Question: What is the ruling on complimenting the beauty of a potential spouse?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate,
The general ruling with regards to interacting/speaking with the opposite gender is that the interaction must be done (a) when there is need or likely benefit and (b) to the extent of the need and in a formal manner.
Due to the above principle, speaking to a potential spouse is indeed a need with likely benefit. However, the interaction must not become too informal or lighthearted that could lead to the stirring-up of desires and flirting.
Thus, if the above guidelines are not upheld, such interaction may be considered a precursor to fornication. All precursors to fornication are prohibited by the explicit verse of the Qur’an. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Allah Most High says, “Do not go near adultery. It is truly a shameful deed and an evil way.” [Qur’an; 17:32]
Here Allah Most High not only prohibits adultery itself but He prohibits going near adultery. From this, the scholars have extended the prohibition to anything that could potentially lead to adultery/fornication. [Abu Sa’ud, Tafsir Irshad al-‘Aql al-Salim]
Formal Does Not Mean Harsh
Though the discussion between potential spouses should be kept to formal discourse with regards to the style and topics of discussion, it is permissible to speak in a manner that customarily constitutes good etiquette and comportment.
Thus, certain niceties will be allowed if such niceties are not customarily considered flirting. If however, such statements are customarily used flirtatiously, one must refrain from doing so.
I hope this helps,
Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.