Courtship in Islam-Halal Dating
What many associate with "dating" in the modern context in which it exists today, it becomes clear that Islam doesn't factor into that equation. Dating, in the sense that two go out together, might move in together, and engage in activities that are intimate are against the teachings of Islam. Karaz's Yousef looks into a more realistic way in which dating happens in the Muslim world.
Dating today, with all the social media and private meet ups, does not equal a proper muslim choice. What Islam promotes, is more of a courtship. According to webster’s dictionary…”courting” is defined as “to engage in social activities leading to engagement and marriage”.
In Islam, having the intent to meet someone so that you can decide whether or not they would be a good match for marriage is essential. The idea of dating, just to get to know someone, or just to have some fun, is not ok. However, it’s important to note that Islam is not against love. Not against finding someone you care about to marry. Islam gives everyone the choice to deny or accept a partner–there is nothing that has to be forced. It does however stipulate that there must be basic guidelines. There has to be boundaries so that respect, modesty, and self control exists. It is a context where two people can take the time to evaluate their compatibility with a potential partner, with the full awareness and support of their parents.
So let’s say we’re all on the same page here and wanted to do it the Muslim way…to court someone with the intent of possibly getting engaged and married. How do we go about doing that?
It is a rule in Islam that you must be modest. This means, be careful how you dress. Don’t be provocative. Being sexy doesn’t mean having to dress in a provocative way–being real is sexy. Being humble is sexy.
Also, you are not required to give up your secrets…especially not so soon. The partner should respect your right to privacy, and what is in the past is meant to stay there. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of what you might or might not have done.
This also applies to your speech. Watch what you say because modesty also encompasses your words and your behaviour. You know in your heart what would be ok and what wouldn’t. And if you’re not sure-think about it like this: if you did/said something and your parents were watching-would you be ok with it? If not, don’t do it.
Bonus: This is great to see if your potential partner is decent enough for you. Meeting someone who is humble and modest says a lot about their personality-their level of goodness, their ability to self-control and the way they would treat you from when you are a stranger to them, onwards.
It is said that there is no woman and man who are left alone without the devil being their third. Meaning temptation and the desire to lust and sin will be there. That’s why Islam is against one-on-one, private, male-female interaction.
To go on a “date” with someone of interest, you would have to set up something in a group setting. There must be some sort of chaperone so that the man and woman are not left alone. Usually, the chaperone is a “mahram” or “prohibited male relative” of the female to be there. Being secluded in a dimly lit corner is not a loop-hole.
Bonus: Being able to see someone in a group setting can tell you a lot about who they are in the way that they interact with others. It’s one thing to interact with someone you may be interested in…but this is a great “tell” to their personality when you see how they treat your friends/relatives, how they treat the waiter, how they interact with their friends as well as strangers. Keep an eye out for the little details….they say a lot.
LOOK FOR COMPATIBILITY
Think about what you would really want in a husband/wife. Courtship in Islam is about finding a life-long partner…not someone you think is interesting for a little while, or someone you might get bored with. Yes, we all have a thing for a bad boy/girl but would you really want someone like that as a father/mother, husband/wife?
Look for the important things-the foundational values upon which to build a long-lasting relationship. Islam promotes looking for compatibility in the following categories;
- Mutual Compatibility–This can include personality traits you really want. Do they make you laugh? Do they like the same things you do? Do they feel the same way about certain issues? How do they handle hard situations? This is also where you should have your own list- but remember to not dismiss someone right away if they don’t meet every single band. Give people a chance, but stick to your standards.
- Attraction-Yes, attraction is important. Islam also says lower your gaze, so don’t sit there staring at the person or mentally undressing them. And while looks are important, attraction goes beyond the physical.
- Spiritual Understanding– Do they believe the same things as you? In the same way you would accept? Are they spiritual, really? Or are they the type that just goes through the rituals, maybe for show? Spirituality goes deeper than just understanding the surface of things in life. So ask your questions and really listen hard to the answers and examples.
Ask the hard questions. Don’t be shy to analyse and pick up on things. Keep your attention to detail alert-there are many red flags that many of us ignore. Know what you want and who you are, and be ok to stick to your standards. Don’t ever lower them out of fear of not finding someone, or fear of losing someone. This is your life and you deserve a good thing.
Do your part, ask God for guidance and help, have good intentions…and then believe that whatever is written is written. And whatever will be, will be.
Good luck and God bless.