Let’s Talk About Dating



The word “dating” has long been a taboo in the Muslim community. From an early age children are reminded that Muslims don’t date and that dating is “haram” (prohibited).  I remember receiving these messages as a child from my own parents and as I became a teenager, I had to explain to friends that I couldn’t go out on “dates.” Having a boyfriend was not even an option and even receiving a phone call from a boy to get a homework assignment was met with interrogations from my parents.  Like many of the youth today, I continued to abide by my parents rules and just held onto the dream that one day I would get married and everything would be perfect.  However, exactly how I was going to get married was not discussed.  My mother told me of her arranged marriage to my father and how it all just happened, reassuring me that my husband was “written” for me – “it is all in God’s plans so don’t worry, it will just happen.”  I continued to believe in this magical destiny well into my college years.  I finally met a young man I was interested in marrying, but I had no idea how to navigate the experience and found myself lost and confused. This type of idealistic thinking leading to confusion and even rebellion continues to be prevalent in our community.  Every Muslim is raised with the idea that they will someday get married, but prior to that there can be no interaction with the opposite gender.  Well, this makes meeting the person you are “written” for and getting to know him or her for marriage nearly impossible.

Out of a fear of western values that accept pre-marital sex, the Muslim community has become paralyzed when approaching the issue of dating.  However, many Muslim youth have abandoned the notion of no dating and have chosen to date behind their parents back instead.  Other Muslims have accepted that there is no dating and have completely abstained from interacting with the opposite gender.  Yet, others are frustrated at how difficult it is to meet Muslims and instead choose to date and marry a non-Muslim because it’s easier to “get to know” them when so many restrictions are not in place.  Today many youth are wandering around, feeling confused and discouraged about how to approach marriage and how to get to know others while simultaneously seeking to maintain their Islamic values. Parents and community leaders have established the boundaries between genders, yet they have not given practical advice.  The lack of direction is leaving young people frustrated and susceptible to the western cultural norms all around them.

The Qur’an reminds Muslims to avoid fornication in Surat Al-‘Isra’ “And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way” (17:32) but it does not give specific instruction on how Muslims should go about finding a spouse. The wisdom we take from this is that our faith identifies the boundaries for us, but it is up to the individual to pave his or her individual path within those parameters.  We, as a community, need to reconcile the best way to get to know others for marriage particularly in the times we are living in. Throughout history and the world, most marriages were arranged marriages and only in the past 100 years has the process of getting married changed into what today is called dating. “Dating” in today’s culture has become a frivolous activity with no intention of marriage usually leading to pre-marital sex, but it wasn’t always like this. Throughout history, with the exception of modern times, courtship was seen as a bridge to marriage.  In the early 1830’s to 1900’s the U.S. evolved out of arranged marriages and developed the process known today as ”courting.”  According to Webster’s dictionary, “courting is to engage in social activities leading to engagement and marriage.” It is a sexually abstinent relationship, with parental involvement, allowing two people to learn about one another for marriage within the context of honor and respect for one another.

According to this definition, courting may be a viable alternative for Muslims who do not want to go the route of an “arranged marriage” nor the route of modern “dating.”  Of course, courting sounds completely old fashioned when placed in the current cultural climate. On the other hand, it may even sound too much like “dating” to many in the Muslim community who can only accept arranged marriages or a strictly controlled process.  However, Islamic courting may be the natural progression that needs to take place in our community in order for Muslim youth to get married without engaging in frivolous or harmful activities as well as being keenly aware of their Islamic values.

I know there are readers who at this point may be astounded that I am suggesting a less restrictive alternative, but honestly I believe it is time for us to consider options. “Islamic courting” is not an arbitrary activity.  It has a purpose – two people taking time to determine compatibility for marriage with the full awareness and support of their parents.

In order for young Muslim men and women to have the freedom to court within Islamic guidelines, there must be basic principles in place.  First of all, only people who are ready to be married should consider courting. Islamic courting is not a frivolous activity and should only be engaged in by two individuals who are serious about and ready for marriage both emotionally and financially.  Self-control and modesty in speech and actions must exist in order for respect to develop.  If there is an intention for the relationship to be maintained, it is important to be aware of the consequences of immodest behavior and a lack of self-control.  The Qur’an reminds us,

24:30

Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. (24:30)

24:31

And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed. (24:31)

Modesty for both young men and women has slowly eroded in today’s society and combined with a lack of self-control has led to pre-marital sex.  Parents must reiterate to youth the virtue of modesty as a guard not only to their desires but also as a form of self-respect and how they want to be treated by others. It is immature to think that you can simultaneously show respect and a lack of self-control toward someone you may want to marry. The maturity required to engage in self-control is a prerequisite to the courting process. Yet, I am confident that this is possible because it already happens between young men and women on campuses and workplaces throughout the U.S.  The same respect that is given in those settings to non-Muslim and Muslim colleagues can and should be easily carried over into a social relationship with a Muslim.

I believe that if our young men and women were raised with a view that the goals of Islamic courting are to determine compatibility for marriage through a relationship defined by respect and self-control, it would be successful. This would require that families are open to learning about and meeting possible suitors and having open communication with youth about the boundaries of a relationship as established by the family and Islam.  Islamic courting would allow individuals to develop friendships as they learn about each other’s character and they would also understand the responsibility they have to guard each other’s hearts until the outcome of their relationship is known. Islamic courtship would encourage interaction and friendship between young men and women as well as the entire family.  This shift in thinking would require eastern cultural customs to be accommodating and accepting of a new way to meet a spouse.

I challenge our community to be objective and consider being reasonable and realistic with our young men and women. Teenagers in high school should not be courting, however, college-aged and beyond are within the scope of an “appropriate” age.  Parents should not create unnecessary hardships or frustrations by being overly concerned with temptation in situations where risks are low and both young people are on their guard.  Parents should use discretion and maintain an open relationship with their children throughout the process.  Specifics of when and under what conditions the couple will see each other are conversations parents and young people should discuss and agree upon.  The couple should be able to speak privately, but in a setting where risks are lowered.  This could mean in a public space like a coffee shop or in a home where parents are in the other room with the door open, but not intrusive or eavesdropping on the couple. Activities during courtship should also include family-oriented activities where the couple can have an opportunity to engage and interact within a family setting and get to know each other’s families better.  This would allow the family members to develop a friendship with the potential spouse as well.  Specific activities, such as going out together to public places, talking on the phone, chatting on the computer, etc. would be areas that parents and their children need to discuss and mutually agree upon based on their family values.  Ultimately, keeping the relationship in the “open” is more beneficial to the couple as well as their respective families.

I challenge our community to engage in conversations around courting and dating.  We must examine our fear of the word “dating,” and re-define the process for our Muslim youth.  Dating does not need to mean frivolous outings that lead to pre-marital sex.  Dating for Muslims can revert back to the original meaning of “courting” and it can evolve into “Islamic courting.”  If our youth are taught from an early age that Muslims of marriageable age engage in courting, rather than dating; this will give youth a clear picture of how and when to navigate the road to a marital relationship.  Conversations between parents and youth need to take place and need to be filled with love and understanding as they embark on the next step toward adulthood.  My hope is that we as a community begin to realize that marriage won’t just “happen magically.” We must tackle these tough topics and provide our youth with a realistic process for getting married.

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85 Comments

  1. ZAI says:

    FANTASTIC article. Alhamdulillah. I applaud you for attempting to present a viable alternative that takes into account realities. More articles like this please!

    As a side note, I think what you outline is a viable alternative…but I think it’ll take until the next generation to implement itself or be tried. I don’t think the older immigrants will give it a chance…these are cultures where they feel “shamed” if their daughters engagement is broken..so I don’t see them signing up for this. I think it’s a possibility for the next generation that was born and/or raised here though because they’ll have had time to exile some of the cultural baggage from back home…

    Once again…great article. God Bless you for your work…

  2. Thank you for discussing this important issue. Barak Allah feek. :)

  3. Ahmed says:

    Ma’sha’allah, an excellent article. I don’t if this was a follow-up to the recent article “Question Regarding Dating” and the comments that followed it, but I think this was a good first step in trying to not only say what is not allowed, but also providing or suggesting a possible solution or alternative. Though we have many issues/problems in our community, this is one of my pet peeves, as I’ve seen it with my own two eyes – and not just that, but young Muslims living together well before they know that their families would be willing to get them married or when the family is too restrictive in their views on how to go about the whole process. I hope I will never meet (though I know it exists as mentioned here) a non-married Muslim couple with a child. I recently wrote a lengthy blog post on this topic and closed with the question or hope that elders in the community need to provide some solutions and again, what has been said here was what I was looking for in part. I will definitely share this with my readers at some point. Jazak’Allahu Khairan Sr. Munira for sharing your experiences.

