Monday, April 23, 2007

To Date or Not to Date

There has been quite a bit of fuss over the whole dating/non-dating, halal/haram issue here. I'm not a scholar (not even close) so I won't presume to know everything but I don't really remember reading the words "dating is forbidden." Men and women can't be alone together and we weren't alone together. I don't plan on being alone with him. However, I do feel that you need to know a person, at least somewhat, prior to getting married or even engaged. It's very difficult to do that with nosy elders or siblings hovering around you. Everyone is so busy trying to be on there best "parent" behavior that you aren't really getting to know the real them. Then you're engaged, because there's no reason not to be, only to have to break it off a couple of months down the line. I know Muslims that have been engaged more than three times. They have to keep breaking them off after a few months because they didn't know enough about that person. I'm trying my best not to be one of those people. At the same time, I'm trying not to do any real sinning. This is the result. I'm sure some of our dates will be chaperoned. Some of them won't need to be. This weekend we were in a crowded park so chaperones weren't necessary. I don't know about y'all but I would never be, to put it delicately, overly affectionate with anyone in public. I think it's tacky.

My own mother has concerns about this whole scenario, up to and including him being a Marine. She's not crazy about men in the military to begin with (dated some back in the day) and she's really not crazy about Muslims in the military. My brother wanted to go to the Air Force Academy and be a fighter pilot and she completely freaked. She feels it's a conflict of interest. She said he could fight for a Muslim country, which freaked me and my sister out. Our baby brother fighting for some third world country (most likely the enemy of our country), heck no! I mean, it's nothing personal, we're American and don't like the idea of our little brother fighting for another country. Anyway, she's got a bigger issue with pseudo dating. She doesn't believe that Muslims should date but, at the same time, she doesn't want us marrying or getting engaged to someone we haven't taken some time to get to know. I'm like, "and how will we get to know him if we don't spend time with him?" She says that's not dating but my sisters and I (being sane) disagree. At the end of the day, dating is spending time getting to know someone that you're romantically interesting in. Chaperoned or not, it's still pretty much dating. You can call it "talking", "hanging out", or whatever else; it's all the same. The only difference is that there's a right way and a wrong way of doing it. I won't say halal and haram because I don't like labeling things like that.

A man and a woman in a car, house, condo, apartment, or whatever alone together is wrong. We're clear on that. Meeting up for lunch, all good in the hood. An unchaperoned dinner in a dimly lit, romantic restaurant is asking for trouble. A Sunday brunch at a place filled with old ladies and society matrons, good times. Anything in a public venue, and by public I mean enough people around to discourage any type of canoodling, is pretty much okay. Hanging out at your families home with people drifting in an out (quasi-privacy) is also okay. Really, what are you going to do when a family member could pop in at any second?

I understand the importance of doing the right thing but at the same time, we (as Muslims) do have to adapt to modern times. Things are not like they were way back in the Prophet's (PBUH) time. And while I'm sure there are plenty of people that take issue with the whole "halal dating" scenario, I take issue with multiple engagements and/or marriages.

They say you never really know a person until you've lived with them and I suppose that's true. However, there's nothing wrong with trying to learn as much as you can prior to that point. I just don't really think it's possible to do that with a few IMs, phone calls, and family meetings. It works for some people, and that's fantastic, but we shouldn't pass judgement on those it doesn't work for.

16 comments:

Ruby said...

Brava chica! I agree with you wholeheartedly (for whatever that's worth) and I am glad you posted this...its honest and real and a problem facing too many young Muslims in North America today.

And I hope your brother doesn't join any forces.

Sarah said...

While I can't attest to knowing anything about Islam, I can say that it adds undue pressure to a burgeoning relationship when you force engagement from the first meeting.

This was very well said, and it helps me to understand some of the varying issues surrounding your quest to find love. Hopefully your mom will come around...if you decide that he's worth spending even more time around!

Atifa said...

The only thing that concerns me is this statement, "Things are not like they were way back in the Prophet's (PBUH) time."

Read up on your history there are many parallels between pre-islam arabia and now...one of which is viewing marriage as optional. (Tangent: They actually had this practice where a lady would sleep with x men. If she became pregnant a specialist would decide who's baby it was. We have that today, it's called genetic testing.)

