Marriage: The Quest for Love & Mercy


Staff member
Exchanging Photographs

With the wide availability of photography nowadays, a frequently asked question is whether it is allowed for the interested couple to exchange photographs.

Before answering this question, we need to point out a few important matters:

1) Photographs or pictures of beings with souls are generally prohibited in Islam. They are only allowed in situations of definite maslahah (benefit) for the Muslims, and only when no other permissible means can fulfil the same purpose as they do.

2) Even if a photograph was classified as being permissible in a particular situation, it may not show a prohibited thing, such as a woman without full hijab.

3) When a courter looks at a woman that he wishes to marry, his looking can be controlled by her or her wali, so that it would not invade her privacy or exceed what is permissible. To the contrary, a man can stare at a woman’s photograph longer, show it to others who are not supposed to see it, and keep it in his possessions even if the courting negotiations do not reach a successful conclusion. This leads to a serious harm for the woman – with her private photographs becoming widely accessible for whoever cares to view them.

For all of the above, exchanging photographs is not permissible – except in situations where one of the woman’s mahram’s would show her photograph to the courter without leaving it in his possession.


Staff member
Is a woman allowed to look?

Just as a man is allowed to look at his intended wife, a woman is allowed to look at her intended husband – with the above conditions, and nothing that a man’s ‘awrah extend from his navel to his knees. However, unlike men, a woman’s looking should reflect a certain level of modesty and reservation that are characteristic of her femininity.


Staff member
Talking and Correspondence

Talking and correspondence are permissible between a man and a woman whom he is seriously considering for marriage. However, this should be done under controlled conditions: in the presence and watch of the woman’s wali or his representative, avoiding khulwah, touching or other prohibitions, and limiting it to what is necessary for helping the couple make their decision.


Staff member
Woes of Internet Courting

The Internet is one of the newest and most powerful communication tools that were ever conceived by humanity. The average person nowadays spends many hours every week on the Internet: surfing, searching, reading, writing, learning, chatting, buying, selling, and so on. It is not suprising, then, that many individuals look for spouses in this wonderful land! Men and women “chat”, e-mail one another, and even exchange digitised pictures!

However, courting and marrying over the Internet often has negative results. It involves many sinful or questionable practices, among which are the following:

1) Each individual paints about himself or herself an unreal picture that is meant to impress the other side. One describes what he (or she) wishes to be, not what one really is! Being in a private room with a keyboard and a monitor provides a big chance for pretence. Thus, lying and deceit are prevalent in this kind of communication.

Asma’ (radhiyAllaahu anha) reported that the Prophet :saw: said:

“A person who pretends having that which he does not is like one who wears two garments of deception”.

(al-Bukhari and Muslim)

2) A woman’s wali is normally responsible for investigating about a prospective husband’s family, friends, manners, finances, etc. With Internet courting, on the other hand, a woman forsakes all of this and makes herself the ultimate judge, allowing her emotions and the courter’s cunning to make one of the most important decisions of her lifetime!

3) A great deal of precious time is wasted in writing polished e-mails and exchanging worthless “chats”. ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud and Abu Burazah (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that Allah’s Messenger said:

“A human being’s feet will not depart from before his Lord, on Resurrection Day, until he is questioned about five things: his lifetime and how he consumed it, his youth and body and how he utilised it, his wealth and how he earned and spent it, and what he did in regard to what he knew.”

(at-Tirmidhi. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 946)

4) Digitised pictures are often exchanged. As indicated above, this practice is largely prohibited, especially since digitised pictures can be easily and permanently stored on the computer, and electronically exchanged with other “interested” individuals.

5) In many cases, the Internet communication takes place between a man and a married woman (often with children)! The woman starts seeing her husband’s mistakes well magnified, and her Internet chatter grows in her thoughts into a perfect hero that will surely save her from the miserable life with her husband. We have witnessed a number of such cases that ended in divorce, or in the woman running away from her husband’s house to join the hero that she never met! As we will see in the next section, turning a woman against her husband is a great sin.

Because of the above and many other reasons, Internet courting is a dangerous practice that should be largely avoided by the righteous Muslims.


Staff member
Prohibited Courting

Courting a Married Woman

It is prohibited to court a woman who is married. The same is true about a woman whose husband divorced her a non-final divorce (a first or second time) and she is still in her ‘iddah (waiting period). The reason for this is that in both cases she is considered under the authority of her husband, and no other man may challenge that authority.

It is indeed a great sin to turn a woman against her husband with the intention of marrying her. Abu Hurayrah and Buraydah (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“He is not one of us who turns a woman against her husband or a slave against his master.”

(Abu Dawood, Ahmad, al-Hakim and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 5436, 5437, 6223, & as-Sahihah no. 324, 325)


Staff member
Courting a Woman who is Being Courted

When a Muslim man is proposing to a woman, it is not permissible for other Muslims to propose to her. They should wait until her side (she, her family, or her representatives) takes a clear position from the proposal: either acceptance or rejection. If that proposal is rejected, others may then approach her for marriage.

Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Avoid suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales. Do not spy, nor look at the faults (of each other), nor oppose each other, nor envy one another, nor hate one another, nor desert each other – O Servants of Allah, be (true) brothers. Let not a man court a woman whom his brother is courting: (He should wait) until he marries or leaves her.”

(al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)

Uqbah bin Amir (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“A believer is a brother to another believer. It is not permissible for a believer to negotiate a deal that his brother is negotiating, nor propose to a woman to whom his brother is proposing – until he leaves.”


Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Let not any of you propose to a woman to whom his brother is proposing. (He should wait) until he marries or quits.”

(an-Nasa’i. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa’-ul-Ghalil no. 1817 & as-Sahihah no. 1030)

Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Let none of you negotiate a deal that is being negotiated by another one, nor propose to a woman to whom another one is proposing.”

(al-Bukhari, an-Nasa’i and others)

Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Let not a man propose to a woman to whom his brother is proposing, nor negotiate a deal that his brother is negotiating. A woman may not be married to a man who is married to her paternal or maternal aunt. A woman should not request that her sister be divorced so that she would fill her own plate (with food – is she is a co-wife) or get married (instead of her), because she will only receive what Allah has prescribed for her.”



Staff member
Other Prohibited Forms

The following forms of courting are also prohibited:

1) A man who has four wives may not court an additional woman – unless he divorces one or more of his wives.

2) A man is not allowed to court a woman whom he is not allowed to simultaneously marry with a current wife, such as her sister or aunt.

3) A man who had divorced a wife three times is not allowed to court or consider her unless she married after him another man who, after consummating their marriage, wilfully divorces her.

4) A woman who is in her ‘iddah from a husband’s death or a terminal divorce (this includes a third and final divorce, or marriage termination through khul’ (upon her request) or faskh (by the judge’s decree)) may not be approached with direct proposals before the end of her ‘iddah. She may only be approached by a subtle hint, such as telling her,

“When you finish your ‘iddah, a man with just a few children may want to marry you.”

Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:

“There is no blame upon you for that to which you (indirectly) allude concerning a proposal to a women, nor for what you conceal within yourselves. Allah knows that you are going to remember them. But do not promise them secretly except for saying a proper saying. And do not decide to undertake a marriage contract until the decreed period reaches its end. And know that Allah knows what is within yourselves, so beware of Him. And know that Allah if Forgiving and Tolerant.

(Qur’aan 2: 235)


Staff member
Offering a Woman for Marriage

It is permissible for a man to offer his daughter or the woman under his custody for marriage to those whom he trusts as being worthy of her.

‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that after the death of his sister Hafsah’s husband, Khunays bin Huthafah as-Sahmi (radhiyAllaahu anha), Umar (radhiyAllaahu anh) offered Hafsah to Uthman. A few nights later, ‘Uthman apologised,

“I have decided not to marry right now.”

Umar then offered her to Abu Bakr, and he did not give him an answer either. This saddened ‘Umar; but the Prophet :saw: consoled him saying:

“One who is better than Uthman will marry Hafash, and ‘Uthman will marry one who is better than Hafsah.”

(The Prophet :saw: meant his daughter Umm Kulthum)

A few nights later, Allah’s Messenger :saw: asked him for her hand, and ‘Umar accepted. Later on Abu Bakr met ‘Umar and asked him,

“You were probably bothered when you offered me Hafsah and I did not give you an answer.”

‘Umar said,


Abu Bakr then explained,

“Truly, what had prevented me from giving you an answer when you offered her to me was that I knew that Allah’s Messenger :saw: had mentioned (marrying) her, and I was not to expose Allah’s Messenger’s :saw: secret. Had he declined marrying her, I would surely have accepter

(al-Bukhari and an-Nasa’i)

Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) tells us about another case where a righteous man offered one of his daughters in marriage to Musa (alayhis-salaam):

“He said, “Indeed, I wish to marry to you one of these two daughters of mine, on condition that you serve me for (at least) eight years; but if you complete, it will be (a favour) from you.”

(Qur’aan 28: 27)


Staff member
Performing Istikharah and Seeking Advice

Description of Istikharah

Istikharah means seeking good through putting one’s complete trust in Allah. A believer should perform istikharah before starting any important undertaking. Since marriage one of the most important decisions that a person takes, it is important for both the man and woman to perform istikharah before they give the final word that binds them together.

Jabir bin ‘Abdillah (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: used to teach his companions to perform istikharah in all of their affairs – as though he was them a surah from the Qur’aan.

He told them:

“When one you is about to do something (important), let him pray two non-obligatory rak’at and then say:

“Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi’ilmika, wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, wa-as’aluka min fadlik al-azim, fa-‘innaka taqdiru wa-la aqdir, wa-ta’lamu wa-la a’lam, wa-‘anta ‘allam ul-ghuyub.

Allahumma inkunta ta’lamu anna hatha-‘l-‘amra (and he names his intended affair) huwa khayran il fi dini wa-ma’ashi, wa-‘aqibati amri wa-‘ajilihi wa-‘ajilhi, fa-qdurhu li, wa-yassirhu li, thumma barik li fi. Wa in kunta ta’lamu anna hatha-‘l’-amra huwa sharrun li fi dini wa-ma’ashi, wa-‘aqibati amri wa-‘ajilihi wa-‘ajilihi, fa-srifhy ‘anni wa-srifni ‘anhu, wa-qdur liy-al-khayra haythu kan thumma raddini bih –

O Allah, I ask You to chose for me with Your knowledge and decree for me with Your might, and I ask You of Your great favour. Indeed You decree and I do not, and You know and I do not; You surely are the Knower of all that is hidden. O Allah, if You know that this affair (and he names it) is good for me in regard to my religion, my living, and its outcome – both immediate and future, decree it, facilitate it, and then bless it for me. And if You know that this affair is harmful for me in regard to my religion, my living, and its outcome – both immediate and future, divert it from me and divert me from it, and decree for me good wherever it may be, and then make me content by it.”

And indeed, never would he regret who asks the Creator to choose for him, and consults the creation, and ascertains his actions.”

(al-Bukhari and others)

From this hadeeth, it is obvious that the istikharah is a special du’aa that has the following characteristics:

1) It is said when travelling to perform an important act, and just before embarking on that act, with the expectation that Allah will chose the best.

2) It is preceded with a voluntary prayer consisting of two rak’at. One may raise one’s hands while saying it – as is recommended for any du’aa’.

3) After a person makes istikharah, he should undertake what he was planning to do before it. If that is good for Him, Allah would surely facilitate it, otherwise, He would bring about some circumstances to hinder it.

4) Contentment with its outcome may not be felt immediately, but will surely materialise with time.


Staff member
Misconceptions About Istikharah

a) A misconception concerning istikharah is that it is made when a person is undetermined between two or more alternatives. It is clear from the above hadeeth that it should only be made after he had decided which of the alternative to undertake.

b) Some people think that one of the important requirements of istikharah is to perform it just before going to sleep, and that some dreams should indicate what to do.

c) Other people think that the istikharah puts in the heart an inclination toward the proper choice.

There is no basis for either of these two assumptions, and the above hadeeth supports neither. In fact, the hadeeth indicates that when, as a result of the istikharah, Allah hinders an affair that a person was about to undertake, that might bring some dislike into his heart, and he therefore ask Allah to give him contentment.


Staff member
Seeking Advice

We have seen from the above hadeeth that, in addition to istikharah, it is recommended to consult with some knowledgeable people before making an important decision.

Thus it is recommended for the man and woman (or her wali) to investiage about his or her intended partner, making sure that she or he was the required good attributes.

When a person’s advice is sought in regard to individuals that are considered for marriage, business partnership, etc, he should provide truthful and honest advice. This advice should be limited to matters relevant to the affair in question, and should not be exceeded to other areas because that may then count as a prohibited form of backbiting.

Fatimah bin Qays (radhiyAllaahu anhum) reported that her husband ‘Amr bin Hafs (radhiyAllaahu anh) sent ‘Ayyash bin Abi Rabi’ah (radhiyAllaahu anh) to deliver to her a third and final divorce, and he sent with him a quantity of dates and barley as a present to her. She protested to ‘Ayyash and requested more support, but he responded,

“By Allah, you do not deserve support unless you were pregnant.”

She went complaining to Allah’s Messenger :saw:, and he asked her,

“How many times did he divorce you?”

She replied,

“Three times.”

He said,

“He is right then – he does not owe you any support (because the marriage was terminal).”

The Prophet :saw: told her to spend her ‘iddah in Umm Sharik’s (radhiyAllaahu anhum) house, but then remembered that some of his male companions go into her house. So he said:

“Spend your iddah in the house of your cousing ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum’s. Indeed, he is a blind man, and when you remove your head-cover, he cannot see you. When you complete your ‘iddah, inform me.”

When she completed her ‘iddah, Fatimah went to the Prophet :saw: and told him that both Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan and Abu Jahm asked for her hand. Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“As for Abu Jahm, he is harsh with women and never takes the stick off his shoulder; and as for Mu’awiyah, he is a poor man without any money. Marry Usamah bin Zayd.

She disliked that, but the Prophet :saw: repeated,
“Marry Usamah bin Zayd.”

She concluded:

“Then I married Usamah; Allah put a great deal of good in him, and I was very happy with him.”

(Muslim, Abu Dawood and others)


Staff member
Telling the truth

As we indicated above, it is important to provide truthful information in regard to the two individuals involved in a khitbah. The information should be limited to matters that expected have a bearing on the marriage. Absolute truth is required from the two involved parties: the man seeking to marry and the woman being sought, as well as their representatives, and any other individuals who are asked for advice.

Hiding any problems that one knows about is a sinful act of mistrust in Islam, and could result in numerous future predicaments.

For instance, one is required to indicate any physical problem in the two individuals involved in the khitbah. If either of them has a physical deficiency, such as impotence, venereal diseases, etc., he (or she) should make it known to the other individual before approving the engagements.

As for the one who thus learns about some problems in the other person, he is not allowed to publicise that knowledge or expose those secrets.


Staff member
Violations in Khitbah

There are many violations that some Muslims have introduced into the process of Khitbah. Many of those violations arise from blind imitation of the non-Muslims. In what follows we mention a few of them:

Privacy & Intimacy between the engaged couple

After the engagement, and before the marriage contract, the woman’s family permit her to go out with the “fiance”, have khulwah with him, and even touch and kiss him.

