Thanks for your question! I want to start off by saying that I am not a religious scholar, and so I can’t really determine what is halal and haram, but I will do my best to answer your question as best I can. For a relationship to be halal, or Islamically permissible, it has to be done with the knowledge and consent of both of your families, and usually with a third-wheeling tagging along until the official kateb ktab or marriage contract is signed.
But of course, that can be intimidating for young adults to do right off of the bat, when they aren’t even sure if the other person is worth committing to or introducing to their families. In reality, many Muslims use social media or Muslim dating apps like MuzMatch and Minder to find people that could be compatible and to get to know each other other online before taking that next step of meeting each other’s families. Halal dating in this case would mean sticking to a PG-level of interaction that doesn’t involve any inappropriate talk, photos, or physical contact.
I personally think that, if you know yourself, and are sure that you can set, maintain boundaries, and keep the conversations “halal,” no matter how strong your feelings/desires become, then I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
But the tough part is, you won’t really know how strong you can be unless you actually go through it. It can be easier said than done when those feelings and desires actually kick. A seemingly innocent, halal relationship can quickly turn haram if you aren’t careful, ready, or strong enough to stand your ground when things get more intense and even uncomfortable.
So, I think having that confidence in yourself and the strong willpower to make rational decisions and resist your emotional and physical desires come with maturity as well as a strong faith. If you don’t have a relationship with Islam, God, or yourself, then I would suggest taking the time to build those relationships before attempting to get into one with another person.
Because at the end of the day, halal dating isn’t about having fun or doing things just for the experience. It’s done with the pure intentions of marriage in mind, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. For it to really be halal, your moral principles and devotion to God should be at the center of every decision, every step, and everything you do. And even who you choose.
You should know what you want in a partner and in life, and should be confident to share your values, expectations, as well as hard no’s from the get-go. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that halal dating can’t be fun, but that fun comes with great responsibility and accountability. If something doesn’t sit well with your conscience, or you question whether it’s bordering on haram, or could lead to something haram, then it’s probably best to avoid it.
And I am sorry girl, I hate to have to pull the gender card, but we have to be real with ourselves in this type of situation, and recognize that we will always have more at stake than men. So, whether you meet someone online, or through family and friends, make sure to ask around, ask the right questions, and most importantly, be careful.
Never overlook red flags–even yellow flags for that matter (and by that I mean questionable things that rub you the wrong way, but may not strike you as red flags just yet). Don’t ignore your gut instincts or intuition because that’s your inner voice trying to tell you something that may not be obvious to you.
Also, no matter how close you may feel to the guy you meet, or have grown to trust him, you really shouldn’t take the risk of meeting him alone, especially if it’s not in a public place. That doesn’t mean you need to have your sibling, friend, or relative sitting with you at the same table and listening to your conversation. But it doesn’t hurt to have someone nearby just in case something does go wrong.
This isn’t to say that I encourage you to do things behind your parent’s back. You know your parents best, and how they may feel about you getting to know someone they aren’t familiar with, especially online, so try to handle the situation in the best way possible.
If you can, it might not hurt to at least let your mom know that there is a guy you may be interested in, and that you just want to get to know him more before officially introducing them to him, and taking a more official step. Because we know all too well how that usually goes–once the nosy, gossiping aunties get a whiff of it, you can never be too sure how the story will escalate.
Plus, by telling your mom, you won’t have to feel like you’re sneaking around and lying all of the time. You might even gain more of her trust, and it’ll take a load of the weight off. Trust me, it’s a win-win.
And don’t rush. Take your time, and remember to not just follow your eyes and heart, but your mind too. When in doubt, turn to God, pray istikhara, confide in family and friends, and really sit down with yourself. Pay attention to the signs, and write your thoughts and feelings down for more clarity.
If it works out, alhamdullilah. But if not, don’t let it break you. God works in mysterious ways. He may not be your naseeb, but someone else is, Inshallah. You just have to trust God and have faith in the process.
Know your worth, stay true to yourself, and NEVER settle for less than you deserve! Childish boys are not worth your thoughts or time, so don’t waste those valuables on them. You never know when that person you are meant to be with will stumble into your life, and change it forever.
Whatever path you choose to take, whether it’s halal dating or the more traditional route, I wish you the absolute best.
I hope this answers your question, and that it is helpful! Be sure to let us know how things go, and if you ever have any other questions, or need more advice–you know where to reach us!