I am always concerned when ppl view Islam or Islamic principles as out dated. There is so much we can do and enjoy that comes from the Halal and I believe our religon to be practical in all situations.

That's where research comes into play. My gosh in Pakistan they'll find the sins the guy's great grandfather had on his soul, let alone what the guy's been up to. I think in many cases, the break ups are a result of lack of research.

Also I'm not sure if the fear of break ups should dictate how we conduct ourselves. Remember as Muslims we believe that the end is decided. It's written and done, what we determine is how we get there, the means. So no matter what any of us does: straight up arranged, some what talking, dating, or straight up sleeping around...we'll all get that person(s) that was written for us.

There are no wrong moves, no right moves, not mistakes. We just gotta keep trying to do what we think and sincerely believe is pleasing to Allah SWT and leave the rest up to him.

singlemuslimah said...

Ruby: Thanks sweetie (it's worth a lot)! It is a huge problem facing us today. And don't worry, my brother is over it.

Sarah: It does add undo pressure and that's something parents really need to consider. As for my mom, she'll never be 100% for or against it. It's not an issue for me, so she'll just have to work it out. The process will be the same regardless of the guy.

Atifa: I do not view Islam as outdated. However, there are differences between then and now and we do have to flow with the current (to a certain degree).
I totally agree that there are tons of halal things that we can do. My point was that, what I'm doing isn't haram. As for research, no offense, but this isn't Pakistan or anything remotely close to it. That level of research may work with foreigners but it's not always an option with American Muslims. Often the person in question is a convert and very little is known about their life before Islam. There also isn't the same level of family involvement for a lot of people. If you converted (in college for example) and he did too, your families really aren't going to be involved and at lot of people don't have that much info on you. The Muslim community is very diverse and very spread out and we need to find ways to deal with that, especially when it comes to marriage.

Atifa said...

Naw, many Muslims are still very good when it comes to research. There have been many where I've been able to get the 411 on some for someone I know and visa versa. It also wasn't hard when it came to the convert scene, in my experience...infact it's easier. Most of the converts I know are very open about what they've learned from their 'passed life.' It's always been the born Muslims who were worried about concealing their shaddyness.

On a side note, just because something isn't haram, doesn't mean it's okay. We can still be punished for things that fall into the makroo category.

bushraaa said...

Salaams,

Interesting post... the first thing I would like to say is that as Muslims, we are responsible for our intentions and our actions. So, inshaAllah let us make good intentions and try to follow up with even better actions.

Dating, as defined by Western society (casual emotional and physical relationships between unmarried men and women) is definitely forbidden in Islam. Please check out the following link: http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=10&ID=4549&CATE=88

Now, the second issue at hand is the manner in which Single Muslimah is conducting herself with the Marine. As your sister in Islam, my first piece of advice would be to not share such intimate details of your courtship, as much as everyone is enjoying reading them. This is simply because both the process of getting to know someone for marriage, and marriage itself, are very delicate matters and I believe you should protect your privacy. That being said, it would be in your best interest to have a chaperone with you, but if you do not want to go with that option at the very minimum, you should try and keep the conversation appropriate (i.e. flirting, winking, etc. do not fall into that category).

I know many, many American Muslims who are divorced, getting divorced or on the brink of divorce. What is the cause? There are many. However, as Atifa said, Islam is timeless and it is upto us to follow what is allowed and reject what is forbidden.

Our religion is a beautiful thing, but it sets rules and guidelines for us. It is our responsibility to follow them to the best of our ability, and inshaAllah we will try and do so. It is not upto us, however, to appease those who cannot accept or choose to distort what has already been dictated by Allah(swt).

Wa Allahu Alim.

Anon2 said...

Nice comments above.
I see both sides of the arguement. Since the intention is for marriage and they are meeting at a public place, inshaAllah this is permissable.
But the flirting part should be toned down and getting to know each other well for the sake of marriage should (and is, I think) being focused on here.
I see the meeting as acceptable in Islam (albeit being with a mehrem would be best), but -and I'm not sure if it's just me thinking this?- I think the really important issue is the fact that this brother is working for the Marines, who are currently aiding in fighting fellow (most of them completely innocent) Muslims. I read one opinion (Allahu alim what the strongest opinion is on this issue) that said doing this is haraam; so much so that it puts one outside of the pail of Islam.
If anyone has heard another opinion about this issue please let me know. Jazak Allah.

