It is clear from Quranic verses and Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) teachings that there is little room for dating and love before marriage in a Muslim society. (Reference Surah An Nisa)
But a loveless society was never Prophet Muhammad’s intent.
Muslim Woman’s Consent before Marriage
Assuming here that romance means love leading up to marriage, a woman’s consent is essential before marriage.
- “O Messenger of Allah is a woman’s consent necessary before marriage” Aisha RA. “Yes!” replied the Prophet. (Sahih Bukhari)
Love in Traditional Islam is between Married Couples only
Affection and love according to traditional Islam is limited to when couples come together in matrimony.
- “She believed in me when others rejected me” Prophet Muhammad speaking about his wife Khadija.
The present-day concept of trying out prospective matches in every way possible, including a sexual liaison, before marriage is out of the question in Islam.
- “And women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity: these are not affected by what people say for them there is forgiveness, and a provision honorable.”(24:26)
What Muslim Love does recognize is that between a committed man and women and with God as a witness to this pious liaison.
- “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs” Quran 4:1
- “And Allah has made for you from yourselves mates and has made for you from your mates sons and grandchildren and has provided for you from the good things” Quran 16:72
- “… He has created spouses for you from your own species that you may find comfort in them. And he has induced mutual love and tenderness between you. (30:21)”
Muslim Love between a married couple flows through Allah
- “And Allah created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop; then He made you mates. And no female conceives nor does she give birth except with His knowledge.” (35:11)
Islam’s focus is on building a society with a loving married couple at its center.
- “The believing men and women are allies of each other. They enjoin what is good, forbid what is evil.” Taubah (9:71)
In some places, the loving relationship between married couples is compared with the devotion to Allah.
The word Love in Quran
The word “Hubb,” “Al-Wadood” or “love/Loving” is mentioned 45 times in the Quran in the context of the love of mankind, brothers, wealth, etc., but there is not much mention of romantic love between two unmarried individuals.
Not even in Sunnah.
Maybe there were larger issues of women’s rights to be resolved in the 5th Century, where concubines were legal, to even consider rules of romance.
In Islam sexual desires, romantic liaisons, physical gratification are permitted between married men and women only.
- Also, see Justice in Quran and Islam
Muslim Word for Love
Combining words for love in Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet, the muslim words for love would be :-
Arabic word for Love
- Ishq – Love
- Enta Umri – You are my love
- Ana Uhibbuk – I love you
- Habibti – Lover (lady)
- Mahbat – Love
- Sadaqat – Truth (friendship)
- Zamalah – Fellowship
- Uns – Attachment
Islam and Looking Charming
However, that does not mean that pious Muslim Muslims cannot look good – in contrast, Prophet Muhammad encouraged looking good
- “Modesty, attar (colognes), siwaak (toothbrush) and marriage” (At-Tirmidhi)
At least that is what the 6th century Islam, as introduced by Prophet Muhammad says.
It could also be a reflection of the fact that Prophet Muhammad intended to sternly rectify a brutal Arab society where women had no rights and were merely treated as property for sexual gratification.
Higher functions such as romance and love had to take a back seat in those brutal times – but he never forbade love.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH effort to build an Islamic Nation
Prophet Muhammad has indicated very clearly his intention to build a harmonious Muslim society with a legal contract between couples at the center.
- “The believers are only brothers, so reconcile between your brothers, and fear Allah that you may receive mercy” Al Hujurat (49:10)
The legal contract requires the man to provide, the women to agree to his ascendancy, and both to comfort and support each other.
Why would he want a loveless marriage?; It does not make sense.
Procreation in the Nation of Islam
Prophet Muhammad desired to see these people procreate rapidly too.
- “It is he who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her. And when he covers her, and she carries a light burden and continues therein. And when it becomes heavy, and they both invoke Allah, their lord. If you should give us a good (child), we will surely be among the grateful” (7:189)
Fornication and Islam
Then, there is a restriction on extramarital relations, like all monotheistic religions.
- “do not go near adultery” Quran (17:32)
- Also, see Commonalities in World Religions
Sufi Romance and Muslim Love
Sufi Islam has tried to introduce the concept of both divine and romantic love being synonymous and mutually inclusive, but that has not caught on in modern times.
“Ishq” is Sufi Muslim Love.
Sufi Islam was a lot more successful in spreading Allah’s word, beyond the Middle East where it first appeared.
