Intimacy After Engagement


A group of six twenty-year-old girls is sitting huddled together on the campus cafeteria stairs. They are all listening intently to one of the girls, as she describes the scene at her parents’ drawing room the night before.

“I entered with the tray of drinks. I was so nervous! As I stood in front of him with the tray…”, she pauses for effect, holding out her hand, displaying the sparkling rock on her finger.

There is a ripple of excited giggles, as the other girls inch in closer.

“He looked up at me! As he stretched out his hand to take the drink, our eyes met for a few seconds…”


Most people wistfully look back at their twenties as a time of youthful exuberance, carefree leisure, nouveau ambition, and as the time when physical health and good looks are at their peak.

Still, I’d guess that very few adults miss the anxiety and social pressure related to the marriage proposal process that starts in the twenties, entailing (for most) months or even years of earnest prayers coupled with frantic searches to find their other half.

I can still recall the confusion, anxiety, and stress related to marriage proposals during my early twenties. Finding a suitable spouse nowadays is still not an easy matter for single young men and women.

Youthful Dreams of the Future

No one wants to end up alone in life. Whether one begins to desire marriage during their teens, twenties, or thirties, the dreams and fantasies of a happily-married future commence almost as soon as a young Muslim hits adulthood.

As university or college graduation approaches or passes by, many a young Muslim adult finds him/herself fantasizing about romance, love, and marriage. Their hormone-fueled desires reach a peak as they hit the two-decade mark, and notwithstanding their career-related ambitions, seeking a spouse to settle down in blissful matrimony is a goal that fast begins to dominate their list of priorities.

Destination Within Sight, Entrance Forbidden

Let’s just bypass the whole Rishta (proposal) process for the sake of this article, much as I am tempted to comment on it, and assume that after much anticipation, prayers, networking efforts, awkward drawing room ‘interviews’, innumerable phone calls/Skype sessions, or even a couple of desperation-fueled Umrahs, a young singleton finally gets engaged with their parents’ consent and approval and is very happy and at peace with the decision.

As if the test of spending years praying for and using all practical means to seek a righteous spouse wasn’t enough, the next trial now begins.

This trial is yet another test of patience for any engaged couple who fears Allah (swt) and wants to abide by His commands, laws, and prohibitions, regarding their mutual interactions (or lack thereof).

If an analogy were to make the matter clearer, just imagine placing a large dish full of delicious food in front of a person who has been starving, and ask them to refrain from eating it.

Imagine what that would feel like!

Parents and Families Causing Undue Delays

Depending on the level of religious practice in every family, the difficulty or ease of the engagement period varies.

The commonly witnessed trend is that the more freely a couple interacts with each other before the Nikah, the more difficult it is for them to wait for the marriage, and the more prone they are to misunderstandings in the interim.

Sadly, many engagements break because of misunderstandings during this extended period.

As for the parents of an engaged couple, most tend to completely forget the intensity and awkwardness of unsatisfied sexual desires during youth. They tend to focus primarily on the practicalities related to the wedding and preparations for the parties/functions.

Many parents also tend to give undue importance to the participation/presence of close and distant relatives at the wedding, which causes further delays in the engaged couple’s Nikah.

In short, the longer the engagement, the greater the difficulty for the engaged couple.

What Does the Shariah Say About Talking to a Fiancée?

Islam is very clear about the allowed level of communication, frankness, and social mingling between men and women who are non-Mahrams.

All in-person, verbal, and written interactions between non-Mahrams should be need-based and restricted to a minimum. They should be carried out in a business-like and dignified manner, sans joking, laughing, teasing, and flirting.

Before the Nikah, even if two singles are betrothed, they are still non-Mahrams for each other, and are hence required to refrain from interacting freely.

