Best halal dating in islam rules

best halal dating in islam rules

Also read: Muslim Wedding Traditions. Dating Rules in Islam. For you who want to marry someone, don’t be afraid, don’t be worry, because Islam has given us the right rules to do introducing with your choice. How can we do this? ads. 1. Control Your Own Feeling. Falling in love with another is normal. Islam also tells people to love every creature. If you have special feeling with someone, you have to think whether it will be told or not. Telling someone about your feeling has own risk. May you will be accepted or rejected. In Islam if you have special feeling with someone the only way to make.

best halal dating in islam rules

| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Halal Dating by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. 7102 W. Shefford Lane Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA E-mail: Website: Dating is getting to know each other. However the dating that is vogue in North America involves intimate relationship such as touching, kissing, petting, necking that ultimately results in pre-marital sex. This was not there in North America before the Second World War.

The women used to wear long chaste dresses and their dating did not involve the close intimacy that we see today. No premarital sex is allowed in Islam. Therefore, no dating is allowed on the premise that dating inevitably leads to premarital sex. The choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions a person will make in his or her lifetime. It should be taken as seriously as any other major decision in life - with prayer, careful investigation, and family involvement.

It is Islamically permissible for a couple to meet in chaperoned, or group environment. In Islam consent is very important- that is neither women nor men can be married against their will. Islam has given this freedom of choice to both young men and women - they cannot be forced into a marriage that they don't want.

Qur'an and Hadith on Chastity However, we need to keep in mind the following Islamic commandments: " You commit no sin by announcing your engagement to the women, or keeping it secret. GOD knows that you will think about them. Do not meet them secretly, unless you have something righteous to discuss. Do not consummate the marriage until their interim is fulfilled.

You should know that GOD knows your innermost thoughts, and observe Him. You should know that GOD is Forgiver, Clement." Qur'an 2 :235 … Also, you may marry the chaste women among the believers, as well as the chaste women among the followers of previous scripture, provided you pay them their due dowries. You shall maintain chastity, not committing adultery, nor taking secret lovers. Anyone who rejects faith, all his work will be in vain, and in the Hereafter he will be with the losers.

Qur'an 5 :5 Successful indeed are the believers; who are reverent during their Contact Prayers (Salat). And they avoid vain talk. And they give their obligatory charity (Zakat). And they maintain their chastity. Only with their spouses, or those who are rightfully theirs, do they have sexual relations; they are not to be blamed.

Those who transgress these limits are the transgressors. Qur'an 23:1-7 Tell the believing men that they shall subdue their eyes (and not stare at the women), and to maintain their chastity.

This is purer for them. GOD is fully Cognizant of everything they do. Qur'an 24 :30 And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary. They shall cover their chests, and shall not relax this code in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, the male servants or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or the children who have not reached puberty.

They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies. All of you shall repent to GOD, O you believers, that you may succeed. Qur'an, 24:31 Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think. Qur'an 30:21 They keep their chastity.

(They have relations) only with their spouses, or what is legally theirs - Qur'an 70 :29-30. Chastity is defined Quranically in 23:6 as avoiding sexual relations outside marriage.

There are clear verses in the Quran against the natural results of dating; from the seemingly innocent kiss to the more obvious. According to the Qur'anic commands unmarried men and women should maintain their chastity until marriage.

(5: 5, 23: 5-7, 24: 3-0-31, 70: 29-331). Hadrat Umar (RA) related that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Not one of you should meet a woman alone unless she is accompanied by a relative (mahram)" (Bukhari/Muslim).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also reportedly said, "Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan (Shaytan) is the third among them" (Tirmidhi). When young people are getting to know each other, being alone together is a temptation toward wrongdoing. At all times, Muslims should follow the commands of the Qur'an (24:30-31) to "lower their gaze and guard their modesty...." Islam recognizes that we are human and are given to human weakness, so this rule provides safeguards for our own sake.

Friendship with Opposite Sex Is it wrong for two people of the opposite sex to be very good friends at school and outside of school? Dr. Muzammil Siddiqui answers " Muslims should have good elations with all people, males as well as females. At school, at work, in you neighborhood etc. you should be kind and courteous to everyone. However, it is not allowed in Islam to take a non-mahram person or persons of the opposite gender as a very close friend.

