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Marriage FAQ

Engagement

1) What is a marriage engagement in Islam?

Praise be to Allaah.  

 

Engagement according to sharee’ah means that the man asks the woman to marry him. The view of the scholars is that engagement is prescribed for one who wants to get married. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And there is no sin on you if you make a hint of betrothal…”

[al-Baqarah 2:235] 

and it was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) got engaged to ‘Aa’ishah. (Al-Bukhaari, al-Nikaah, 4793). And in al-Saheeh it also states that the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) got engaged to Hafsah. (Al-Bukhaari, al-Nikaah, 4830). 

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) encouraged the one who wants to get engaged to look at the woman to whom he wishes to propose. According to the hadeeth, “When any one of you proposes marriage to a woman, if he can look at that which will encourage him to go ahead and marry her, then let him do so.” (Abu Dawood, al-Nikaah, 2082; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 1832). 

But in Islamic sharee’ah there are no specific practices that must be followed with regard to engagement. What some Muslims do, announcing the engagement, having a party to celebrate and exchanging gifts, all comes under the heading of customs which are permissible in principle, and none of them are haraam except those which sharee’ah indicates are haraam – which includes the exchange of rings between the engaged couple, a custom which is known in Arabic as “dublah.” This custom goes against sharee’ah for the following reasons: 

1 – Some people think that these rings increase the love between the spouses and have an effect on their relationship. This is an ignorant (jaahili) belief and is an attachment to something for which there is no basis in sharee’ah and which does not make sense.  

2 – This custom involves imitating the non-Muslims such as Christians and others. It is not a Muslim custom at all. The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned us against that when he said, “You will inevitably follow the paths of those who came before you, handspan by handspan, cubit by cubit, until even if they entered the hole of a lizard, you will follow them.” We said, “O Messenger of Allaah,  (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said, “Who else?” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, al-I’tisaam bi’l-Kitaab wa’l-Sunnah, 6889; Muslim, al-‘Ilm, 6723). 

And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Libaas, 4031; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 3401). 

3 – This engagement usually takes place before the ‘aqd (marriage contract), in which case it is not permissible for the man to put the ring on his fiancée’s hand himself, because she is still a stranger (non-mahram) to him, and has not yet become his wife. 

Finally, we will quote the words of Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) on this matter: 

“ ‘Dublah’ is a word that refers to the engagement ring. In principle there is nothing wrong with rings (i.e., they are permissible), unless they are accompanied by certain beliefs, as some people do when the man writes his name on the ring that he gives to his fiancée, and the woman writes her name on the ring that she gives to her fiancé, believing that this will guarantee the bonds between the spouses. In this case this ‘dublah’ or engagement ring is haraam, because it represents an attachment to something for which there is no basis in sharee’ah and which does not make sense. Similarly it is not permissible for the man to put the ring on the woman’s hand himself, because she is not yet his wife, so she is still a stranger (i.e., non-mahram) to him; she is not his wife until after the marriage contract is done.”

 Al-Fataawa al-Jaami’ah li’l-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, 3/914.



2) Rulings on meeting the fiance before the marriage

Praise be to Allaah.

 

Islam allows the man to look at his fiancée and speak to her about necessary matters to do with the marriage, and the man is encouraged to look at his fiancée when thinking of proposing, because that will bring their hearts closer together and generate the love and compassion that are the aim of the marriage. 

It was narrated from al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah that he proposed marriage to a woman, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Look at her, for that will help bring your hearts together.”  

Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1087); he said: this is a hasan hadeeth. 

What it means is that it helps to create love and harmony between you, because if you marry her after having gotten to know her, in most cases there will be no regrets. 

See: Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi. 

There is no sin on you if you sit with your fiancée in order to work out some details of the wedding, but you should not be alone with her, so one of her mahrams or her mother should sit with you, and there is nothing wrong with that in sha Allaah. 

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked the following question in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (20/429): 

I love a girl very much and she also loves me. I have seen her only once, and I started to speak to her by phone within respectable limits, and we agreed to get married. Most of my conversations with her have to do with married life and the mutual understanding between spouses that is necessary, and how a wife should treat her husband and look after his house, and so on. Is it permissible for me to speak to her if she calls me, or is that not permissible? 