  4. Muhammad says:

    I didn’t realize that marriage is a new problem. It’s a good thing the ummah hasn’t had to worry about getting married for the last 1400 years, wonder how they would’ve managed it?

    • Abdul Hafeez Siddiqui says:

      Great comment brother. A study should be done on the history of the obstacles faced by young Muslims when it comes to marriage. Many of these obstacles were not faced by the Ummah’s youth in the past. How and why did these obstacles come about and how can they be removed now?

      One obstacle which has been common throughout history is the financial obstacle. However, in the past, the financial threshold was lower for most Muslims, it was easier to find families who were more concerned about the Deen of the suitor rather than his finances, and there was more government support for getting the youth married.

      Now, we require the suitor to have a Masters degree if he is an engineer or business major, otherwise he should be a doctor or lawyer. However, there are many good careers and good paying jobs which require only a two year degree or certification or sometimes even just a high school diploma. For example, CAD technicians only need certification or associates, auto mechanics only require certification and can work for dealerships or open their own shop, all sorts of medical technicians just require associates degrees or certification, power plant operators and technicians require certification, transportation dispatchers require certification, HVAC technicians require certification, carpenters and millwrights require only a high school diploma and go through a 4 year paid apprenticeship where they can earn over $130,000 over the period of the apprenticeship. Most of these fields actually have more available jobs than fields requiring bachelors degrees. Sometimes a company might hire someone with a two year degree to work as a technician and then pay them to do a Bachelors degree.

      So we have to be smart and less focused on chasing after this world. So what if the most the suitor will ever make in his life is $70,000 a year rather than $150,000 annually? Even $36,000 per year is enough for a small family to live comfortably. Would we rather have our youth be rich and fornicators, or financially comfortable and morally upright?

      I am not saying that Muslims should not go to universities. Rather, those who are really talented and interested in higher education should go to universities, while those who are not so interested in studying can go into more technical fields such those I mentioned above.

      I believe that the financial obstacle to marriage can be greatly reduced by exploring these alternative career options which will allow us to be financially capable of marriage by the age of 20 or even earlier. However, the mentality of the older generation needs to be worked on in order to allow our youth to go into these alternative careers without feeling that they have let their parents down.

      • sfyn says:

        This article touches on valid social subject yet misses the point about retaining Islams true meaning by a long shot. Just as technology broadcasting porn is seen to be the main course of diversion for our youth in one of the comments below, the train of thought used in this article could be attributed to “if we don’t like the rules lets change them” ideology of western education. The frustration amongst the American youth is clear but using frustration to introduce a sense of alternate behaviour is taking aim at piercing the armour of our trong and beautiful religion. Emotional outcry’s which leverage current social complexities encourage a slippery slope towards slow dissolution of Islam. “Islam is a way of life” and modernizing is to the standards of an “American Muslim” is altering it.

        • Mounir says:

          You have a very good point, but what solution do you propose? I myself am going through the same exact situation explained in this article. My family lives in the US, have no muslim friends, I myself don’t know any muslims, dont ask me why because i have no idea. Its not good for a muslim to stay unmarried and alone, so I am totally confused as to what i’m going to do.

      • omar says:

        excellent post, bro! Jazak Allah khair

  5. J says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see any new ideas in this article. The “practical” steps suggested are pretty old. My parents as well as many of their friends who grew up in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries all had the opportunity to talk and interact with their potential spouse under the supervision of a chaperone before they got married. From what I know about my cousins, it’s still the dominant way of getting married among educated families. It seems to me this is just a way to throw in some Islamic lingo and look cool by saying “islamic dating.”

    • S says:

      I agree with what you said. All my friends who did get married the “arranged” way met the guy in the presence of family and friends a couple of time before getting engaged. The real courting happened after the engagement where they talked to the guy more often and got to know them better.In my family and circle of friends its not frowned upon if you do end up breaking your engagement.There’s never been a hue and cry of “honor lost” if some girl or boy decides to break off their engagement.An engagement is now considered the start of a formal courtship.I have rarely heard of anyone being discouraged from getting to know their fiancee better, as long as it happens in a public place.

    • M says:

      I was thinking the same thing as I read this article. Throughout my entire life, Islamic courtship has been the norm while dating and arranged marriages are frowned upon. Typically the two families get to know each other and the girl and guy get to know each other within the context of the family. After the engagement they start going out together. The wedding marks consummating the marriage.

      Nothing new about it. Completely practical and acceptable.

      On another note, thank you for bringing up this issue and articulating it so nicely. Your article makes those who engage in dating or arranged marriages see the more balanced route.

  6. Mahmud says:

    Could not agree at all with this article. While I always appreciate suggestion of practical alternative, I, by any means, cannot accept any alternative practical ways that is suggested at the expense of the clear guidance given by the Messenger of Allah.

    What did the Messenger of Allah say? If an unmarried boy and an unmarried girl meet together, who are mahram for each other, and if the guardian of the girl does not chaperon their conversation, Shaytan will be present between them.

    Despite such a strict warning from the Messenger of Allah, how can someone even suggest courting without the presence of wali? No matter how much self-respect, modesty, and Islamic education the girl and the boy have, an unchaperoned courting is VERY LIKELY to end up in something unlawful. It does not have to be sex; there may be an improper look, or there may a moment of sensual talking, or it may happen that in the name of knowing each other, the boy and girl simply enjoy the accompany of each other and they may then keep continue it.

    After reading lots of marriage articles, I have reached this conclusion: Dating is not allowed in Islam. The Messenger of Allah has clearly decided the matter for us. So how boys and girls would know each other before marriage? The Messenger of Allah has prescribed the way for us. The boy may learn about a girl through his mother, aunts or sister. He may learn about her deen, character, and beauty from them. Then the boy should approach the father or the wali of the girl. At the presence of the wali, the boy and girl may converse as long as they want. They may do it even for more then one day. If everything seems good, then they may do nikah.

    This is the only way in my humble opinion. Calling for Islamic courting, saying that it would be OK, as long as couple are modest and stuff, in my opinion, is the first step to transgress the boundary set by the Messenger of Allah. This is also exactly the first step to change the laws of Allah. May Allah protect all of us from deviating the straight path, like the Jews and Christians.

    • Mohamed Ali says:

      Mahmud, I would like to point out that you qualified your argument based on the fact that “after reading lots of marriage articles” you came to the conclusion that “Dating is not allowed in Islam.” Please humble yourself before your sister in Islam that has put far more research into this topic than you yourself have. Furthermore, remember that there are scholars, including Shaykh Suhaib Webb, that are aware of the content that are being posted on this blog, and have not seen fit to counter the arguments made by Munira.

      Your ideology represents a fraction of the community that believes that reading the entire Qur’an, memorizing it, and having read Bukhari and Muslim, as well as Riyaadh-us-Saliheen by Imam An-Nawawi, qualifies them to be a scholar. Keep in mind that these are feats that are accomplished by young children in the various halaqaat of Islamic Scholars throughout the world, and do not qualify you to make judgments with regards to the halaal and haraam. Though I respect you as a fellow Muslim, I cannot respect both the manner of your response and the intention behind it. Please do not quote ahadith or verses of the Qur’an and believe that they justify the point that you are trying to make. The Divine Will of Allah is not manifested to us unless Allah (SWT) seeks to do so. Would you think that the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet are so easily understood as to be invoked at whim. There are methodologies when it comes to giving Islamic rulings, and for you to insinuate that what the article condones is “a deviation from the straight path” as you conclude, is arrogant at best.

      Please do not bold your response as well. And if this reply made you at all angry, take a moment before you respond and make wudu. Then pray a couple of raka’aat, and then realize how your comment must have sounded to me or others given that it was bolded and demanding.

      May Allah (SWT) protect us from our own desires and guide us to what is equitable and just. Ameen.

      • Maryam says:

        Br Muhammad Ali, thank you for that comment. I use to have the same thought streams as the brother who posted in bold and it wasn’t until years of studying usulul fiqh and other Islamic sciences when I realized how foolishly ignorant I really was. Once a person really begins to study, much of what they thought was “the haqq” and the “only way” and the Prophetic way becomes more lucid and less simply black or white. Sr Munira demonstrates a SUPERB understanding of fiqh and the axioms in shariah which must allow for scholars to take into consideration the time, place and culture of the people while examining the Ayaat and ahadeeth from which rulings are derived.

        While I appreciate the brother’s zealous concern and that of those who agree, and may they be rewarded for striving to follow a prophetic lifestyle as they have come to know it, I’d recommend for them to take a few more years seriously studying fiqh, usul ulFiqh and the methodologies in which the Quran and Sunnah are employed to come to rulings and understandings before making specific claims.

        Before I really started studying, I never fully understood Imam ash Shafie’s statement, rahimahullah, about having a debate with a scholar and winning and having a debate with a person who hadn’t studied and losing. Years later I realized that the person who hasn’t seriously studied a vast array of sciences simply clings onto the little they know as truth and simply do not have the tools needed to understand the depth of the discourse of the person of knowledge. Not referring to the brother above, just a reflection of my own experiences.