Such friendship often leads to Haram. In the Qur’an, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentioned that good men and women are those who marry, do not have fornicating relationships and do not have “paramours” (“akhdan” see al-Nisa’ 4:25; al-Ma’idah 5:5). “Akhdan” are “sweethearts” or for a man a “mistress” and for a woman a “lover”. The Prophet - peace be upon him - said, whenever two strangers of the opposite gender are alone with each other, Satan becomes the third one between them.

(al-Tirmidhi, 1091). (1) Halal Dating It is a common thing to see a white woman marrying a man from a Muslim country. A question arises as to how they met each other before their marriage? Was it a marriage arranged by their parents?

They had probably met at work and dated each other. In the past Muslims did not date because of arranged marriages. Are parents in North America going to arrange the marriages of their young children as is done in some Islamic countries? In Islamic countries there are matrimonial brokers and agents who work to match the brides and bridegroom. Parents have the support of the community in finding spouses for their children.

Relatives, networking, social gatherings particularly weddings, make arranging marriages easier. In the United States, parents are left alone and cut off from these networks. The more educated the girl becomes, the less contented a parent feels in arranging for her marriage.

African-American Muslims, as well as Arab and Asian immigrants from cultures that practice arranged marriages--are now unenthusiastic to do the same for their own children. In an arranged marriage, a Muslim family usually investigates the prospective candidate further - talking with teachers, professors, employers, friends, family, Imams, colleagues, etc.

to learn about his or her character. It is a well-known fact that Islamic religious or cultural events are often segregated by gender? So how are the young North American Muslims supposed to meet and marry each other?

"Young American Muslims have come up with creative solutions to dating--and they fall into roughly three categories. The first group is "Strict Muslims" who date halal (in an Islamically permissible style). The second group I call "Eid Muslims," because many are not strict in practice and attend mosques only on holidays. While technically they are dating haram (unlawfully in Islam), without chaperones, they're keeping physical intimacy to a minimum and parental involvement at a maximum.

The third group dates "Sex and the City"-style (definitely haram), openly and freely leading a non-Islamic lifestyle, having premarital sex sometimes in a series of monogamous relationships. " (2) "This "Sex and the City" group consists mostly of Muslim men who date non-Muslim women. These non-Muslim women sometimes convert to Islam and marry their Muslim boyfriends.

But some are unceremoniously dumped when the man's parents arrange a halal marriage. The woman's family is naturally upset at how she has been treated, resulting in a misconception that Muslim men treat women poorly. Ironically, the "Sex and the City" Muslim man can date freely without risking his standing in the community, while a Muslim woman with the same dating pattern would not only gain a bad reputation but risk losing a good arranged marriage proposal.

This double standard and poor treatment of women is not endorsed by Islam but by a general patriarchy that pervades many world cultures, including America. " (3) "Upon getting serious with a woman they're dating, though, some of these "Sex and the City" men suddenly reassert their strict Wahhabi upbringing.

They insist that their girlfriends, with whom they once openly had sex, will now have to wear a cover and stay at home, and that their dating relationship was haram. A friend of mine who had such an experience broke off the engagement with the Muslim man but retained her commitment to Islam. She said many of her friends were surprised that she didn't return to the party-girl lifestyle once her Muslim fiancé was out of the picture. But she told me she is now committed to waiting to have sex again till she marries." (4) "My friend wants to engage in halal dating--a practice gaining much popularity in the American Muslim community both among Strict Muslims and Eid Muslims.

Halal dating is the first cousin of arranged marriage, with young people finding their own mates--within the guidelines of Islam--instead of their parents arranging marriages for them. Because the Qur'an advocates equality between the sexes, it does not permit premarital sex--since all the negative consequences fall upon the woman, including pregnancy, the social stigma, and the raising of the child.

Premarital sex is also forbidden for other reasons, including learning to discipline oneself and practice self-control. Under Islam, when a man has sex with a woman to whom he is not married, he is being disrespectful of her, whether she is consensually participating or not. So young Muslims who engage in halal dating seek a commitment first and are vigilant about staying true to their religion." (5) "For both Strict and Eid Muslims, couples are introduced to each other, either by parents or friends.

(Less often they meet at school or in their local community.) They spend time talking over the phone or on the Internet and even going on dates, though for Strict Muslims, a chaperone is always present. Once they have decided they like each other, the couple is married under Islamic law by signing a marriage contract.

This event, called the nikah, is as binding as a marriage. However, the couple is seen as engaged in most Islamic cultures and in American-Islamic culture. The signing of the agreement allows them to spend more time together. Strict Muslims still have a chaperone present and do not even hold hands." (6) Halal dating fosters a clear understanding between the man and the woman that they are committed to marrying each other.

One views the other as a life partner, not a hot prom date. Eventually they will marry in a ceremony attended by their friends and family members. Sometimes, though, the betrothal may break up, but, because the couple was engaged in halal dating, no disgrace attaches to them.

Many Muslims marry non-Muslim women who convert as a result of halal dating. Another example of halal dating that resulted in marriage is that of a divorced non-Muslimah, who met a Muslim of Pakistani descent in her medical school class. The Pakistani husband even adopted her daughter from a previous marriage. "Islamic law itself can be fluid in matters of the heart, depending on who is wielding the gavel.

Many non-Muslims see Islam as a gigantic, static monolith, when, in fact, Islam can be very dynamic. Shi'ite Muslims, for instance, sometimes use the device of muta to facilitate dating. A muta is a temporary marriage recognized under Shi'ite practice. An agreement, oral or written, is created between the man and woman, securing for the woman certain rights in the event of pregnancy or at the termination of the marriage. I recently heard of a young Muslim couple living together before their formal wedding ceremony.

Their parents could not bear their children living together unmarried so they secured a muta fatwa [an Islamic legal ruling that a temporary marriage was taking place between them] for them. Their living together was then halal. "As for me, I look at it this way: Whether the use of muta is right or wrong, whether halal dating is indeed halal or not isn't the issue. In the end, we Muslims believe that God will decide, as He is the final judge of us all.

" (7) Problems of Muslim Marriages in Britain In Great Britain, Muslim youth intermingle freely and happily with most of their non-Muslim friends. When they have friends of the opposite sex, they are almost always non-Muslims. What is the reason for this? Because there is no shame whatsoever at the school in mixing freely and exchanging views and feelings - but there is enormous suspicion placed upon young Muslim men and women who try to mix freely and exchange views as friends. This is true in the Masaajids also.

"We partly have the problem of those Muslims who simply regard this as a strict no-no, and feel teenagers of the opposite sex must be kept apart at any price. Usually all that happens here is that they are kept apart from other Muslims, but mix pretty freely with non-Muslims.

Others take the line that if a Muslim sees someone of the opposite sex, one glance is allowed but then the eyes must be cast down modestly, thus making normal conversation a difficult matter, to say the least. Perhaps it is time to consider the real importance of those words - modest BEHAVIOUR, and the duty of a young Muslims adult not to 'eyeball' members of the opposite sex.

In other words, seeing someone is not forbidden, but using the eyes in a certain way is. Our conversations with members of the other sex must not be sexually inviting or flirtatious in order to stir up feelings it is difficult to control, especially in the young." (8) Elderly Muslims prevent the young Muslim adults from mixing freely.

But this could result in the following major problems. "(i) Young Muslim adults don't actually know anyone of the opposite sex as friends. (ii) Young Muslim women don't actually like young Muslim men very much, for they are not making the same efforts to be charming and helpful towards them as the non-Muslim friends are.

(iii) In situations where young Muslim men and women have become friends, they are expected to treat themselves as brothers and sisters, and a 'love' relationship then seems out of the question." (9) How to correct this ludicrous state of affairs. It is forbidden in Islam to seek privacy with someone of the opposite sex without a third party present. When that happens, there are grounds for suspicions, criticism, affronts to family honor and so forth. The world is witnessing male members in some Muslim countries committing murder of their young women (honor killing) for the slightest of suspicions - a matter regarded as totally un-Islamic in view of the highly stringent rules for four competent witnesses to actual acts of full sexual intimacy, otherwise people will be flogged with 80 lashes for false or unproven accusations.

"Incidentally, the laws of Islam which allow females to be alone with mahrem males has unfortunately been much abused, and girls need to be warned that sometimes even their male relatives are not safe to be alone with. The incidence of fathers, uncles and brothers (and teachers and pir-sahibs) sexually abusing Muslim girls is sadly on the increase - or, at least, is being increasingly reported. What we need is firstly to recognize that there is nothing at all wrong with young people meeting in situations where intimacy cannot occur because of witnesses; and secondly to create occasions in which they can meet safely in halal ways, so that they CAN get to know each other.

The more of these occasions we can organize, whether family events or mosque events or conference events, the better. I also heartily recommend that males and females find at least some opportunities for sitting together at meals, and conversing afterwards.

