Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari
Question: Hi, I am a new convert. I’ve been studying & I see a man is not suppose to look at a woman. How do they date if since you can’t see a woman? How can you marry someone if you can’t look at them? I’m just a little confused. I’m not looking to date or marry right now but wanted to make sure I do things the sunnah way or if I am ever asked I can be able to explain the right way.
Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate the Merciful
I hope this message finds you well.
Actually, a man is permitted to look at a woman he is seeking for marriage (and vice versa). The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “When one of you seeks a woman in marriage, if he is able to look at what will induce him to marry her, he should do so.” (Abu Dawud)
Scholars of Sacred Law interpret this to mean it is lawful for prospective spouses to look at each other, within limits, to aid in their decision. Therefore, a man is permitted to look at a woman’s face and hands, the condition being this occurs in the presence of her mahram or male guardian.
Dating in the Western sense is not permitted; however, couples are encouraged to meet as often as necessary, while chaperoned, to get to know each other. Among Arab Muslims, a common practice is to sign the marriage contract after preliminary discussions but before the marriage is consummated, allowing the couple to date in unchaperoned environments. This is lawful because the couple are, technically, married; they just haven’t set up house together.
Please let me know if further clarification is required.
July 30, 2011
Sha’ban 28, 1432