Sufi Islam has a huge emphasis on Romance, love, and devotion – all used as synonyms.
Romance in Poor Muslim societies
Love has become a luxury in poor Muslim societies with low education and development levels – where you must make money to get a decent wife.
Sexual liaisons out of marriage are frowned upon and can be a cause of ostracization.
The alternative view on Romance in Islamic Societies
Although the broad concept of having a righteous and clean social fabric is noble, never have human beings ever espoused this concept strictly in history.
This is because, the Islamic concept of the nuclear family with the husband being the provider is based on the prerequisite that man would always be competent enough to provide for the wife, kids, and his parents.
Such a situation is unlikely in the current economic situation of the world and the rapidly changing gender equation.
This further causes disparity when wealthy individual males seek four wives for themselves alone and the men in the low-income group are left with none.
Also, when romantic liaison is not permitted before marriage, and a Muslim girl’s decision of a husband depends solely on what she sees and his social/financial standing, there is much likelihood of abuse at a later stage in marriage.
It has been seen to happen.
This restriction has caused severe distortions in a society where patriarchic gender norms are enforced.
One of the distortions is explosive growth in cousin marriages, the leading cause of genetic disorders in Pakistan.
Then, there is little cohesion, vertical and horizontal movement in segments of society – each intermarrying in isolation.
There are serious reports of domestic abuse and violence in Muslim societies that go unreported.
Not to mention the fact that monogamous couples forced to live together are a serious recipe for early deaths.
What become of women that have neither beauty, wealth nor status to offer to prospective husbands that are only looking for that?
What become of women that do not have the umbrella of their fathers’ or strong families?
A re look into a modern Muslim society is in order, something on the lines of Iran and Turkey.
What are Muslim societies doing about it?
Many Muslim societies in modern times have sought out ways to bypass the pre-marital prohibition in Islam with Mut’ah and the likes – which is a start of legalizing something that has always been prevalent but was always looked down upon.
Quran allows for framing laws for a modern society
Even the Quran allows for differences in interpretation as long as the purpose is the same
- “To each of you, we prescribe a law and a method. Had Allah willed, he would have made you one nation, but, to test you in what he has given you; so the race is good. To Allah is your return together, and he will (then) inform you concerning that over which you used to differ” Quran (5:48)
Modern Muslim Society requires fresh Islamic Jurisprudence
As the complexities in modern societies grow,
- women seeking more higher university qualifications than men.
- Women are more competent in modern society, especially in emotional intelligence.
- Brawn and aggression, of little value in modern times.
- Women have more natural resources to rapidly climb in an equitable modern society.
Every country has to eventually progress; Muslim politicians will have to resolve this moral dilemma.
Regressive societies are using Islam to control women
Alternatively, regressive societies misuse the teachings of the Prophet to control women, way beyond religion’s mandate.
That was never Prophet Muhammad’s intent.
Ultraconservative societies go a step further and try to act as a referee and physically separate the two genders – like they are all criminals and thieves and will steal if left on their own.
- Also, see Listen to your inner voice of God
This creates a society that does not know how to function with the opposite gender – something that is vital in today’s day and time
Pakistan’s example as an unromantic society
Pakistan is a typical example.
Then, a society only seeks power and privilege for menfolk by, any means possible – corruption automatically steps in.
Women become mere trophies for such men.
It is no wonder that strict Muslim societies are among the most corrupt in the world.
- Also, see Constitution of Medina and Pakistan
A loveless life in Muslim societies?
If we take a look at life from a non-religious aspect, there seems to be no point living a miserable existence for 70 years where there is no love.
Love is what melds the heart and mind and gives the soul its direction.
- “And of his signs is that he created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them, and he placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought” (30:21)
Every Muslim man or woman deserves to be loved
Everyone deserves to be loved at least once in life because that is what makes life worth living.
Otherwise, it is just a brutal slog.
Love triumphs over all adversity and hardship.
The chemicals that create a loving feeling are so complex that they are still not completely deciphered.
How can you deny anyone this loving feeling because they happen to believe in a particular faith?
- “and we created you in pairs” Quran (78:8)
Pakistan should allow free intermingling of genders across all segments of society, with civilized rules, and provide equal opportunity for each gender to compete. Let them choose their partners freely, only then a Muslim society will build harmony and gain productivity. This has not been prohibited by Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
Enough with the morality brigade already!