Q. Should muslims get engaged before marriage? Is it an option?
A. The word ‘engagement’ or ‘getting engaged’ is used differently by Muslims in different parts of the world. In some places, it simply means that both parties (boy and girl) make a promise to marry each other. This promise is witnessed by the parents and close family members and later on, it is fulfilled by the parties. This sort of promise does not give an allowance for the boy to meet the girl constantly, nor does it allow them to ‘court’. Instead, it is only a ‘word’, ‘promise’ given to each other or it may be given by the parents, and at the fixed time, the marriage takes place. In this engagement, no sort of unislamic behavior/practice like that of ‘courting’ etc. is seen from the boy and girl.
If this type of engagement takes place, then it is acceptable in Islam and Muslims can ‘engage’ in this manner. However, this is not essential, it is only a matter of a choice.
There is also another type of ‘engagement’ which is seen among Muslims. In this type, there is an exchange of ‘engagement rings’ along with a reception and other celebrations. Through this, the intended couple is seen together in many places as if they are already married. ‘Courting’, close association and being alone together are seen from the intended couple who got engaged. There is no doubt that this type of engagement is totally haram in Islam and hence, it is strictly forbidden. Muslims must not get involved in this.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan