Before Marriage

Question Regarding Dating

innQuestion: 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 ﷺ 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 ﷺ 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 ﷺ 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 ﷺ.  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 ﷺ 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 ﷺ 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: “Do not 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 ﷺ has told us not to go into a marriage blindly.  Once a man came to the Prophet ﷺ and told him that he was going to get married. The Prophet ﷺ 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)

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. 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 ﷺ 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.

About the author

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as the Sisters’ Youth Director for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. She also worked as a writing instructor for Cardinal Stritch University, and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an independent media consultant and a writer for the Huffington Post, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Her written works, including a book chapter on the portrayal of Islam post-911, have appeared in print and online publications worldwide.

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  • “If there is a woman you are considering for marriage,”

    How would this come about unless one can engage her in discussion in a public setting?

    • Men and women do talk to each other in public life and see each other as well. From an Islamic context if you see a girl you like and have interacted with either in school or work or through masjid activities then approach her mahrem.

  • Thank you for such a succinct explanation. Prevention is indeed better than cure, even though our simple minds may not be able to comprehend its benefits, initially.

  • Thanks for this good article. I especially like your use of statistics. In a secular society like ours, we need to present the rational proofs alongside scriptural proofs.

    I ask Allah SWT to purify us and help us remain chaste.

  • what about chattting?
    i mean, if i have gf , and i never touch her or meet her, but i continue keep contact and talking with her in chat room, is it same like dating?
    is it haraam too?

    (if this a stupid question, im sorry..)

  • I hate to break this but things are more complicated than that. I dont even meet ppl n guys are just as shallow when it comes to choosing ladies for wives. There are no avenues here in malaysia that help muslim singles to get to know each other other than thru dating. Please suggest something practical.

    • Salam fellow Malaysians, it is not true that there is no other way to get to know each other than dating. Islamic courting is the best way to seek jodoh. dont say it is not practical. I’ve meet a lot of fellow Malaysian who married happily through islamic courting. engineer, doctor, teachers. you like someone, ask everyone else about her. investigate truly her background and then speak to her mahram to ask a hand for marriage. most people think it is not practical bcause they think people like this never exist anymore, well they exist, though fews in number. Dont follow others bcause it is the norm, it is not their blessing u r searching for, it is Allah’s blessing. Islam way of life is never outdated and unpractical.

  • There is no chance of me being married barring a miracle for a couple of years…
    And I don’t date. But am human and urges hit me…

    So for male or female in my case; is masturbation halal? or lesser evil… islamically at least…

    Some of my friends have given into temptation; some have surived; some been scarred horribly by it… I’m just scared whats out there…

    People do fast and salat… but I already do those and have time doing more than usual.
    So I believe this best alternative…

    Whats your opinion?

  • Chatting still puts you in a state of you two being alone and shatyaan being the third party. The idea here goes back to the hadeeth “The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not have a private audience with a woman without her mahram.” (Ahmad)” because you are still engaging in a private conversation.

    I dont know if that answered your question but think about it logically.

    • I don’t know how related this is to the immediate subject, but just a recommendation for sisters in Islamic work– it’s good to have a policy of either CCing a mahram to your emails w/ other bros or if you have an email account that is work related, giving your password to your spouse or other male mahram. Gmail saves all chats so even if you can’t bring in more pple to a conversation, there is still a 3rd party who has access if they have the password to your account. Also, something my family did, was have one main computer with internet in an open space where the screen is facing the loft so anyone sitting or passing through has access to what people are doing. It’s not so much about the way some scholars gave a Shar’i definition of khalwa (physically alone with the opposite gender in a room with locked doors) as it is about being cautious/protective while allowing the space to remain functional in your work and studies.

  • Interesting piece and the stand it takes is of course correct, 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.

    Of course we have online matrimonial services now – I own one – but I would suggest that organized marriage events where men and women can meet in a structured environment should be a more widely considered option. And every major Islamic conference should include such an event.

    Beyond this, maybe the Imam of each community (and his wife) should take it as one of his functions to maintain a database of single brothers and sisters, and make suggestions and introductions. I’ve read about an Imam in NY who does that quite successfully.

    My point is that 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 need to develop modern alternatives that satisfy Islamic requirements and allow brothers and sisters to meet.

  • ZM is right.

    This is a very theoretical piece that does not address the real problems faced by today’s single Muslims.