        If anything, this should be a call to all of us to gain deeper knowledge of the Quran, Sunnah and legal rulings and methodologies as they relate to us today.

        Please forgive me if I said anything offensive to anyone. It wasn’t my intention to offend. I am just seriously concerned with some of the discourse of our community members and the ways in which our lack of knowledge are contributing to the deterioration of some of our possible feats as a community and ESP in our relationships with our youth.

        Sr Munira jazakiAllahu khayran for a piece which addresses the reality our youth face and provides guidance as to what we can inshaAllah do to help facilitate marriage in a wali-approved, halal way.

        • Hadi Shakur says:

          Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem, Alhamdulilahi Rabil Alameen

          As salamu alaikum wa jazakhallah khaira for this post. I believe topics such as this, open up superb dialouge amongst our ummah, being that this is such a sticky subject. Dating in Islam. Wow.. lol To start off, I’d like to say I agree with Mahmud’s fundamental argument, and on some points that sr. Maryam made.

          Maryam made a great point in saying that the scholars and people who dedicate their lives to the understanding of this deen, by the grace of Allah (swt) are more suited to make distinctions of what’s halal and whats haraam in respects to the grey areas. The fuqahaa. But lets not forget that these people are not infallible, and the best guidance is that of the prophet (saws).

          Islamic courting, as stated in many comments isn’t new, but what is new is the “let them have some privacy” advice given by this author. What are wali’s for if this is to be allowed? Are we totally disregarding the hadith about Shaytaan being the third party or do we think our emaan is so high we are not destined to succumb to our lowly desires just because parents are in the next room ‘with the door open.’ Sr Maryam I commend you for studying this deen extensively and brother Mohammed Ali I commend you for knowing what it takes to be a scholar but what this brother is saying is 100% correct. Although we should not get our knowledge from discussion boards, articles or the likes, this topic is pretty clear. 1 on 1 interactions between non-mahrams is Haraam in every sense of the situation. If not, please enlighten us as to why not, b/c its one thing to give us insight on how to court and ecourage young nikahs, but its not right to tell us this is fine without the proper daleel being that you all influence A TON of uneducated muslims. We dont want to give off the idea that ‘texting’ is allowed as long as your wali checks the messages after you all are done either… jk but u get my drift. :P

          May Allah (swt) give all of us the knowledge, humility and emaan to follow the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed (saws) and nothing more.
          Ameen

        • searcher of Beauty says:

          May we all be guided to a path of balance.

        • Abdul Hafeez Siddiqui says:

          Mahmud, Muhammed Ali, Maryam, and Hadi have all made valid points, and all of these concerns need to be reconciled in order to achieve a good solution to this problem.

          However, I would like to point out that the author forgot to mention that although marriages in the US evolved from being arranged to being preceded by a courtship, the marriage process then evolved further into dating and then straight up fornication. So how do we prevent the same thing happening to ‘Islamic’ courtship? Remember that even the European and American courtships were very tightly regulated, and yet in less than 200 years American courtship had become dating and shortly after that a free for all. So, again, how do we prevent that from happening to ‘Islamic’ courtships?

          Or maybe there is a bigger underlying problem, such as the attitudes and expectations of parents/youth, and if we fix that problem then there won’t be a need for ‘Islamic’ courtship?

      • Hadi Shakur says:

        … I also believe a lot of this missteps that our muslim youth are taking in regards to dating, as with numerous topics all go back to poor parenting. Plain and simple. The parents, especially over here in the west, to my knowledge are failing in many aspects of there childrens deen. This is the belly of the beast, and just the slightest lack of attention will cause your child to deviate from the true minhaj. As she said she offers challenges to us, I challenge the parents to raise their children the Proper way, islamically, not half and half like Arizona Ice Tea LOL. But really, how about raising our children to Inshaallah have their married by 16,17,18. Aisha (raa) and countless Sahaba (raa) and Salaf were married young, as advised by our Rabb (swt).

        Its sad to see the western view of things contaminate our pure deen. Please do not conform to this society, as it will eat away at your emaan.

        Salam,
        Hadi

        • Mohamed Ali says:

          Hadi, you have to understand the historical context in which we live. I am no scholar, and may Allah (SWT) forgive me for any shortcomings in my knowledge, so take my words or leave them. That said, I would like to ask you if you have ever been alone with a girl? Furthermore, have you ever been alone with a girl that you intended to marry, while your parents were in the room right next door? If not, then on what basis do you have to judge your fear of sexual immorality? For those brothers and sisters who have been in a semi-private situation with a sister that they intended on marriage, they understand that there’s absolutely no way that they would feel comfortable making moves on the sister, or vice versa. There exists too much fear. Not of Allah (SWT), whose existence is ethereal and can be forgotten at the whisperings of Shaytan (may Allah protect us from him), but of our parents, whose existence is physically manifested to us.

          As an Ummah we have accepted the discourse on sexual attitudes as propounded by our colonizers during the Victorian Era. What about the ahadith in which the Prophet (SAW) specifically mentions the acts of sex? Or of the jurists who wrote manuals on how to keep your conjugal relations with your spouse enjoyable? Or even the means by which one should approach his wife? Our Islamic discourse today seeks to purify us of any discussions on sex, or even the recognition of sexual desire. This puratinical ideology that has swept our deen has failed many Muslim brothers and sisters who have struggled with the very real illnesses of modernity (due to technology, not due to “Western” society), including porn-addiction.

          Men and women, irregardless of whether they are Muslim or not are constantly in contact with the opposite sex with no mahram present throughout their lives in secular nations. How many times have we seen half-naked women on T.V. and in real life? Are you telling me that when a Muslim sister, in all her modest garb, talks to you, it gets you sexually excited and unable to control your urges? If so, we have more serious issues to discuss than walis and mahrams, for the modest garb is meant to keep your sexual urges at bay. And if it’s failing, then there’s something deeper that we need to discuss.

          And lastly, I am not conforming to this society, but I am not allowing the society to conform to the ideologies of my fellow Muslims. When Arab Muslims spread to the corners of the globe, trading and doing business, they did so while accustoming and in part assimilating to the culture that they lived amongst. Some of these cultures (like the Hindu Vedic tradition) were far more open when it came to sex and sexual desire than we are here in the West. Yet, if you notice, Islam was adopted by the population, and thus grew the various forms of Islam that we have today. Allah mentions in Surat-ul Hujuraat: “And thus have we made you into nations and tribes so that you may get to know one another…” Do not think that Islam itself has its own culture. It doesn’t. The deen is meant to be applied to various cultures. That’s why celebrations like weddings and Eid are supposed to be celebrated according to the traditions of the people, given that the traditions do not conflict with the deen. So, as a proud son of the West, I don’t want to practice Islam as they do in India, Pakistan, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Indonesia, or any other country in the world. I want to practice it as an American. And at the end of the day, as an American, and as a Westerner, I understand the cultural context in which we live. And that’s the context in which Munira wrote her piece. And as Shaykh Suhaib Webb frequently quotes the Maliki Jurist Al-Qadafi (sp?) as saying: “He who does not take into account the customs and culture of a people when issuing a fatwa, has performed a crime against them” (paraphrased).

          May Allah (SWT) protect us from ourselves, guide us all to the straight path, and humble each and everyone of us to the point where we no longer wish to talk out of fear we’ll say something of ignorance.

        • Hadi Shakur says:

          As salamu alaikum,

          Thank you for the response brother. You are very appreciated for your views as I hope to learn from every discourse our Lord puts me in with a fellow brother/sister in faith or humanity.

          Well to start off by answering your question, I’m a 22 year old married American muslim from Washington, DC. So, the situation you presented is right up my alley. As you said, we should not speak out of anything but true understanding and never conjecture as Allah (swt) says the unbelievers and arrogant only resolve to conjecture. Knowing myself as a man, especially a young man, I can honestly say that being alone with a muslimah I was intending to marry would not be condusive to modest and subtle thoughts 100%. We aren’t even suppose to stare at the opposite sex, so me just being alone like this opens up a HUGE can of fitna, not just for me, but for any normal man or woman.

          Besides that, I believe the main point we all have to understand is FOLLOWING THE GUIDANCE OF THE PROPHET. Allah (swt) says, and not verbatim, TAKE EVERYTHING THE PROPHET GIVES YOU. If he says lower your gaze and protect your private parts, this must be taken $100 and not fooled around with. For students of knowledge we all know that THE ORDERS GIVEN BY ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER SUPERCEDE EVERY OTHER ORDER. The culture does not supercede obligations. Fatawas do not go against Shariah by unpratically adjusting to a ‘culture.’ I do however understand where culture comes in to play, and Islam is very flexible, but not to the extent of putting ones deen at such risks.

