Is it permissible for a Muslim to ‘go out’ with a prospective marriage partner in order to find out if they are compatible? What about going out with your fiancé?
Answered by Shaykh Salim Giza
It is not permissible for a Muslim man and woman to ‘go out’ with each other even if they are engaged. The main reason for this ruling is;
A person remains a ‘ghair mehrum’ (non-permissible) until a valid marriage according to Shariah is performed (i.e. Nikah). The reason for this is that Islam promotes segregation between men and women in order that piety and chastity remain protected. Until marriage takes place they are not legally allowed for each other. If they are engaged then they are spoken for each other but all the restrictions that apply for a non-permissible man and woman still apply.
Simple questions on email or the phone with the permission of their Mehrums (i.e. the girls parents etc) can be asked but nothing intimate as this leads to unlawful conversations and sometimes the marriage does not go to completion either because of what has been discussed or for other reasons, which can leave a stigma attached especially on the girl’s side.
The Prophet of Allah (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) had given the permission for a man and a woman to look at each other to ensure that they find each other attractive.
It is stated in a Hadith; Mughira bin Shu’ba (Allah be pleased with him) reported:
"I told the Holy Prophet about my proposed marriage. He asked ‘have you seen her? I replied ‘No’. Allah’s messenger said ‘cast a glance at that woman as it is appropriate for mutual love to exist between the two’." (Tirmidhi).
This Hadith clearly clarifies the limit of what prospective partners can do. The reason for this is that if a couple were to break off their engagement the man and woman would remain still chaste and free from any sort of accusation for another prospective partner.
Therefore, some may ask how can you marry a person who you do not know?
The answer is that compatibility should be checked by both parties before both prospective partners see each other. I.e. Are they both like minded, are they both educated at the same level and if not are they aware and happy about it. There are many ways this can be done:
- The respectable people within the community, i.e. the imam, teachers, pious people should be consulted and asked about their potential partners background and family.
- Girls/Boys need to speak to their friends and find out more about the individual, i.e. where does he/she work, who are his/her friends, who are his/her relatives, is he a practising Muslim etc.
- Are they educated and to what extent? If the girl has a degree, is the boy just a manual worker and if this is the case how do they feel about it? If the boy has a degree but the girl is simple has not had further secondary education but is a pious girl who is more than happy to stay at home with his parents, is this something that is acceptable to them?
- Are they looking to live with their extended family after marriage or are have they bought their own home? If the answer is staying with parents then is the girl happy with this arrangement.
The key answer to this lies in the Hadith of the Prophet of Allah as follows:
"Marriage with a woman is contracted for the sake of four things: for her wealth, for her family lineage, for her beauty and for her piety, but you should only succeed (marry) for her piety." (Bukhari)
The same ruling applies for a woman looking for a man.
If a prospective partner is pious and has religious knowledge then they will know how to treat their partners, they will know what makes each other happy and how to take care of each other. During difficult times they will put their trust in Allah and will believe it is a test and will therefore ask Allah for help. During happy times they will not become complacent and arrogant but thank Allah for the gifts He has given them.
A person’s beauty may disappear, their wealth may be lost, their lineage may be of no use but their piety will always be there and consequently be passed on to their offspring. Both prospective partners should study the religious obligations of marriage before they marry each other.
Of course Allah knows best.
For further reading on this issue please visit the ‘Marriage’ section on The Revival website and read the following articles
- How to find a marriage partner (The Revival Magazine Issue 3
- Pointers on choosing marriage partners
- Questions to ask a prospective marriage partner