  • I agree w/ both ZM and Rafi…it sounds great on paper but is completely abstract and out of touch w/ the reality of most Muslim Americans.

    Our Sunni Ulema are living in fantasy-land where they think they’re still in Kabul or Karachi and some even think that it’s still 7th century Madinah. I saw a LinkTV docu once where Iranian imams are setting up match making centres all around Iran and are investing serious time and money to get people married across broad boundaries and from various backgrounds, with the imam acting as the “wali”.

    It didn’t seem ideal, but heck, atleast they’re trying to be realistic and putting in some effort on a concrete large scale…our Sunni scholars just regurgitate some 12th century interpretation where only a mahram can be your wali or your khaala jaan has to know someone who knows someone…and if not they say “oh well, just fast…”

    Our marriage sites on the internet are a joke for the most part as well…., those sites are hard to regulate and nowhere near as efficient as a real matchmaking service that invests time in it’s clients like what the Iranians are doing…without regulation and time-investment those sites just turn into unofficial dating sites anyways which defeats the purpose for many people…

    We are honestly just putting on an elaborate show and hypocrisy. Let’s be honest…a good 70% or so of our youth date just like non-Muslims, then they just go through the motions of putting on a show for their family and community by going for an arranged-style proposal. It is always hilarious at Afghan weddings when we have to sit there watching the bride and groom look at eachother in the mirror for the “first time” (aina moshaaf) even though we all know these folks were regularly talking to or seeing eachother for months or years…

    These hypocrisies and jokes all exist ’cause our mollahs haven’t come up with ANY alternative middle ground that is relevant to the modern Muslim experience…

    This is not 13th century Delhi or Qandahar…
    We have a young community that is bombarded by sex and sexuality 24/7…
    They cannot get married young because both they and their parents have decided schooling comes first..
    They cannot get married across ethnic/cultural lines because their parents abuse their wali status to PREVENT those marriages despite Islam…
    When you put those things together, ofcourse many of them will date or whatever…because they feel it’s the only way to have companionship, sex, partner of a different ethnic group or whatever…

    I really wish someone would tell our parents the rules of ISLAM, not their culture, first…
    I also wish the Imams would come up with some alternatives already…Set up agencies like the Iranian mollahs are doing, set up chaperoned GROUP dates, encourage younger marriage…I dunno…whatever…but the status quo is impossible. It DOES NOT WORK for most people…to the people it’s worked for: congratulations…but insisting on it for everyone ensures we keep losing 70%+ of our youth who’ll get frustrated and engage in double lives/hypocrisy until they CAN get married…

    I don’t think most of our youth are bad people…they’re just human and hypocrisy is the inevitable outcome of living in the west with 10th century recommendations and interpretations of how to go about getting married and parents who prioritize totally unislamic things themselves…I really can’t blame the youth…I feel bad for them honestly…

    • I agree. It is so annoying when parents mix culture and religion. They wouldn’t even accept to let the youth males and females talk with a mahram with them. The only options they give is arranged marriage or someone you met but don’t know them enough.

  • It is intended to speak more to the issue of dating (as that is what the question focuses on). As to the problem of proper Islamic channels to find spouses within the Muslim community, of course much more than a simple reply is needed.

    • Sr. Yasmin…

      I appreciate your writing and the time you put in to address the subject. I meant you and your writing no disrespect.

      I just agree with some others that abstract thought is no longer enough. Our ulema have to become relevant already. I keep hearing that the traditional madhabs are not really “frozen” and are ever evolving…but that’s a half-truth. When it comes to things that were already written about in the classical age our madhabs ARE frozen, and usually frozen on the side of the most conservative/traditional opinions…they are only “unfrozen” when it comes to new things that didn’t exist however long ago, for examples cigarettes, etc.

      Yes, Western style dating is haraam and undesirable…but I cannot judge the youth because we are setting an impossible standard and obstacles for them, then saying haraam.

      I cannot blame a man/woman who talk to eachother directly out of desperation because their parents and communities (mahram) would not allow an inter-ethnic marriage/courtship…the prophet didn’t do that, but Muslims today do…

      I cannot judge someone who falls into dating because it will be YEARS before he is “financially stable” enough to go for marriage…the prophet encouraged young marriage, but we don’t do that today…

      I do not agree with, but can totally understand why so many Muslims are marrying/dating outside the religion…when Muslims cannot meet normally, but these kids go out into the world and constantly socialize with non-Muslims, what else is gonna happen?

