|The most common questions I get from young people
are, "Do Muslims date?" and "If they don't date, how do they
decide whom to marry?"
"Dating" as it is currently practiced in much of the world does not
exist among Muslims -- where a young man and woman (or boy/girl) are in a
one-on-one intimate relationship, spending time together alone, "getting to
know each other" in a very deep way before deciding whether that's the
person they will marry. Rather, in Islam pre-marital relationships of any
kind between members of the opposite sex is forbidden.
choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions a person
will make in his or her lifetime. It should not be taken lightly, nor left
to chance or hormones. It should be taken as seriously as any other major
decision in life - with prayer, careful investigation, and family involvement.
in today's world, how do young people manage? First of all, Muslim youth develop very close
friendships with their same-sex peers. This "sisterhood" or
"brotherhood" that develops when they are young continues throughout
their lives. When a young person decides to get married, the following
steps often take place:
- Young person makes du'a
for Allah to help him or her find the right person
- The family enquires,
discusses, and suggests candidates. They consult with each other to
narrow down potential prospects. Usually the father or mother
approaches the other family to suggest a meeting.
- Couple agrees to meet in
chaperoned, group environment. Umar related that the Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him) said, "Not one of you should meet a woman alone
unless she is accompanied by a relative (mahram)" (Bukhari/Muslim).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also reportedly said, "Whenever a man
is alone with a woman, Satan (Shaytan) is the third among them"
(Tirmidhi). When young people are getting to know each other, being
alone together is a temptation toward wrongdoing. At all times,
Muslims should follow the commands of the Qur'an (24:30-31) to "lower
their gaze and guard their modesty...." Islam recognizes that
we are human and are given to human weakness, so this rule provides
safeguards for our own sake.
- Family investigates
candidate further - talking with friends, family, Islamic leaders,
co-workers, etc. to learn about his or her character.
- Couple prays salat-l-istikhara
(prayer for guidance) to seek Allah's help in making a decision.
- Couple agrees to pursue
marriage or part ways. Islam has given this freedom of choice to both
young men and women - they cannot be forced into a marriage that they don't
of focused courtship helps ensure the strength of the marriage, by drawing upon family
elders' wisdom and guidance in this important life decision. Family involvement in the choice of a marriage partner
helps assure that the choice is based not on romantic notions, but rather on a
careful, objective evaluation of the compatibility of the couple. That is
why these marriages often prove successful.