Salam alaykum warahmatullah,
So I googled ‘what is dating?’ and this came up – ‘go out with (someone in whom one is romantically or sexually interested)’. Courtship got this result – a period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship before getting married. These are simple definitions – what’s the main difference? One shows the initial intention is for marriage. In our present generation, you’ll find it’s the norm to have a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ and these relationships extend from basic platonic all the way to fulfilling the rights and duties of marriage without actually being married (live-in-lovers). Of course Islam frowns on all this. Islam promotes modesty and enjoins protection of the private parts. We’re not even allowed to shake hands with the opposite sex! Yet we rationalize kissing and touching the opposite sex because we’ve “promised to marry each other”. Oh please!
Let’s even leave Islam out of it for a second. As a girl, your most prized possession is your value. Think about it from this point of view – you want to buy a dress, you go to the store, try on the dress, they allow you take the dress out of the store for a ‘tryout’ and you wear it for that important dinner, you show off ‘your’ pretty dress, after the event, you take it back to the store. After a while, you have another event and you’d like to wear the dress again, you go back to the store and you are allowed to take the dress out again. You wear it for this other event and the cycle continues. You go the 10th time for the same dress and the manager asks you to pay for the dress since you’ve basically worn out its value. Would you buy that dress? And even if you did, would you value it?
This is especially important for us ladies, we should put a premium on ourselves. If you value yourself, he will value you. I will not be here and say don’t date or court, but I will say if you do, do it within the tenets of Islam and have the fear of Allah and be sure you choose prospective spouses following the hadith of the Prophet (SAW) – the best is to marry for piety.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (May Allah exalt his mention and protect him from imperfection) said: “A woman is married for four things: for her wealth, for her lineage, for her beauty or for her piety. Select the pious, may you be blessed!”.
We are all struggling Muslims and marriage is indeed half of our Deen so it is compulsory on us. However, you don’t want a situation where in the bid to please Allah you first displease Him. I say be analytical and honest with yourself, do Istikhara continuously (even before you start ‘talking to the person’ so your decision doesn’t get coloured), find out if their level of Deen and spiritual aspirations tally with yours, talk about every topic – likes, dislikes, finances, sports, life goals, career, business, politics everything and anything! – You are trying to evaluate each other’s outlook to life anyway. Always have a mahram present if you have to meet, meet in open places so even if you get tempted, you don’t fall. Do NOT drag it out for too long! – in my opinion 3 months is more than long enough to figure out if you are compatible. You will never know everything about your prospect so don’t bother trying. My wise sister says “if long courtships were a recipe for good marriages, we won’t have so many divorces“. Besides, the longer you drag out the courtship, the more the chances of falling into sin.
I’m going to shut up now so I don’t bore you too much. May Allah make it easy for us all. May He help me take my own advice and may He forgive us our transgressions against ourselves and others.
Barakallahu lee wa lakum
السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