Is dating against the Quran? Believe me, I have spent many a long night trying to figure this one out for myself. I've been searching for that one magical verse or explanation that makes everything clear. Let me break the suspense by saying that I have yet to find that one verse. The good news is that my search has given me a much better understanding of this difficult question. I have come to realize that dating is a process that occupies a great deal of your emotions and tempts you physically so fast that you don't realize what hit you. The process spins out of control and becomes very hard to control. The real challenge to your faith starts when precious attention shifts away from the needs of your soul to the needs of your body and drains your efforts to increase your remembrance of God.
Typically, the word dating is used when a guy and a girl develop both an intimate physical and social relationship together. The physical part is as simple as holding hands and evolves into hugging, kissing and other forms of sexual relations. What's the bid deal with a little kiss or hand holding? Yes, I can certainly relate that it's innocent and very common, but I can assure you that it's more involved than you imagine. For one thing, there are verses in the Quran that regard this type of interaction as much more serious than we would like to think. In addition to having to deal with the Quranic aspect of this issue, you are occupying your mind with sensitive and powerful emotions that do not help you in remembering God and growing your soul. The daily challenge of submitting to God and working righteousness becomes harder and less active in your mind as you become increasingly attracted to your mate with your thoughts, emotions, and time. Although you may use good arguments to comfort your mind that your actions are harmless, your soul feels the energy that is being taken away and becomes weaker and more vulnerable. The time and attention you give to your emotional attachment is the precious strength your soul needs to grow. Increasing your physical and emotional contact happens naturally since your convinced mind can't hear the weak calls from your soul.
I am pretty sure that no matter how strong you are, you are likely to experience this uncontrollable cycle when you invite the process of dating to your life. If you feel you can date someone without the physical stuff, you should be very honest with yourself and think about God first before you make your decision. For some, there may be a sincere intention to have only a social interaction with a person. In this case, the relationship should be called a friendship, not dating, so that you can have a clear understanding from the very beginning without any room for guesswork or temptation. However, if you are dating someone now or think you are just "friends" but are experiencing a desire for contact and romance, you should ask yourself one question: "what's the point of winning the battles of avoiding the physical stuff while your soul is losing the war from all the energy and effort that's being drained away? If you are giving in to your urges and satisfying your physical desires, I suggest you fasten your seat belt before continuing to read some of the verses I come cross in the Quran.
There are clear verses in the Quran against the natural results of dating; from the seemingly innocent kiss to the more obvious. God instructs all of us eligible bachelors and bachelorettes to maintain our chastity until marriage (5:5, 23:5-7, 24:30-31, 70:29-31). Chastity is defined Quranically in 23:6 as avoiding sexual relations. You may try to ease your mind quickly by defining sexual relations as intercourse only, leaving all other contact as fair game. That's a pretty good argument that I've tried to use myself more than once. According to the Quran, however, sexual relations include any intimate physical contact. Let's look at if from another angle. How can we justify holding someone's hand romantically or kissing them when God asks us to be extra careful by subduing our eyes (24:30-31) and even avoid meeting secretly unless we have something righteous to discuss (2:235). The classic argument to support physical relations is claiming that the person is "rightfully yours." You convince yourself that the person you are dating, which happens to be a fellow submitter or a potential convert, will be your future spouse. Based on your reasoning, sexual relations with someone who is rightfully yours is not as bad and makes you feel less guilty about your actions. If you think about this line of reasoning carefully, you will find some big problems. The least important is the fact that you are probably years away from being ready to tie the knot. Of course, completing your education, having a source of income besides your weekly allowance, and setting up a place to live other than your parents' house are useful little details that may have skipped your mind. By that time, the "rightfully yours" dream date may be out of your life and you realize your useful excuse provided temporary pleasure at a great expense to your soul. The main problem with the rightfully yours argument is that this Quranic statement has nothing to do with supporting dating intentions. Unfortunately, I have even seen parents use this argument to ease their mind or justify dating for their child. Instead of encouraging their child to focus on God continually (20:132) and avoid the temptation of dating, they give in to peer pressure and the common practices of today. They reason that it's better for their child to start a relationship with someone they know, especially if it's a submitter, rather than remaining single and being vulnerable to others. Ahhhh, the submitter argument. We have all used this at one time for one reason or another. Surly, it can't be all that bad if two young and innocent submitters are dating? Actually, it's much worse since both are fully aware of the result of tempting God's advice knowingly.
Speaking of consequences, what does the Quran say about this issue? There are some very strong words used in reference to having sexual relations and deciding not to maintain your chastity knowingly. God uses the words transgressor, a sinner, a rejecter of faith, all your works will be in vain, and in the Hereafter you will be with the losers (5:5, 23:7 and 70:31). These descriptions definitely caught my attention too! We are not talking about a simple slap on the hand. God mentions that all your works will be in vain. After putting these pieces of the puzzle together, the dangers of dating start becoming much more clear. Of course, we know that God is Most Merciful and is the acceptor of repentance. But why should you bring yourself to the point of having to repent when you have the power to remain steadfast from the very beginning? Keep in mind also that the example you set when you date as a submitter is very damaging since you are supporting something that is against the faith you are practicing everyday. What explanation do you give to your little brother, sister, or submitter friends and youth who are striving along the path of submission with you?
Where does this leave you? You are a single young and attractive submitter with your emotions and hormones revving in high gear. All you see around you are images of love, romance, passion and sex. Your friends seem to go through dates like it's a fruit and you wonder if they are beginning to question your sexual orientation. The prospect of waiting to get married feels like a hopeless eternity. You begin to ask yourself why you should have to endure such temptation. The answer is very simple. God has blessed you with the light of submission while your friends and the rest of the world are dancing helplessly down a dark and dangerous path. God has given you the chance to strive for an everlasting life that radiates with happiness and peace. Before you begin to feel sorry for yourself, ask yourself if you are willing to trade this awesome blessing for the temporary enjoyment your friends are experiencing? I don't think so. Your path is rare and requires you to work hard and strive. You have to demonstrate with your actions and intentions that you are worthy of being a submitter. You have to use all your strength, patience and faith to overcome the challenges that are testing your faith in God. Passing your test can as simple as avoiding dating and controlling your physical urges. This feeling is extremely hard to tolerate and the challenge is difficult, but the outcome is worth every effort. Know that God does not burden you beyond your means. The weaker you feel, the more you are being signaled to pull yourself away from temptation and towards God. The beauty of God's system is that He not only rewards you for your efforts in the Hereafter but also showers you with all sorts of rewards in this life for your commitment. God promises a deep and meaningful happiness that is far greater than any temporary romance can ever bring you. This relationship with God is strong and stays with you forever unlike the short relationships that bring quick pleasure but end in disappointment and emotional pain. For this reason, following the example of a submitter is a rare and beautiful honor that we should be proud uphold. Our example can be a source of inspiration and guidance for our friends. After all, we know that everyone can date easily. But, who can demonstrate the strong character and personality that comes only from a meaningful relationship with God?
It seems to me that any way I look at it, I see dating as being a harmful process for the soul no matter how you try to justify your action. How can we stay clear of such an attractive temptation that is so common among our circle of friends and community? The best way to avoid a dating situation starts by accepting God's advice from the very beginning without any hesitation or doubts. This understanding means you leave no doubt in your mind that dating is out of the question for you. If you leave any wiggle room or gray area in your thinking, you will soon find yourself trying to convince your mind that certain aspects of dating are just fine. Before you know it, you are in this blinding cycle that takes control of you. The next step is to keep a close eye on your emotional attachments and, what I call "soap opera daydreaming." You may have accepted that dating is not right for you but you may find yourself fantasizing about the perfect relationship, a romantic encounter, or the classic made for television love affair. If you are not in a position to get married, it's better to put these thoughts on hold since it makes the process of staying single much harder. Such thoughts can cloud your judgment and can make the smallest encounter appear as the start of a great love story. These romantic affairs and tearjerkers we see in the movies are made to sell tickets and popcorn, not our souls. Keep in mind that the true love you will experience in marriage is nothing like that dramatic "crush" that seems to run your life until it evaporates into thin air. When you sense your emotions are running away from you, take a time out for a reality check. Drop the idea from your mind and analyze the situation as if you are asking God for advice. Know that God is aware of your innermost intentions and that He is the Best Supporter. Finally, I must point out that we seem to notice only the positive images of dating. The flip side is often very disappointing and, in some cases, devastating to the emotions. The saying that "all good things come to an end" is especially true with dating. There is the pain of separation, the feelings of rejection, denial, depression, and dealing with the reality that you shared the most private experiences of your life with someone who is now a stranger to you. Of course, we also have the very likely possibility of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases to deal with.
