Engagement Period Doís and Doníts

Question and answer details
Name of Questioner: MS (23-female-Egypt) Reply date: 2012/05/22 Question: As-salam `alaikum, I have a question regards the engagement period do's and don'ts. Usually during the engagement period, the potential spouses, either meet at their parent's houses (with a third party present), or go out together (also with a third party present), which I think is fine in Islam. What about chatting, texting, skyping? Are those considered haram in Islam, if done without the presence of a third party? My general question: What are the engagement dos and don'ts in Islam? Also, if communication is limited during the engagement period, then how will the potential spouses get to know each other more? How can a Muslim girl know if her prospective husband really cares about her and not only marrying her for the sake of fulfilling his needs? A man can answer all the questions right, act good in front of her family, say that he has enough money to ensure their needs, but doesn't really care about the girl and doesn't want to communicate with her or get to know her more. What if the couple discusses all of their points, they shouldn't talk anymore afterwards? Isn't the lack of communication the number one cause of problems between couples, in which one party or both parties might feel neglected due to the absence of communication? How can a Muslim girl get to know her prospective husband more without committing sins? To be clearer, as we all know, actions speak louder than words. So, both parties can answer the questions perfectly, but that still doesn't tell them anything about each other. And if she only judges her future spouse by how he acts in front of her family, then she is being unfair to herself, in a sense that he might act respectful in front of them (since he is under probation), but that's not his true self! How can she truly know who he is?!What is the best way of communication for a couple living in two different countries? Sorry for being too long but I really want to be cautious and not commit any sins when I get engaged in shaí ALLAH, as I want to have a blessed marriage when ALLAH grants me the righteous husband in shaí ALLAH. Thanks a lot for your help. Counselor: Sakeena Abdulraheem Answer
As-salaamu `alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu dear sister,

These are wonderful questions. The first portion of your question is for Ask the Scholar section of our website. I would encourage you to consult with that section of our website to learn about the various interpretations regarding etiquette during the engagement process.
The second portion of your question is also a wonderful question to ask. If I am correct you have three main concerns that are the focus of your questioning which are:
  • What are the engagement dos and donít?
  • If communication is limited how will the potential spouses get to know each other?
  • How can a Muslim girl know if her prospective husband really cares about her and is not just marrying her for his needs to be fulfilled?
In many ways I think you have answered your own question by saying: ďActions speak louder than wordsĒ. You are correct. You described the engagement process wonderfully as it is a probationary period for both potential husband and wife to get to know one another thoroughly.
Often what occurs is when there is over chaperoning, individuals never get the opportunity to become comfortable and see who the person truly is as an individual. This also allows the opportunity to not only put their best foot forward but also not present with their true personality in certain aspects.
Meeting your potential spouse at your parentsí house and asking him a series of questions is only the beginning as you have only touched the surface in terms of developing rapport and a real relationship that can provide a foundation for your future together.
There is no reason two individuals with sincere intentions to get married should be limiting their conversations unless they are about things that are inappropriate for example, conversations that are of a sexual nature. Any individual that decides to get married should go into the marriage with the intentions to spend their life with the person.
As a result, individuals that are sincerely interested in you as a life partner will be interested in getting to know you, your likes and dislikes, your personality, your passions and interest, and getting into the nuts and bolts of who you are. This can provide an individual with substantial information to determine whether or not the person is the right fit for them.
The only way to figure out all of these things that I have mentioned is through interaction. Getting to know a potential spouse and interacting with them is also important because it helps the individual determine if there is chemistry between them and the other person.
There are several options to make the courting process easier: bring a trusted family member with you on an outing that is also male because if during this period you are not in public places you will need to have a mahram present. However, if you are in public and are socializing in a public environment as long as you are adhering to the guidelines of Islam going on an outing with the person to get to know the real personality of the individual is permissible.
Public places include the following: malls, amusement parks, museums, cafes, etc. Private places could possibly include: movie theaters, secluded parks that are away from the public, your home when there is no one else present at your home, etc.
It is important to identify what public and what private means. Many people may interpret a movie theater to be a public place. I would encourage you to follow your intuition and judgment when interacting with men. If you feel you are doing something that you would not want others to know about you are probably in questionable territory regarding etiquette.
If I understand correctly I believe that the root of your concern is how you can know that the person is being sincere. This is a point where individuals should put their trust in Allah, and where, as an individual, you are taking a risk or leap of faith in Allahís plan.
Once you realize that HE is in control of everything it will provide you with a sense of reassurance in the whole process. This is where Istikharah or what is known as the prayer for guidance becomes very important.
ďThe Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to teach his companions to make istikharah in all things just as he used to teach them surahs from the Quran. He (pbuh) said: If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak`ahs of non-obligatory prayerĒ.
There is a special supplication for guidance that is made afterwards. I would encourage you to make your istikharah and if you have not done so then make it as many times as you feel comfortable in moving forward and making your decision.
Remember that any individual male or female that is serious about marriage and maintaining a healthy and happy marriage will put in the work to get to know who the other person truly is in the initial stages.
I would also highlight that individuals cannot change right after they are married; they have just decided to reveal who they really are and in many cases there are things you will not learn about the person until you are married and living with the person.
May Allah make this process easy for you.(http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-t...456907-ms.html)