So many young people are writing to me about having "met" each other without their parents consent or knowledge. They start innocent talks and then progress on to more intimate details and information sharing, until at last - they decide they want to "be together."
Actually, the physical part of the attraction is quite normal. This is the way the human is designed.
The problem is from the beginning the parents themselves have not really followed the teachings of Islam, so the children are only partly to blame for the outcome.
O.K. Now let's first consider what Islam really . . .
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What Islam teaches us about boys and girls and marriage:
Marriage is seen as a necessity in Islam and is seen as helpful in avoiding zina (fornication and adultery) and cruelty. Marrriage in Islam is Blessed by Allah and has rewards for both the man and the woman, provided the rules set forth by Islam are followed.
They are to be separated when they reach the age of puberty and must not come into close contact with the opposite sex until such time as marriage arrangements are being made.
The children are to be married as soon as possible after they have reached the age of puberty. When the girl is old enough to have children and mentally and emotionally ready for marriage.
The boys are not to approach the girls directly for marriage as this usually complicates matters and causes disappointments and hard feelings between families.
The mother usually circulates the word amongst the families about her child (boy or girl) and begins to seek a suitable match as soon as the child reaches the state of puberty.
The father may also look into possibilities amongst young men he might know of for his daughter.
The choices are never to be made for the young man or the young woman; this is left up to them to choose from amongst those who are suggested by the parents.
If a boy or a girl does have a notion about someone, they should tell their parents right away and have them investigate the one they are interested in knowing more about.
After properly investigating the family and the individual there should be some dialog opened between the families and then a date set for the first meeting.
Both the boy and the girl should be advise ahead of time and told the details about what is going on and who the people involved are.
The first meeting is usually held in one of the two families homes, most likely the boys home (not absolute) so the girl has a chance to see what type of live style to expect, as most always the boy will live with or near his parents. At this time there is a keen opportunity to observe the treatment of the different members of the family.
The meeting usually has the girl presented to the mother of the boy and might include dialog with the father as well. The boy might not even enter the room in the beginning if there is any reservation on the part of the girl or her family. They might ask for another meeting in the future to give things time to come together.
They would schedule another meeting if interested, to include a direct exchange of dialog between the boy and the girl. This might take place with a screen or door between them depending on how strict or shy the girl and her family might be. Keep in mind, the girl might be quite young according to the sunnah and of course, very shy.
If things go well between the families and the youths another meeting may take place with the intention of marriage. At that meeting the young lady would most likely show her hair and face to the boy. There would also be an exchange of any personal information that would need to be discussed before marriage.
Examples would include any types of diseases or allergies or abnormalities either of them may have.
"Mahr" is like dowry - but it is a mandatory gift given by the groom to the bride. Unlike a bride price, however, it is given directly to the bride and not to her father. Although the gift is often money, it can be anything agreed upon by bride and groom such as a house or viable business that is put in her name and can be run and owned entirely by her if she chooses. Mahr could also be an ayah from the Quran, as was mentioned by the prophet, peace be upon him.
Now comes the "nikah"
Nikah, or nikkah, (Arabic: النكاح ), is the contract between the bridge and the groom. It is a strong written agreement or covenant (mithaqun Ghalithun) mentioned in surah An Nisaa' verse 21.
The first part of the marriage ceremony, nikah, is a written proposal of marriage from the boy to the girl.
The nikah mentions the mahr (dowry) he is offering her if she accepts him as a husband. The signing is on the part of the lady and is done after several repeated statements to her from her "wali" (guardian or parent) before the signing of the contract itself.
This contract requires the consent of both parties if they are adults, of child bearing age and are mentally able to make the decision for themselves. There must be no force or coercion involved, otherwise there could be a contested situation in the future.
Until the consumation (sexual intercourse) takes place, at any time the nikah can be cancelled by either party and the mahr returned to the man. It is not considered as a full marriage but rather as an engagement that did not work out. There is no divorce necessary because there has been no intimacy.
After there is consumation of the marriage (sexual intercourse takes place) then is the time for the public announcement and celebration (walima).
The Walima is a feast given by the groom's side of the family to celebrate the welcoming of the bride to the family. It is a strong sunnah (action of Muhammad, peace be upon him) and it is recommended to be held on the earliest possible day after consummation as possible and invite as many people of the families and community as possible.
There is a tradition in some Muslim countries, not a part of Islam, to pre-arrange a marriage for young children. However, the marriage still requires consent when the wedding actually goes ahead.
A marriage which is carried out unofficially without informing the public is called nikah urfi.
A nikah allows both parties to add conditions.
Islam does allow "talaq" (divorce). So the agreement is revocable.
(End of part 1)
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