We also have the problem that the type of young Muslim man or woman most praised by many Muslim elders is the ultra-serious, committed, ritualistic type of Muslim, whose Islam runs the danger of being judged by their ability to memorize Arabic passages (with or without understanding), or the growth of beard or school-uniform type of hijab, or the number of hours spent in prayers and Qur'anic study. Needless to say, I have no wish whatsoever to denigrate the efforts of these admirable people - quite the contrary.

Please let that be clearly understood. However, having said that, Muslims of that type do not always make the best of husbands or wives, for they have that ascetic streak and zealousness of commitment that is beyond the reach of the majority.

May Allah grant us the grace to think seriously about the plight of our youngsters seeking good life-partners, especially our girls - many of whom may feel they are 'condemned' to marry Muslim men rather than look forward with joy to the prospect. Our young people of both sexes need to see beyond the facades, and to appreciate the nobility and talents of each other, so that they may move forward with confidence and not have a hopeful marriage collapse in trauma and dismay." (10) Every knows that in Saudi Arabia most marriages are arranged.

It is also well known that couples who once engaged to each other, are allowed to dine out together and to go to other places provided they had a responsible chaperone with them. Obviously this could be classified as a type of Halal dating or Islamic dating. Currently in North America a Muslim family enquires, discusses, and suggests prospective candidates to their children of marriageable age.

They consult with each other to narrow down potential prospects. Usually the father or mother approaches the other family to suggest a meeting. In the majority of cases the prospective bridegroom visits the bride's place with his family or alone.

The prospective candidates meet and talk to each other in the presence of a chaperone. If it clicks in the first meeting, the dating process continues by telephonic conversations, FAXes, E-mail communications, Videoconferences, etc. This type of focused courtship helps ensure the strength of the marriage, by drawing upon family elders' wisdom and guidance in this important life decision. Family involvement in the choice of a marriage partner helps assure that the choice is based not on romantic notions, but rather on a careful, objective evaluation of the compatibility of the couple.

That is why these marriages often prove to be successful. REFERENCES (1) Muzammil Siddiqui, www. Pakistan (2) Asma Gull Hasan , Halal Dating , August 1, 2002, (Asma Gull Hasan is the author of "American Muslims: The New Generation".) (3) Ibid (4) Ibid (5) Ibid (6) Ibid (7) Ibid (8) Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood, (9) Ibid (10) Ibid Please report any broken links to Copyright © 1988-2012

All Rights Reserved.

best halal dating in islam rules

best halal dating in islam rules - 101 On Muslim 'Halal Dating'

best halal dating in islam rules

Middle Eastern men and women are some of the most attractive people in the world. They are tall, have gorgeous dark complexions, and almond shaped eyes with thick, lush lashes. Because of their diet rich in foods like avocado, couscous, pomegranate, and falafel, Middle Eastern men and women also have smooth skin which is soft to the touch and great figures (not to mention crazy libidos from all those aphrodisiacs!).

The Middle East also happens to be the epicenter of the Muslim world. For people who aren’t from the Middle East or part of the Muslim tribe, Muslim dating can be incredibly confusing.

Here is what you infidels need to know about dating a Muslim woman or man. Muslim Dating: Haram or Halal? There is a lot of debate as to whether Muslims are allowed to date at all.

Premarital sex in the Muslim religion is strictly forbidden. Since dating (in the Western sense) involves actions like kissing and touching which ultimately result in premarital sex, Islamic scholars consider that (forbidden).

So, traditionally, marriages were arranged with the couple not having any unsupervised time together before the marriage – or possibly even meeting each other before the engagement. Things are changing though, and especially in the Muslim immigrant communities. These more-liberal Muslims believe that dating is simply a way to get to know each other. Muslim men and women aren’t relying solely on matchmakers anymore. They are taking part in Muslim matrimonial sites, speed dating, and other events.

They talk, meet, and get to know each other. As Muslim woman Zeba Iqbal , this sounds a lot like western dating. But there is one big difference: with non-Muslims, dating is just about meeting a special someone, and that meeting may or may not result in marriage.

With Muslim dating, the meetings have one goal: marriage. Thus, for Muslim dating to be halal, both partners have to date with the sole goal of marriage. A lot of Islamic scholars and Muslim websites have further defined halal Muslim dating.