      These kids are bombarded w/ sex and “romance” 24/7 and it’s a totally different environment than what our classical scholars ever lived with…I cannot criticize something when a lot of it is the result of unislamic practices we are perpetuating. We cannot set impossible obstacles for these kids with the halaal and then say haraam when they fail…

      As others have said…where’s the alternative? Where is even the attempt to transform the ethics and priorities of the Muslims to what the prophet actually taught? Time for our scholars to do their jobs already. I’m sick of hearing about beards and proper wadu techniques or when the moon was sighted. If NASA can send a rover to Mars, I trust them on when the moon appears…The scholars have totally let the Muslims down…Where are they?

      I agree with you that the gentleman was asking about dating and not the proper channels to get married…but that’s if you confine the meaning of his words to what he literally wrote. If you read between the lines he’s desperately asking you WHAT he can do to be a good Muslim and still get married in this modern day world. It’s a cry for help stated minimally to preserve his own dignity…Yes dating is haraam, but he’s also asking what’s the halaal practical alternative for the modern world then? It doesn’t need to be said…

      • ZAI,
        typo in previous post:

        You write: ” he’s also asking what’s the halaal practical alternative for the modern world then? It doesn’t need to be said.” That is absolutely true, and in fact, was something the editor and I discussed before publishing. We decided that that was a topic that needed much more depth and at least an article of itself. Please understand, no one is discounting the urgent need for that issue to be addressed. It was just not the focus or scope of this particular article, as it could not be given full justice when the current focus was dating. I hope that helps.

      • Zai, this is exactly my thoughts.

        I am sick and tired of hearing about hijabs, beards, this is too tight, this is not long enough, the finger in tashahud, the position of the hands – enough already! We need practical solutions for today’s world and marriage is a huge thing that Muslim leaders have really done terrible in. They just keep repeating over and again the same old things, the same old verses and hadiths and either putting their own weird spin on it, or doing the opposite and letting people just figure it out themselves with no real scholarly commentary on how we can apply it to our time.

        Then they wonder why youth date outside the community and faith, why they get involved with the wrong crowd, why they look at porn, why this why that – it’s because they have made something so beautiful into something taboo.

  • I do agree with Wael. Let’s be honest and perceptive. We live in societies in which it is very hard to find a husband/wife . There are many practising Muslims and Muslimahs who want to meet each other in a respectul way (without touching), to get married, but there are no modern alternatives for them.

    The problem is not that Muslim requirements are not modern, the thing is rather that nowadays, Muslims nowadays don’t want to get married blindly, they want to choose, and the man will talk to the mahram of the woman only once he is sure he wants to marry her.

    I do believe that before you want to marry someone, you need to be attracted to him/her for his/her qualities, personality, deen, attractiveness… And to be attracted, you need to know/meet the person a minimum… I’m not saying you need to date alone, but I’m rather thinking that there should be a structured environment in which Muslims can introduce themselves to each other, clearly, sincerely, in order to get married. There should be a Muslim organization that helps single Muslims to introduce themselves and marry.

    But today, there is nothing. People who follow Islamic rules cannot find a solution to find a wife/husband with their heart. That’s why either people fall in sin, either they marry almost by chance, and these are not solutions that create a happy ummah.

  • Hi

    I see what some of you are saying in regards to not even talking on the phone to someone unless a mahrem is present, coz the shaitaan is more then when a man and a woman are alone, I understand all that. However do you not have talk on phone and face to face on your own without feeling uncomfortable coz someone is listening lol

    I can see what Islam will say too much meeting isnt good, you can get yourself hurt that way, but what if the person who your seeing wants to meet more then you would like, should you not compromise? should you directly say no thinking about religion??

    I do see what Islam says bout not flirting when you talk to them coz you can get carried away, I suppose its more about being more polite and civil and yet being yourself but at the same time this person has to find you attractive right.

