Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

Question: “It is also fine to meet someone through school or work or a community gathering as long as the parameters of modest behavior are observed. If you meet someone you would like to discuss marriage with, just arrange for the brother to meet your wali or family.” (Sister  Zaynab, title: How does a Muslim woman find a spouse for herself?) This quote has brought me great confusion. Secret but modest premarital relationships are permissible in Islam? Can a man talk to a girl, get to know personal things about her and get intimate without the consent and awareness of her guardian as long as modest behavior is observed?

Also, I’ve been reading about “suitability” in marriage. Can a father refuse a man because he did not satisfy one of the conditions of kafa’ah?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allah descend on the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those who follow them.

Dear Brother,

Assalamu alaikum,

Thank you for your question.

There should be no confusion about my answer to the referenced question, “How does a Muslim woman find a spouse by herself?”

If you read my entire answer, you will see that I was quite emphatic about meetings between a woman and her potential suitor taking place in the presence of chaperones. I answered this question for a sister who had failed to find a husband through traditional networks. Please understand that many Muslims, particularly those who are converts to Islam, do not have access to the traditional kinship networks through which many transnational Muslims find spouses. Instead, many converts find spouses in various social or professional settings. If a person sees someone they would like to approach for marriage and they have no idea who this person is or how to contact their family, then common sense would dictate that they establish some sort of communication. This is why I stressed observing the parameters of modest behavior.

The bottom line is: If you live in the modern world, then you will inevitably find yourself in situations where you will interact with women. And you may find, after conversing with a particular woman, that you would like to pursue marriage talks. My answer was all about how to proceed in a way that is Islamically appropriate. Nowhere in my answer did I even hint at “secret” relationships.

As to taking your fiancée on a date, then it would depend on the nature of your relationship. If you’ve merely expressed interest in marriage, then the woman is not your wife and it would not be permissible to take her out. If, however, you have formally gone through the Islamic marriage contract with this woman, even if only verbally, then she is your wife and you may go out.

As for the question on kafa’ah from Reliance of the Traveller, it is better to pose that to a Shafi’i scholar. In general, a woman’s guardian may prevent her from marrying someone he deems unsuitable. However, the ulama caution that fathers should handle these matters with sensitivity.

May Allah reward you,

Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq

Sunday, November 08, 2009
Dhul Qa’dah 21, 1430

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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