          For every situation this ummah of today seems to find an issue with, we can all go back to the eternal advice given our Rabb and our Nabi. You state that our discourse today has failed us in speaking about ‘sex,’ and to an extent yes, but I believe there lies a bigger issue. Emaan & Takwa! It cures all, but how can we talk about things such as sex when we dont have women in hijab, men shaving their mustaches, muslim drug abusers, domestic violence, countless bid’ah, and countless other things, not to mention muslims not even praying. We cant move to step 2, if step one isnt fulfilled, thats why we have good brothers and sisters like Suhaib Webb on mission to BUILD EMAAN and TEACH AQUEEDAH not the FIQH of ISLAMIC DATING. Its sooo miniscule.

          I love you brother for the Sake of Allah (swt) as your points are very valid and its very enjoyable to have a productive conservation with you. May Allah (swt) unite us as an ummah and strengthen our Aqueedah and intensify our taqkwa. Ameen

        • Naji says:

          Was Salaam,
          Though I do agree that there are numerous challenges for parents raising children in the “west”, as someone born and raised in NYC by immigrant parents I find myself disagreeing with some of what you’ve mentioned. I sincerely believe that my parents raised my siblings and I to be aware of our deen and to practice it, not just in physical activities such as praying and fasting but also in our understanding and the way we view our environment. When you say that parents should raise their children the proper way to be married by age 16, 17 and 18, are you referring to males AND females to be married at that age or just females to much older men? In all honesty, realistically I don’t think someone at age 16 has the financially capability to be married unless they come from privileged families.

          Also, any missteps I’ve made in my life post-teenage years I claim responsibility for and don’t point the finger at my parents to say they “failed” at raising me or my environment for exposing me to an alternative lifestyle. Rasul Allah (SAW) said: Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. Just because my parents didn’t teach me something doesn’t mean I’m incapable of learning it for myself. After a certain age it becomes my responsibility. It’s not good parenting to impose an ideal or “culture” on your child but instead to cultivate and nurture the desire to learn ones deen for oneself. To teach a child to question, research and understand instead of mindlessly reiterating the rules and regulations of proper Muslim life without practically applying it to our time period and our situation. Islam was sent to mankind as the way of life that, in its simplicity can be followed regardless of location (“west” or “east”) and time period (1400 years ago vs today).

          There are many many issues with Muslims and marriage and we’ve learned to dance around the subject instead of approaching it head on. Arranged marriages in some cases in Muslim society become forced marriages. Parents imposing their “cultural” ideal on a child raised in a different country. People learn to live with a spouse not of their choosing because divorce is shameful and divorcees (both male and female) have a rough time remarrying. Some even view it as a sacrifice that they should make when in fact marriage and another taboo word “love” should not feel like a sacrifice. Compatibility between the bride and groom are disregarded for things like family status, father’s occupation or nationality. Maybe if the “east” was not so nationalistic and rigid in their interpretation of Islam our Revert brothers and sisters would have an easier time being accepted into our communities? I have been to an Islamic school in the heart of LI that is full of proper Muslim children raised so blinded by their own perfection of being Muslim that they can’t even communicate with non-Muslims. SO sheltered in their upbringing in fact they don’t use public transportation. Would it be “proper” Muslim upbringing to tell our girls that Khadijah was an independent business woman and Aisha narrated hadeeth but then expect them to be a house wife subservient to her husband as they do in the east? The Muslim world of the east that shelters their women expects segregation here in the west where not only is it impractically but nearly impossible.

          In my understanding, I know that Rasul Allah (SAW) taught the women in his community. I’ve come across too many “imams” and “moulanas” from Southeast Asia who don’t allow women into their masjids, and won’t even look at them when asking or answering a question. That seems to me an Extreme way of lowering your gaze. It makes me wonder if some of these men have such lack of control of their sexual desires that they can’t even look at a fully clothed (hijab and all) sister when answering a question about Islam. In case this fact has escaped our “so-called” Muslim leaders who come from the east to educate us Westerners, lacking the ability to communicate with the majority of your community (the females) doesn’t make you seem like such a great leader does it? We’ve become this us vs. them type community of Muslims so determined to find the things that separate us that we miss the things that tie us to each other (our deen).

          I understand the reservations that we as Muslims have with the word dating but compatibility between spouses is the most important thing not only for a marriage but also for raising a family. Of course there are guidelines for how we go about these things. Just because we don’t give our children the “birds and bees” talk doesn’t mean they will never find out about sex (or maybe they won’t find out til they are married and that in itself causes even more awkwardness). I’ve had grown men asking me why I’m not praying, telling me I’ll go to Hell when in fact it’s that time of the month. Do these men never learn about the menstrual cycle despite being married and having sisters and daughters? I feel that our women are more inclined to want to seek knowledge because we are deprived it by local “culturally” over-run masjids. We need more Westerners to become leaders for our community so they can understand the challenges of growing up in the west. In areas where the imam is approachable (by both males and females of the community) proper Islamic “courtships” can be arranged without compromising the integrity of our deen. Who knows the community better than the imam who interacts with its members? The shipped over idea of proper Muslim marriage=arranged marriage is dying out with each generation and if we don’t get a handle on how to tackle this situation soon we will have a lot more problems in the future.
          ~Naji

    • M says:

      The author never even suggested that dating should be allowed….
      She suggested chaperoned courtship. If it’s chaperoned by responsible parents, what’s wrong with that? Chaperone courtship merely fulfills the purpose of determining compatibility.

    • Mohammed says:

      I totally agree with YOU brother ….
      May Allah give guidance to all ….

  7. Martin says:

    This is a great article, I would add that the youths should be mindful of the purpose of courting and not go to lengths to please one another at the expense of their own future. One thing dating does is it creates a lot of false expectations. Its the honeymoon before the marriage and people think the honeymoon will continue forever.

    When courting, people should be honest about what they want out of life, whether or not they want their spouse to work, their philosophies on family, raising children, and anything else that may be important to them. That way, they can make sure they are not missing out on something important and do not have to wonder “what if” after getting married as many former daters often do.

  8. Naureen says:

    I think the article is good overall but i don’t see it bringing anything new to our knowledge. Educated muslims all around the world, practicing or non practicing roughly do follow the courting system.

    on another note…
    Going out to public places? and talking without other people listening in?

    I think knowing the youth of our generation, it might be really naive to suggest stuff like this.

    Someone i know is in the process of ‘getting to know a potential spouse’ and they meet all the time with parent/wali there.

    I don’t think its necessarily to meet with your potential husband/wife away from others. This totally opens the doors to weird things happening, which in fact happen all the time.

    • Hassen says:

      Agree with Sister Naureen. I was particularly worried by this statement:

      “The couple should be able to speak privately, but in a setting where risks are lowered. This could mean in a public space like a coffee shop …”

      Risks should just be lowered (when compared to the societal norm), they should constantly be in check. This can be achieved by having a wali present at all times (not necessarily right in the middle of the conversation, but able to visibly monitor things- just his present is probably enough of a reminder to stay within appropriate boundaries).

      There is such beautiful wisdom from why the ayah you quoted (17:32) in that Allah says to not approach zina (rather than not commit zina). We should be aware of even the small steps that could lead to zina. Seclusion (even in a public space) can definitely be a step in this direction, especially since nobody in society would think twice about seeing a guy and girl alone together, since its a normal thing.

  9. MentalMuslim says:

    Great article! I think the author is reiterating a stance that is valid within Islam but also takes into consideration the American culture we live in. I definetely think a education campaign about this needs to go underway in masajid around the country.

  10. MuslimGirl says:

    This is a good article that refreshes my mind, new from everything else that is told to us. In fact, I like the idea of “Islamic courting”. Of course, only do it when you’re ready for marriage! I, being a teen, find this article reassuring. There should be more articles for teens. We have lots of unanswered questions! :)

  11. ChristianGirl says:

    Dear Friends,

    Alhamdulillah, all praise be to God, the Creator, the Merciful One. I am so pleased to hear that you are discussing these issues on this site. I know that in our church, we are finding the same challenge. Out of our desire to remain pure before God until marriage, our congregation mostly segregates into males and females without being asked. It is interesting to see that those of use who are of age (in our twenties & beyond) are now even being encouraged by leadership to seek out a spouse. God chose marriage to be in the natural order — he created Eve to be paired with Adam, and for their union to bear much fruit. Surely, also, he made man and woman to be attracted to each other.

    Song of Solomon, one of the books of the Bible, describes a budding relationship between a young maiden and her lover. A central motif is the phrase: “Do not arouse or awaken love before it so desires (2:7, 3:5).” This speaks to the God’s perfect timing. It speaks to the virtue of patience in waiting and hoping for God’s perfect gift. The young lover praises his maiden, saying “You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain (4:12).” He delights that she has waited for him and will reveal the depths of her heart and body to only him. She later replies, “at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my beloved. (7:13).” The maiden has intentionally set aside herself for her future husband, having full hope that he will come. She speaks of such a passion for him, and for him only.

