Monday, 2 January 2012

Courtship vs. Dating

"The dating game has been played for years, and many people have nothing to show for it but new found bitterness and a broken, distrusting heart. For the majority of single people, dating is the process of finding a serious boyfriend or girlfriend. A disconnect occurs when some adults who are looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend have no intention of going further and finding a husband or wife. Marriage is not for everyone.
Unfortunately, so many don’t figure out that their partner has different intentions until they are too invested. If they were aware of their partner's disinterest in wedded bliss, then they have already wasted too much time trying to change their partner's intentions.

I have fought this battle before, and now I’m constantly watching my friends go through the same song and dance only to get disappointed. The frustration that comes after the heartbreak has had many of them asking: “Are boyfriends/girlfriends a waste of time?”

In today’s society the process of dating is the prevalent means to find a mate. However, there used to be a time where there was no such thing as a boyfriend or girlfriend and “dating” was frowned upon. Instead of going out to the clubs to find someone, men had to court a woman, with his ultimate intention being marriage. During courtship in some circles (mainly religious) a man and woman could not hold hands, kiss, or even hang out without parental supervision. My parents, for example, have been married for 26 years and never went out on a pre-marital date.

Having a boyfriend or girlfriend would not be a waste of time if the title held more importance. The titles should definitely have more meaning once you reach adulthood, because with the title comes expectations of long term commitment. That realization made me understand why my mother, who is of the formal courtship era, referred to my now husband as my “friend” the entire seven years that we dated.

Recent generations take what I like to call the “Forrest Gump Approach”. In the movie he compared life to a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get; the same could be said for relationships, except in the dating process we have become accustomed to biting each piece of chocolate before deciding which one we want to eat.

When you compare the way we find a mate today to the practices of yesteryear, there are obviously extreme differences. On one end, there is the no intimacy before marriage approach, and on the other end, there is the intimacy driven approach. Those who adhere to the intimacy driven approach believe compatibility is dependent upon sexual and physical chemistry. In my opinion, sexual chemistry is just when you discover what you like and being lucky enough to find someone who is willing to meet those needs.

Some people have found a middle ground by committing cautiously instead of isolating themselves. Of course, in would be a perfect world, people would state their intentions up front, and we would be able to see beyond physical attraction to find someone who wants the same things. In the end, you would be wasting your own time if you kept committing yourself to people who simply are not relationship material." - Simon Waugh
Guess what Simon - This is how we court in Islam. Wonderful isn't it?

After filtering prospects and after filtering some more. I've been thinking a lot about this. Years back, I could never articulate myself fully when it came to the discourse in test driving women vs courting them. With the help of the qur'an it's the only way forward. I don't just agree because it is what Allah has commanded but from a more logical approach - It does lead to a healthier society. Functioning the way it should.

Less broken hearts. Less broken families. Less baggage. Healthier hearts and healthier human beings.

In this society it's perfectly acceptable to test drive women. If she consents, why not? Using common sense as the grounds of reason seems to work, right?

Maybe not. I pray Allah guides us all to tawheed and grants us guidance so we do genuinely become better and more respectful people. 


  1. What? Who are you kidding? In this current society, islamic courting has become 'dating' for some men and women. Man, I could write a whole post myself about this issue! But I won't.

    PS - Good to see you blogging again. Although, liven up dude it's 2012 :D

  2. Seesee - (Name change imminent!) I should have perhaps added a disclaimer, I was referring to practising Muslims. Amongst the masses it has become somewhat diluted with the western values.

    Hey hey, you trying to say it's a lame entry?

  3. although I think the boyfriend girlfriend relationships of today are highly dangerous - I also think that the Islamic Courtship ritual leaves a lot of women open to dangers that they cannot foresee through the arranged marriage process (such as violent man, cheating man, man with existing girlfriends, wives etc) and I think a couple is sometimes rushed to make a decision when they are not ready.

    I understand that back in the day when everyone lived in the same village it was very likely to know your proposer...for example, my grandma knew my grandad because he was around all of the time and when she reached 17, he came and asked for her with his parents. There wasn't really much they needed to find out about each other and the family, because they practically lived together for all their lives.

    These days we are not in villages any more and the people asking for our hands in marriage are not neighbours and people we have known all of our lives - and so a few meets under supervision is not really enough for the commitment of marriage.

    At the same time as that - there is not really enough FREE time to devote to getting to know everyone as properly as one would like to.

    So I think there needs to be some kind of middle ground or middle way that we haven't quite discovered yet.

    And what about the divorced people, how do they find a new mate? Or widowed people or older people who have no family (because they have migrated or passed away)

    The system we have is ideal - but it only works if the society is also ideal. We live in a very mixed up world and I think there is too much pressure on the young people to make big decisions (re: marriage) and try to get to know someone without breaking rules.

    I personally think your husband / wife gets delivered to in a time / place when you are ready to recognise them and then it just all happens naturally. Trying to force it or make it happen, really doesn't work (in my opinion)

  4. No change - still the same and will remain the same. Couldn't keep hijacking!

    "Recent generations take what I like to call the “Forrest Gump Approach”. In the movie he compared life to a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get; the same could be said for relationships, except in the dating process we have become accustomed to biting each piece of chocolate before deciding which one we want to eat". (One of my favourite movies - 'run forrest run'. Shame on me!).

    Not much different to the rishta process anymore. Not just the masses, I've met practising people who are just as bad. I mean, if six months getting to know each other and go out together etc isn't 'dating', then what is? It's a joke, I tell you. And what makes it worse is that some families condone it as well. And it's usually the guys and girls who weren't allowed to talk to the opposite sex and came from a very strict upbringing who use this as a 'halal' option. Blimey, I know where my parents would stand on the issue haha

    Lame entry - never! Good issue raised though. I would have taken it down a completely different route.

    By the way, this is for you and complications - Guess who spent two days with Nouman AK and had a private seminar?? He's sooo funny. Ha!

  5. Jasmine - I agree with you from a woman's POV but it's the same for a man in my opinion. How do you know a woman isn't exactly the same (such as violent woman, cheating woman, woman with existing boyfriend etc). It's a two way street. Yes, sometimes you are rushed to make decisions but any sensible person would do everything to find out as much as possible beforehand. At the end of the day, people forget that you have to do istikhara and istishara (have I spelt that correctly? asking other people). It's not a decision you make on your own. It's a decision between two families as well.

    Also, how much will you ever really know about a person beforehand? The truth is you never really know someone until you're living with them day in day out. Even then, you still don't really know. The reasoning and consolation we have as Muslims is faith and trust in Allah (swt) to help guide us.

    Two different examples - a woman got married after courting for three weeks. Alhumdulillah doing really well.

    Guy got married of own choice - after having a relationship for ages. Twenty years down the line with teenage children, he leaves his wife because he's found his 'soul mate'. Does it make sense? Can't judge really. You just don't know people at the end of the day and things can change after marriage.

    Definitely agree there needs to be some middle ground.

    Divorced/Widowed/Older people - exactly the same way. Istikhara and istishara. Who says it has to be family who does this for them?

    "I personally think your husband / wife gets delivered to in a time / place when you are ready to recognise them and then it just all happens naturally. Trying to force it or make it happen, really doesn't work (in my opinion)"

    EXACTLY!! Therefore, what difference does time make?

  6. Oh and society is never ideal. It wasn't ideal in the Prophet (SAW) time either. If it was, we wouldn't need guidance, would we?

  7. Si, you're right you're right! I know so many males that have married "lovely, pious, praying" girls going through the traditional arranged route only to find out their wifey was a hardcore clubber drugger in disguise. Naturally, been a femme - I side with the femmes; I think they suffer more in a mismatch, I think generally males are better able to move on and recover and remarry etc...

    Time though is important for the girls - come on SI! You must recognise on some level that women are rushing into marriage left right and centre! You meet a potential and then your parents are asking you for a yes / no answer after visit 2 and visit 3 - rush rush - they want to know now now now! Probably people are even rejecting the loves of their lives because of this invisible clock putting pressure on them...

    Everyone I know (who is married and met their other halves in UK) met them at work / Uni or community centre. I currently don't know any UK born and raised that have successfully married through the arranged route. Many have tried - but to date - everyone seems to have found their partners largely by accident

  8. Look at us old women hijacking SS's blog! hahaha

    Jas - Honestly, hitting 29 in a couple of days time. In the past, timing has always been a big issue for me - I have rejected people who have rushed me. However, over the last year or so I've started taking more and more risks and I have a different mindset now. I know it may sound weird but I have the utmost faith and trust in Allah (swt) that whatever is meant to be is meant to be. Good or bad. So many things happening around me that I honestly think we spend too much time over analysing everything.

    If you meet someone, whether traditionally, or at work or wherever, if it's meant to happen, it will somehow. I totally believe in that. Totally.

    We spend ages looking for Mr/Mrs Right. Not sure it exists!

