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Question of the Day: Courting 24 January 2007

Posted by SA'ILA in Culture, SA'ILA.
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Dating, as a concept, is generally looked down upon in Muslim communities. Courtship, on the other hand, does not have the same negative connotation and in many Muslim circles, is permitted, with varying rules and regulations, and as defined by the family and particular cultural background.

How different are the two? And how should one refer to the period whereby two individuals are getting to know each other for the purpose of marriage, especially if it is over a long period, where an engagement/marriage may take some time to be announced publicly? Are these two individuals “dating”? Or “courting”? Or are they simply “involved in a process”?

How should these words, these processes, fit into the life of a Muslim?

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1. talib - 25 January 2007

‘courting’ and ‘dating’ are very different as many a muslim youngin’ will be happy to complain to you.

‘courting’ in pursuit of marriage should be an important part of a muslim’s life. it should be a source of many fond memories, maybe a few chuckles too, as a muslim grows old with his or her partner.

sometimes, as muslims in societies where pre-marital sex is the norm and people don’t get married until after many years of dating and living together, etc., we get to thinking that the way we do things, the whole pursuing marriage in the family context deal and all the ‘rules and regulations’ that go with it, is unnatural, crude, and scary. muslims who feel this way, consciously or subconsciously, usually haven’t actually undertaken any part of the process for themselves.

but if you think about it, at the worst said process can’t involve any more awkwardness, hurt feelings, conflicting emotions, and rejection than the ‘conventional’ dating route modern society adopts. and at best, it can be just as exhilarating, fun, exciting, fulfilling, and happiness-inducing. except even more so because, in the end, you have a committed life-partner. and to top it all off, you know you’re doing things the right, God-conscious way which is a success and fulfillment in itself.

2. Logan Zagzebski - 25 January 2007

Could I ask for a description of what is involved in Muslim courting? Because on the stricter, more traditional interpretations of Islamic law, there doesn’t seem to be any room for such a concept.

Wa al-Salam,

3. talib - 1 February 2007

what we may loosely call ‘courting’ would mean for a boy to approach a girl and her family with the specific intention of marriage. the ‘courting’ would involve meeting with the girl, spending time with her, talking to her about the concerns of marriage and generally getting to know her as well as her family. the important thing is that all of this happens in the ‘family context’ i.e. there is no absolute privacy between the couple. this is what i understand to be the Islamic law restrictions as mentioned by scholars and is not a particularly liberal view.

what the western culture assumes is that no absolute privacy means a necassarily dry and unpleasant experience. this is an incorrect assumption. the biography (seerah) of the Prophet peace upon him also provides insight into this.


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