For example, lays out these rules of halal Muslim dating: • The date occurs in a public place • The date does not occur in seclusion (khulwa) unless there is a chaperone (mahram) • Flirting and physical contact are forbidden • The family is usually involved, such as in the introduction process Muslim Men Dating Outside the Faith Islam allows Muslim men to date outside of the faith. In fact, it is often encouraged as it is believed that the woman will convert to Islam.

And, in Islam, if you get someone to convert, you are rewarded in this life and the next. Muslim dating is a lot more relaxed for men than women. While men have their own social and cultural problems to bear (I would never want the responsibility that comes with being a first-borne Muslim son!), they have a lot more freedom than women.

They aren’t going to be judged as harshly for dating outside the Muslim faith, or for dating at all. This is why you see so many stories in forums about Muslim men dating Christian women. Here is a piece of advice for non-Muslim women dating Muslim men: you can tell how serious the relationship is by whether he mentions you to his family. As members at point out, this has nothing to do with religion.

It is the constant struggle he will feel between his family, culture, religious views, and feelings for you. If the Muslim man does not tell his parents (or at least friends) about you within the first year of the relationship, then just walk away. He is just using you until he can find a “good Muslim girl” to marry.

Muslim Women Dating Outside the Faith There is a lot of debate about whether it is halal or haram for Muslim women to date outside of the faith. The general conservative opinion is that , since the faith is passed down through the man. The more pertinent question though is how a Muslim woman would even meet a man outside the faith. Muslim women are obviously held to much higher standards of modesty than Muslim men, so her family is going to do a better job of keeping her under lock and key, well away from treacherous infidels.

And, if she did manage to meet a non-Muslim man, would she be able to overcome the social pressures which have been put upon her since birth and decide to date the guy? One thing you will notice is that Muslim women are more likely to date outside their faith as they get older. This has to do with age discrimination which is very evident in Muslim dating.

By the age of 25, the “alarm bell” is ringing for Muslim women. If she isn’t married by 30, meeting Muslim men becomes very difficult. In an interview for , Palestinian-Muslim comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh joked about her relationship with an atheist man, and how her parents came to accept it.

At first, they wanted her to marry a Palestinian man. Then they wanted her to just marry an Arab. Then they wanted her to just marry a Muslim. Then, when those alarm bells started ringing as she got older, they just wanted her to get married. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Tradition and Culture When talking about Muslim dating, it is important to remember there is a big difference between the rules of Islam, and the rules associated with tradition and culture.

They are not always the same. Like how Islam says that it is permitted for a man to marry a non-Muslim woman. Islam may permit this, but the man’s culture and family may forbid it completely. If you are thinking of dating a Muslim, don’t underestimate the power of tradition and culture.

The Muslim man or woman in question might be very “liberal” and Westernized, but that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t going to feel the pull of a lifetime of tradition. This is especially true if the Muslim man or woman is first-generation and from a country which is war-torn.

As one woman points out over at , “In some ways, there is no such thing as ‘the individual’ in Islam. Everyone is part of a family, a people group, and/or a community. Decisions are made as groups, not individuals and pressure is put on by families. Families have an extremely strong influence on their children – even from across the ocean!!” To give you an idea of how strong tradition is, I know atheists from Muslim backgrounds who religiously fasts during Ramadan.

Before you dismiss this as weird, consider how many atheists from Christian backgrounds put up Christmas trees each year. Traditions are part of the fabric of our lives, and it is hard to let them go. It becomes a problem when Muslim men and women want to break free of the traditions, but have that nagging sense of guilt and responsibility weighing down on them. This is especially true of Muslim dating rules.

From an early age, Muslims are told they aren’t allowed to speak to members of the opposite sex. When they do, they hear a voice telling them “ Tauba!” (repent!). As of this little voice, it leaves them very self-conscious and uncomfortable interacting with each other. Muslim women are held to incredibly high standards for modesty.

Under Islamic traditions, men and women aren’t expected to talk to each other at all. Of course, modern living doesn’t exactly permit it to work out this way.

My good friend in Palestinian often goes out to lunch with his female colleagues. But they definitely aren’t in secluded places together. Embrace the Muslim Culture – As Strange and Difficult As It Can Be If you are coming from a Western culture, then some of cultural aspects of dating a Muslim can be incredibly strange (or downright difficult). Like when you don’t get offered a glass of wine (which you need to calm your nerves) at dinner with his family.

Or like how you can’t even kiss during daylight hours during Ramadan. Or when you try to figure out why there is never any toilet paper in the bathroom. I’ve talked about cultural differences before in my post about . If you don’t strive to embrace them, it can quickly destroy your relationship. And I don’t just mean reading some of the Quran and learning basic Arabic.

