I. Details about the situation

Ali and Fatima are both students at their local university, and have had some interaction with one another as classmates. While they don’t know each other particularly well, considering their age and stage in life, each has started thinking about a potential spouse for marriage. Deep down, they both have a desire to talk to one another a bit more intimately with the intention of getting to know one another, but at the same time, they’re a bit concerned about committing a sin or doing something inappropriate. What should they do in order to maintain a respectful relationship as classmates while simultaneously trying to determine if they are compatible with another for marriage?

II. Background

Indeed, marriage is an important responsibility which is blessed and sanctified by God. He states in the Quran, “And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you. There are indeed signs in that for a people who reflect.”1 At the same time, there are boundaries that God has created that we cannot cross, particularly in engaging with the opposite gender, for He states, “Do not approach fornication. It is indeed an indecency and an evil way.”2 Thus, as believers, and from a moral lens, it is imperative for the prospective husband and wife to respect one another and recognize the boundaries or extent of permissibility and engage with one another in a cordial manner prior to marriage.

III. Ruling

There is nothing wrong or impermissible if both parties communicate with one another and discuss their potential desire to get to know one another on a deeper level, provided that their conversations are respectful, courteous, and of course, within the bounds of Islamic law. To elaborate, they should not engage in any intimate discussions or interactions, even by text message. If they are both on the same page in terms of pursuing marriage, it would be best to reach out to their parents, family members or mutual friends who may have experienced a similar situation, or even a local religious leader or trustworthy community elder for some guidance or formal introduction in terms of navigating the necessary steps moving forward.

IV. Action

Ali and Fatima are taking the correct approach in terms of engaging with a sense of caution. Though there may be personal barriers, fear of committing sin, cultural stigma, or a sense of shyness in discussing matters surrounding marriage, there is nothing wrong with Ali and Fatima conversing with one another with the intention of potentially seeking a union within the respective moral and religious boundaries, while keeping in mind they are not yet married and must not engage in any intimate conversations or emotional expressions of love.

1.The Holy Quran 30:21, Quranic quotations are from the Ali Quli Qarai translation.
2. The Holy Quran 17:32.

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