    I think this is a picture of how God can be honored in our relationships. As humans, we have fallen into sin. Sadly, it has been in our nature since Adam and Eve first chose sin. Because of this, time and time again, though we try to be good, evil thoughts creep into our minds.

    But alhamdulillah, God is redemptive. He does not treat us as our sins deserve.

    Let us follow God with all our hearts. As a young woman, He is first and foremost in my heart. When he brings along the man I am to marry, insha’allah God will give me the strength to remain pure until marriage.

  12. Yamin says:

    Salam

    This is a fantastic article. Islamic courting is still prevalent in the Muslim world. My friend from Syria (Aleppo) says it is the norm for couples go through a courting period of three months, after that they either marry or break.

    I have also published it on my website.

    Yamin

  13. Haq says:

    Dear Sister Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine,
    I just wanted to praise you on this article, which tries to suggest practical ways to solve the issue of finding a suitable spouse. Remember the Muslim Ummah, especially more so in the West, is rife with fear and is very insecure hence it pounces on anyone that seems to threaten what it feels as ‘holy or sacred’. Nothing in the article is ‘unIslamic’ per se though some may say otherwise. So “don’t fear the blame of the blamers” and may Allah reward you !

    • ZAI says:

      I agree FULLY w/ Br. Haq here.

      Again, fantastic article and don’t let anyone deter future opinions by simply hurling hadith as if they’re scholars. Furthermore even scholars ARE products of their cultural environment, so don’t let anyone accuse you of “Americanizing” Islam…as if the folks back home haven’t Arabized, Indianized, Afghanized or Persianized it themselves! When did this become a religion of brown or black folks who adopted it before some pre-modern “cut-off” point? We American Muslims have EVERY right…just as much right…to contribute to interpreting and preserving this religion as anyone from overseas.

      I have no doubt of the fact that many folks, including those here, have sincere concerns about preserving the din and speak from a sincere place. However I will not shy away from stating that there is ANOTHER group of folks, almost ALL male, who will object to your way of thinking due simply to immigrant CULTURAL values and/or male ego. Some men simply will not tolerate the type of things you suggest because they cannot handle the idea of someone they marry ever having even talked to another man…it’s really that simple and that exists in our immigrant cultures no matter how much they try to wrap themselves in Islam…

      Don’t be deterred! May Allah continue to guide you. It’s high time the silent majority had a voice to speak for it. Enough of the extreme liberals and extreme conservatives who monopolize our discourse as if God has personally spoken to them and provided them with detailed ijtihad of all things. Good work, keep it up and my sincere thanks and admiration for brave imams like Imam Suhaib who are tackling these issues publically and giving voice to the majority of us who have been silenced for so long….

      Masha’allah…

  14. María M says:

    Assalamualaikom,

    Congratulations for this article, this is the first step of a strong movement, through the comments I found some interesting points,
    The need of a campaign through the country, to get to people´s inner structure, through masjids, to the families.
    The importance of stablishing a solid structure that gives real answers to the youth, respecting the values and honoring God´s Word.
    Thank you very much for this begining.
    Beslama

    .

  15. Dawud Israel says:

    Glad to see this article…but I hope more can be done.

    The prospects of marrying/dating a non-Muslim are much better than they are for marrying a Muslim- even for myself. If a Muslim brother wanted a girlfriend, he could EASILY have one in under a week…but finding a potential Muslim wife or even speaking to a sister in any meaningful way can take months. And then it may not work out. There is sometimes a disconnect between genders because the brothers are out and about, often enjoying life, adventurous and fun, and also have more chances to sin, while the sisters are often very sheltered and shy to the extent when a brother speaks to her, she may come across as socially awkward, cold and it may seem she lacks a personality or any real passion (the notable exception: complaining about how we mistreat our sisters). Even a practicing pious brother will be turned off by the sister…especially when compared to the countless non-Muslim women…that’s stiff competition.

    We are in a society where lowering the gaze is becoming very difficult…even sisters don’t lower their gaze nowadays and it ends up creating a situation where its difficult for brothers to be satisfied with sisters and vice versa.

    So I know it sounds radical but I personally believe we need to re-visit the idea of Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women (or Muslim women converting a non-Muslim man to Islam and marrying him) as a legitimate alternative and find safeguards for making it work, for ensuring the future of Islam here. Its becoming more and more common…and we may not like it, but if its happening we should make the best of it rather than just abandoning these brothers and sisters.

    di.

    • Nobody says:

      Salaam,

      Some of what you said kind of struck a nerve with me, so I’m jumping in to say my perspective. With respect and understanding of your situation, I don’t think the solutions you mentioned are the BEST ones or even the only ones. This disconnect between genders is an issue that needs to be looked at from a broader perspective. Parents need to allow for a WEE bit more interaction between muslim females and males, under correct supervision, in order to avoid young muslims facing frustrations like this. I may not have much experience in this area, but I can atleast tell you this is not a problem only muslim males face; I’ve known muslim females who have faced very similar problems with meeting young muslim males because it’s easier for them to meet a non-muslim than a muslim. This is an issue that needs to be brought to the attention of parents.
      As far as this being a common problem, I can’t say whether it is or it isn’t, because I haven’t lived everywhere and can only relate to my own experience, which has not been similar to yours. As a Pakistani girl, I grew up with very few restrictions as did most of my friends around me. I knew my boundaries and gave importance to my religion although I was raised in a very open household where after putting blood, sweat and tears into raising my siblings and me, my parents entrusted me with a lot and left me to make my own choices once I reached college. I was never restricted from doing what I wanted because the trust was so great. I, too, could have “easily had a boyfriend in under a week” but my religion and my parents trust were important enough to me and my friends, both male and female, that we didn’t do so.

      Once again, I understand this is not how it is everywhere, and particularly in more conservative cultures it’s more difficult to talk to our parents about this, or to meet fellow muslims as potential life partners, but I don’t think the only answer to that is allowing for other options such as marrying non-muslims (because that doesn’t always have a positive outcome either, and frankly in most cases I’ve seen, the children are not true practicing muslims because as we know children learn by what parents DO, not just what they say). As for converting and marrying a muslim, this option, while can be noble if done properly, is a bit more difficult as it’s not easy to find just anyone and ask them to change their belief system.

      All that being said, I reiterate my original point: the solutions you mentioned are not the only ones. It’s not healthy to think the situation has gotten so bad that there is only one way left to look at it. Look at it from a different perspective and you may find better options. I don’t know what your exact situation is or even where you are in the world, so I can’t give you specifics; I can only tell you what I think would work better, and I definitely think it’s always a better idea to not latch onto one option, and really consider other ones. Look at the situation from different angles, and definitely avoid entering any process with a closed mind. I’ve known people in some conservative cultures who complain about not being able to meet each other easily, but rather than going for non-muslims, many of them gave the situation a fair chance and didn’t go into the process with preconceived notions. As a result, some ended up in good marriages and had very positive relationships with their spouse.
      I don’t know if this did much for you as far as your thoughts on the topic, but I just thought I’d give you a different point of view.

      I hope I didn’t offend, or overstep. Good luck with this whole process, InshAllah may you seek and receive guidance from Allah.

  16. Sarah says:

    Peace be Upon You, brothers and sisters.

    Foremost, I congratulate sister Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine for writing such a wonderful article. May it help me and many other Muslim teenagers in “Westernized” countries find a practical courting solution in this ever changing world.

    I have been ‘western’ dating since I was 16, and like many other ways of the Kufr, I now realise it bears no fruit and only leads us astray. Insyallah I have recently rediscovered the greatest gift of all and the beauty that is Islam, and is going through a transition to understanding the true meaning of Islam and becoming a true Muslim.

    Insyallah, I shall take heed of your advice. Thank you.

  17. Sana says:

    awesome article! such an important yet neglected topic!

  18. Asma says:

    I think the whole issue is been blown out of proportions. Whether you marry via dating or through the arranged manner, there is no guarantee that any marriage will work – either in the long-run or the short-run. You can grow to be in love or grow out of it.

    Since marriage is a gamble anyways, why suggest or do something which has the tendency to transcend religious boundaries?

    Perform Istikharah and just go do it…. A true Muslim will have his/her conscience talking from within, 99% of the time.

  19. María M says:

    Assalamualaikom,

    Asma, why using the word “gamble”, to get the best, we have to be the best ourselves; it is not a question of being lucky, you mention consciousness, then you are talking about two extremes, the one that has nothing to do with being conscious (gamble) and the one that ask for 99% of consciousness ( God bless to the ones that has it already and help those that are not there yet, like me). The luck you talk about has to do with what we don´t know about ourselves, the other person shows what we are not able to see of ourselves. Once we realized this, we can see from other point of view, we can grow up and go straight to the 99% you talk about, inshallah.

    The issue itself moves the youth, and they are the future we like it or not, if we give them solid support and education through the process of growing up and they feel we care about them in a real way, not just with words, then we have the chance to be listened and they will follow the right path, because they want to do it and they want to trust real people, people that shows through acts their own words. The straight Path is inside of everyone, and I believe this article is reflecting that adults want the best for the ones that need answers and cares about them,and when you have so many people that wants to be guided following the right way, it is the responsibility of those who have the knowledge and the wisdom to share it and open ways and the senses to the right way. Hope is not just a word, its meaning goes beyond understanding many times and for sure is a need for everyone. This article brings Hope.

    The message here for me is: “I care about you and be sure I am looking for solutions to your questions”, just for this, all my respect and admiration to the person that wrote it.

    I read something about poor parenting, we should know that sometimes a child may choose an older brother or sister, uncle or a aunt, grandmother or grandfather, or a friend or teacher o whoever person they think is someone they decide to respect, love and choose to be their models to follow, then sure if they have good parents is the ideal but when this doesn´t happen and it is not me the one that is going to judge this,
    be conscious that we maybe the models with the responsibility this brings to us.

    Thank you very much for listening to me.

    Allah(swt) will Know Best .

    Beslama

    • Asma says:

      Sorry Maria. I didn’t get your point of view. I am totally confused. I was talking from different perspectives :-(

      • María M says:

        Salam,
        I´m sorry for confusing you, maybe I misanderstood your point, it is just that the word “gamble” it is not in my vocabulary, because for me, implies talking about chances, luck, …. I don´t believe in being lucky or anything like that, I believe that we create step by step our life, …our present is a result of our past, then if we are conscious of this, every single step(thought, word, act) that we make now is a seed that we sow to be collected in the future. I don´t believe “marriage is a gamble”, as I don´t think God let any space for gambling and what fullfil the whole space is consciousness. If anything else confuse you please let me know, sharing will help us to improve our understanding and grow up, I believe that a mistake only fill its task when it is brought to consciousness and someone helps us to see it, that is why I share your point of If I am wrong please correct me.
        Thank you for listening.
        Beslama

  20. Son of Adam says:

    As an Ummah we have accepted the discourse on sexual attitudes as propounded by our colonizers during the Victorian Era. What about the ahadith in which the Prophet (SAW) specifically mentions the acts of sex? Or of the jurists who wrote manuals on how to keep your conjugal relations with your spouse enjoyable? Or even the means by which one should approach his wife? Our Islamic discourse today seeks to purify us of any discussions on sex, or even the recognition of sexual desire. This puratinical ideology that has swept our deen has failed many Muslim brothers and sisters who have struggled with the very real illnesses of modernity (due to technology, not due to “Western” society), including porn-addiction. ”

    I have heard of this spoken of by a scholar before, and I was really interested in this. I always thought that our views on this topic have always been as they are today. Could you or anyone else give me examples of such books/manuals or hadith relating to this?

    Jazak Allahu Khayr

    • shakib says:

      @son of adam, ustad hamza talks about the problems of a “pornified” modernity we have entered with the digital world, which has immorally capitalized the male eros. He talks about the semantic origins of desire which in arabic is rooted in the duality of beauty and oppression, in other words a constant pursuit to fill an ocean of emptiness. the social cost of leaving the the public curriculum of sexuality in the internet is too high, and the problem is greater in the ummah than we think. so i would hope someone would contextualize the proper way to address the more intimated relations of marriage in another forum.

  21. Jan says:

    Great article, thank you for taking the brave and often silent stance.

  22. deen says:

    Masha Allah. Such a great article.
    Want to ask something though, what if the situation is the other way around?
    The parents are very encouraging in dating and the daughter/ son doesn’t want to date (date as in, only the couple working it out without any parents contribution). Can we date then?

  23. deen says:

    Masha Allah. Such a great article.
    Want to ask something though, what if the situation is the other way around?
    The parents are very encouraging in dating and the daughter/ son doesn’t want to date (date as in, only the couple working it out without any parents contribution). Can we date then?

  24. aniark says:

    Wow, masha Allah!
    I cannot believe how relieved I am.
    As this article fades my insecurities and doubts, it enlightens me with knowledge and self-confidence.

    I’ve been nasuated by constantly reading articles in where they provide vague generalizations about relationships that in order for the successful-marriage formula to work, one must be arranged a potential by the choice of their parents or if one has found a potential spouse, they should immediately marry. As if these are the ONLY two options available for muslims.

  25. CuriousChristian says:

    I have been curious as to the “dating” and marriage limitations of the Islamic people. What are the limitations for “dating” and marrying non-Muslims?

  26. Rashad says:

    God willing I can answer this well. Basically we dont date in the traditional sense. Marriage is encouraged and things that may lead to unlawful sex is highly discouraged. That does not mean there is no room for getting to know one another its just not as loose as we have in western culture. As for marriage. It is ok for males to marry Muslims, Christians, and Jewish women (see Quran 5:6). It has to be desiring a wholesome marriage though not just sex. And God knows best always.

    • Nobody says:

      Salaam,
      It’s only ok for a male to marry a woman of the book if your children will be true, practicing muslims, and that’s definitely not always what happens. In most cases I’ve seen, the children follow the example of the mother and if that happens, it’s a sin on the mans shoulders. There are conditions that need to be followed and in today’s world, MOST of the time, not ALL of the time, if a man (or woman) is marrying a non-muslim, it’s fairly likely those conditions were not properly met, or will not be met in the future regarding children. And it sounds as if you’re implying that if a muslim man marries a non-muslim woman, he’s excused from following all the conditions written for us before marriage; he’s not. Many seem to be under the mistaken impression that they are and that’s hideously inaccurate.

  27. Rashad says:

    Asalamu Alaikum

    I was only saying what Allah says in the Quran concerning it and sincerely left my opinion out.

  28. Shazia says:

    This is a very real issue in Scotland where i am from.
    Girls are struggling to get married because there does not seem to be any real place for single muslims to get together and meet.
    Also the muslim male have a huge list of criteria which have to be met before they will even consider meeting a potential partner.

  29. Rashad says:

    Yeah thats something. Do you think sometimes its both parties that have a huge list? I hope this will change soon inshallah, I dont have a list, but have the same problem. And know many brothers that do too. I think many people will be reformatting the list if they are sincerely are looking for a good partner, lol. :)

    • Shazia says:

      Just to give my own personal experience, there is a large pakistani community where i live with VERY traditional cultural values.
      Being from a family that is more Islamic than cultural i find it very hard to get my head around these families where the son is like a “god” and so any girl who marries him has to be just so!
      These guys have huge egos and are “mummys boys” because their families do everything for them.
      I’m 28 and wear the Hijjab and just simply wish to meet someone with the same outlook on life InshAllah, but unfortunately it does not look like its going to happen any day soon.

      • Rashad says:

        Well thats no good. I had a friend who’s family was from India. They were not Muslim, but the family would always treat the brother better than the sister. Even the mother sometimes. He would get gifts, they would give him more freedom and so on. So alot of the culture thats not Islam makes its way into the marriage process. So I hope and pray for both of us Shazia that when we see this destroy what Allah put between man and woman that we stomp it out.

        • Shazia says:

          Yes Ameen!
          I really pray InshAllah that we the next generation ensure that culture does not get mixed up with pure Islamic teaching as this is what causes problems in the first place unfortunately.
          There is no harm in keeping that of your culture which does not go against Islam.
          Dating is becoming/is a norm in Muslim communities and we can see what will happen as result just by looking around us at Western society.
          May Allah protect us from straying from the right path, Ameen.

      • Lamont says:

        I do understand. Im A older brother still striving to learn more & more about the deen & fine it difficlut to meet any sister to help in my struggles? Im really afraid to approach any sister cause I dont want to be rejected. I think this is A Great Article. I no I have to remain patient & Inshallah Allah will Grand me Beatiful Wife soon.

  30. Nur Aswad says:

    tq Sr.Munira for sharing nice article:)

  31. panz says:

    I feel terrible even asking this, but what is a Muslimah supposed to do if its too late? Ie if she has begun to date someone already. I always remembered my parents’ assertions about how dating is wrong but there came a time when I was living independently and it was easy to forget. It will be easy to say I should just break it off. I’ve tried, but fallen back into the same pattern again. What can one do to truly purify their heart given that you will definitely see the other person again…

  32. Muslimah.v says:

    The writer of the article,Sister Munira has not given any Ahadith or Quranic Verses as a proof of what she is suggesting..those that are mentiond have no relation with “Islamic Courting”

    Remember that our Deen is complete without any need of borrowing ideas from other civilisations or culture/society.

    Islam forbade a man and a woman to be in seclusion (Khulwahy) except in the company of a Mahram. The Messenger  said: “No man should be in seclusion (Khulwahy) with a woman without her Mahram.”