    It all seems really complicated but It shouldnt be. I really dont think there a clear right or wrong answer here as long as you dont do anything before marriage you know

    I’m in a very difficult positon. my parents are looking for my older sister to get married but we are not so far apart in age and im in my lates 20’s and I was ready to get married ages ago but my parents werent so keen coz understandably they want my sister to get married 1st, however she for a long time didnt want to and when she did later on, its not just going to happen like that

    I have decided that I feel im getting to old, and I am starting to get worried so I have taken matters in my own hand and finding someone myself. I pray to Allah that Im doing the right thing coz i think this is so unfair. I would prefer for my parents to find me someone and not meet to much and then decide but now im looking for myself if the person wants more time then I have to compromise. any advice?

    • Hi,

      You between a rock and hard place… Also your need to get married will show(as it shows through your writing.) and somebody may abuse due to that fact. and innshallah this won’t happen but it has happened before and probably will happen. All Muslim men are not cut from the Prophet’s(SAW) cloth. As long line of Muslim politicians proves that.

      Best bet is go to whoever is you’re on the best terms with Dad, Mom, big Sis, Aunt or Uncle… And tell them I need to get married. I want to get married and I’m not will to wait till I am older and get the bottom of the heap.

      And ask them to help you. You have emphasize that your serious and really mean
      and they will make excuses and wait for you to back down. But you have to keep at it
      and be like tank and then go for it.

      Innshallah. Allah will grant your heart desire. One thing very important. Pray your 5 times plus whatever extra you can. regularly. that helps.

      And if you decide on your own. Be extra careful… Because guys say anything and then won’t or can’t keep their promises. They like you but his mom doesn’t and 99% of desi boys will not marry any girl their Mom disapproves off. And it could be any reason, your family is too rich, too poor, not the same caste(in certain tribal families in indopak – doesn’t matter if they gone Harvard and Oxford for the last 100 years… Same old BS_)she doesn’t like your hair, you’re too religious, not religious enough..
      So be really careful.

      Also maybe talk to Imam who is sort young and hip. Like Suhaib Webb. Ask him to maybe take your photo and stats and see if he know some good brothers who might bet interested and he could vouch for. Also be realistic in desc. your requirements. The Imam is man… He needs logic and definite requirements… Not make make my heart sing.

      Anyway Innshallah.

      May Allah save us all from hellfire and azab e kaber and azab e dunya and
      grant such heaven on earth and in eternity. Allah is the Greatest.

  • It’s not that difficult. We all know traditional dating is haram. In fact, everything these days is apparently haram yet no alternatives are suggested. We throw out the premise of everything is HALAL unless proven to be haram for some reason when it comes to finding a spouse.



    We speak to a Muslimah at a fucntion, we are scolded and told we are going to Hell. We say Assalamu Alaykum or tyr and be polite, we are viewed as monsters. But it’s ok for a non Muslim to say hello and just watch everyone get all nice. These Muslim leaders smile and joke with women at the malls and come to the mosques and beat the youth down.


    This isn’t 7th century Mecca or Medina – why can’t someone just come out and say it is ok to meet a potential spouse at university or a social function? Perhaps you notice each other and speak respectfully in order to gauge their temperament and personality first?

    That’s what I would want to do FIRST before speaking with her mahram. Imagine you just go to her mahram right away just by looking at her then you find out she’s got Torret’s Syndrome or has no teeth or something weird. You would avoid the complications of going to a mahram and saving her and her fmaily any awkwardness by at least seeing her at a friends gathering, at college or wherever else normal people gather and deciding if she could be good for you.

    Plus, women look different all the time and I’d want to see her on her good and not so good days.

    We want answers!


      • Completely unhelpful, Siraaj. You missed his point entirely.

        Why would he approach her father if he knows nothing about her in the first place?

        • Firstly, are you are a father of daughters? And secondly, would you want every guy interested in your daughter trying to chat her up to get to know her better, either online or off? I certainly wouldn’t. So as a father, I say to you, keep away from our daughters – come speak with us, man to man (if you really are one), and by the way, respect our daughters enough that we can ask them if they’re interested in you as well – they may not be, and may not want to have to deal with the brother and his interest.


  • Salam alaikum,

    Thank you wa jazak Allah alf khair for writing this post and I’m also enjoying the discussions going on in the comments here. This is indeed a very important topic.

    However, one thing that bothers me about this post is how it in an indirect manner blames survivors of rape/sexual assault for the perpetrators’ crime. No, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be cautious, but at the same time, we shouldn’t be putting all the blame on the survivors, because rape is an act of aggression and not an act done out of sexual desire. If we can call it desire, it’s more of a desire for power & control and to humiliate the target.

    Let’s compare this drunk driving; if we want to reduce the likelihood of casualties, we can do either one of two things: not allow any person to ever get out of their homes because of the dangerous drivers, or we could reduce the likelihood of people driving while drunk. Of course, the second choice is a more reasonable one. The same logic applies with rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment; in order to address it, we cannot go blaming the victims, we need to address the disease in the perpetrators themselves and to spread public awareness to be able to provide more support for survivors.

    To prove my points above, please consider the following facts (I am a counselor at a hotline for survivors of rape/sexual assault & sexual harassment, these are what I remember from my training):

    Its not only women who get sexually harassed or raped, even men can get raped and sexually harassed (and yes by STRAIGHT women, STRAIGHT men, and LGBTQI populations).

    You may tell me that statistics say that women tend to be more vulnerable to getting raped and sexually harassed…here’s my response to that: please consider the following factors that may explain these statistics:

    Male survivors of rape, sexual assault, or even sexual harassment are not as likely as female survivors to speak to anyone about their incident especially since it may involve questioning their masculinity and sexual orientation and also because men tend to be socialized to not be as emotionally expressive. In addition, there are not as many services for male survivors as there are for female survivors; making it harder for male survivors to seek help. Even few female survivors actually report or speak of their trauma (sometimes not until ten or twenty years…or even old age) so imagine how much fewer it is for male survivors to report? Thus all these complicated factors help explain why there seems to be more women getting raped and sexually harassed than men.

    Another thing that a lot may sound quite disturbing: the elderly, the disabled (physically, mentally, and emotionally), LGBTQI populations, and children (even toddlers) all have a higher vulnerability of getting raped or sexually assaulted. People born with developmental disabilities have around a 90% or more probability of getting raped or at least sexually harassed at least once in their life time. It has been found that women wearing hijab are not necessarily less likely to be sexually harassed or even raped than non-hijaabi women. It is also common knowledge that rape tends to increase dramatically during wartime.

    I mention all this to show that there’s the following pattern that can be observed: All those with higher likelihood of being raped or sexually harassed are either rejected by their own societies, have a lower position in society, or are physically or mentally weak to defend themselves or speak up for themselves. In places where a particular race or people is hated, you’d find such people commonly being victims of sexual harassment or even rape.

    Men who tend to rape women have a distorted view about women and their social cues (they may take the most innocent act as something sexual and will thus use it against them) and also have an anger toward them; I repeat: anger and not necessarily sexual attraction. A perfect example of this is when women get harassed in workplaces that are considered to be “men’s jobs” and the men thus feel they need to exert their superiority and their claim that: “this is a man’s zone”.

    At times, a person may rape or sexually harass another without actually being aware of it and that may even add up to the statistics, but that is a whole larger topic and it depends on how the people involved view it, whether or not there was consent, and how the legal system defines rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment and that differs by country and even by state.

    In conclusion, I am bothered at how a lot of discussions that have the intent to discourage dating or encourage wearing hijab tend to use the statistics behind rape & sexual harassment as a backup without considering that it is a very very complicated issue as pointed out in all that I said above and it is also insensitive to survivors themselves as it emphasizes making them feel guilty for a crime that was committed against them and which they aren’t to be blamed for. I honestly think that more Imams, religious scholars, etc. urgently need to be resources of support for survivors rather than blaming them.

    • Dear Reema,

      You bring up an important point. One thing should be made extremely clear: speaking about safety and what we can do to try to protect ourselves does NOT mean blaming the victim. Saying that we should make sure to lock our doors at night doesn’t mean you are blaming the victim of a burglary. But the most important point is this: the Creator knows His creation best, and therefore knows how best to protect them. The prohibition of dating is just another example of this.

      • I didn’t say that we shouldn’t be careful as pointed out in the very beginning of my comment (and I’d rather not repeat myself, my comment was long for a reason and I think I backed up myself pretty well). However we can only do so much in the end and the existence of the crime is a disease existing in the perpetrator’s and even in society itself, especially one that condones it directly or indirectly (such as through “rape jokes”) or blames the victim directly or indirectly.

        One more thing, (although I am personally against dating in the Western sense of the word) if avoiding dating or any relationship can help avoid getting raped…then why can’t we say the same about marrying? Rape in marriage does exist and I believe a recent post in here (which I really enjoyed reading) does talk about it. This is why I used my “controlling drunk drivers” analogy above.

        And yes, I agree with you, Allah knows best about His creation, however using rape or sexual assault statistics may not necessarily validly explain His wisdom which is so vast and can’t just be limited. Wa Allah a’lam.

      • Dear sister,

        Where does it say this (the prohibition of dating)? The word dating didn’t exist then. Where does it say in the Qur’an that we can’t meet girls or women before outside marriage.

        It talks about being modest, chaste, to lower the gaze. It doesn’t prohibit to get to know a person or spend a good time lawfully, respectfully, spiritually, ethically. Why do we base ourselves on hadith that have been collected 300 years or so after the Prophet’s death as the source of Islamic law.

        There is nothing wrong with courting befriending a good pious Muslim lady with Qur’anic and clean spiritual principles. and reason.

      • My comment does not imply the reduction of the importance of the Sunnah of the Prophet but I believe you can’t say that it is against/(prohibited in) Islam.

        We can have a very wonderful Muslim courting/dating culture full of respect and dignity. (However, it’s true that with the promiscuity etched so deeply in popular culture, it will be difficult to make this a practical reality. That’s why it should be left to be judged on a case by case basis and scholars and leaders like yourself should not put a blanket prohibition on the permissibility of dating . This does more harm than good.)

  • As always Sr. Yasmin – great topic for discussion.

    As far as the dating issue goes I think it was addressed appropriately here. Of course, as many of the commenter’s have said, is that the options for the youth is not being addressed by our leaders; whenever I see an article about the topic of dating/pre-maritial relationships, I am always enthusiastic and eager to read them, as I am hoping that some sort of solution is put forward or suggested. Yet, I too find this to be lacking. I have to admit, I myself am still working on many of the practices that we are to undertake as part of our Faith, one thing that I really detest and dislike very much is the pre-marital relationship. I do understand the feeling of the youth who see their non-Muslim classmates and friends, who are “enjoying” much more than they are – maybe they are the only ones without someone on their arm. Thus, they eventually seek out this same lifestyle and behavior, behind their parents back of course, and given that we are made weak, gradually make changes that delve them deeper into this unseemly behavior (e.g. living together). Despite, my dislike of the situation we face today, I have to agree that many times I feel sorry for these kids – I mean, yes, they are having fun, while doing things that I surely won’t be doing until after marriage – yet the underlying issue is one that I am very thankful for not having. For example, the parents don’t give them much option for meeting people that could be a potential spouse or when they do, they limit things until after engagement (no talking until after this event) – which I find to completely defeat the purpose of the entire process.
    As an American Muslim, I had never been openly exposed to pre-martial relationships between two Muslims – I had only heard stories. Then, when I arrived in Central Europe for my graduate studies, I was immediately introduced to 3-4 Muslim girls and boys who were in relationships, ranging in age from 19-25. While one couple admits that what they are doing is not correct (living together; one other couple is also doing this), it seems that the environment they are raised in only promotes this lifestyle. In one case, one girls’ parents does what I mentioned above, doesn’t allow talking before the engagement and on top of that, the boy is chosen by the mother, and in the specific case I mentioned, the couple has now made the parent-parent contact and are planning to sign the nikaah (while marriage events themselves will take place later). While I sincerely wish these couples well, again, I feel sorry for them, that they (especially the girls in both cases) have to put themselves in such unflattering, unworthy positions to reach a good point/goal in life.
    So in my view, while these and other kids are making mistakes (which they of course, will have to answer for), I also find much fault with both the leaders in the respective communities and more importantly, with the parents of these individuals and the way in which they present Islam (if at all, and these days, culture comes first as we all know in many families, as I am witness, being a member of the Indo-Pak tradition, as are those I have mentioned) to their children and the associated values, teachings, and expectations that concern healthy relationships, both before and after marriage. I hope that made sense.

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan for the post.

  • I think you addressed the topic very well. However, on that note, I think we should be asking ourselves why this question came up in the first place.

    I am a young Muslim in college and I can tell you that the current condition of our youth in terms of maintaining their chastity is a disaster. Muslim youth are in no way, shape, or form encouraged to get married. Rather our elders and leaders encourage the youth to become Doctors, Engineers, etc.. and therefore delay marriage. We are only human and if the avenue to be in a halal relationship is closed, then inevitably our youth will find other avenues to release their desires. Many of our Muslim youth are turning to dating, because there is no other option to be in a relationship. I am not defending their actions, for every person will be held accountable, but we cannot deny that when doing things the halal way is made difficult, then the haram way becomes more tempting.

