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Why is dating not allowed in Islam?

One of the reasons this question arises is that we feel we need to get to know someone before marrying them. Contrary to popular thought, dating is not an effective way to get to know another person.

A different set of skills is needed to be “good” on a date versus being “good” as a spouse. This may be a crude example, but in a business, certain people specialize in marketing because they are good at drawing people in, and certain people specialize in customer retention because they are good at keeping people. One could be great at one job and terrible at the other. A person could be good on a date but be terrible as a spouse, and vice-versa. Both of these areas require different skill sets. Dating does not give us the information we need to decide whom we should choose to spend the rest of our lives with.

Men and women are not as good at judging one another’s character as they are within their own gender. Even after years of marriage, spouses still have difficulty understanding one another because of gender differences. The petty disagreements that often cause couples to break up while dating, or while engaged, often boil down to how easily men and women can misunderstand each other. Hadrat Musleh Mau’ud ra stated:

The shari‘ah [law] has made the wali [guardian] a man because he can see the conditions and emotions of men better than women. He can see if this man will deceive her or if he has a shortcoming.

Khutbat-e-Mahmud, vol. 3, Khutbat-e-Nikah, p. 476

On a date, both people are trying to understand one another, while being as presentable as possible and having emotions and gender differences to deal with. Islam teaches us to leave that which has more harm than good (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:220). We do not need to get to know the person we wish to marry; we need to know about them. We can find this out best through those who know them best, their friends and family. Also, we can consult their local Jama‘at office holders. There may be some benefits to dating, but the harms far outweigh the good.

Updated on February 23, 2019

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