“Before the marriage contract is done, the fiancé does not have the right to speak words of affection to his fiancé or to hold her hand because he is still a “stranger” (non-Mahram) to her and is like any other non-Mahram man. No one should take this matter lightly.” (IslamQA)

The above excerpt is from a Shafi source. Below, is one from a Hanafi source:

“And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse.” (Al-Isra 17:32) “Shariah only gives a person permission to see a prospective spouse once. Any further contact after this initial sighting is impermissible, let alone keeping in touch by calling and texting each other.” (]

Engaged couples are, therefore, not allowed by Allah (swt) to go out on dates, talk on the phone, Skype/email each other without necessity, or send each other text messages.

Even meetings in the homes of their parents, with others present in the same room, are discouraged, if these will lead to freer interaction, gazing at each other or other forbidden actions.

Conclusion: Err on the Side of Caution 

The cases of engaged couples that I personally know of, who have transgressed the boundaries set by Islam in their interactions before Nikah, are so many that I cannot count. Almost all cases commence with ‘innocent’ phone calls encouraged by their parents. These calls lead to the desire to meet more often in person. When the latter happens, even inside the drawing rooms of parents’ homes, physical touching is not long to follow. All of these actions count as footsteps towards Zina (adultery).

I therefore urge all parents to not delay their wards’ Nikah once they have found the person to marry them off to, and to not give more importance to the nitty-gritty of elaborate wedding functions, overpriced dresses, jewellery, and guest lists than their child’s Akhirah.

Sacrifice – Leaving Something at the Cost of Another



  1. Spend from what is beloved: Make a part of your routine to spend a portion of your wealth, even if it is a small one, for Allah (swt). “By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness), unless you spend (in Allah’s cause) of that which you love.” (Al-Imran 3:92) Cut down on one dress or the new mobile model and spend in charity or an Islamic book or the like. Take advantage of the time when spending is easier so that giving up when it is harder would not be as difficult.
  2. Volunteer: Engage in volunteer work that may help you attain the pleasure of Allah (swt). Volunteering demands time and effort and trains you to be committed to a cause without the expectation of material/monetary returns. It is the Sadaqah of your health and resources. Whatever capability you have, whether it is teaching, writing, graphic designing, etc., use your skills for the benefit of the Ummah.
  3. Productive habits: A Mumin is someone living a purposeful life – he does not merely drift wherever the tide takes him. Set some attainable weekly goals for yourself. How much time will I dedicate for learning the Quran and seeking Islamic knowledge? What Adhkar will I add to my daily routine? Take the pain to attain these small goals – part with a little sleep, a little procrastination, and some of your desires and, you will see that with time, giving up for Allah (swt) will become a habit.
  4. Prioritize your brothers/sisters: “None of you will believe unless you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” (Bukhari, Muslim) This is a golden rule that can solve many problems in our individual and collective lives. If we love that no one rebukes us and talks ill about us, then we should love the same for our brothers/sisters. If we love that we have the best that money can buy, then we should also remember those who cannot even afford a meal a day. If we love safety, we should remember those having to live under constant bombardments. This love should not just be lip service – if it comes from the heart, it will enable you to act upon those feelings for the benefit of those in need. Rein in your Nafs by putting yourself in others’ shoes.
  5. Keep an eye on the prize: Hook yourself to the remembrance of the afterlife and the high price Allah (swt) is paying for all that you are sacrificing for His sake: Jannah, the everlasting (Tawbah 9:111). “A place in Paradise as small as the bow or lash of one of you is better than the entire world and whatever is in it.” (Bukhari)

A Letter from Dr. Farhat Hashmi to Mothers


It was after listening to a lecture from the “Dawa-e-Shafi” series by Ustazah Dr. Farhat Hashmi that I decided to write to her. The lecture was related to homosexuality. My motive for writing was the sake of a grieved mother, a student of mine, who had recently discovered that her 22-year-old son is gay. Ever since her discovery, she had been trying to figure out a way to guide her son away from this act of immorality out of concern for his salvation.

With Ustazah’s permission, I would like to share what she wrote in response to my letter:

Wa Alaikum Assalaam Wa Rahmatullah,

It is very painful indeed to see children caught up in such acts, especially for mothers who at times are so helpless that they go into a state of despair and depression. Very often mothers approach me with various disturbing issues concerning their children. This has continuously played on my mind as to how these children can be helped and their mothers consoled.

