Can a Muslim Date?

We shouldn’t be afraid of the word ‘dating’. It’s a social construct that can be made halal provided we follow a set and certain guidelines endorsed by Islamic principles.

We shouldn’t be afraid of the word ‘dating’. It’s a social construct that can be made halal provided we follow a set and certain guidelines endorsed by Islamic principles.

Whenever we hear the word ‘dating’, we automatically think ‘haram’. This isn’t necessarily the case.

One definition of dating describes it as “two people meeting with the aim of assessing the other’s suitability as a prospective partner in a future intimate relationship.”

Dating in and of itself isn’t un-Islamic provided we go about it the right way. There’s a western version of dating, so why can’t there be an Islamic equivalent?

Adapting to the Times We Live In

Chances are your parents and/or your grandparents were in arranged marriages. Whether that was for the better or worse is a debate for another time, but it was the norm. Today, things are very different. The advancement of technology has opened up the number and variety of the proverbial fish in the sea. Thanks to the internet, we’re able to connect with almost anyone in the world, where previously our ancestors were limited to their tribe, city or county. Furthermore, gender roles have developed, particularly for women. Our sisters are no longer confined indoors. Many work in advanced fields in a wide variety of sectors. Going out there in the world brushing shoulders with their male counterparts has made them independent, free thinkers and able to make their own choices.

If we believe Islam to be a timeless religion, a religion that has answers for everything from the beginning of time to its end, it must also provide a solution and way to navigate marriage and relationships in today’s age.

We shouldn’t be reluctant in trying to adapt to the present time without, of course, doing anything forbidden. In Sunan ibn Majah, the Prophet (PBUH) says:

Marriage is part of my sunnah, and whoever does not follow my sunnah has nothing to do with me.”

This is quite a strong statement from the Messenger of God. It shows how eager and willing he is for Muslims to get married. We know the social ills that arise from pre-marital relationships and cohabiting (living together without marriage). Relationships that exist without the commitment that comes from a marriage contract results in children being raised without a parent, having no stable family and a loss of identity.

Islam, therefore, puts a strong emphasis on getting married. There’s no getting away from the fact that God has created men and women with a desire for the opposite gender. This is normal. Marriage allows us to channel this desire, as well as a need for companionship in a stable way.

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”

We all understand the necessity of marriage so I don’t want to continue preaching to the converted. The next step is about finding our partner in a halal way i.e. halal dating. Here are some recommendations.

Tell Your Parents

Once we have made the intention of getting married, we should try to tell our parents, even if we intend to look independently. Some of us may not want our parents as involved and that’s fine. Being our parents, they should at least now. So, before you sign up to an online matrimonial site or put the feelers out amongst your network, let your parents know. Their experience in marriage and relationships counts for something and we don’t want to miss out on that wisdom!

Identify What You’re Looking For In a Spouse

Before we rush to make our profiles, be clear with what you do and do not want in a spouse. That way your conversations with a potential spouse will be on-topic and will reduce the risk of it becoming a general conversation without purpose – which is what we want to avoid. Furthermore, we don’t want to waste our and other peoples time in conversations that aren’t going anywhere. Make sure you’re ready and have a general understanding of what would make your ideal spouse.

Respect People’s Preferences

People will have varying preferences throughout the ‘getting to know’ phase. Women, for example, may not want to share a picture or personal contact details immediately or want to meet as soon as they’d like. Give them the time and space they need to become comfortable. It would be useful to have a conversation around boundaries. Make sure both sets of parents are aware of the contact and outline the purpose of the interaction.

Offline and Online Chaperone

When meeting in person, there’s no harm in bringing a chaperone who sits at another table or is there somewhere in the background. If that’s not possible, the next best thing is to meet in a very public space. Al-Majlisi, Hayat al-Qulub, vol.1, p.126 has recorded a conversation between Noah and Satan, where the latter says:

Remember there are three situations when I find it very easy to gain control over a person, one: when he is angry, secondly, when there is arbitration between two parties and thirdly when a servant is alone with a woman.

If we are talking to someone online, we are also alone with them to some degree. To get around this make sure a parent or elder is aware of your activities. They don’t need to be standing over your shoulder as you exchange messages, but keep them in the loop and make the conversation accessible for them if need be. This could be by sharing the online matrimonial’s login details with a parent so they can monitor chats. More than anything, this will give us peace of mind and remove the nervousness we’re feeling from being in unchartered waters.

We shouldn’t be afraid of the word ‘dating’. It’s a social construct that can be made halal provided we follow a set and certain guidelines endorsed by Islamic principles.