He (may Allaah have mercy on him) replied: 

If a man wants to propose marriage to a woman, it is permissible for him to speak with her and look at her without being alone. When a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to ask his opinion, he said: “Have you looked at her?” He said: No. He said: “Go and look at her.” And he said: “When one of you proposes marriage to a woman, if he can look at that which will encourage him to go ahead and marry her, let him do so.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (1783). 

Looking is more serious than speaking, so if the conversation has to do with the marriage and where they will live, and how married life should be so that he will know whether she is familiar with these issues, there is nothing wrong with that if he wants to propose marriage to her. But if he does not want to propose marriage to her, then he has no right to do that. So long as he wants to marry her, it is permissible for him to talk to her about the engagement and about that which will encourage him to marry her, and she may do likewise, so long as they are not alone together; rather it should be done from a distance and in the presence of her father, brother or mother etc. End quote. 

And Allaah knows best.



3) Communicating via Email with ones fiance

Praise be to Allaah.

 

There is nothing wrong with corresponding with your fiancée in order to agree on matters to do with the wedding, if that is done with the knowledge and supervision of her parents, and it is free of any expressions of love that are not permissible between a man and a non-mahram woman. It is well known that the man is a “stranger” (non-mahram) to his fiancée until the marriage contract is done. 

It makes no difference whether this correspondence is done via e-mail or regular mail, or over the telephone, but it is better if the correspondence and conversation is with her guardian only. 

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him) was asked about a man speaking to his fiancée over the phone – is that permissible according to sharee’ah or not? 

He replied: 

There is nothing wrong with a man speaking to his fiancée over the phone, if that is after they have agreed to marry, and the conversation is in order to discuss different issues and is done only as much as is needed, and there is no fitnah involved. If that is done through her wali (guardian) that is preferable and less dubious. 

End quote from al-Muntaqa, 3/163 

And Allaah knows best.



4) Getting to know a man/woman before engagement

it is permissible for a man to speak to a non-mahram woman, subject to important guidelines and conditions, the purpose of which is to prevent fitnah and sin. These conditions include : 

1-     That it is not possible to speak to her through one of her mahrams or through a woman who is his mahram.

2-     That should be done without being alone with her (khulwah).

3-     That should not go beyond permissible topics.

4-     There should be no fitnah (temptation). If his desire is stirred by talking to her or if he starts to enjoy it, then it is haraam.

5-     The woman should not speak in a soft manner,

6-     The woman should be wearing full hijaab and be modest, or he should speak to her from behind a door. It is better if they speak on the phone, and even better if they communicate via letters or e-mail, for example.

7-     That should not go beyond what is necessary. 

If these conditions are met and there is no fear of fitnah, then it is o.k. And Allaah knows best. 

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan said, in his answer on the ruling about young men speaking to young women on the telephone: “It is not permissible for young men to speak to young women because of the fitnah involved, unless the girl is engaged to the man who is talking to her, and they talk only about matters pertaining to their engagement; but it is preferable and safer for him to speak to her guardian about that.” (al-Muntaqa min Fataawa al-Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan, 3/163, 164). 

If you have not proposed to this girl yet, you have to be very careful and avoid exposing yourself to the causes of fitnah by taking all possible precautions to achieve your goal without approaching the girl. 

The basis for this is two aayahs from the Book of Allaah: 

1 – “O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allaah), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner”

[al-Ahzaab 33:32 – interpretation of the meaning] 

2 – “And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts” [al-Ahzaab 33:53 – interpretation of the meaning] 

Finally I would like to remind you that the Muslim’s standards when choosing a wife should be the standards encouraged by the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “Choose the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust [i.e., may you prosper].” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5090; Muslim, 1466). 

And I warn you against everything that may lead you into doing haraam things or bring you close to that, such as being alone with her, going out with her, etc. I ask Allaah to make it easy for you to find a woman who will help you to obey Him.

