Answered by Shaykh Abdullah Anik Misra
I was seeking to understand the Hanafi view on this hadith and, if possible, the other schools:
Abu Huraira reported God’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) as saying, “A man must not propose marriage to a woman when his brother has proposed to her already until his brother marries her or leaves her.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
According to the Hanafi school, this hadith is guidance against proposing marriage to a woman when someone else has proposed to her already, and both parties have accepted and agreed in principle to marry but have not yet enacted the contract.
In other words, a preliminary agreement is in place, whether or not they are called “engaged” or “betrothed.” It would be disliked (makruh) for a third party to propose in this situation because it risks breaking the first agreement, which would lead to a souring of relations and harm to the first suitor. [Marghinani, Al-Hidaya]
What Do Other Schools of Thought Say?
In the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools, it would appear to be unlawful [haram] to propose on top of a prior proposal, whether the first proposal was agreed to or not unless it is rejected. In the Maliki school, it would be unlawful to propose if there was inclination from the woman’s side in favor of the first proposal.
However, there are some details about whether this is still unlawful if the first suitor is not compatible with the woman, a sinner, or a non-Muslim. Please refer to scholars of those particular schools for further details. [Mawardi, Al-Hawi al-Kabir; Nawawi, Al-Majmu’; Nafrawi, Al-Fawakih al-Dawani; Maqdisi, Al-Sharh al-Kabir]
[Shaykh] Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Shaykh Abdullah Misra was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1983. His family hails from India, and he was raised in the Hindu tradition. He embraced Islam in 2001 while at the University of Toronto, from where he completed a Bachelor of Business Administration. He then traveled overseas in 2005 to study the Arabic language and Islamic sciences in Tarim, Yemen, for some time, as well as Darul Uloom in Trinidad, West Indies. He spent 12 years in Amman, Jordan, where he focused on Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith Sciences, Prophetic Biography, and Islamic Spirituality while also working at the Qasid Arabic Institute as Director of Programs. He holds a BA in Islamic Studies (Alimiyya, Darul Uloom) and authorization in the six authentic books of Hadith and is currently pursuing specialized training in issuing Islamic legal verdicts (ifta’). He holds a certificate in Counselling and often works with new Muslims and those struggling with religious OCD. He is an instructor and researcher in Sacred Law and Theology with the SeekersGuidance The Global Islamic Seminary. Currently, He resides in the Greater Toronto Area with his wife and children. His personal interests include Indian history, comparative religion, English singing, and poetry.