and call my own.

So back to my story. From the moment I stepped into this house - a lot of weird things became apparent.

1) Firstly I fell in love with the family - they mirrored everything that I saw in myself in terms of how they life, their attitudes, their beliefs, their personalities - just everything. I met their daughter and she was exactly like me - the way she spoke, walked, her interests, her education, her attitude - everything. I met the mum and she dressed like me, her hair was like mine, her demure and the way she spoke and her values - everything aligned to me - it was literally how I would have imagined myself at the age of 50 (I am a bit of a fashionisa and have a very unusual dress/hair style that no one really has dont get me wrong its very modest i cover myself always but i love to dress up and his mum has the exact same style and i find that really fascinating yet bizarre). I've never felt so connected to a family in my entire life - and we have a huge community so I have a fair few 100+ families to compare to!

2) I am a HUGE interior decor buff (they had just built a new house) and every little fixture they added to this house was exactly the way I would have done it - and keep in mind i am very picky when it comes to these things, I have never walked into a house that even remotely resembled my taste let alone one that looked like it was designed from my mind alone. To understand the significance of this you would have to know me. Basically I put my heart and soul into interior decor it is a passion of mine. Most decor in my house I have made with my own hands. The only reason I want a good income is so i can build my own house and design every corner and inch myself and do as much with my own hands as I can (making all the decor, doing all the wall painting/paper, designing all the small accents etc). Also they had just moved into this house - had we gone even a month before I would not have been able to make these connections - somehow the timing was perfect even though dad has been trying to get us to go here the last 4-5 years.

3) The way I met the guy - I've never had this happen before. He walked over and greeted me and our eyes just locked, and I froze - it took me a whole 5 seconds to greet him back (very unusual for me as I'm very outgoing/talkative generally). I dont know what happened, it wasn't that i saw him and fell head over heels because he was so beautiful or something (to be honest, he wasn't my typical 'taste' at all) but i just felt *something* I still dont know what it was. The whole night I had this feeling lingering over me. I didn't speak to him except to say hi and bye because as I've mentioned I'm quite conservative - and he seemed the same. But I observed him - the way he spoke, he walked, the way he immersed with my family and his- he just ticked all the boxes. Everything that I didn't know that I want, but I somehow needed he seemed to have. I heard what his parents/sister said about him and he seems like everything I could've hoped for.

Now I've left out a lot of minor details - but basically throughout the night I felt like there was this random spark in the air. Like this strange electricity every time he was in the room. I wasn't looking at him or anything - it was just something I kept feeling. I had no idea what these internal feelings were.. but from the moment I left their house - it was like BAM - I couldn't get him out of my head.

After we arrived back home (we live in a different state) i waited a week to see if these 'feelings' wear off - but they didn't. So I approached my mum about this - and told her how I felt. Her and my dad were both very happy with my decision because they really like his family, and they really liked him as well - he's also very well educated which is something very important to them and me.

Now here is the problem:

1) His sister is older and unmarried - his parents aren't looking to set her up, they've told both of them to find someone themselves when they are ready. They are good kids so I think their parents trust their decision.

2) He and I are the same age and he is still completing his degree like myself - in our culture 22 is a bit young for a guy to consider marriage.

3) As the girls family - my parents have no idea how to approach the situation. They dont want to blatantly ask because if they say no it will hurt them and me. Mum and his mum have spoken about marriage in general, but his mum mentioned point 1) above and so my mum didn't think it would be appropriate to then tell her the feelings from my side. Also, they very much keep to themselves so we dont have any mutual friends.

My issue is that I cant seem to get this guy out of my mind. I feel like this is it - this is the one. I feel like if I had a perfect person, this would be it - it is as if Allah has hand picked this person for me and basically knocked on my heart and said surprise! I know it sounds very naive especially since I haven't spoken to the guy but this is just how I've been feeling and I cant explain it.

I've done several Ishtikhara for guidance - and my feelings have steadily grown these past few months. I'm not sure what a negative sign is, and whether I've experienced any? But by that same token, nothing positive has happened either. I've also been praying tahajuud for this and keeping him in every prayer and telling Allah that if this is right for me then please make it easy for me, but if it is wrong for me then please remove him from my heart. After 3 months of regularly praying this 5 times, many nafals, ishtikhara and in tahajud prayers I still feel the same - if not stronger.

The funny thing is - the first time I prayed tahajud prayer - that night his dad called. The second night I prayed tahajud prayer - that afternoon his mum called (and when she called I had a feeling it was her calling when the phone rang and she has NEVER called our house ever, so how could my intuition be so strong?). Little other things keep happening - Like i will drive past a road I've driven past 100+ times and then see that the name of that road is the same as the suburb he lives in even though I've never seen that road sign before.

Or I'll go down to eat and the moment I look up at the TV something is on about the state he is in even though there are all these other states/things happening in the world that could be on. Or my dad would call them and he just happened to be sitting right there when my dad called even though it was such an unusual time of day when he could've been at uni or work. I think I may be reading a little too much into it - but because I have nothing else to consider these are all things that seem like 'signs' to me.

Anyway what I'm asking is - i feel like im falling deeper and deeper into this and I dont know how to stop. I dont know where or how these feelings came about. I wasn't meant to go to that state, and i wasn't meant to go to that house. He is not my usual type but suddenly something that I am completely craving. My prayers to have him removed from my head/heart are not being answered. I have no way of proceeding in this situation any further - my mum is just telling me to pray and if it is meant to happen it will happen.

She is suggesting we go back there next holidays and I try to speak to him while we are at a family dinner to see if this can be mutual and if so then they can do something about it - but I'm too scared to do that ! I heard that Allah puts love between the hearts of spouses - I know this happens after marriage, but could it possibly happen before? Because I dont know how else to explain why I'm feeling how I'm feeling - and why it is so strong. That night - the look he had in his eyes when our eyes locked I felt like it was mutual - but I could be wrong. I also dont know how our eyes locked, there was a huge height difference and I never look guys in the eye so that connection felt almost magnetic.

I apologize this is so long. Its just a very strange situation and I wanted to get everything in there to showcase my point of view. I would really appreciate any suggestions as I feel like I'm in limbo and I have put my whole trust in Allah but at the same time I cannot stop thinking about this/him and it has been a few months! What I'm wondering is that could this be something sent from Allah as my heart has never been this receptive to a man before - let alone one whom I don't even know? I'm very studious - I haven't thought about marriage, it was something I didn't want to think about until i was working for a few years - now suddenly, marrying this man is all I can think about.

My dad has never approved of any of the proposals that have come through because there was always something he didn't like - but my dad is absolutely thrilled about this choice of mine. At his house I felt like his mum kept looking over at me and I've experienced guys mums doing this (observing really) and usually after there is a proposal coming through - I know his mum wont do the proposal bit - but it seems as though she was observing me for some reason or another. They will be visiting us at the end of this year - but that is such a long time to wait and I feel as though this is really affecting my studies as it is all I can think about - and my education is of utmost importance to me - I really dont want to keep thinking about this! So could this be from Allah?

Because it all seems so out of my control! Why hasn't these feelings been taken away from me if they are not from Allah even though I ask in every prayer? by the same token, after months of praying Ishtikhara, why has there been no facilitation or barriers? I feel like after I pray Ishtikhara (happened the first few times) I feel like this overwhelming feeling in my chest when I think about him, almost like I cant breathe. It happens for a few mins and then goes away. This happened 3 times - immediately the day AFTER i made the prayer. I thought that was a bit strange - but was it in my mind? I will dua as long as I have to, and will wait as long as I need to - but I just need to know, is this the direction Allah wants me to follow, or am I imagining it?

Thank you to everyone who replies - and to the Islamic Answers community - may you all receive many blessings for your wonderful efforts.



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21 Responses »

  1. Salaams,

    I know a lot of Muslims say there is no love before marriage, and I think the reason they say that is because they are defining love as a state of deep commitment and bond to someone you know rather well. However, it is entirely possible to care for someone, to want the best for them and desire their company even when you don't know them well and haven't married them yet. While some people say this is not real "love", it still is a form of attraction and affinity and is still often called "love" in a loose sense.

    The bottom line is, in many cases people don't enter marriage as blank emotional robots, and then all of a sudden "turn on" with feelings as soon as the nikkah is over. There is usually some chemistry or attraction or care going on that has to get them to that point. So while the process of keeping those feelings within bounds or trying to find out if they are mutual can be distracting, I wouldn't say it's abnormal or unusual.

    What I want you to try to remember is that all the coincidences may or may not mean a thing at this point. 10 years from now, if things don't work out with you two, you will tell yourself all these "seemingly strange events" were just things you interpreted a certain way because of your feelings at the time. On the other hand, if you wind up together, 10 years from now those same events will be the interesting highlights that will pepper your love story. What makes them true or not, is whether you do end up marrying or not, which still remains to be seen.

    And you're right, that part, until it plays out, is out of your control. You've set your intentions, you've made istikhara, and the families are handling it how they want it. You have to try to step back and trust that Allah is doing the right thing by you. He knows what you desire, and He is fully capable of giving you what you desire if it's best for you. Trust that whatever comes is better for you. You aren't going to be able to speed up Allah's timetable, so the best thing is to try to pass the rest of the year (and at least it is halfway over) doing what you need to do with school etc. Until you get a definite red light, you can assume everything is still on green, but try not to let your feelings get carried away until all the details have been resolved.

    And speaking of feelings, you need to know that Allah won't just take feelings away from you because someone isn't right for you. People -men and women- have attractions to those who are not for them all the time, and Allah doesn't remove them even if they are blatantly sinful! You have to do the work yourself to keep your feelings in their proper place (I'm not saying don't have them at all, just don't let them remain the primary focus) because in the end we are all here to learn self control and discipline. That doesn't happen if Allah makes everything easy for us.

    -Amy Editor

    • Sister why do u think that Allah SWT will test people with feelings they cant even act in accordance to as in the case of this sister.And specially when these feelings are cause of pain and distress ?
      Allah does not want to give pain to his servants.
      I cant seem to make sense of the last para of ur reply.Dont u think that just calling these feelings a test is a a bit of oversimplifying? And what's the "proper place" of these highly.distracting often uncomfortable feelings ?
      Jazak Allah

      • Salaams,

        I didnt say feelings are a test, only that they are a fact of life. But you're right that they do test us. Married men and women struggle with feeling attracted to those other than their spouse. Singles struggle with attraction to others. It's a universal issue, and since there is a God given place for such feelings one shouldn't strive to be "feeling" free.

        Having feelings for someone you may possibly marry isn't wrong. Of course if it is disrupting ones life severely then there needs to be more effort put into other things. But for those who may get married or are engaged, the feelings of anticipation and liking that person are to be expected and accepted. Even if they are a bit annoying at times, it's not impossible to still live life in spite of them.

        Being in love, or extremely joyful or excited, or hopeful, or any other feelings that come with anticipation of a possible marriage shouldn't be experienced as painful. They should be good experiences, but just kept under control. What I mean by this is, someone should make sure they do their studies and salat and chores instead of daydreaming about their future or potential spouse all day. Feeling these things while you are still doing chores and going to school, where is the harm in that? If one finds these things to be painful, I would rather call that feelings of anxiety or worry than puppy love or attraction to someone else. They are distinct from each other.

        -Amy Editor

    • Salams Sister Amy,

      Thank you so much for your response - it is very much appreciated. I agree with everything you said and am trying my best to be patient but just cant help but feel restless/overwhelmed at times. But Allah doesn't give us more than we can handle, so perhaps I need to work on my patience a bit more.

      In respect to the removing feelings bit, the reason i mentioned that is because the literal translation of Ishtikhara asks Allah to 'remove the situation from me, and to remove me from it' so my understanding was that if this isn't good for me, not only will the situation be removed from me (ie the family will not be responsive) but also that my heart will be guided away from the situation. I understood the dua to have two separate and distinct aspects and I can only answer for one of them (my feelings) as I have no control over the other (the situation). I do understand what you mean about falling for people that aren't right for us, but I was just having trouble in finding a relationship between my ishtikhara and the remaining lingering feelings and was hoping somebody may be able to shred some light on that. 🙂

  2. Assalamualaykum,

    I think this post has been re posted. We already answered her.

    • Salaams,

      Perhaps someone else posted a similar question, but I don't find any other posts under the name "nanda" besides this one.

      -Amy Editor

    • This is the first time I've posted on this site 🙂 I put this question on two different sites at the same time (this, and sunniforums) because after posting here I found out it could take over a month to get a response and I was really iffy with the situation at the time (still am!) and did not have the patience to wait for a month haha.. so perhaps you saw it over there. Sorry for the confusion!

  3. Sister Nanda.
    I'll say here what probably nobody would say.
    Pardon me for being blunt but why did you lock eyes with him and kept on gazing for 5 straight seconds ? hehee.
    You know that a lustful gaze is one of the arrows of Shaytan as the Prophet SAW said.And then you kept like observing him.Allah SWT commands the women to lower their gaze just as He commands the men to do so.A guy who observes a strange girl is considered objectionable then why would a girl doing the same would not be corrected ?
    Maybe that's where Shaytan decieved you.
    I'm not saying that Allah SWT is punishing you because of this.No.That's not how I'll set the narrative.
    But yes,chances are that that gaze cost you a price.And now u're experiencing a slight bit of unrest.Definitely you wouldnt want that the love story of your life starts with something Allah SWT prohibits.
    So Im not judging you nor am I in a position to do so.
    Perhaps you need to repent and ask for further guidance from Allah SWT.
    And Allah knows best.

    • Salaams,

      I understood the first look is permissable, and it is subsequent looks that are advised against. Looking at a prospective spouse was encouraged by the Prophet SAWS, so I'm sure it can be carried out without lust. Just looking at someone or being caught off guard by their beauty doesn't mean one is lusting in a sinful way.

      -Amy Editor

      • Yes,I agree.That's why u cant accuse the sister for lusting in a sinful manner.
        But sister Amy u cant just prolong ur first look bcz it's permissible.
        and are you saying that looking at the face of opposite gender without desire etc is ok ? or am I mis-taking it ?

    • Salams brother,

      Haha you make a good observation. Truth be told I hadn't even thought of that. The look was very instinctual I didnt even realize i was staring for 5 seconds until my mind snapped into place. I sort of just froze in time. Its very difficult to describe, but is one of the things that had me puzzled because I couldn't understand how that came to occur.. how often do you see someone and freeze, you know? haha. At the time (after this) I was really embarrassed about what happened so my gaze was quite literally lowered because I didn't have the guts to make any sort of eye contact until we left when I just looked up and said my goodbyes.

      When I observed him it wasn't in the sense that I was sussing him out at the time. It was things that happened that I think i observed on a subconscious level because I didn't realize what i was feeling until I left his house. That's when I was like waaait a minute, i think i really like this guy. And on the car ride back i found myself re-playing the evening over in my head and thats when i made mental notes of everything that he had done and perhaps thats why suddenly i was feeling that way. So i kind of worked backwards?

      If that doesn't make any sense i apologise. I still dont understand the situation myself lol - hence all the confusion 🙂 Thank you for your response though, very much appreciated.

  4. I think because you have been focused on your studies and remaining steadfast and chaste. you are easily susceptible to developing a crush and then interpreting it as being "in love" and "he was made for me." Don't get me wrong - I am not suggesting that there is something wrong with you or that this is unusual. I think it happens to a lot of muslim girls. We don't have experience with the opposite sex, so when we are confronted with emotions of attraction, we often don't know how to process them.

    The point of my comments is that you should keep things in perspective. You may have 'locked eyes' with this boy because you have never felt an attraction to someone and it knocked the wind out of you. You may also be looking for signs which are really just ordinary coincidences. We've all been there. But they don't mean much.

    If his family contacts you about pursuing this further, and you get to know him for the purposes of marriage, then its a whole different story. But know that in your life time you are going to meet a lot of people that share similar interests as you - i.e. home décor, fashion, attitudes etc -- but that does not mean that they are meant to form part of your ultimate destiny.

    • Salams Precious Star,

      Thank you for your response - I fully appreciate what you are saying and understand where you are coming from. The thing is, although I am conservative (by choice) I am not exactly sheltered. You cant help interaction with the opposite sex in the west, I have many guy 'friends' thorough uni life, work life, school life, family friends etc. Personally however I've always just made a mental note to keep all these men at arms length - I speak to them as friends and interact with them in daily life when our paths cross but I've never allowed myself to (or felt the need to) see them in a different light. People just dont get my attention that easily (that isnt meant to sound as snobby as it does, but its just a matter of fact), and I just didnt give myself the time to think about guys because 1) i dont have the time and 2) they didnt strike my interest 3) I didnt see the point because as I've said, we cant act on it. When I find guys show interest I instinctively sort of just start avoiding them in the nicest possible way to not hurt their feelings but also to remove myself from the situation simply because I'm just not interested. So up until this situation its all been very 'practical' and now all of a sudden, emotions have just surfaced out of no where and they've really taken stride to say the least.

      I completely agree that I may be making up coincidences to be signs in my head, which is why i posted this question. I needed some non biased perspective because my head is in the clouds at the moment and im not making very rational decisions haha - so thank you for that 🙂

      You're right. I will just have to wait and see 🙂

      • Sorry I should clarify. Friends is a strong word - perhaps I should have said acquaintances. Just men that are in my life in all practicality whom I interact with when the situation demands it but basically it just stops there. Friends implies I'm interacting with them on a leisurely basis as a choice, and that really isn't the case - so I thought I should just explain myself before people get the wrong idea 🙂

  5. Yes,I agree.That's why u cant accuse the sister for lusting in a sinful manner.
    But sister Amy u cant just prolong ur first look bcz it's permissible.
    and are you saying that looking at the face of opposite gender without desire etc while having a discourse is ok ? or am I mis-taking it ?
    and men can often be easily be caught off guard by the beauty of say it's okay ?

    • Lol no I'm not saying we should look at non mahram unnecessarily. As far as a prolonged look, I'm not sure how long a look would have to be to count. Five seconds really isn't that long at all, in fact meeting someone and saying salaams and how are you takes longer. If it lasted more that 20 seconds for sure, but I'm not sure I would say 5 seconds counts as "prolonged"....after all food that falls on the floor is still edible under the "5 second rule" ha ha.

      -Amy Editor

      • haha..yeah the five second rule seems to be ok here too but I was trying to figure out ur views as an editor on this website on the matter.Bcz some days earlier I saw a learned man telling us that it will be ok if opposite genders look face to face continously with no feelings while having a general conversation.I inquired him that how did he derive this conclusion from Quran and Sunnah and what would lowering ur gaze mean then ?

        And then that 'learned' man just disappeard.I assumed that u had views similar to him.
        Jazak Allah

  6. I feel like the 20 yr old version of you, in a similar but different situation type thing.
    It could be fantasies playing games in our head, e.g the shaytaan
    It could be signs from Allah (swt)
    That I guess we will never know, hence the beauty of life.
    I have to admire the way you are going about it with Istikhaara and Tajjuhud etc. MashaAllah
    I suggest you keep at it, and one day and soon for your sake that inshaAllah whatever the outcome you'll learn a valuable lesson whether it benefit you in the way you like or some other unpredicted way.

    Everything has answers eventually, may take days, hours or even years to fizzle out and make sense but the longer it takes the more valuable the experience.

    I wish you continuous patience, and inshaAllah ease your confusion upon this mind boggling situation.


    • Thank you for your response, and kind words. I hope you're right and things do fizzle out sooner rather than later 🙂 Hopefully your situation is a bit more manageable than mine haha.

      I've read that once you commit to Tahajjud it is disliked that you then stop doing it. So after reading that I've decided that I'm going to maintain it (iA I can). And the more I pray the better I feel so its almost me being selfish in doing all these extra prayers because they are making me feel better at the end of the day and its me that is benefitting. I find that everytime I feel restless I can just pray and cry to Allah and I feel like a lot of the weight and stress has been lifted off my shoulders and I find a sense of calmness. So I sincerely hope this is Allahs guidance and not Shaytaans misdirection. I honestly didn't even think it could be from Shaytaan until reading some of the responses here. I guess in my mind I didn't think the situation was one that would have invited Shaytaan as I was trying to maintain it as much as I could within islamic boundaries. But its another perspective I should have considered, and something I've taken on board now and will give some thought. 🙂

      Thanks again for your kind words.

      • Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim,

        Assalamu alaikum Nanda,

        I hope you are well? I was curious to know what became of the story so far...Was he written for you or was it just a trial from Allah (swt). I do hope you can reply and inform me what became of it all.

        May Allah (swt) make it easier for us all.

        Jazak Allah

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