    One can ask friends and family to find out about them, send your
    relatives to visit their family, and speak to them face to face in the
    presence of a Mahram (un-marriable relative of the women, e.g.
    brother, nephew, uncle, etc). These are some ways you find out about
    people before marriage. Islam does not at all allow boyfriend-girlfriend
    relationships even if the purpose is marriage. Unfortunately,
    sometimes people resort to this because a halal option has not been
    presented to them.

    • Naji says:

      As an alternative view on what you said about sending your family and friend to find out about someone, who knows better than yourself what you might think is compatible to you. It’s very natural for family or friends to “impose” their opinions and feelings when they are the middle man and how much can you learn with a third and fourth party involved (his family and her family) as opposed to directly without overstepping the bounds of Islam? I mean surely it would be naive not to also consider that some people can present a facade before marriage, pretending to be something they aren’t just because they would benefit from marrying someone. What would you suggest a Muslim revert/convert do (especially those who have been disowned from their families for becoming Muslim)?

  33. aadil says:

    islam is a fact based religion, not opinionated.

  34. Questioner says:

    “I feel terrible even asking this, but what is a Muslimah supposed to do if its too late? Ie if she has begun to date someone already. I always remembered my parents’ assertions about how dating is wrong but there came a time when I was living independently and it was easy to forget. It will be easy to say I should just break it off. I’ve tried, but fallen back into the same pattern again. What can one do to truly purify their heart given that you will definitely see the other person again…”

    Very good question. I think it is safe to say that there are only two kinds of single muslims. The ones who are looking, and the ones who are already dating. This article very accurately describes those of us who are looking, but what about those of us who are already emotionally involved? Any advice?

  35. EthiopianGirl says:

    I don think I am agreed with Munira because even seeing each other for lots of time is also forbidden in Islam, in my country, most of the time men and women staying as a girl and boy friend for more than five years with love and peace when they get married after all this years, I can say immediately they get divorced whereas men and women get married as soon as they knew each other, they’re living together for lots of year. This is what is happening in our country. My sisters get married with out being involved in dating or courting and they are very happy with their marriage in contrast my brother married a woman and they had relationship ( without presex) before they get married and he is not happy with marriage even his wife, they are getting bored to each other. So I prefer to stay until we meet who Allah wrote for us, if it is a must to find spouse I prefer chatting instead of meeting at the cafe, etc.

    Bear in mind that, our fathers generation is not divorcing, most of the time break up is between those who were friends before they get married.

    This is my idea

    • deej says:

      Asalamu alaikum,

      MashAllah may Allah protect our deen.

      I agree with you totally sister and mashAllah may Allah protect you and keep you strong in deen.

      I myself am a revert of 25 years mashaAllah alhamdullilah. i have 5 offspring , 2 daughters and three sons and I worry as do they , how they will find a spouse as we dont have muslim families as most born muslims do or extended family and muslim freinds of freinds , But we know that Allah has decreed who you will marry and when. We have to make dua for sabr.

      InshaAllah Alah will give all the youth sabr to wait until it happens , I know its so difficult though.

      As for courting?? Scary talk. not all youth are strong enough in their deen to be able to know what and who is good and to also be able to resist temptation. And courting will give the naughty youths a chance to bait vunerable girls who are genuinly seeking marriage ? How many frogs would one have to meet before finding the right one?

      Whats wrong with the old fashioned way of meeeting your spouse? I think this gives all the weak muslims and naughty muslims an excuse to date however many they wish and who knows whats done in secret? If they are not mature enough this could ruin their whole life.

      On the other hand there should be a way for people without muslim families and freinds to meet in a halal way.

      I suppose if the youth has strong eman they will be safe to meet in public, but then again many girls are desperate to marry and can fall for the young man whilst meeting and could then be manipulated if he dosn’t have taqwa and lots of boys are very good deceivers?

      If anyone has suggestions I would like to hear.

      May allah protect and guide and keep our youth safe and strong in deen.

      Compromising and making changing the laws on our deen cannot be good?

      On the other hand dating could be good for a naughty nuslim to meet a naughty muslim and marry and maybe become 2 good muslims better than the naughty muslim going and dating non muslim boys? which lets face it in todays society these things are happening.

      Arghhhhh so difficult,

      Please advise
      jazakAllahkhair
      Um Abdullah

  36. Mounir says:

    While there are plenty of strayed Muslims in the world, some of you don’t give enough credit to some our good Muslim brothers and sisters. I for one am not an animal; I am fully capable of lowering my gaze, speaking in an appropriate manner and fully respecting the opposite sex. Good Muslims know what’s expected of them and the responsibility they hold on their shoulders. We live in communities with little to no Muslim population, and are burdened more than others when keeping our faith upright. The truth is I have seen more faith in brothers and sisters who are secluded from Muslim societies then i have with those who have grown up in Muslim societies. Rigid and stern societies will always create rebellious people, it’s just human nature. What we need parents, and other Muslim scholars to emphasis is why God has placed these restrictions on us. When they understand why, they will connect the dots for themselves and following the right path becomes the logical thing to do. Most youth don’t understand the consequences of their actions outside of “my parents are going to kill me”, and “my family will be dishonored”. There are larger consequences not only to your family but to society as a whole. Allah (swt) gave us intelligence and we have to start using that intelligence to understand his words, and that I feel is understated when teaching youth about Islam today. The Quran was written to appease the heart and the mind, and that’s how it should be presented, simply saying believe it because God says so, simply won’t work, and won’t differentiate us from any other faith. My personal faith got stronger when I started realizing the events that were going on in my life connected to verses in the Quran, and any deviations me or my family made from the Quran created discord and unhappiness. That’s when I made the realization that God created the Quran to make us happy; all his rulings logically protected us from unhappiness, and anything out of our control was put on us to emphasis a lesson or a trait we needed to acquire, being it patience, understanding, charity, etc. Where we live, who our friends are, our parents, our siblings are all planned out to shape the person the creator wants us to be. Those who are aware, realize these plans, those who aren’t will sink into sin with no regard. My last piece for everyone is to be gentle in everything we do, because gentleness accomplishes more than harshness and harsh words ever would.
    God Bless

  37. Hadia says:

    Salam Alaikum,

    Thank you sister for posting this very interesting article. As a Muslim woman living in the west with a teenage son and daughter, I have to agree that it is very difficult to impose our rules when they are witnessing the easy way.
    Having said that, I think that some of the issues mentioned are cultural and not specifically Islamic. Living in the UK, I find that there is a difference amongst the Islamic community in how their children are raised according to the culture they come from. I myself am from the middle east and I had a traditional marriage. Yet even 23 years ago my husband and I courted before we got engaged. I had only met him once, but our families knew each other so when he approached my father, we knew of his background. My father approved of him as a match for me but the decision was ultimately mine. We went out to have dinner in public places alone. I got to see how he treated the staff at a restaurant, whether he left a tip for the waiter, whether he would open the door for me or simply walk ahead and expect me to follow. All these things may seem small and insignificant but DEEN is Akhlaq. You will not know someone’s true akhlaq until you seem them in different situations when you are alone with them. If he had made improper advances to me, I would have known from that that he really has no taqwa or fear of Allah (SWT). If he had been rude to the waiter or waitress at the restaurant, I would have known that he was not a man who treated others respectfully.
    A marriage is a lifelong commitment. One cannot make a decision of that magnitude based on how the person is with you in the presence of others. It is only when he thinks he is not being watched that he behaves more naturally. The charade can only be successful for so long.
    I hope my comment does not offend anyone. I am only talking from personal experience. As many of the brothers and sisters have already mentioned, we are not scholars in order to understand the intricacies of fiqh and usul, but we can also learn from the life of the our beloved prophet (pbuh) and his marriage to Khadija(AS). When she hired him because of his reputation for honesty, she sent someone she trusted with him to report to her on his actions. Others had wanted to marry her yet she chose our prophet (PBUH) because of his actions away from her gaze.
    We live in a world whether in the Middle East or in Europe or the Americas where we will be mixing with people from the opposite sex and from different religions. Out duty to our selves and our children is to remind them of our ultimate destination. One day we will stand before Allah (SWT) and have to account for all our actions. Do we have the answers?
    Jazakum Allah Khair for posting and discussing this issue as it is very important to the Muslim Ummah in general not just those of us living in the west.