    Oh and my parents never rush me. They must be the most relaxed parents on the Earth :D

  9. Your parents sound wonderful - my grandparents (who did 50% of the raising) would invite a Mr over for tea. We'd sit in awkward silence for a bit and make chit chat, then they would leave and AS SOON AS THE DOOR CLOSED my nan would be like: "well?! Yes or no?" And I would be like..."I dont know the guy!" and she would huff and puff and call me difficult and picky so naturally I would have to say no. I mean, if I have to give an answer right here right now - naturally its going to be a no right? I was introduced to SO MANY GUYS whom I would have probably married but this whole say-yes-no-right-now thing just forced a negative.

    I agree that Mr / Mrs right doesn't exist - you know my situation more than anyone else SI (the bits that I don't blog!) and what I have learned is that true love is something you give - not something you find. If you are fortunate enough to find someone who can true love you back - then you will be happy. Of course, one has to be patient: it takes a while to get over the hiccups.

    All the looks and skills and attributes and deen in the world won't make a person love you or you love them.... when you are ready to love someone POP! they appear in front of you just like that ;0)

  10. @Jasmine you do realize that 'arranged marriage' and 'courting' are not synonymous nor can they be used in an interchangeable fashion, right? Whatever point you are trying to make is very difficult to understand when you seem to confuse the two.

  11. @Anon sorry if I am being unclear - my overall point is that trying to force a marriage through arranging or believing that there is a system to get you a happy marriage is a a false belief.

    In the end, everyone finds their marriage partner one way or another. The Prophet (pbuh) did not have an arranged marriage with his first wife - they met at work - and she proposed to him. And he loved her intensively. Their union just happened - he did not set out looking for her and she did not set out looking for him. He did not have a tick list and she did not have a tick list. Their paths crossed - and marriage occurred. It was very natural. They appreciated the good qualities in each other - it was a successful union, full of mutual love, support and appreciation.

    Allah puts your husband / wife in front of you, and then it is your job to obtain marriage from them in an honourable fashion (without the premarital relationship) - and marriage is an easy conclusion.

  12. I want you both to accept my apologies - I won't be able to be elaborate as I would like to be (lack of time) So I'll try my best to go into a few points you both raised.

    Jasmine - Generalise much?

    "I also think that the Islamic Courtship ritual leaves a lot of women open to dangers that they cannot foresee through the arranged marriage process"

    I think you have your terminologies mixed up. Courtship is a process. Arranged marriage is a means to meeting somebody which will differ in every nation and culture. Neither of these have any correlation to Islam, I fail to see the distinction and link you're trying to make.

    "a few meets under supervision is not really enough for the commitment of marriage."

    To me it sounds like you're talking from experience. In Islam there is no rules as to how many meets you can have.

    "At the same time as that - there is not really enough FREE time to devote to getting to know everyone as properly as one would like to. "

    How does this relate to courting or Islam? That a person's individual problem. It's common knowledge the time you invest in a project, the more you learn.

    "So I think there needs to be some kind of middle ground or middle way that we haven't quite discovered yet."

    I'd be interested to hear what this is? The courting process in Islam is easy. The people make it 'mare. Again, culture and lack of Islamic education/practice.

    "And what about the divorced people, how do they find a new mate? Or widowed people or older people who have no family (because they have migrated or passed away)"

    The same process as a single person? In fact it's easier because majority hold the opinion they don't need a (wali) guardian.

    I feel you've later answered your own questions. Really confusing Jasmine. Don't let your pro-feminism brigade blind common sense ;)

  13. SI - I've heard that forest gump approach somewhere, I cannot seem to nail where exactly! I think it was a speech by Mr Pausche at his farewell conference?

    Completely and utterly agree with most of what you said ombre.

    Btw you just had to rub in the NAK. Chirrrrpy :)

  14. Hey SoulSeek (great blog name by the way), I love the issue you've raised because to be honest I feel like I've been on both sides of the fence (not physically but mentally) and have to some half point (on the fence?).

    I am starting to lean to the more Islamic side of meeting someone appropriately and not dating them beforehand for a couple of years to decide. I don't think that you do need to meet or go out with someone before marrying them. If common sense dictates then look at this way:

    -You meet someone, date them for a few years you get on and you think OK I'll marry them- however, you haven't been with them in that kind of scenario, you don't get on and you fall out.

    So what difference has it made going out with them? I agree that it does seem odd to a lot of people to accept just having an arranged marriage but an ''arrangement'' doesn't neccesarily have to be mum/dad and mausi over tea? Does it?

    We may not have the traditional village style connections in the UK but we still have alliances and these can help with the ishtikara and stuff.

