Muslims do not (or at least, should not) date. Most people are a bit surprised when I tell them that. Then they inevitably jump to the conclusion that Muslims have arranged marriages. They picture two complete strangers meeting for the first time on their wedding day. While there are some Muslims who do have arranged marriages, that is not at all the norm.
[h]Half of the Religion[/h]
Muslims place a great deal of importance on marriage. In fact, marriage is considered half of the religion, meaning that all Muslims who are able to marry should get married. Once a Muslim has decided that he or she is ready to get married, finding an appropriate spouse becomes of utmost importance. There is no dating for fun and recreation; the hunt for a spouse has begun!
[h]An Old-fashioned Courtship[/h]
Have you seen the old movies, where the boy comes to the home to “court” the girl? Well, that is what Muslim “dating” looks like. The young man and his family come to the young lady’s house and meet with the entire family. Islam places a lot of importance on families and most young people value their parents’ opinions. Islam also believes in the extended family, so it is important that all family members meet. Initially both families will meet and talk about important things like values, religion, desire for children, income, and way of life.
[h]An Early Engagement[/h]
If the young people feel that they are compatible and appropriately attracted to one another, they will usually decide to get engaged. After the engagement, they will get to know each other better and will often go out in groups. Even after engagement, it is not considered appropriate for the two to spend time alone. Most Muslim couples never even kiss until the wedding day! To avoid temptation, most Muslims have very short engagements.
I realize that this does not sound particularly romantic. It can be quite exciting and special, though. These young people get the satisfaction of knowing that they have saved themselves for marriage. There is no need for jealousy or shame over the past. Since their courtship is not spent being intimate, they are able to find out important things about each other. They are able to think clearly about a shared future, without being blinded by hormones and lust. Whether it meets our fairytale ideas of love or not, divorce rates in Muslim countries are drastically lower than in the West.