Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 4 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439

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Is it permissible for a man who proposes to a woman to have a good look at her?

Is it permissible for a man who proposes to a woman to have a good look at her?

Answer

There is no disagreement among scholars that it is permissible for a man to look at the woman he intends to marry. I realize that in certain parts of the Muslim world, this is something that is met with disapproval. But this is more on account of the traditions of that particular society rather than the teachings of Islam. When we speak of the permissibility of something or its prohibition, we have to rely on what we have been taught by Prophet Muhammad, God’s last messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). The traditions of any particular society cannot take precedence over Islamic rulings. Indeed, they need not be taken into consideration when we have a clear and authentic report which is in conflict with such traditions.

On this particular question, there are numerous hadiths which confirm that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) instructed his Companions to look at their prospective wives before the marriage contract was made. Al-Mugheerah Ibn Shubah told the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that he had proposed to a woman. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told him: “Go and look at her, for it is more conducive to your marital happiness.” A man proposed to a woman from the Ansar, and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to him: “Go and look at her, because some of the Ansar have something in their eyes.” In this hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) directed the man’s attention to a particular point, which may put a man off marrying a particular woman.

Jabir Ibn Abdullah, who reported a large number of hadiths, quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “If any of you proposes to a woman and he can look at what may encourage him to marry her, let him do so.” Jabir acted on the Prophet’s suggestion literally. This means that it is perfectly permissible for a man to look at a woman he intends to marry whether he has her permission or not.

Scholars have different opinions with regard to what a suitor may look at of his intended wife. Some suggest that he may look at her face and hands, while others hold the view that he may look at her when she is wearing the regular clothes she wears at home. This means that she may be without her head-cover or may be wearing a knee-length dress. A man must observe Islamic standards of propriety when he looks at a prospective wife, because this is a dispensation given to him for a particular purpose. He may not be alone with her; some of her relatives like her father, brother or mother should be present. As you know, it is forbidden for a man to be in an enclosed place with a woman to whom marriage is permissible.
 

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