Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: As salam alaykum,
Do I need a divorce to avoid marrying a man whose proposal I previously accepted?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
No, an accepted proposal or engagement does not need a divorce in order to be broken off as it is considered to be a promise.
As such, the rulings of promises would apply to the situation, namely, that you should only make a promise to do something if (1) you have the firm resolve to fulfil the dictates of the promise, and (2) you are reasonably confident of actual fulfilment.
Otherwise, it can be impermissible and sinful to make a promise in light of the words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), “There are three signs of a hypocrite: whenever he speaks, he lies; whenever he makes a promise, he breaks it; and whenever he is trusted, he betrays his trust.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
However, if this proposal is broken off with a genuine excuse – ideally after consultation with those of wisdom and life experience – and after having prayed the prayer of seeking guidance (istikhara), it would be improper, yet not sinful, as breaking promises is unbecoming of believers.
[Qadri Pasha, al-Ahkam al-Shar`iyya fi al-Ahwal al-Shakhsiyya; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha fi al-Hazr wa al-Ibaha]
Please also see: Is It Obligatory to Fulfill My Promises?
And Allah Most High alone knows best.
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani