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Islamic Dating: What Do Islam and the Quran Say About Dating

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Many people ask if dating is allowed in Islam and the Quran. It all depends on what is meant by Islamic dating. If dating is for two non-mahram boys or girls to go out together to eat or have fun without the intention of getting married and just for the sake of romance and intimate relationships, this is absolutely not allowed in Islam. However, if there is a plan for them to get married, there could be some leniency in this regard. In fact, how else would a person get married to someone else without them first talking to each other, knowing each other, and learning each other’s way of thinking?

Islam allows appointing rendezvous between a man and woman provided they plan to get married. This is what is considered Islamic dating. However, it should take place under strict Islamic conditions that we will talk about in this article on Islam4u, which is titled “Islamic Dating.” The following topics will be discussed:

Is There Such a Thing as Islamic Dating in the Quran?

The Quran has made it quite clear that men and women must practice hijab. One of the instances of hijab is for non-mahram men and women not to look at each other lustfully. In fact, hijab means that a man and woman must lower their gazes, cover their private parts, and for women to cover all their ornaments except their hands to the wrist and the roundness of their face according to the ruling of almost all jurists. These have been explained in two verses of surah Nur:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا۟ مِنْ أَبْصَـٰرِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا۟ فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّـهَ خَبِيرٌۢ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ ﴿30﴾

Say to the believers to lower their eyes and guard their private parts. It is more decent for them. Indeed, God is fully aware of what they perform.

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَـٰرِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ ﴿31﴾

Say to the believing women to lower their eyes and guard their private parts and they should not show their ornaments unless that which is [normally] apparent [such as rings on the fingers] 1

Therefore, there is no doubt that believing men and women must not interact with each other in unlawful ways which could lead to sin. Then, how should they know each other if they want to get married? Is not dating the only possible way? Is there such a thing as Islamic dating in Islam? The answer is that Allah has not forbidden men and women from speaking to each other for fulfilling their urgent needs. If both a man and woman observe hijab, they can speak to each other and exchange information. However, they should do so in such a way that does not lead to sinful acts. For example, if two persons want to get married, they are allowed to talk to each other and learn more about one another. However, they are not allowed to joke around and do Islamically unacceptable things. Besides, the Quran says that it is the duty of other believers to help the youth get married:

وَأَنكِحُوا۟ ٱلْأَيَـٰمَىٰ مِنكُمْ وَٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَآئِكُمْ ۚ إِن يَكُونُوا۟ فُقَرَآءَ يُغْنِهِمُ ٱللَّـهُ مِن فَضْلِهِۦ ۗ وَٱللَّـهُ وَٰسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴿32﴾

And marry the singles among you, male or female, and your righteous slaves, male or female, [and know that] if they are poor, God enriches them out of His bounty, and God is All-Bountiful, All-Knowing. 2

What Is the Difference Between Proposal and Islamic Dating?

When a person wants to get married, it is not necessary for them to date, in the sense used in the western culture. Nevertheless, proposal ceremonies must not be such that the future husband and wife do not see each other at all, and others decide whether they should get married or not. In fact, these ceremonies must be held in a way that the future couples can get together and talk to each other and tell each other about their likes and dislikes, get to know their differences, find out about each other’s personality, and so forth. This way of arranging meetings with a man or woman who wants to be married can be considered Islamic dating. However, this is not truly dating, but rather a proposal of marriage that is held in the form of a ceremony. And of course, most of the time, one session is not enough, but rather multiple sessions could be held so that they become more familiar with one another.

A question often asked is who should make the proposal, the man or the woman? You can find the answer to this question, in the course “Spouse Selection

Allah says to Prophet Muhammad in the Quran that he must say what he has in his heart if he wants to get married to a woman:

وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا عَرَّضْتُم بِهِۦ مِنْ خِطْبَةِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ أَوْ أَكْنَنتُمْ فِىٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ عَلِمَ ٱللَّـهُ أَنَّكُمْ سَتَذْكُرُونَهُنَّ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تُوَاعِدُوهُنَّ سِرًّا إِلَّآ أَن تَقُولُوا۟ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوفًا

You are not sinful about [the idea] which you may implicitly propose [to these women] or hide it within yourselves. God knows that you will certainly think about them, but do not make troth with them secretly, and you are only allowed to say honorable words.

The Story of Joseph and Zulaikha as an Instance of an Unlawful Date in the Quran

The Quran devotes a whole chapter to tell the wonderful story of Prophet Joseph including the story of Joseph and the wife of the emir of Egypt whom the narrations state her name as Zulaikha. Joseph grew up as a child in the court of the emir of Egypt. He was extremely handsome. As a result, the wife of the emir of Egypt fell in love with him. Therefore, Zulaikha adorned herself and asked Joseph to come to her room. Joseph, who was the slave of both the emir and his wife, obeyed her. Subsequently, when Joseph entered her room, she asked Joseph to make love with her. Joseph who was an infallible prophet and was exceedingly pious and Godwary said, “I seek refuge in Allah that I betray the emir.” Then he ran away and she tore his shirt from behind. 3 You can read the rest of this story in the article “Joseph in the Quran.” This can be considered an instance of an unlawful date in the Quran, not Islamic dating.

Modern Islamic Dating

We talked about the traditional way of arranging meetings with couples to talk about their marriage and future lives. Nowadays, this tradition is slowly fading. Some young Muslims believe that as long as the hijab is observed and neither sides touch each other and speak modestly, they can have dates with each other. Even though Islamically speaking this seems to be lawful, it could lead to friendships that are outside marriage. Therefore, it is a risk. However, if the person thinks this is the only way for him or her to get married, it may be acceptable as long as the parents are also informed of such dates and these dates end in proposals of marriage. This is another example of Islamic dating. However, it is important to note that a girl who is a virgin (bākirah: باکرة) cannot get married to a man without her father’s consent and it is advisable and highly recommended that the man’s parents are also informed of their son’s plan for marriage.

Conclusion

Islamic date has not been mentioned in the Quran the way it is perceived in the west. The Quran recommends believers to marry their youth to each other. The way this is done is by arranging a meeting with the man and woman who want to get married so that they can talk to each other and get to know each other better. Moreover, the Quran commands the Prophet to use good speech to announce his desire to get married to a woman, and we all know that the Prophet is the best role model. This is the correct way of proposing to a woman to get married to her. Therefore, dating in the Quran, in the sense that two people become boyfriends and girlfriends is unlawful.

In other words, dating in the sense that a man and woman arrange a rendezvous just for having fun and not with the intention of getting married is unlawful. However, if they arrange a rendezvous with the intention of getting married and the parents know about it, it could be somewhat acceptable because the goal is marriage, not having fun, and sinning. In the end, one must always try to practice what the religion of Islam says and try not to stray from its teachings.


References

  1. Quran 24:30-31 (Foroutan).
  2. Quran 24:32 (Foroutan).
  3. Cf. Quran 12:23.
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