    At the moment I'm also writing a blog similar to yours and I've joined a muslim matrimonial website- the middle ground maybe? We'll see...

    If you'd like to visit its:

    thanks M&M

  15. Hey Assalamu Alaikum,

    Just observing the asian/muslim community whilst growing, I've seen the transformation its undertaken. Just as we've seen an influx in those turning to Islam.

    Granted we still have heck of struggle ahead of us but as a community we're starting to become more aware and we are touching unmarked territories.

    My point too. We know qadr dictates what's already written. The means we choose to accomplish that is either halaal or haraam. As are our provisions.

    From my understanding arranged introductions are family members introducing you to people they're already aware of. A family will generally only have (from their understanding) your best interest at heart. They opt for these methods because they feel comfortable with said families. How is this different to say your friends or colleague hooking you up with someone?

    There's a massive difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage. They are not synonymous and we need step away from relating it to Islam. I agree; if we have the option, it's worth exploring. Like all things in life, we have a choice. If it isn't what we're looking for - Walk away.

    Another quest blog on the scene.. Word. Welcome aboard. Enjoy your stay, it is a somewhat bumpy ride! ;)

  16. W/Salaam,

    Hi, I agree, forced and arranged are not synonymous, I don't think that. And I don't think friends/colleagues setting you up with someone is similar to family setting you up.

    However, I think that there should be some individual involvement in it. Especially if you feel that perhaps the suitors your family is finding for you aren't exactly..well...suited.

    I believe in what has been written and it makes total sense in terms of the system we should have in place. However, I believe that have a different way to put this system in place is needed, a more accessible system e.g. Muslim matrimonial bureaus and I believe some mosques even offer these services?

    Parents, family and friends can all be there to help you find your life partner/soul mate/Mr or Mrs Right whatever you want call him/her but don't you think its OK to extend their and your own horizons in the search for the above?


  17. One has to be involved in this decision. One would be irresponsible to do so otherwise.

    We've already adopted the blame culture so easily - We have to responsible for the decisions we make. Going into *the* biggest decision of your life with little/no input is wrong. It's selfish that somebody should make a decision that would affect another person. That's plain wrong.

    Across the UK many have identified/opened up services but it's no where near enough. More needs to be done. Much more. I believe we're the pinnacle in bringing this process together. We need get off our lazy backsides and do more. Bring more.

    Absolutely. But as per above, family/friends advice should be listened to but one should be responsible for making their own decisions.

  18. But what can a few Muslims do?...

    Its quite typical of Islamic services that they are so sparse and scattered, a few mosques, a couple of websites (which to be pretty seem don't seem to be delivering) and a couple of matrimonial meeting sites. Maybe its supply and demand, maybe you're right the blame culture has been taken up and now, fewer individuals are ready to take up the responsibility for the (excuse me *the*) most important decision of their lifes.

    I remember seeing a documentary on the bbc about Muslims trying to find love and it had a few girls who tried to visit these different matrimonial events only to be faced with a few guys and 80% girls. There seems to be a big correlation with guys* leaving it up to their parents to find any ol' girl from back home.

    (*above statement not over generalising to the male population).


  19. What can a few Muslims do?

    What can a few human beings do?

    I'll tell you exactly what they can do. Just a couple that popped into my mind.

    1. Muhammed (saw) - An unlettered man. Revolutionised the very fabric of mankind.

    2. Larry Page and Sergey Brinn - The emergence of Google revolutionised the digital era.

    You see where I'm going with this. Without digressing, we need stop this defeatist mentality as Muslims and human beings.

    I remember that documentary quite vividly. I see your generalisation but look further into the reasons. I can say the very same about Muslim women. Speaking for myself and many practising solid eligible Muslim bachelor's who have pursued many prospects yet the quality of Muslim girls that I've personally come across is shocking.

    With unrealistic expectations and a huge checklist with virtually nothing return. There's a reason why eligible men are going back home.

    It's sad. But it's the truth.

  20. Hey, sorry about the defeatism. Yes I agree, it was defeatist. I'm not usually a defeatist the poster on my door is a chinese proverb that usually drives my every day: ''the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step''.

    And yes, a single person is a strong force, one brain is enough to drive a whole mentality forward. I'm probably just bit tired and that's why my upbeat attitude missed a beat there.

    In regards to the documentary and your experience I second you there but (obviously) in terms of men. Maybe all the good men are going back home because all the ones I met are just very perculiar and (stealing your word)- shocking.


  21. SS - Too damn clever for your own good ;)

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