    Furthermore, for the young Muslim who is on the straight path, trying to get married is like trying to climb a mountain pass. There are numerous boulders like culture, race, color, money, etc.. that block a youth from getting married. Most elders just laugh at the idea about getting married at such a young age. And to tell you the truth, sometimes I feel like our elders would rather us have boyfriends/girlfriends instead of follow the correct path of marriage. All I know is a fitna is brewing and if our youth are not given the proper outlet to be in a halal relationship, then this fitna will continue to spread until it becomes one of the many immoral plagues of our community. It’s a shame that one of the most beautiful institutions that Allah gave to this ummah is being taken away from our youth, many of whom, wish to remain chaste.

    God Speed!!!!

  • How did I miss this discussion! Thank you! Finally ppl saying what I’ve been saying for years. This is a real problem in our community and unfortunately as discussed above, our leaders and parents do think we’re living in 7th century Arabia or Kabul/Karachi. They want these huge Purdahs at the Mosque or Muslim events, scholars never address the issue beyond platitudes and unpractical advice, no real programs or help for those who do want to get married or converts. And in the meanwhile their kids are dating, sitting on each other’s laps, having sex and yes having children out of wedlock. Honestly when I heard about one kid who grew up in our community, went to Islamic school and had very good religious parents having a child out of wedlock I was very upset. It’s not stories anymore, it’s rampant. Come on community please wake up! I’m not saying there’s one solution, but at least we could make this a priority and start doing things as communities to address young people’s needs.

  • Assalamualaikom,

    You have to forgive me because I´m a great ignorant of all of this and more I read more confused I am, I´m full of doubts, this is a really big issue, do the students male and female go to the same school, university? do the workers male and female work together? do they speak between each other? do they look at each other while they communicate or are in the same place? do the non-muslim know what is haram for muslim? do the muslim know what is haram for themselves? which are the halal alternatives for them? does anyone speak to muslim youth and listen to their needs and their thoughts? does anyone take into account to give a step forward and change this situation? and I don´t mean talk and talk about it, I mean real solutions. We should listen carefully to the solutions, think about it and make them real. I believe there is someone with the spirit to take a step forward to put solutions outside, in the real worl. Maybe the whole world is waiting for us to change it, these are practical issues that need practical solutions, ,…, .
    About predators, I pray God about it, because I´ve seen in my life that I cannot avoid them myself if it is not with God´s Help.
    The Youth is the future they deserve our efforts, our attention, our unconditional love, give them a path where they can feel free to choose the right way by their own will, it is our responsibility to educate them, to tell them the right way and give them choices and opportunities to make it right.
    Our example is followed for more people than we believe, we affect others behaviour and even destiny just for our behaviour, our acts,…I haven´t seen anyone perfect yet, but if we open our eyes we´ll see how those children, or teenagers looking at us to see if they can trust us or not, maybe they like the way we are and choose us as model to follow. Then to do our best is our responsibility and to make conscious others of this too. We have created the path they are walking on right now, it is our responsibility to give solutions.
    One of us affects many others.

  • […] Question Regarding Dating 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 […] […]

  • Mashaallah! Thank you so much for continuing to braoden my knowledge in Islam. This article is a must-read to all Muslims, especially now that the practice of dating has become so common among us. May Allah bless you more as you become an instrument in enlightening us regarding some issues.

  • None of the methods worked for me( excpet dating ! that i did not try for islamic reasons)
    The girls who show off make-up and clothes attract better men. I feel that my islamic identity has led to a smaller pool of suiters. Right now I am pretty sad about this situation!

  • InshAllah people will follow Islam and not culture. Without meeting a potential Islamic spouse it is not practical to just marry someone (let alone find a partner, based on a picture, or conversation. This is silly. You need to meet face to face and get to know the person. Someone respectful should over see this. In one hadeeth (and I only believe in hadith that support the holy Quran…there are false hadith you know?) If this hadeeth is correct the prophet (pbuh) said seeing one in person is fine…of course without touching, gazing inappropriately, and with someone respectful and responsible overseeing the meeting. We need a system where Muslims can safely, respectfully meet.

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