The following article was written by Almarhum Professor Dr. Muhammad Al’ Mahdi. It is a well written piece in a very honest and relating manner. Even though he is not with us still his contribution to some aspects of Islamic education is priceless. May Allah Bless his soul and shower His infinite mercy on him. Alfatihah.
Getting Serious About Boy-Girl Relationships in Islam
My very dear young Muslim brothers and sisters I have something of extreme importance to talk to you about. I want to tell you some things about boy-girl relationships, sex, and marriage. I know these are very personal and delicate matters for discussion, but given how essential they are to your life, to the whole Muslim Ummah, and to the future of Islam as our way of life these are matters we must discuss. In Islam it has been made very clear as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable between males and females who are not married to each other, so if all was going well in this critical area of life I wouldn’t need to say anything; but, all is not going well. Please know what I am going to say to you I say only because I love Islam and I care so very much about the future safety, happiness, and success in the lives of all of you although we may have never met.
From what I have been reading, from what parents have been telling me, and from what has been confirmed in discussions with many young Muslim brothers and sisters from countries all across the world it has become clear that more and more young Muslims are not following the guidelines for relationships between boys and girls so clearly set out in Islam. What Islam says is right is easy to remember because we are told that before marriage there is to be virtually no contact at all between males and females. In today’s world, while still a minority, an increasing number of young Muslims are having relationships with members of the opposite sex that are clearly outside the limits set by Islam. These relationships beyond the limits of Islam range from seemingly innocent friendships, to boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, all the way to the complete sexual relationship that has been made right by Allah only for those who are married to each other.
Do you think Allah has said there should be virtually no relationship at all between unmarried males and females because He doesn’t want you to have fun? No, Allah has set the rules for right relationships between males and females because He knows for sure what is best for you as an individual and what is best for His Ummah. Allah wants you to have a good time and enjoy the wonderful pleasures of male-female relationships, including the sexual relationship, but He knows you can only experience the greatest joy, and suffer no harm, if you keep your relationships, particularly the sexual relationship, within the necessary guidelines of the right way of life He has given us.
Tough Times for Young Muslims
As you read this message I ask you to keep an open mind until you evaluate everything I have to say. In all parts of our lives we must be sure that what we get is worth what we have to pay. In something so tempting as sexual pleasure there are few who objectively weigh the full costs against those brief moments of gratification. By ‘sexual pleasure’ I mean all the aspects, including the emotional aspect, that lead up to the full expression of the sexual relationship. Allah has placed within both males and females an extremely strong desire to pair off as couples and eventually experience the full sexual relationship. So the feelings of desire for a close relationship with a member of the opposite sex you might be having are entirely natural as it is Allah’s Will that you feel those desires so strongly.
When we look at animal behaviour we see that animals take their sexual pleasure whenever and wherever they can. This is how Allah ensures the continued survival of their species. Never forget that human beings are not animals, so although we have bodies quite similar to animal bodies, and basic needs quite similar to the needs of animals, we relate to our bodies and our needs as beings who have had a God consciousness breathed into us by Allah when we were still in our mother’s womb. This special spiritual nature provides us with many wonderful benefits, but it also presents us with some very serious responsibilities.
These benefits and responsibilities show up quite clearly in relation to the desire for sexual pleasure placed within us by Allah. The benefit is that human beings can experience a level of sustained deep emotional bonding and sexual pleasure far beyond the ability of any animal, but the responsibility is to direct our sexual desires only in the manner set out as the right way of life for us by Allah. Sexual pleasure is only to be experienced between a man and woman married to each other; sometimes this is for the purpose of bringing new human spiritual beings into the world and sometimes it is to allow the ecstasy and the intimacy of the sexual relationship to bond the married man and woman together so strongly as a family, who will be able to raise a new generation of good and right Muslim children within that family, that they become invulnerable to the forces of evil that might attempt to tear the family unit apart.
Most young Muslims in the world today have been heavily influenced by a highly sexualized society around them which says, “Look at the many Western teens or non-Muslim teens in Islamic nations who know no rules except to experience as much pleasure as possible, and who don’t worry about the consequences.” It would be virtually impossible as a young Muslim teen to see the many hundreds of times when unmarried teens are portrayed as boyfriends and girlfriends enjoying the pleasures of sex in movies, songs, and stories from the entertainment of the Western world without having the thought cross your mind something like, “Hey, that looks like fun, if they are doing it why shouldn’t I do it too.” Well, I would like to make sure you know what comes along with what has been called “free sex,” because it turns out that sex isn’t free after all, and the cost is going to probably be much more than you would be willing to pay – if you knew what the true cost was.
First, what are the benefits? Well, you might get a relationship with member of the opposite sex that could take away some of the personal loneliness so common in today’s world; you might get to be seen by your peers (if they don’t know better) as someone who is modern and cool; you might feel you are breaking out of restrictions imposed on you by a religion and culture that you didn’t choose for yourself; you might feel not left out if many others around you are doing the same thing; it might make you feel better about yourself knowing someone ‘really’ likes you; and, of course there is the obvious fun and physical pleasure that naturally comes from experiencing the various aspects of the intimate and sexual relationship.
Some of those benefits result in the fulfillment of natural human desires, even if done wrongfully; but, some of those so-called benefits have been conditioned into your thinking against your will by the wrongful influences of the secular materialist society that exists outside the Muslim Ummah. If you ever find yourself experiencing envy of the ‘freedom’ and the lifestyle of the American teens as portrayed in the media please ask yourself this question and answer it honestly. “Who do you think is better equipped to make decisions about what is a right way to live, the average American teen who has never even heard of Allah and Islam, or you who are a Muslim teen who has been Blessed with the opportunity to at least know of Allah’s existence and to understand a little bit about the Islam He gave us as the right way of life? If you don’t know that you are much better qualified than the average godless, pleasure seeking American teen to know right from wrong then you had better start using that wonderful brain Allah put in your head a little better.
The Real Price of a Kiss
Now let me list some of the costs of those early intimate and sometimes sexual relationships experienced before you are married and it all becomes lawful to you. The list might seem a bit long, but that’s because the costs are many. Be honest in your judgment as you read of these costs and see if I am being fair and truthful with you in all that I say. I will be presenting the costs of relationships that have gone as far as full sexual behaviour, but even if you haven’t gone that far, which I pray you haven’t, many of these costs must be paid for the relationship whether there was sex or not. These costs are not being presented in any particular order I am just trying to make sure I don’t miss any costs because I do not want you, my very dear young Muslim brothers and sisters, to have to suffer the consequences of paying so much more in the future than you ever expected to pay for taking some forbidden but temporary pleasure now.
We will start with one of the really ugly costs, disease. Promiscuity (sleeping around) can lead to a wide range of very nasty diseases. The effects of these diseases can go from simple pain and discomfort, to disfigurement, to other lifelong diseases such as cancer, to the inability to have children, and even to painful lingering death. For example, did you know that females who have slept with three or more people over a lifetime are 15 times more likely to get cervical cancer than those who didn’t? Weigh these facts highly as you make decisions about relationships before marriage.
Another cost is divorce. In Islam it is expected a married couple will stay married forever and enjoy their family life till they die. This is the way Allah wants it to be for our greatest happiness. The reality is that couples who engage in sex before marriage are many times more likely to divorce.
This is a sad cost, adultery. The more relationships you have before marriage, the more likely you are to commit adultery after marriage, and so is the person you marry. No good marriage can tolerate adultery, adultery is certain to cause great unhappiness to the married couple and to destroy the good family life necessary for the development of a right society. But, isn’t it logical that if you don’t follow the rules about having sex before marriage that you are not very likely to follow the rules about having sex after marriage.
Many young Muslim girls never expected such things as unwed motherhood, unwanted children, and abortion to enter their lives, but those terrible things do sometimes happen when you have wrong relationships; they happen much more often than anyone wants to admit. Unwed pregnancy, how would you like to tell your parents about this one? Even worse, you would be bringing a child into the world and this child may be very unwanted, are you going to be able to care for this child and the sacred soul Allah has placed within that child? Or what about an abortion, not only is that likely to be committing a great sin, but you would be killing a new human being growing within you. Does it make you feel sad to think about this? It makes me sad.
Here are some depressing statistics about suicide. Sexually active boys are more than twice as likely to have depression and almost ten times more likely to attempt suicide than boys who wait until marriage. Teenage girls who have premarital sex are three times more likely to have depression than girls who aren’t sexually active. Also, teenage girls who are sexually active are about three times more likely to attempt suicide than those who aren’t sexually active. See what I mean about being depressing?
You could end up being a (well I won’t say that word), let’s just say you could end up being very promiscuous. What did you expect? The decision to have sex the first time is probably the hardest, but once you have done it I’m sure it must get easier to do the second time, and third, and forth, and so on until you are no longer counting. Oh please don’t get to that point. By the way, know for sure what I am saying here applies to boys just as much as to girls. Islam is about equality and boys and girls are most definitely equally responsible to keep themselves away from wrong relationships and pure for marriage.
So you only did it because you were totally sure you were going to marry him or her, so why wait. Too bad; statistics show people who have sex with each other before marriage usually don’t end up marrying each other.
Some people believe that you have to have lots of practice to get good at sex and if you are not already good at sex before you marry you will have a second rate love life when married. Well, contrary to that popular belief, studies show those who do choose to wait for sex until marriage are not doomed to a second-class sex life at all. Instead they usually have significantly higher levels of sexual satisfaction and marital contentment. I guess nothing is so romantic and erotic as having a marriage partner who has never experienced those most intimate moments with anyone but you. Seems reasonable to me!
Some people say sex isn’t really a big deal; people just make a big deal about it. They would say that having a ‘wrong’ sexual relationship isn’t a very wrong thing to do, if wrong at all it is just a tiny wrong. Well personally I trust the word of Allah not the opinion of some teen boy or girl with highly active hormones affecting their judgment. This is what Allah has to say about fornication (the technically correct name for illegal sexual intercourse). “Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred, except for just cause, nor commit fornication; and any that does this (not only) meets punishment (but) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy.” (Al-Furqan, 25:68-69). In this verse from the Qur’an, the sin of fornication is given its seriousness by being ranked as follows: the most major sin of all is associating partners with Allah Most High (shirk); the second most major sin is murder; and the third most major sin is fornication. And if you are interested in what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to say about fornication we have this, “The one who commits illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer at the time of committing illegal sexual intercourse.” I would say wrong sexual intercourse is not some small wrong, but is actually a very, very major wrong. Don’t forget, the crime of zina (illegal sexual intercourse) is one of the very few offences that Allah has considered so important that He has prescribed a specific punishment, in this case it was, and still is, one hundred strokes of the cane.
Then there are those who want to say sex can’t be wrong because it is so much fun, and anything that is as much fun as sex couldn’t possibly be wrong. Well, I have to say that fun is most definitely not a good measure of what is right or wrong. Do you think that shaitan (Satan) is going to try to lead you away from the path of goodness and right by offering only things you don’t like? No, of course he is going to make going against the Will of Allah seem like fun. Shaitan tries to prevent people from knowing and accepting Allah’s truth and gaining eternity in Paradise by distracting them with sin that is fun. For those who are Muslim, he will attempt to turn them away from Allah. One method shaitan uses quite successfully is to make people feel unworthy because of the sin they committed to have fun. Once you feel unworthy of Allah it is much easier to turn away from Him.
There are still others who want to claim sex can’t be wrong because it is natural (and of course sex is natural, but for humans only when done rightly, which means in the beautiful marriage relationship). To prove that all sex is natural, they give examples of wild animals, like monkeys, who have all kinds of sex all over the place with no inhibitions. They attempt to degrade human beings to the level of wild animals, and then justify their deeds by finding examples of free sexual behaviour in the animal world. They are, in the Qur’anic expression, “like cattle, nay they are more astray; they are the heedless ones.” (Al A’araf 7: 179). One of the purposes of Islam is to establish that we are not animals, and to put us on the right path so that we will not behave like animals. This certainly weakens the “all sex is natural because animals do it” argument. And, wouldn’t you rather act like a God-centered, spiritual human being than an animal? I know I would.
Sometimes young Muslims, who sincerely do not intend to stray from the right path as far as having a sexual relationship, justify their boyfriend/girlfriend relationships by this noble intention of abstinence. Unfortunately studies have shown that the more time a couple spends alone together, the more likely they are to wind up in bed! And that is true even if they begin with the firmest intention of abstinence. Best not to believe you can resist temptation if you are given too much opportunity.
