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Q&A: Discussion at the Time of Proposal

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Question:

My parents have taken me to see several girls (all on the same day) so that I may propose to one of them. Each time I went to see a girl I was made to sit separately with her (in some instances alone in a room although the door was open) and we asked each other many things which we felt were important to know. These conversations varied from between five minutes in some cases and upto half an hour in one instance. I have been told by a friend that such discussions are not permissible. Please advise.

Answer:

You have raised several important points in your question.

1. Your parents took you to see several girls all on the same day, so that you may propose to one of them.

2. You sat separately with the girl.

3. You discussed "matters of importance" with her.

Before dealing with these aspects, bear in mind the following by way of an introduction.

There are many people who find their own "partners," they secretly or openly communicate with each other, court and engage in many other Haraam activities. They eventually decide to get married. Some formalities, customs and traditions then follow until the Nikah finally takes place.

 

CONSCIOUS OF DEEN

There are others who are conscious of Deen. They refrain totally from any intermingling with non-mahrams (those with whom marriage is permissible). They uphold the laws of Hijaab. When the time comes for such people to choose a marriage partner, they are concerned that this should take place in accordance to Shariah. This article primarily addresses such people (with the fervent dua that Allah Ta'ala should make us all part of the latter group).

 

INAPPROPRIATE 

Firstly, the procedure that you have described, that your parents took you "to see several girls all on the same day" so that you may "propose to one of them," is extremely inappropriate. The correct procedure is that if you have been told of a girl that may be a suitable match for you, enquire through the appropriate channels about her piety, character, personality, etc. Any woman of your family may informally see her (without mentioning anything about your intentions) and tell you what you need to know. If any of these aspects are unsatisfactory and you are disinclined, do not proceed any further. Consider somebody else. If however you find that all these aspects are satisfactory and you feel inclined towards proceeding further, you may then arrange to see her. After having seen her if you still feel inclined, perform istikhara and propose.

 

SOCIAL HARMS

On the contrary if after seeing her you are disinclined, you may now consider somebody else in the same manner as mentioned above. The procedure that you have described is incorrect in the light of the Ahadith and also has many social harms. Hazrath Muhammad bin Maslama (R.A.) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "If Allah Ta'ala has placed the inclination in the heart of a person to propose to a woman, there is no harm in seeing her" (Musnad Ahmad - Hadith 17298). It is clear from this Hadith that one should only see the girl if one is sincerely inclined to propose, otherwise not. In the manner described by you, you have gone to several places without having the least inclination of proposing to any one of them at the time of seeing them.

 

WARPED PREFERENCES

This practice is also painful and harmful for the girl, especially a girl who strictly adheres to the laws of hijaab and who has not ruined her natural modesty. Every now and again somebody walks in and she is paraded in front of him. This could sometimes create psychological problems. The entire town gets to know  that so-and-so went to see so-and-so and did not propose. They then speculate whether "something is wrong with the girl" whereas in many instances the boy was disinclined because the girl did not conform to some of his own warped preferences, such as that she must not observe Hijaab, etc. If this goes on, even the girl may begin to wrongly feel that she perhaps is seriously lacking in something. This could lead to depression or other similar problems.

 

MISCONCEPTION

Secondly let us consider the aspect of "separate seating" and discussion of "matters of importance." What is the purpose of this? To get to know one another? Let alone a few minutes, even an hour long discussion will not enable the boy and girl to know one another. What can they truly gauge from this conversation? Each one will put up his / her best performance and the other party could easily fall into a misconception. Indeed there often are very important points which both parties need to know before making any decision. These aspects can be acquired via family members. If the boy wishes to know something, he may enquire this via his mother, sister or any other female relative. The girl may adopt similar channels. Thus there is no need to have any discussion. To be sitting together "separately" (in some degree of privacy) is not permissible at all irrespective of what the intentions may be. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: "A man should never be in seclusion with a non-mahram woman for verily the third one present is Shaitaan."

The decadent western "culture" promoted the concept of "getting to know each other" before contemplating marriage. For this they court and even live together. The rate of success in their marriages is such that one in three homes in America is a single parent home!!! Contrast that with the rate of success in the marriages conducted according to the Sunnah where in most instances, the couples first conversation only took place after Nikah. Having become influenced to some degree by the western concept of "getting to know each other" we have deemed it necessary for the boy and girl to "discuss matters of importance" before proposing marriage.

Therefore refrain from such discussions. The Sunnah has clearly permitted that you may see the girl who you feel inclined to propose to -- not more.
 

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