Anonymous said...

Atifa - I'd suggest being careful with the classifications such as haraam and makroo. There is no punishment for makroo things. Makroo is permissible, however it is strongly recommended that it is avoided. If you were to be punished for makroo things, that would make it haraam.

A parallel to this can be Wajib. Wajib acts are obligatory, but if not done, there is no punishment. With makroo acts it is best they are avoided, but if they are done, no punishment comes as a result.

Allah (swt) knows best.

singlemuslimah said...

Atifa: I've known plenty of both to "conceal their shadiness."

Bushraaa: Welcome back! You're married now, right? Anyway, I don't consider myself to be sharing any truly intimate details. I'm not one for over sharing but, of course, everyone has their own personal comfort level with that sort of thing. Also, I do consider blogs to be a diary of sorts. While there is certainly a limit to what should be shared, I don't believe I've crossed it. As for flirting, both of us are big flirts. It's a Southern thing and pretty much harmless. I've been flirting since age two (started with Daddy) but, as a Muslim, I do try to curb it somewhat.

Anon2: See above on the flirting issue. And the only reason we are getting to know each other is for the sake of marriage.

Atifa said...

Anon- Check out "The Absolute Essentials of Islam" by Sunni Path teach, Faraz Rabbani.

With regards to Prohibitively Disliked (makruh tahriman), Siddi Faraz says, "Denying such a command is misguidance, but not disbelief. Performing such an action is sinful."

We know it is up to Allah SWT to punish us for anything that is sinful.

Anon2 said...

Huh? I know the only reason you are getting to know each other is for the sake of marriage...I wasn't disputing that at all!
I was asking about the marine issue.

mezba said...

I just want to comment that if you are sure about your Islam and have firm faith in Allah and His message, then your heart will tell you what you are doing is right or wrong. When you cross a line, regardless of what fatwas some sheikhs will give and regardless of what anyone tells you, your heart will tell you if you are right or wrong. Yes, this heart doesn't know how to judge a member of the opposite sex properly, or doesn't know when it's being lied to or played with, but lol it knows when dating is halal and when dating is haram!

I am not the one to throw hadiths here and there but when I was debating the same things you are here with myself, someone sent me this quote and I found it very useful.

Beware! verily there is a piece of flesh in the body of man, which when good, the whole body is good; and when bad, the whold body is bad, and that is the heart.

Muhammad said, "O Wabisah! are you come to ask what is goodness and what is badness?" Wabisah said, "Yes, I am come for that." Then He joined his fingers and struck them upon Wabisah's breast, that is made a sign towards his heart, and said, "Ask the question from thine own heart." This he repeated three times aloud and said, "Goodness is a thing from which thy heart findeth firmness and rest; and badness is a thing which throweth thee into doubt, although men may acquit thee."

Atifa said...

Mezba, reread the first hadith you posted. What it's telling us is that we need to protect our heart. If we let it become use to the bad, it will corrupt us entirely and visa versa.

For example, you may feel guilty the first couple of times you do something bad, but eventually you'll get over it. You'll corrupt your heart and everything else.

The heart is the part of our body which is most suseptable to our nafis (weaknesses). If we don't take every measure to protect it, we'll be amongst the losers.

What I am basically saying is, we can't just be all fluffy and only follow our heart. We have guidelines, Islamic guidelines. As our Imam improves, our hearts will love what is beloved to Allah SWT. As our Iman deteriorates, our hearts will love that which is not pleasing to Allah SWT.

None of us is perfect and for each of us is this struggle.

mezba said...

Actually Atifa I read the hadith as if you have firm faith and have knowledge if Islam then you will know right from wrong via your heart. Sometimes doing something is right for one person and wrong for another, because the level of imaan and self control of every person is different.

Rosashe said...

Salam,

what a wonderful post... I can identify with what you are saying. In my case my parents were soo strict about even mentioning any boys name in our house, and now I am allowed/expected to find someone for myself (or they'll do), but not date anyone :$ Does that sound confusing to you too??? :)

MuSLiMa FlOwEr said...

salam 3alaykum sister. I totally agree with you! anyway sister I think just follow your heart with good intentions and Allah knows best.