Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari
Why does Islam not allow boyfriends and girlfriends?
In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
Thank you for your question.
The wisdom behind the strict rules pertaining to gender relations in Islam owe to core values of haya’ (modesty) and ‘iffah (chastity), legal principals such as sadd al-dhara’i (blocking the means), and objectives of the Shari’ah, such as preservation of honor and lineage.
A boyfriend/girlfriend relationship conflicts with all of the above.
It goes against values of modesty and chastity for a male and female to date, be alone together, or enjoy a physical relationship outside of marriage. Allah Ta’ala says in Surat al-Mu’minun, “Truly, to a happy state shall attain the believers, those who humble themselves in their prayer, and who turn away from all that is frivolous, and who are intent on inner purity, and who are mindful of their chastity– with any but their spouses or those whom they rightfully possess, for then, behold, they are free of all blame, whereas such as seek to go beyond that are truly transgressors.” [Quran, 23:1-7]
The above verses, as well as others in the Qur’an, and authentic hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace, indicate that there’s a lawful outlet for sexual desires and that outlet is marriage. As for right hand possessions, that is not a relationship category that exists anymore (and, no, a girlfriend is NOT a right hand possession!)
Moreover, Islamic mores governing gender relations take the way of caution, i.e., blocking the means, or preventing trouble before it happens. A prohibition on fornication would make little sense if khalwa (isolation with a member of the opposite sex) were not proscribed.
It would be cruel, actually, to throw men and women (or adolescent males and females) into compromising situations then expect them to be chaste. To preempt this, Islamic rulings limit the extent to which men and women can freely intermingle. One only has to look around at our society to see the consequences of unfettered access to members of the opposite sex.
As for Shar‘i objectives such as preservation of reputation and lineage, our way of life takes these things seriously.
A woman deserves to have her reputation remain unsullied. Entering into a boyfriend/girlfriend type relationship can harm her reputation in serious ways that won’t necessarily affect the male partner. Furthermore, children deserve to be born to married parents. This objective is compromised when people reproduce without the benefit of marriage.
Please see also:
Should I Marry My Boyfriend, or Break Off the Relationship?
I pray this is helpful.
[Ustadha] Zaynab Ansari
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani