Marriages are an event of joy and happiness, as they bind two souls together and join two families together. Therefore, marriage is a highly recommended Sunnah. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has said, “The one who marries has completed the first half of his religion, and should worry about the other half.”
Many of us intend to marry someone, but how to propose the one we want to marry? It is a question we all have in our minds. Islam is not just a religion, it’s a way of life, so our faith has a way to do everything. Marrying an unknown person, or someone known, or a widow/widower or a pregnant woman or an orphan, all have Islamic rulings. In this blog, we will discuss the Islamic rulings concerning marriage proposals.
A marriage proposal is an event where one sought to seek the hand of another in marriage. If the person accepts the marriage proposal you intend to marry, it marks the beginning of an Engagement. In Islam, the engagement is termed as Khitbah.
According to Islamic Law, engagement is just like an agreement or mutual promise that the boy and the girl make to marry each other in the future, and that they cannot see other people and that no one else should approach them for marriage. Narrated Ibn `Umar: The Prophet (ﷺ) decreed that “One should not try to cancel a bargain already agreed upon between some other persons (by offering a higher price). And a man should not ask for the hand of a girl who is already engaged to his Muslim brother unless the first suitor gives her up or allows him to ask for her hand.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 5142]
However, the ring ceremony, done by many in the name of engagement, is not recommended because it’s a practice of the western world. And we shouldn’t be following the way of life of the people of other religions. Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “You will follow the ways of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a mastigure, you would follow them.” We said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?” He said, “Who else?” [Sahih al-Bukhari 7320]
The marriage proposal can be sent by a man’s side as well as from the woman’s side to the person they want to marry. The marriage proposal doesn’t need to be sent by the male or by his family; the proposal can be sent by the female or her side of the family also. For example, as mentioned in the hadith, after the demise of Hafsa bint Umar’s (R.A) husband, the daughter of Umar (R.A), her father first proposed her hand for marriage to Uthman (R.A), and then to Abu Bakar (R.A). Finally, she was married to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH).
Is looking at a woman before marriage is permissible or not? “When it comes into a person’s heart to court a woman, it is permissible for him to look at her.” [Recorded by Abu Dawud and Imam Ahmad]. Before marriage, a woman can reveal her face to the suitor, but keeping in mind to follow the rules and regulations of modesty. The woman is advised to cover all her body parts except her face and her forehands. So, even if a suitor asks to see the lady before marrying her, she can reveal only her face to him. Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported: I was in the company of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) when there came a man and informed him that he had contracted to marry a woman of the Ansar. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Did you cast a glance at her? He said: No. He said: Go and cast a glance at her, for there is something in the eyes of the Ansar. [Sahih Muslim, 3314]
The parents can engage their daughter to a righteous man at a young age. However, when she gets older, she has a right to reject the proposal and marry someone else if she wants to. Narrated ‘Urwa: The Prophet (ﷺ) wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).” [Sahih al-Bukhari 5158]
If a suitor wants to marry a divorcee or a widow, he can do so after the woman has completed her prescribed iddah period. Iddah is a period specified by Allah (SWT) to the lady whose husband has either divorced her or has been demised, where it is not permissible to marry anyone. After the prescribed period is over, she is allowed to marry any person she wants to.
“As for those of you who die and leave widows behind, let them observe a waiting period of four months and ten days. When they have reached the end of this period, then you are not accountable for what they reasonably decide for themselves. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” [Quran, 2:234]
“…As for those who are pregnant, their waiting period ends with delivery. And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make their matters easy for them.” [Quran, 65:4]
Living life according to Islam is a blessing which we are not able to achieve. Applying Islamic principles to all aspects of our lives makes life much easier. May Allah guide us all to live life in harmony with Islam. “Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and dwell in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah’s goodly pleasure- that is a grand achievement.” [Quran, 9:72]