Answered by Ustadha Rukayat Yakub
Question: I’m in a relationship with a brother who is a convert to Islam. He and I wish to get married to make the relationship halal but my parents are uneasy because of his family’s history of alcoholism and smoking. The brother I wish to marry has intentions of becoming an Islamic scholar. Our plans include traveling overseas so he can study Islam while I teach, inshAllah. My parents want us to wait a few years so that they can see how serious he is about his life and if he can support a family. They want me to get my master’s degree and a job as well, inshAllah. I do agree with them that we have to be able to stand on our own two feet before we get married, however, i am worried that waiting will lead to fitna. The brother and I have been wanting to get married for a few years now. My parents won’t allow me to see him unless he is at my house and my parents are with us. I don’t want to spend time with him alone, but is spending time with him while his mother or father are present permissible? We both know the boundaries not to cross. Please advise as the brother and I are finding it difficult to ascertain what is practical or what could just lead to more problems.
This is a difficult situation, may Allah ta’ala strengthen you and guide you to what is right. Ameen. My first advice would be to make the guidance prayer. The Reality of Istikhara
It seems that your parents are concerned about your welfare and you recognize the validity of their concerns. You recognize yourself the problems with long engagements, especially if you have regular contact; so my ultimate advice, even though it might not be want you would like to hear, is that you end the engagement at this point in time.
You should sit down with your parents and work with with them on a list of reasonable requirements that he must fulfill over the next year or so. That would make him an acceptable candidate for your marriage in their eyes within the guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah. If they are unwilling to do so then this may be an indication that he will never be an acceptable candidate as far as they are concerned. In this case you must consider if spending the rest of your life with this man against the wishes of your parents is worth the headache and heartache that may ensue from your parents disapproval. Marriage is as much about the marriage of families than the union of two individuals.
You mentioned that the brother aims to become an Islamic scholar. Even a scholar needs a vocation or profession so he will be able to provide his family without having to depend on a mosque, Islamic organizations, or donations from his students which could lead to compromising positions and the loss of integrity.
I believe that you should both take some time to work on yourselves. You can do your masters and the brother can do some professional or vocational training. He can also study with local scholars or take online classes. By doing so, he can study the foundations of the deen and strengthen his Arabic. Perhaps he can visit your family at Eid or other occasions so they can get to know him.
Regarding visiting him with his parents present I would not advise this, especially if they are not familiar with the etiquette of Islamic gender interaction and considering the family history.
May Allah ta’ala bless you and give you good in this world and the next.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani