As salamu alaikum,
Is it permissible for a man to look at other than the face and hands of the woman that he wishes to propose? Can he talk with her?
Country: Sri Lanka
Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,
One may view the face and hands of a woman he intends to marry; specifically, when expectant that the proposal will be considered. After firm resolve [‘azm/qasd], and before the proposal [khitbah], viewing is sunnah. Thereafter, it is not recommended; but still, permissible. According to Sh. Muhammad Ramli, it remains recommended even after the proposal. (Tuhfat al-Muhtaj w/ Sharwani v. 7, p. 191) One may only view her face and hands. (Kifayat al-Akhyar p. 424; Mughni al-Muhtaj v. 4, p. 208)
Speaking allusively to the prospective bride on the topic of sex is disliked [makruh]; and unlawful [haram] straightforwardly. (Mughni al-Muhtaj v. 4, p. 221) While speaking in other contexts may be permissible, the conversation/talking should be restricted to expressing interest in marriage to the other and such necessities. Additionally, one should never be alone with a woman in unlawful seclusion [khalwah]. It is very important to observe proper Islamic behavior during marriage proceedings.
For added benefit, Imam Nawawi mentioned that when a man views a lady who he does not incline to, he should not say anything regarding her. He must completely refrain from saying something like, “I don’t like her,” etc., as it causes unnecessary harm to another. (Rawdat al-Talibin v. 5, p. 366)
And Allah knows best.
Shafiifiqh.com Fatwa Dept.