What is the alternative to dating? Believe it or not, there is another world outside dating that is even more rewarding for your soul and your emotional needs. Once you place your trust in God's system, you can see everyone from the filter of true friendship. There will be no pressure to impress others, to change your ways or act differently. You will be a free spirit enjoying the company of people you meet without expectations or desires. You can start having many meaningful friendships instead of spending most of your time with only one person. You will experience the beauty of this diversity, the fun of having such different personalities in your life and the blessing of being able to turn to a strong social network in the time of need. These friendships will be there for you and last through times of difficulty. Most importantly, you not only save emotional energy, you gain even more strength from your friends; strength that you need in your path of submission to God. If you are eager to start a relationship or are finding yourself in a questionable situation now, make your intention clear that you desire only friendship and avoid situations that trigger your physical or emotional urges. Spend your time in larger group settings or in a family environment. Avoid one-to-one encounters until you know deep inside that the relationship is clearly friendship. Even then, it's always better to involve your other friends when you want to do something. You know what they say, "the more, the merrier."
If you think you're missing the boat by not dating and that you will never meet that "dream" person, I have some great news for you. Your boat is in perfect condition and is not going anywhere without you. God is in control of everything. He knows the best time for you to get married and He has already picked out the perfect mate for you. No matter how hard you try on your own or rush the process, you will never find the perfect match that God is waiting to give you. All you need to do is place your trust in God, have patience, and stay firm in your commitment to keep your purity of body and mind. Once you are ready to share in the blessing of marriage, you will appreciate why God has encouraged you to stay single for such a special occasion.
[2:235] You commit no sin by announcing your engagement to the women, or keeping it secret. GOD knows that you will think about them. Do not meet them secretly, unless you have something righteous to discuss. Do not consummate the marriage until their interim is fulfilled. You should know that GOD knows your innermost thoughts, and observe Him. You should know that GOD is Forgiver, Clement.
[5:5] … Also, you may marry the chaste women among the believers, as well as the chaste women among the followers of previous scripture, provided you pay them their due dowries. You shall maintain chastity, not committing adultery, nor taking secret lovers.Anyone who rejects faith, all his work will be in vain, and in the Hereafter he will be with the losers.
[20:132] You shall enjoin your family to observe the contact prayers (Salat), and steadfastly persevere in doing so. We do not ask you for any provisions; we are the ones who provide for you. The ultimate triumph belongs to the righteous.
[23:1-7] Successful indeed are the believers; who are reverent during their Contact Prayers (Salat). And they avoid vain talk. And they give their obligatory charity (Zakat). And they maintain their chastity. Only with their spouses, or those who are rightfully theirs, do they have sexual relations; they are not to be blamed. Those who transgress these limits are the transgressors.
[24:30] Tell the believing men that they shall subdue their eyes (and not stare at the women), and to maintain their chastity. This is purer for them. GOD is fully Cognizant of everything they do.
[24:31] And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary. They shall cover their chests, and shall not relax this code in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, the male servants or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or the children who have not reached puberty. They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies. All of you shall repent to GOD, O you believers, that you may succeed.
[30:21] Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.
[70:29] They keep their chastity.
[70:30] (They have relations) only with their spouses, or what is legally theirs -
[70:31] anyone who transgresses these limits is a sinner.
[94:5-8] With pain there is gain. Indeed, with pain there is gain. Whenever possible you shall strive. Seeking only your Lord.