 

And Allah knows best



5) Proposal procedure according to the Shariah

Praise be to Allaah.

 

Firstly: 

If a man wants to get married, and he has decided to propose to a particular woman, then he may go to her guardian on his own, or with one of his relatives such as his father or brother, or he may delegate someone else to propose marriage on his behalf. The matter is broad in scope, and prevalent customs should be followed. In some countries it is regarded as improper for the suitor to go on his own, so attention should be paid to that. 

What is prescribed in sharee’ah is for the suitor to see the woman to whom he wants to propose marriage, because of the report narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1087), al-Nasaa’i (3235) and Ibn Maajah (1865) from al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah (may Allaah be pleased with him), who proposed to a woman and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Go and look at her, for that is more likely to create love between you,” i.e.,  ,ore likely to establish lasting love between you. This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. 

Secondly: 

If the girl and her family agree, then a mahr has to be agreed upon, and the wedding expenses and the wedding date, and so on. This also varies according to local customs, and what the man can afford and what preparations he has made for getting married. Some people do the proposal and the marriage contract in one sitting, and some delay the marriage contract after the engagement, and some they delay the consummation after the marriage contract. All of that is permissible. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did the marriage contract with ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) when she was six years old then he consummated the marriage with her when she was nine. Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5158). 

Thirdly: 

It is not sunnah to recite al-Faatihah at the time of engagement or at the time of the marriage contract. Rather the Sunnah is to recite Khutbat al-Haajah. It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) taught us Khutbat al-Haajah, (to be said) at weddings and on other occasions: “Inna al-hamda  Lillaahi nasta’eenahu wa nastaghfiruhu, wa na’oodhu bihi min shuroori anfusinaa wa sayi’aati a’maalinaa. Man yahdih Illaahu falaa mudilla lahu wa man yudlil falaa haadiya lahu. Wa ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu (Verily, all praise is to Allaah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Him from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allaah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allaah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger).

 ‘Yaa ayyuha’n-naas uttaqu rabbakum alladhi khalaqakum min nafsin waahidatin wa khalaqa minhaa zawjahaa wa baththa minhumaa rijaalan katheeran wa nisaa’an wa’ttaqu-Llaah alladhi tasaa’aloona bihi wa’l-arhaama inna Allaaha kaana ‘alaykum raqeeban (O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allaah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) Surely, Allaah is Ever an All-Watcher over you).’ [al-Nisaa’ 4:1]

‘Yaa ayyuha’lladheena aamanu-ttaqu’Llaaha haqqa tuqaatihi wa laa tamootunna illaa wa antum muslimoon (O you who believe! Fear Allaah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allaah.)’ [Aal ‘Imraan 3:102] 

‘Yaa ayyahu’lladheena aamanu-ttaqu’Llaaha wa qooloo qawlan sadeedan  yuslih lakum a’maalakum wa yaghfir lakum dhunoobakum wa man yuti’ Allaaha wa rasoolahu fa qad faaza fawzan ‘azeeman (O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth). He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell?fire and will be admitted to Paradise)’ [al-Ahzaab 33:70, 71].” 

Narrated by Abu Dawood (2118) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood. 

The Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas was asked (19/146): Is reciting al-Faatihah when a man gets engaged to a woman an innovation (bid’ah)? 

They replied: Reciting al-Faatihah when a man gets engaged to a woman or when the marriage contract is done is an innovation (bid’ah). End quote. 

Fourthly: 

There is no special clothing to be worn for the engagement, wedding or consummation, for either the man or the woman. Attention should be paid to what the people are accustomed to with regard to that, so long as it is not contrary to sharee’ah. Based on that, there is nothing wrong with the man wearing a suit and so on. 

But if the woman is in a place where men can see her, she should wear concealing clothes, just as she should before and after the wedding. But if she is among women, she can adorn herself and wear whatever kind of clothes she wants, but she should avoid extravagance and waste and that which calls to fitnah. 

As for wearing a ring, it is not prescribed for men or for women, because that involves imitating the kuffaar. 

May Allaah help us and you to do that which He loves and which pleases Him. 

And Allaah knows best.