It made me reflect as to why children suddenly take a turn towards the wrong; maybe they are seeking attention or are involved in the wrong company; maybe they are watching movies or wrongfully using the internet; maybe some major change in their lives has made them emotionally and spiritually weak; or maybe they were hurt by someone and the negative feelings were building up inside of them. There could be a number of reasons but what is the solution?

A mother generally faces many challenges and obstacles, when dealing with her children. This in and of itself is a learning experience and an adjusting process for both the mother and her child. No great change happens overnight. It is a slow and painful process. Being a mother of four as well as a ‘mother’ to so many students and their children has, Alhumdulillah, enabled me to learn a lot. I wish to share with you what I have observed, learned, and understood.

When faced with such an untoward or unfavourable situation, what should we do? How should we react? Below are some of my very humble suggestions:

  1. Turn to Allah (swt). Offer extra prayers especially at the time of Tahajjud, seeking Allah’s (swt) help and guidance. Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer)…” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)
  2.  Make Dua. Especially when you unexpectedly wake up at night, make Dua, because that is the time of acceptance. Recite: “La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa huwa ala kulli shai’in qadeer. Alhumdulillahi wa subhan Allahi wa la ilaha illa Allahu wallahu akbar wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billahil aliyil adheem.” And make your Dua.(Bukhari)
  3. Continuously seek forgiveness.This is a solution to the problems of this world.It is related that a man came to al-Hasan al-Basri and complained to him of poverty. He said to him: “Ask forgiveness of Allah (swt).” Another man came to him, complaining that he did not have any children. So he said to him: “Ask forgiveness of Allah (swt).” A third man came to him, complaining of the barrenness of his garden. So he said to him: “Ask forgiveness of Allah.”
  4. Give in charity.Allah (swt) will give to you. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Allah (swt) said: ‘Spend, son of Adam, and I shall spend on you.’” (Bukhari and Muslim) Sadaqah gives protection against all kinds of evil. Sadaqah wards off affliction in this world and punishment on the Judgment Day.
  5. Turn your attention to the situation at hand and rationalize. Reflect upon your routine and your child’s routine. Are you spending enough time with your child and is it quality time? If not, then set aside a portion of your day for your child – just you and your child. Sit with him. Talk to him. Even if your child is busy with something else, be present for them. Be around. Be available. So that when they need you, you are there.
  6. Bond with them.Take them where they would like to go. Do things they like to do, while keeping within the limits of the religion.
  7. Travel together. If possible, travel to another city or country for a short duration (e.g., a month or two) just so that you are alone with your child – only you and your child. No siblings, no one else. This will give you a chance to bond with and understand your child.
  8. Listen.Listen. Listen some more to them. Make them feel important and that you care for them. Be a friend.
  9. Trust them and keep them in your trust. Do not discuss your child’s problems or behavior with others, especially in front of your child. This can have a negative impact on the child and, in some cases, may also lead to severe retaliation.
  10. Be positive.Avoid a negative reaction and always speak positively. Acknowledge the good that they are engaged in and encourage them.
  11. Try to offer prayers in different Masajid. No matter where you are and what you are doing, instill in them the importance of prayer. Visiting different Masajid, even if it happens to be in a mall, will help to keep them focused.
  12. If needed, change your child’s circle of friends, because a person is known by who he befriends.The Prophet (sa) said: “A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.” (Abu Dawud)
  13. Introduce them to good company. Introduce them to youth engaged in welfare work. Also, look out for gatherings where they can learn from the company of knowledgeable and experienced people.
  14. Again I will say: Duas. Continue making Dua to Allah (swt) for help and guidance. Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad (sa)) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Insha’Allah, with the help of Allah (swt), you will see your child confiding in you slowly and gradually. You will see them turning towards the right path, even if very slowly. In the process, do not make them conscious about this change but at the right moments show your appreciation for their efforts.

I do hope that the above will be a source of support and guidance. May Allah (swt) make all children a coolness of their parents’ eyes. Ameen.