Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 4 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439
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It is customary in some cultures for men and women to live together without marriage, is it permissible?

It is customary in some cultures for men and women to live together without marriage, is it permissible?

Answer

The concept of men and women living together without marriage includes in its fold the issue of engaging in premarital sexual relationships which is prohibited from the Islamic perspective in order to keep chastity and purity of relationships among people intact and due to the fact that Islam does not perceive sexuality as a necessity that must be fulfilled and without which people are endangered. Sexuality is rather an animalistic instinct which is recognized and fulfilled through the lawful channel of marriage. As for engaging in illegal acts of sexual interactions without any legal responsibilities attached to it is a degradation to human beings and lower their status from responsible creatures to lawless animals who solely act based on their urges without any self-control.

Some people might raise the question that in some cultures people would take girl/boy friends and live together with the promise of marriage, the concept of engagement in Islam is considered an introductory project which aims at marriage as its final destination. This introductory project has its own rules which are totally different from the rules applied in marriage. Engagement is initiated in Islam for the couple to get introduced and acquainted to each other’s thoughts, beliefs, opinions, personalities and characteristics. Getting to know all these aspects help in measuring the level of harmony in feelings and compatibility in thinking between the couple. The settings for these meetings should be conducted in public places and not in private ones or behind locked doors which needs a permission for entrance as this constitutes “khalwa” or private seclusion which might give a window to the arousal of sexual intimacy between the couple and such sexual experience is prohibited during engagement and prior to marriage. Engaging in sexual acts is only permitted between the married couple. Also the acts which lead to the arousal of sexual experience is also prohibited and these include kissing, hugging, holding hands, sending and exchanging revealing pictures, watching sensual movies, chatting with obscene language among other acts which render to the rise of sensuality between the couple. Also it is impermissible for the engaged woman to reveal her hair, if she is a hijabi, or any parts of her body to her fiancé as the man does not have the right to see the revealed body of the woman prior to marriage.

Another logical reason for the prohibition of any sexual interaction or acts which might lead to excessive intimacy is that during the period of engagement the couple should pay their utmost attention to their intellectual compatibility, mutuality in social standards, the level of education, and future dreams. These are the factors which provide high level of assurance for the couple that marriage will have a good chance of living happily ever after. Giving room for sexual experience between the couple hinder their sight from seeing each other’s pitfalls as they rather focus on the side of sensual pleasure which will be a byproduct of marriage and should not be the focus of the couple before its right time. Marriage is a sacred union which should be entered with utmost care and thus making an educated decision regarding marriage requires measuring many aspects social, intellectual, emotional among other vital aspects which determine the level of success of the future marriage.

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