You’ve got to really embrace the culture as a positive influence. And when it gets difficult, just remember how weird some of the things in your culture and religion are! As a mulism girl i agree at some point and differ from some even arab countries are diffrents like in my country morocco women has more freedom and they meet men at school and work .

Even have male friends but that interaction is not as open in westrom world for girls with strong faith like me there is limits but that doesnt mean therent more open girls . Our sociaty is complex that you can meet all kind of people from super open to super close im somehow in the middle i have forigin friends that include males and my parents has meet and they are aware of those friends some of them are jewish some christien and some athiest .

But there is limit that i put that they shouldnt cross in Islam to be able to marry a muslim girl the man has to convert to Islam . And yes i have family memebers and friends who are married to people from are cultures or faiths some has converted and some they didnt in the end people are free its there choise to make that doesnt mean they wont be judged about that . In the end love cannot be enough for some muslims who has stong faith or strong family influence and sometimes its all it get but it doesnt mean that some party wont have to do some sacrifices If your going to write an article about Muslim dating then please be specific.

You are writing about Arab Muslims. Your Title should be that. It is very annoying that whenever an article is written about Muslims it usually if not always refers to Arab Muslims.

You do realize that there other ethnicities who are Muslim. In fact Arabs are not the largest ethnic population in the Muslim community. It’s very unfortunate that you wrote about Muslim dating and thought, “Arab.” Not hating on my Arab bros and sis…but my umma know what I’m talking about.

If you want to discuss Arab cultural marriages which has Islamic guidelines already within the culture then please do. Sorry about the rant but it’s just so frustrating for non-Arabs…our bros and sis of Islam are all beautiful and of a diverse beautiful cultures and traditions.

If your preferences is Arab Muslims then please state that in the title. THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT AN ACTUAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG, OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE This website is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice and treatment from your personal physician. Visitors are advised to consult their own doctors or other qualified health professional regarding the treatment of medical conditions.

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best halal dating in islam rules

"Dating" as it is currently practiced in much of the world does not exist among . Young Islamic men and women (or boys and girls) do not enter into one-on-one intimate relationships, spending time alone together and "getting to know one another" in a very deep way as a precursor to selecting a marital partner.

Rather, in Islamic culture, pre-marital relationships of any kind between members of the opposite sex are forbidden. Islam believes the choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions a person will make in his or her lifetime. It should not be taken lightly, nor left to chance or hormones.

It should be taken as seriously as any other major decision in life—with prayer, careful investigation, and family involvement. First of all, Muslim youth develop very close friendships with their same-sex peers.

This "sisterhood" or "brotherhood" that develops when Muslims are young continues throughout their lives and serves as a network, a way to become familiar with other families.

When a young person decides to get married, the following steps often take place: • The young person makes —a personal supplication—for Allah to help him or her find the right person. • The family enquires, discusses, and suggests candidates from among the network of people that they know. They consult with each other to narrow down potential prospects. Usually, the father or mother approaches the other family to suggest a meeting.

• If the young couple and their families agree, the couple meets in a chaperoned group environment. Umar, a senior companion of Muhammad and a powerful caliph, related that the said, "Not one of you should meet a woman alone unless she is accompanied by a relative ( mahram)." The Prophet also reportedly said, "Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan is the third among them." When young people are getting to know each other, being alone together is a considered a temptation toward wrongdoing.

At all times, Muslims should follow the commands of the Qur'an (24:30-31) to "lower their gaze and guard their modesty… " Islam recognizes that we are human and are given to human weaknesses, so this rule provides safeguards for our own sake. • If the couple seems compatible, the families may investigate further—talking with friends, family, Islamic leaders, co-workers, etc. to learn about the character of the potential spouse. • Before making a final decision, the couple prays ( a prayer for guidance) to seek Allah's help and guidance.

• The couple agrees to pursue marriage or decides to part ways. Unlike some cultural practices in which marriages are strictly arranged, Islam has given this freedom of choice to both young men and women—they cannot be forced into a marriage that they don't want. This type of focused courtship helps ensure the strength of the marriage by drawing upon family elders' wisdom and guidance in this important life decision.

Family involvement in the choice of a marriage partner helps assure that the choice is based not on romantic notions, but rather on a careful, objective evaluation of the compatibility of the couple.

That is why these marriages often prove very successful in the long-term.

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