    • Rahmat says:

      I need some advice… what do you do if you have been proposed to and accepted, your family has accepted too and you chat (through many forms of communication including the phone, sms, msn, webcam) with your future spouse to be regularly, at least 3x a week? You can’t turn around and say, I refuse to speak with you anymore because I have been presented with religious evidences which state the opposite – I am afraid that they will refuse the proposal (stating perhaps that I ave become extra religious, or that I was fine with the contact before) and I simply cannot allow that to happen due to the kind of society I live in. It would be extremely hard to find another spouse with a broken engagement in my community, and my honour would be besmirched if they were asked why they broke it off they would undoubtedly talk about the level of contact I had with him. Additional to this, I am only allowed, by my parents, to marry within a certain caste, a caste in which prospective grooms are very hard to come by. My future spouse prays regularly, fasts, but is admittedly often culturally influenced, not to say he is of bad character, I’m pretty certain he is not. However, I feel he will not accept these evidences perhaps citing the times we live in and saying I am too strict. We are marrying Islamically in 4-5 mths time, at the earliest. I am concerned about this now. I know enough about him now, our talks are not out of necessity – should I ensure my mother is around at all times to ensure proper conduct? And avoid the forms of communication which inevitably result in haram in terms of looking at each other through the computer/internet? I do not want to ruin things, I’m in a problem as you can see, I dont want to continue this contact as I’m now beginning to see its haram but I feel I have no choice. If I contact him with my parents present, then there is no risk of shaitan being the third? What do you think? I do not want to end in hellfire. I really should strengthen my iman abit more and understand that Allah swt would provide me if I were to walk in His way, but right now, it’s not at that stage, I am trying but having that level of tawakkul and trust in Him is hard I’m confused and concerned. Am I doing haram? I am trying to keep a distance in our way of talking, slowly, slowly, I do not want him to get the wrong impression as this could impact my married life forever. Just a note, we can only contact each other through these means, meeting is not a possibility due to the 2000 mile distance between us due to different residence in different countries. Any help? Please give practical, detailed advice.

      Regards,

  38. Excited Reader says:

    J had the best comment and sums up my exact thoughts.

    May Allah guide us all to our spouses in the right way.

  39. Hannah says:

    I think that much of what Sister Munira is saying is stating exactly what i always thought Islamic “dating” should be. Based on my own experiences, the guidelines she stated are exactly how many people I know have gotten married. “Dating” but in an Islamic sense of the word, ie, parental involvement, presence of a mahram when the couple are to meet together, intention for marriage, etc. Other than a few things, I absolutely agree with Sister Munira and believe that this is the best way to get married, insha’Allah.

  40. Dhi says:

    Jazaki Allahu khairan for this realistic article, next step is implementation!

  41. Mike says:

    You are not the only one to come up with this idea. I have expounded this idea since mid-90′s but the elders don’t agree. But it’s changing slowly.As 2nd and 3rd generation grow up and become parents. It’s become 2 divisions… The old school and the liberal. The liberal does this; after the girl has complete college she go on dates and the dater come to the house and picks up the girl and they go for dinner etc. Hanky Panky may happen but its rare. Usually the go out for 2-3 dates and if both are interested; they continue seeing and talking to each other for couple months and that turns into a proposal but that’s best case scenario. Because the kids are still desis and muslim the conversation is silted and worn. 90% of the time it’s nada. Marrying Non-Muslim also is becoming a very attractive choice for both Muslim men and women. You usually don’t have to deal with their respective in-laws as much and their parents yes or no usually has no impact on your upcoming nuptials and desi parents usually end up accepting it and don’t interfere as much as one member of that union is not desi. So it easier all the way around.

  42. Mariam says:

    Not to distract from the central theme of this article, which I find to be very important, but but the line ““Dating” in today’s culture has become a frivolous activity with no intention of marriage usually leading to pre-marital sex, but it wasn’t always like this” bothers me greatly.

    This is a complete falsehood, a myth perpetuated by many Muslims, that I find very ignorant and offense as a Western raised convert, who has lived on both sides of the fence.

    Contrary to the author’s statement, prior to my conversion, dating was a means to meet my future spouse. This was the case for all my friends and acquaintances. While for some men and women, dating may have also served as vehicle to having sex, I know for a fact that the vast majority of Non-Muslims still want to get married and dating is the behavior used to meet the right person.

    Let’s stop assuming things about a different group of people whose culture we only really only think we know about based on what happens on TV programs and movies.

  43. US says:

    Regardless of whether you agree with the article or not, whether you think it adds to the conversation or not – this is an important matter and I applaud the author and the website for bringing it to the fore.

    Yes, people have been getting married in Islam for 1400 years, true. But when did mass migration to Western, Christian/secular nations occur? Within a couple generations. Therefore, to have a generation of Muslims growing up with satanic influences around them, pushing them towards pre-marital [not necessarily sexual] relations (just look at some of the shows on Disney even), IS a new thing.

    To have a suitor suggested through an aunt or uncle is one thing, but this article isn’t suggesting (or, re-suggesting) that. It’s saying that a person should themselves be able to suggest someone – this does not happen often, and did not happen in the past in what was traditionally known as an “arranged” marriage. You’d more likely have an angry father saying, “What! Why were you speaking to a boy!”

  44. Anisha says:

    Salam! Lovely article. Hope that people would realise that a good spouse will not just fall from the sky. Nicely phrased to suit todays context and i hope more people would be able to accept this method. Thanks again for the article.

  45. SisterZ says:

    I LOVE this article. This is exactly how my parents and some of their friends got to know each other and got married. I wish that imams would openly discuss these issues in the community because an increasing number of Muslim youth are engaging in lustful behaviors and dating in the exact manner that modern non-Muslims are. Yet others are extremely strict. This is the perfect middle ground!

  46. tyra says:

    jusaqallah khair for the article. it makes some valid points, however, with so many of these articles I find they are aimed at young people. what about the more mature single parent. I’m divorced with FOUR children and i’m nearly FIFTY years old – you can’t imagine how people look at me in amazement when I say I would like to remarry. they think my life is over why am I even bothering! anyway to address matters I have set up a support group for single muslim mums AND DADs (yes, they exist too)which can be found on facebook under a post through single muslim mums. just like the post and link to my facebook page. jusaqallah khair

  47. Hasrul Rusli Guci says:

    i think,this is a good article.

  48. Hasrul Rusli Guci says:

    this article is very amazing..

  49. Yasir Ahmed says:

    The most important thing about ‘revolutionary’ new ideas is to clearly depict physically how the system is going to be.

    The article in the middle says that parents will be in the next room and the guy and girl can talk.. We don’t know about this.. The Prophet (pbuh) spoke about non-privacy and non-aloneness with the opposite sex. Hence the parents or guardian must be able to hear and see what the kids are doing.

    Secondly, it is an error of Western thought and now Muslims may give in to this that we think we need to know a lot about the opposite sex person to decide if they are compatible. This is not true. Even Western psychologists talk about what they call the ‘shock of recognition’ when you see a person you like, you know it. Some writers (Non-Muslim) talk about speed dating and that the decisions we make are subtle and quick and ‘hanging out’ with someone doesn’t really contribute much to the decision-making process. In other words, you don’t need to go to a theme park with the mate you are considering or a movie to decide compatibility. This is not the nature of attraction, and if someone suggests that, it is a flaw. But what is necessary is a discussion and dialogue about interests, personality types, activities and engagements, plans, etc. which leads to sufficient data to decide compatibility. And ultimately it is compromise, adjustment and responsible behavior from both partners in the marriage that lead to marital success. If we are going to present courting as an option that demands more time alone and hanging out, it is boundary-crossing Islamically and not necessary.

    Thirdly, the current problems we have, have to be fixed regardless of what new suggestions are made. Parents need to stop forcing, get out of their restrictive mindset and open up the world for their children, make more effective local matrimony arrangements/setup, stop expecting doctor and engineer guys alone, explore the success rates of marrying imported males/females to American-raised kids, etc. Unless this is fixed, other things don’t make all the difference.

    Finally, Islam gives peace as long as we follow it. The basics of Islamic relationships is such – you do not want to marry a woman who has had multiple short emotional exchanges with a man. I can marry a Muslim woman who has had Islamic discussions with prospective partners, even if they were 20 or 30 in number. But if I hear that she was intimate or chatting or flirting or had some sort of emotional deposits in such ‘courting’ interactions, then I wouldn’t consider her. And that begins the decay of the Muslim community and we will follow suit with the mess that is present outside oru community. Compared to that, I would prefer dating a non-Muslim woman, marrying her and bringing her to pure Islam.. and my dates would last 2 or 3 dates and then marry her. But that would be because I don’t have another option. And yes, there is a difference between me dating a non-Mmuslim woman because there is no other option and me having emotional courting with a Muslim woman as part of a so-called Islamic system.

    The author(s) need to clarify if emotional discussions/flirting are involved in such courting. If they are, it is forbidden. If they are not, then what they are suggesting is not much different from the options we already have.

  50. younes says:

    I have found the answer…if I decide I want to get married. lol. Anyway, isn’t courting technically dating? I summarized this as dating, but family-centric and both parties mutually agree nohing will happen when they go out together themselves except when one is visiting thr other of course I agree teenagers should not do this( or dating in general in my opinion), but hormnally, emotionally, and mentally stable adults. Yes yes this is it is what it is

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