Courting a Married Woman
It is prohibited to court a woman who is married. The same is true about a woman whose husband divorced her a non-final divorce (a 1st and 2nd time) and she is still in her iddah (waiting period). The reason for this is that in both cases she is considered under the authority of her husband and no other man may challenge that authority.
It is a great sin to turn a woman against her husband with the intention of marrying her.
"He is not one of us who turns a woman against her husband or slave against his master."
(Abu Dawud, Ahmad, al-Hakim, verified authentic by al-Albani)
Courting a Woman who is being courted
When a Muslim man is proposing to a woman, it is not permissible for other Muslims to propose to her. They should wait until her side (famaily or prepresentative) takes a clear position from the proposal: either acceptance or rejection. If that proposal is rejected, other may then approach her for marriage.
"Avoid suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales. Do not spy, do not look for the faults (of each other), do not oppose each other, do not envy one another, do not hate one another, do not desert each other and O servants of Allah, be (true) brothers. Let not a man court a woman who his brother is courting: (He should wait) until he marries or leaves her."
(Bukhari & Muslim)
"A believer is a brother to another believer. It is not permissible for a believer to negotiate a deal that his brother is negotiating, not propose to a woman to whom his brother is proposing, until he leaves."
"Let not any of you propose to a woman to whom his brother is proposing. (He should wait) until he marries or quits."
(an-Nasai, verified authenticc by al-Albani)
"Let none of you negotiate a deal that is being negotiated by another one, not propose to a woman to whom another one is proposing."
(Bukhari, an-Nasai & others)
"Let not a man propose to a woman to whom his brohter is proposing, nor negotiate a deal that his brother is negotiating. A woman may not be married to a man who is married to her paternal or maternal aunt. A woman should not request that her sister be divorced so that she would fill her own plate (with food) or get married (instead of her), because she will only receive what Allah has prescribed for her."
Other Prohibited forms
Other forms of prohinited khitbah:
1. A man who has four wives may not court an additional woman unless he divorces one or mroe of his wives.
2. A man is not allowed to court a woman whom he is not allowed to simultaneously marry with a current wife, such as her sister or aunt.
3. A man who had divorced a wife 3 times is not allowed to court or consider her unless she married after him another man who, after consummating their marriage wilfully divorces her.
4. A woman who is in her iddah from he husbands death or a terminal divorce may not be approached with direct proposals. Only indirectly until her iddah is over.
"There is no blame upon you for that to whic you (indirectly) allude concerning a proposal to women, nor for what you conceal withing yourselves. allah knows that you are going to remember them. but do nor promise them secretly except for saying a proper saying. And do not decide to undertake a marriage contract until the decreed period reaches its end. And know that Allah knows what is within yourselves, so beware of Him. And know that Allah is forgiving and tolerant."
Offering a Woman for Marriage
It is permissible for a man to offer his daughter or principal for marriage to those whom he trusts as being worthy of her.
Abdullah Bin Umar (RA) reported that after the death of his sister Hafsah's husband, Khunays Bin Huthafah as SAhmi (RA) Umar (RA) ofter Hafsah (RA) to Uthman (RA). A few nights later, "UThman apologised, "I have decided not to marry right now" Umar then offered her to abu Bakr (RA) and he did not give him an answer either. That saddened Umar, but the Prophet (SAW) consoled him saying:
"One who is better than Uthman will marry Hafsah and Uthman will marry one who is better than Hafsah."
(Bukhari & Ibn Sa'd)
A few nights later Allahs Messenger (SAW) asked him for her hand, and Umar accepted. Later on Abu Bakr met Umar and asked him, "You were probably bothered when you offered me Hafsah and I did not give you an answer." Umar said, "Yes". Abu bakr (RA) then explained:
"Tuly what had prevented me from giving you an answer when you offered her to me was that I knew that Allahs Messenger (SAW) had mentioned (marrying) her and I was not to expose Allah's Messenger (SAW) secret. Had he relinquished her, I would surely have acepted her."
(Bukhari, an-Nasai and others)
Allah (ASWJ) tells us about another case where a righteous man offered one of his two daughters in marriage to Musa (AS):
He said, "Indeed I wish to marry to you one of these two daughters of mine, on condition that you serve me for (at least) eight years; but if you complete ten, it will be a favour from you."
Performing Istikharah and Seeking Advice
Misconceptions about Istikharah
Some believe that one of the important requirement of istikharah is that it be performed before going to sleep, and that one should see some dreams telling him what to do. Others think that as a result of the istikharah, one should feel in his heart, an inclination towards the proper choice.
There is no basis for rither of the above two assumptions and the above hadith supports neither. In fact the hadith indicated that when as a result of the istikharah Allah hinders an affair that one was about to undertake, that might bring some dislike into ones heart, and he therfore asks Allah to give him contentment.
In addtion to Istikharah, it is recommended to consult with some knowledgeable people befre making an important decision. It is hence recommende for the man and woman (or her wali) to investigate about his or her intended partner, making sure, that she or he has the required good attributes.
When a persons adivvce is sought in regard to individuals that are considered for marriage, business partnership etc he should provide truthful and honest advice. This advice should be limited to matters relevant to the affair in question, and sould not be exceeded to other areas because that may then count as a prohibited form of backbiting.
Telling the Truth
It is important to provide truthful imformation in regard to the two individuals involved in the khitbah. The information should be limited to matters that are expected to have a bearing on the marraige. Absolute truth is required from the two involved and those who are asked for advice in this regard.
hiding any problems that one knows about is a sinful act of mistrust in Islam and could result in numerous future predicaments. e.g.physical problems, physical deficiencies, impotence,veneral disease etc. these should all be made known to the other individuals before approving engagement.
aS for the one who thus learns about some problems in the other, he is not allowed to publicise it , or expose secrets.
Violations in Khitbah
There are many violations that some Muslims have introduced into the process of khitbah. Many of those violations arise from blind imitation of the non-Muslims. e.g.:
1. After the engagement and before the nikah, the womans family permit them to go out with the fiance and have khulwah and even touch and kiss. This is not permissible as they are still not permissible for one another and non mahram.
2. some people think of the engagement as a test drive period in which they fully try out their partners to see if they will be able to persue a long life together. With that,, they commit many sins, minor and major, including zina. And interestingly many of those engagements prove unsuccessful and end up in separation before marriage.
3.Some families like to extend engagements to months or even years, thereby providing more chance for the engaged couple to fall into sinning.
4.In many Muslim countries, the khitbah is held publicly in the form of a reception or party in which drinks are served, music is played, and the prospective couple kiss or take pictures together. All of that is in great discord with the Sunnnah and the Islamic teachings and should therefore be totally avoided. A khitbah should stay away from the peoples eyes because no legal shari consequences result from it. If for any reason, a publicised khitbah is not concluded with actual marriage, serious harm may result from publicising it, especially in regard to the brides reputation.
5. The engaged couple often exchange "engagement" rings and the bridegroom gives the bride jewellery and gists at the time of khitbah. This too is a violation of Islam since there is no reason yet for any property or gift echnge to take place, until they are legally bound by marriage contract. In many cases, this premature act leads to serious disputes if the engagement is broken for any reason. The "engagement" ring has no basis in Islam as it originates from an old christian practice that the Muslims should not imitate.