Courtship in Islam
By Huda Dodge, About.com Islam guide
The most common questions I get from young people are, "Do Muslims date?" and "If they don't date, how do they decide whom to marry?"
"Dating" as it is currently practiced in much of the world does not exist among Muslims -- where a young man and woman (or boy/girl) are in a one-on-one intimate relationship, spending time together alone, "getting to know each other" in a very deep way before deciding whether that's the person they will marry. Rather, in Islam pre-marital relationships of any kind between members of the opposite sex are forbidden.
The choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions a person will make in his or her lifetime. It should not be taken lightly, nor left to chance or hormones. It should be taken as seriously as any other major decision in life - with prayer, careful investigation, and family involvement.
So in today's world, how do young people manage? First of all, Muslim youth develop very close friendships with their same-sex peers. This "sisterhood" or "brotherhood" that develops when they are young continues throughout their lives. When a young person decides to get married, the following steps often take place:
This type of focused courtship helps ensure the strength of the marriage, by drawing upon family elders' wisdom and guidance in this important life decision. Family involvement in the choice of a marriage partner helps assure that the choice is based not on romantic notions, but rather on a careful, objective evaluation of the compatibility of the couple. That is why these marriages often prove successful.