Dating with a religious background can sometimes be tricky to balance. For people raised in an Islamic culture, a very common question that we get is, “Are dating sites haram?”.
For a short explanation, it is absolutely haram. Islamic rules strictly forbids intimate relationships outside of marriage altogether, and by extension the use of all dating sites. However, the longer explanation might be a bit more complicated. Here are some of the rules surrounding dating as an Islam.
To be completely clear, if you are to follow the holy scriptures, it is not halal (permissible) to “date” in the western sense of the word. This is because of the connotations between Western dating and intimate relationships before marriage, which the Quran specifically rejects. Specifically, the Quran states that:
This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers. And whoever denies the faith – his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.
(Surah Maidah Chapter 5 verse 5)
While the Quran doesn’t mention Western dating specifically, it is clear that Allah does not want his followers to participate in the standard practices of Western dating. However, the scriptures only reference “sexual intercourse” and “taking secret lovers” as being haram (forbidden). Therefore, as a follower of Allah, you should not engage in any sexual activity outside of marriage. Furthermore, if you are “dating”, you should never keep it a secret from your parents or guardian as that would constitute “secret love”.
As you might have noticed, there can be alternative ways to see the Quran as Allah does not forbid friendship or love, but rather, he encourages it in a safe environment. Depending on how liberal your religious views may be, “sexual intercourse” can be interpreted differently. While some muslims choose to define “sexual intercourse” as only penetration, which allows for other intimate activities such as kissing and cuddling, others insist on the withdrawal of all intimate activities outside of marriage. Therefore, as a muslim it is your choice on where to draw the line between dating and religion.
It should however, be noted, that according to Allah, a proper relationship can only be initiated through marriage. In addition, the Quran makes it clear that a muslim must be transparent about his/her relationships with her parents/guardians:
No man is alone with a woman but the shaytaan is the third one present.
[Narrated by Ahmad, a2l-Tirmidhi and al-Haakim; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’ (2546)
Furthermore, while it is taboo in mainstream culture as well, cheating is especially problematic for muslims. Like most aged cultures, sexually impures acts such as prostitution and adultery are punishable by death, which would reflect on the attitudes of the muslims in your life. Thus, it is especially important to ensure that the relationship is something you want to commit to before starting:
And come not near unto fornication/adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way.
After considering the religious aspect of dating, muslims should be able to decide on their own about what is right or wrong. While the Quran can dictate what is halal or haram, one should always use his or her own common sense to decide whether or not something is right for them. While the Quran provides valuable insight into how a muslim should live his or her life, it also allows for interpretation, depending on how it is read.
In muslim culture, due to the widespread use of the religion, there are varying defenitions of “halal” dating. Some muslims argue that there is no such thing as halal dating, as muslims should be pure to Allah, and any form of sexual intimacy outside marriage is the work of the devil. However, the majority of muslims agree that there is some religious leniency on romantic relationships before marriage. The line has generally been drawn on these things:
- You may visit each other, but may not share a house. This is to protect you from committing any acts that are considered impure by Allah.
- You may hug and kiss, but cuddling and sexual intercourse are out of the question. Not only can these things cause complications, Allah considers these things to be mortal sins.
- You can plan and go on dinner dates by yourselves, but inform at least one other responsible adult. In addition, your parent/guardian should be aware of the relationship. This applies to non-muslim dates as well, since its for your own safety.
- You may not show any public signs of affection, especially when unmarried. This is strictly prohibited by the Quran.
Traditional Muslim Dating
As you may be well aware, the traditional way to meet and “date” your significant other in muslim culture is through arranged meetings and marriages. Generally, either a professional matchmaker or close relatives find families with members of the opposite sex and set up a meeting to “date” and choose whether or not to marry. This can often be awkward and controlling, so many modern muslim bachelors and bachelorettes are looking for a more liberal alternative. Thus, the modern phenomena of online dating and dating apps are often considered.
Online Dating and Dating Apps
This brings us to the recent movement of online dating, where dating-aged men and women resort to meeting people online through their own terms before going on a date. Many traditional muslims consider this approach to be too liberal and thus haram, which would likely translate to backlash on the dating app users. However, sites such as Salaam Swipe and our own OG Dating App (wink wink 😉 ) have started catering specifically to muslim needs and beliefs. For example, we will try to pair you up with someone with a similar muslim background and include additional safety features if necessary. Overall, while more traditional muslims would argue that Western dating is haram altogether, many modern muslims turn to modern methods of dating, provided that they still respect the boundaries of their religion.