Do you think you can be involved in a wrong boy and girl relationship, particularly if it includes sex, and keep being a good Muslim? Can you pray and fast with sincerity and carry on an unlawful sexual relationship? I think that might not be possible. Going against the Will of Allah in a matter so important as sex means that you will be more likely to go against the Will of Allah in other matters also, possibly eventually leaving Islam. How terrible for your life, how terrible for the whole Muslim Ummah, we could possibly lose the benefits of Islam for the whole world just because some could not wait for the pleasures of sex until it is made right for them after marriage. What a huge price to pay.
Then of course there is the price you could end up paying for eternity. What if on Judgment Day the price you must pay for your wrong relationships and unlawful sexual behaviour is that you are sent to Hellfire instead of to Paradise? Some young Muslims give little thought to Judgment Day, but we know Judgment Day is certain and everything will happen exactly the way we have been told by Allah through revelation. Consider how you would feel then. It would indeed be an awesome mistake to not take this possibility with all the necessary seriousness.
This list could go on forever so I will make this the last, but it involves something so very special, so very precious, that even without all the other costs this one alone makes wrong relationships between boys and girls, young men and young women, far too high a price to pay. This cost involves the relationship between husband and wife in marriage. InshaAllah, you will be married for a very long time and of course you want that married relationship to be very special and very wonderful in every way. But the reality is that any relationships you have with members of the opposite sex before marriage chip away some of what should make the relationship between husband and wife so exquisitely special. Allah wanted to make the marriage relationship so very special that married couples would care so deeply for each other that neither partner would ever want to stray through adultery or separate through divorce. It should be the most wonderful worldly relationship possible. The more a married couple has to share exclusively between themselves, the more special and unique the relationship, in particular the sexual relationship, in a marriage becomes. So the reason that relationships before marriage make your husband or wife less special to you is that to some degree whatever has been done with others before makes your marriage partner just one more in the line of persons who have shared that part of the relationship with you which should have been held as a trust for the one you marry. By not waiting for that special moment when you first marry you make that special moment no longer special. This is true of all aspects of relationships before marriage, but it is of particular importance for that most special of all parts of the marriage relationship, the sexual part. Sex is a precious gift from Allah. This gift can only be given away for the first time once. Wouldn’t this be a great gift for that one person who will be with you for the rest of your life?
I hope from this discussion of boy-girl relationships before marriage you are now better able to weigh what you get objectively against how much you have to give. Be honest with yourself, can you really say it is worth it? It seems the benefits of waiting until marriage are so great that no other possible choice should be possible.
Beyond the Limits – Allah’s Mercy Awaits You
Because some of you who read this may have already gone beyond what is right in Islam, I don’t want to scare you into believing that now you have no chance at all for a happy, successful marriage. A good marriage is still possible, but sadly, less likely. So if you have already lost the opportunity to make your marriage the most special it could possibly be by waiting to partake in the rights of marriage, then you should immediately begin doing what ever you can to make your chances for a successful marriage as good as possible. You should of course, no matter what has happened so far, repent sincerely to Allah, and promise Him and yourself with total sincerity that you will do all you can from this point on to steal no more from the ‘special’ nature of your future marriage. And, you should be prepared after marriage to treat the one you marry with an extra degree of love, tenderness, and kindness far beyond anything you have ever experienced before.
Please know that I have absolutely no doubt that the limits of boy-girl relationships before marriage set by Allah are correct and offer by far the best way to ensure a happy and successful marriage. But, I understand very well the pressures of the modern world, and pressures from peers, upon young Muslims, so I am going to do something I wish I did not have to do. I am going to suggest, for those who for whatever reason can not or will not follow the way of life Allah has made lawful for you, an alternative that, while not right, will still protect you and your future marriage from the most severe effects of the harm that could come from wrong relationships.