Some people think of the engagement as a “test-drive” period in which they fully try out their partners to see if they will be able to pursue a long life together. With that, they commit many sins, minor and major, including zina. And interestingly, many of these engagements prove unsuccessful and end up in separation before marriage!

Some families like to extend the engagement period to months or even years, thereby providing more chance for the engaged couple to fall into sinning.


Staff member
Engagement Party

In many Muslim countries, the khitbah is held publicly in the form of a reception or party in which drinks are served, music is played, and the bridegroom kisses the bride or takes pictures with her. All of that is in great discord with the Sunnah and the Islamic teachings, and should therefore be totally avoided.

Furthermore, a khitbah should stay from the people’s eyes because no legal shariah consequences result from it. If, for any reason, a publicised khitbah is not concluded with actual marriage, serious harm may results from publicising it, especially in regard to the bride’s reputation.


Staff member
Engagement Rings and Jewellery

The engaged couple often exchange “engagement” rings, and the bridegroom gives the bride jewellery and gifts at the time of khitbah. This is in violation of Islam, since there is no reason yet for any property or gift exchange to take place – until they are legally bound by the marriage contract. In many cases, this premature act leads to serious disputes if the engagement is broken for any reason.

Furthermore, the “engagement” ring has no basis in Islam. It originates from an old Christian practice that the Muslims should not imitate.


Staff member
The Marriage Contract

Importance of the Marriage Contract

The marriage (or nikah) contract is enacted between a man and woman for the purpose of enjoying each other and forming a good family.

The marriage contract is the formal bond that turns two individuals from strangers to husband and wife. As a result of the marriage contract, many rights and obligations become imperative and many fruits are anticipated.

To many people, the marriage contract is the most important contract they execute throughout their lives. Each marriage contact normally carries a lasting effect over a large number of individuals, many of them yet to be born.

Since the marriage contract has such a great and solemn significance, Islam imposes a number of guidelines that is must fulfil.


Staff member
No Joking in Marriage

Marriage is a serious matter and should be dealt with seriously. It is not allowed for a man to marry and then claim that he did not really mean it or that he was joking,

Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“There are three matters that are considered serious in both serious and non-serious talk: marriage, divorce, and returning (a wife who was divorced a non-terminal divorce).”

(Abu Dawood, at-Tirmidhi and others. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (Irwa-ul-Ghalil no. 1826 & Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 3027)

Fudalah bin ‘Ubayd (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“There are three matters in which it is not permissible to joke: marriage, divorce, and emancipation of divorce.”

(at-Tabarani (in al-Kabir). Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (Irwa-ul-Ghalil no. 1826 & Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 3047)


Staff member
Basic Elements

The Islamic marriage has six conditions, two pillars, one obligation, and one optional element. Dropping a condition, or a pillar invalidates the contract. Intentionally dropping the obligation is a sin.

Conditions – Bridegroom’s eligibility, Bride’s eligibility, Bridegroom’s consent,
Bride’s consent or permission, Wali’s approval, Presence of two witnesses.

Pillars – the offering (ijab), the acceptance (qabul).

Obligation – the dowry.

Optional element – imposed conditions.


Staff member
Bridegroom’s Eligibility

To be eligible for marriage, the bridegroom should fulfil the following requirements:

Must be a Muslim male, should be chaste, should be sane, should attained puberty, may not be related to the bride by a permanently prohibiting blood, milk, or marital relationship, may not be related to the bride by a temporarily prohibiting marital relationship, must perform the contract willfully and not by compulsion.


Staff member
Bride’s Eligibility

To be eligible for marriage, the bride should fulfil the following requirements:

Must be a Muslim, Christian, or Jewish female, should be chaste, should be sane, may not be married or still in ‘iddah from another man, may not be related to the groom by a permanently prohibiting blood, milk or marital relationship, may not be related to the groom by a temporarily prohibiting marital relationship, must perform the contact willfully and not by compulsion.