First let me suggest a common pattern of how boy-girl relationships can get started and how they can go so wrong. In almost everything we do we don’t jump right in at the final behaviour in its fullness, we move in a series of small steps. Possible likely steps in the development of a wrong relationship could be as follows: you see someone of the opposite sex at school that you feel some attraction to; one day you smile at that person; next you might say hello to the one you like; then you might start talking regularly with that person; then you might let the person know you like them; then you might become good friends; then you might become sort of a couple; then you might arrange a date; then you might become boyfriend and girlfriend; then you might arrange to meet alone somewhere; you might hold hands; you might hug and kiss; the kissing might become more intimate; there might be some wrong touching, sexual but not yet intercourse; then you might end up going all the way to illegal sexual intercourse; then you might do it again and again, maybe changing partners; then you might begin to suffer the most harmful of consequences. It makes me very sad to think this could happen to any of my very dear young Muslim brothers and sisters, but I am sure you know it is happening to some.
I really badly don’t want your lives ruined by this increasingly common pattern of behaviours that lead to the most wrong of boy-girl relationships. So I offer the following as a suggestion to those who for whatever reason choose not to live according to the Will of Allah. To those wonderful young Muslims who have been, and are, able to follow rightly the commands of Allah I am indeed most pleased and may Allah give you extra Blessings. You do not need what I am about to suggest, just continue to live Islam in its purest form.
A Dangerous Suggestion
For those who still choose to stray from Allah’s commands, I say this to you; take some of the pleasure of the boy-girl relationship, but do not take so much that it harms you in the worst ways. To do this you have to set some limit as to how far you will go in the wrong boy-girl relationship. As I look at the likely steps in the progression of relationships I see that there is a natural point where the risk of harm, particularly leading to the greatest harm, becomes clear. In that progressive sequence in the development of wrong relationships the point where you become at risk of greatest harm is when you agree to meet and be alone. Remember earlier in this discussion, “studies have shown that the more time a couple spends alone together, the more likely they are to wind up in bed.”
What I am suggesting is that if you cannot or are not willing to do what is right and best then at least keep to a limit that will minimize the harm to you and to your future marriage. If you set the absolute limit at only those parts of the boy-girl relationship that can take place if you are never ever to be alone together you can still have quite a bit of the fun and pleasure of having as a friend a member of the opposite sex you like a lot, talking to them, and even being some sort of couple. Actually this is a lot. The fact that many of our wonderful young Muslims, who have friendships with a member of the opposite sex, do sincerely have the intention of abstinence makes the commitment to never be alone together all the more likely to be effective. Still you are stealing some part of what is special and should ideally be held only until after marriage, but you are retaining the most intimately precious parts until they can be experienced rightly with the one you marry.
Remember, this can only work if that limit of never being alone together is totally absolute. To make sure this limit is never passed it must be understood that no person in the relationship would ever even suggest in any manner at all to the other that they should meet in a way that allows them to be alone together. Make sure right from the beginning that the person you like understands how strongly you feel about this matter, and that they feel the same. If your friend were even to suggest meeting alone this should be sufficient evidence that the person you liked is not a right person to have a relationship with; and, you should be completely willing to end a relationship with anyone who would care so little about harming you and your whole future just to satisfy their selfish needs. For this plan to work it is critical that the Ummah around you, your Muslim peers, feel so deeply concerned about this matter that they would not only look very unfavourably on those who chose to be alone together, but also on anyone who would even suggest being alone together. This has to become an unbreakably strong social taboo. All must understand that, “No, it is NOT cool!”
What I have suggested is clearly not right according to Islam, but I feel the circumstances of today’s world require me to offer you an alternative that is outside the limits of Allah’s command. I do this in hopes that by offering this alternative to a greater wrong you can be protected against the greatest harm, and that this can be an early step in the progression toward a future Muslim Ummah where no alternatives are needed and ALL young Muslims fully follow Islam, the way of life made right for us by Allah. So if you decide against the command of Allah to still have a boyfriend or girlfriend but never ever be alone together don’t do it thinking what you are doing is right, do it knowing what you are doing is still wrong; and, plan to do what is the right Islamic way as soon as your iman (faith and pious desire to do what is right) is ready for that change. Do it only because you know a small harm is better than a great harm, while no harm at all is always the very best.
The Path to Paradise?
Because feelings of love and desire are so strong more acknowledgement must be given to the powerful need to be part of a couple that is being felt by both young Muslim boys and girls. No one should doubt that these feelings are very real and completely natural; by natural I mean Allah has placed those feelings within all human beings. Allah has prepared boys and girls both physically and mentally to be ready to bond as a permanent couple through marriage with a member of the opposite sex at quite a young age. That age is probably about 16-18 years old.
Please do not misunderstand, I am not by any means saying that all or even most young Muslims who fall into that young age range are emotionally ready for marriage. I am saying that under the right circumstances virtually all could be ready; but, in today’s world I would say very few are actually emotionally ready. This presents a significant problem for young Muslims because in most nations of the developed world, and increasingly in the developing world, the average age for marriage has now become about 25-30 years old. This means that after Allah has prepared you for love and marriage you might have to wait another ten or fifteen more years to partake of those most wonderful pleasures.
Waiting ten or more years after you have been made ready for a loving relationship with a member of the opposite sex to finally experience that relationship is an awesome task to contemplate. This alone might be one of the many reasons some young Muslims today are finding it so difficult to obey the limits placed by Allah and end up in boy-girl relationships beyond that which is known to be right. How hard it must be in today’s pleasure oriented world to live conscientiously by what Allah has said is right for all those years while feeling the powerful natural desires for love He has placed within you. This effort would be made even more difficult by knowing that many of the world’s non-Muslim youth are uncaringly partaking of these pleasures, and even some of your Muslim friends and peers might have boyfriends and girlfriends.
Young Muslims for over a thousand years had been able to resist the temptations of a relationship with the opposite sex beyond the limits set by Allah. To understand why that was so we must understand how all aspects of human consciousness and behaviour are conditioned by the influences of the environment we grow up in. In the past the temptation of a loving relationship with a member of the opposite sex before marriage, while still alluring, was combined with a wide range of very powerful social influences almost invariably saying that to have any relationship with a member of the opposite sex outside of marriage was so terribly and intolerably wrong that it would be virtually inconceivable to do such a thing. In today’s increasingly Godless world the temptation of a loving relationship with a member of the opposite sex before marriage has virtually none of those very powerful social influences saying that to have any relationship with a member of the opposite sex outside of marriage is terribly and intolerably wrong, but today’s secular world does provide an untold number of seemingly plausible reasons, justifications, and inducements encouraging young Muslims to indulge in just such wrongful boy-girl relationships.
Given these are the realities our dear Muslim youth face today I am going to make one more suggestion that could help keep the wondrously beautiful institution of marriage pure and innocent as Allah intended. I am relieved to say that this suggestion is well within the limits placed by Allah, although it is not within the prevailing cultural practices of the modern world. Since Allah has prepared young Muslims for love and marriage at a very young age, and for much of the history of Islam marriage has taken place at a young age, maybe we should return to that practice today. If Allah prepares us for marriage at a young age doesn’t it seem right we should marry at a young age? If young Muslims only had to wait a year or two after the time that Allah prepared them mentally and physically for marriage, rather than to wait the seemingly interminable ten to fifteen years that modern culture dictates, might not virtually all Muslim youth be willing and able to restrain themselves from coupling until that intimate love is made right for them by marriage?
My dear young Muslim brothers and sisters, upon reading this suggestion please do not rush out planning to get married at a very tender age. To make early marriage work will be no easy task. At the time when Muslims married at a young age we had a much more right Islamic society for those marriages to flourish in. The social conditions and influences in today’s world are definitely aligned against successful young marriage. If we wish to reintroduce marriage at an early age for young Muslims we must do everything we can to ensure a society conducive to making those youthful marriages successful.
Making the Impossible Possible
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could resolve the problem of young Muslims straying from what Allah has allowed in relationships with the opposite sex by simply reintroducing youthful marriage, which has traditionally been accepted within Islam? I have thought long and hard over this matter and I have not been able to come up with any other viable solution to the multifaceted problem of Muslim youth disobeying the command of Allah to participate in wrongful relationships with the opposite sex other than reinstituting early marriage as the norm within our ummah.
If we are going to suggest early marriage as the solution to the relationship difficulties facing Muslim youth then we must do everything within our power to help ensure the success of those early marriages. I see two important hurdles which must be overcome in order to give early Muslim marriages any real chance for success. There will be other difficulties to be sure, but if we can find a solution for these two then we will be well on our way toward making happy and successful early marriage among Muslim youth an achievable accomplishment. The first prerequisite for success will be to find some way to make sure that young Muslims make the right choice of a marriage partner. The second precondition for success would be to find some way to make sure that the young Muslim married couples do not succumb to the tremendous burden of financial stress during those delightful but fragile beginning stages of married life.
We must get over the widely accepted idea that so-called ‘love marriages’ are somehow more desirable than marriages arranged for good Islamic purposes. That is a completely untrue belief that has been wrongly conditioned into the minds of many young Muslims by the powerful influences of a Godless decadent culture. Young Muslims must come to realize the full meaning and deep truths behind the much repeated cliché, ‘love is blind’. Most young Muslims would have no idea at all how incredibly and exceedingly blind love can be. When the heart experiences love the eyes and the mind can become totally oblivious to the most obvious of faults.
Although arranged marriages have recently fallen well out of fashion, they really did have a lot going for them. There is no question of the reality that arranged marriages have generally been happier, more successful, and long lasting. There are many logical reasons for this. First and foremost among the reasons is the obvious fact that parents will have a much more objective perception of the overall suitability of the prospective marriage partner for their son or daughter. Even if modern Muslim youth do not want to give their parents complete responsibility for choosing a good marriage partner for them, they should at least have a wholehearted acceptance of the fact that they must never marry the person they choose for themselves without the unqualified approval of their parents. To refuse their parents full right of approval would indeed be to court disaster.
The other crucially important circumstance that must be taken into consideration is the financial situation. In many cases youth in their late teens will either be going on for further education or they will not be able to have access to employment that provides sufficiently for the financial needs of the young married couple. It is only right if we want to successfully reintroduce marriage at a young age that Muslim parents, relatives, and Islamic society all be prepared with a generous, loving heart to help the young married couples financially to the degree that money never becomes a hindrance to a happy and successful marriage.
If done rightly and with sincerity the return to youthful marriage within our Muslim Ummah could provide other benefits besides helping to ensure right relationships and loving marriage for future generations. It could help reinforce the traditionally strong Muslim family relationships as generations work together helping their children have happy and successful marriages. It could vastly increase the feeling of love and appreciation by Muslim youth for their parents and their extended family relationships. It could bring the attention of our ummah to the fact that the original practices of Islamic life according to the limits set by Allah are indeed still the very best way to live, even in the hectic modern world. It might motivate our Muslim Ummah to work ever harder to help transform the very wrong society of today’s world into a much more right Islamic society as we attempt to provide the best possible social environment that can nurture our most dear Muslim youth as they strive to have happy and successful Islamic marriages. And importantly, it could help protect young Muslims, during the often perilous university years, from harmful social influence and participation in wrong activities, and at the same time it would likely focus their minds more fully on their studies, their family, and their future.
All’s Well That Ends Well
It is my prayer that in this short, but reasonably insightful, discussion of boy-girl relationships, sexual behaviour, and marriage that I have been able to help you make right decisions in this most important area of your life. Please do not ever do something that can hurt you in a way that you can never fully recover from. I love all of you and care about all of you so very much that any harm that comes to you or your life hurts me also. You very dear young Muslims are the future of the Ummah; you are the future of Islam in our world. By following Allah’s commands you can now help ensure a wonderful married life for yourself and your future family, and at the same time you can be part of a new generation of Muslims who refuse the worldly influences that take so many from the beauty and rightness of Islam and do your part to make right all the wrongs of the world. The world of the future can be a virtual Paradise on Earth. This is the destiny offered us by Allah.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad al’Mahdi
(December, 2005 – revised January, 2006)
Note: I have received a lot of feedback about this article on boy-girl relationships in Islam from young Muslims all over the world since I released the final draft of the original only a month ago. Virtually all of that feedback was extremely positive. Many though suggested I include more information on certain aspects of the original article, and some suggested I add new information on matters I failed to mention in the original article. These suggestions were so wise, so useful, and I consider the issue of boy-girl relationships among young Muslims of such great importance that I have prepared this revised edition of the original document.