Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman established through means of a legal agreement. The word used to define marriage in the Arabic language is “Nikaah”. This virtuous act is an order given by Allah as a means of coming closer to Him. It was also established in order to preserve the progenywhich began from Adam. Apart from protecting generations, there are many other virtues outlined by Rasoolullah in his Sunnah. The following hadeeth can be found in Sahih Muslim:
‘Alqama reported that he heard from Abu ‘Abdur Rahman that Rasoolullah said: “O young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes from casting (evil glances) and preserves one from immorality…”
Over a period of centuries and decades, marriage has been altered by many in order that it may befit their culture and traditions.
As a result of this, various matters, originally prohibited by Rasoolullah have been made permissible and a few that were permissible are ignored.
This includes certain practices mainly during the days before marriage or as we say the engagement period. We will discuss the allowances and prohibitions of this time period Insha’Allah.
In our case, we have a few situations concerning Ahmed and Ayesha that require clarification and a question raised by Ahmed concerning having face to face talk with Ayesha to cast off his doubts. Now, coming to those practices that are permissible, the first one is the privilege of looking at your fiancé or fiancée without his/her permission on condition that you have not seen him or her earlier.
The condition is one may only look at what is apparent of the other individual and not anything else.This is encouraged by Rasoolullah and preferable (mustahabb) for which evidence can be retrieved from many ahadeeth of which one in Sunan Ibn Majah is as follows:
It was narrated from Anas Ibn Malik that Mughirah Ibn Shubah wanted to marry a woman. The Prophet said to him: “Go and look at her for that is more likely to create love between you.” So he did that and married her, and mentioned how well he got along with her.
If Ahmed and Ayesha have seen each other earlier and are satisfied with each other then they need not see each other over and over again. However, if not then they may do so during this period.
Another act that is deemed permissible by scholars is the acceptance of gifts from the fiancé. The noble Shaykh Assim al Hakeem was once asked about the permissibility of receiving gifts in the form of perfumes, jewellery, clothes and so on from the fiancé or he asks his mother to give it. He answered that it is lawful on condition that there was, is and will not be any form of communication between the two since they are yet non-mahram.It is thus allowable for Ayesha to acknowledge Ahmed’s gifts if he sends some to her.
Moving on to the prohibited matters, firstly, it is not permissible for both the engaged boy and girl to look at each other after the acceptance of the proposal until after the Nikaah since they both are still non-mahram to each other. It is permissible for making the decision before acceptance but a second time is not allowed. Allah says in Surah an-Noor:
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze…”
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things)…and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)…”
Secondly, it is forbidden for two people of the opposite gender to stay in seclusion (khalwa as we say in Arabic).Rasoolullah forbade such a thing in his hadeeth in Jami’ At-Tirmidhi: “Behold! A man is not alone with a woman but the third of them is Ash-Shaitan.”This ruling applies to Ahmed and Ayesha as well because they are yet strangers to each other. This also prohibits touching each other since the Messenger of Allah never touched or shook hands with an ajnabiyyah (non-mahram woman).
Thirdly,establishing communication with your fiancé needlessly via phone, messages or even in personor talking about that which provokes the arousal of desires is utterlyimpermissible.
Keeping these restrictions in mind, the question of Ahmed wanting to speak with Ayesha in person to clarify doubts depends upon the subject of the question since Haya (modesty) is an integral part of one’s faith and so we must not cross the bounds to achieve our aim. If Ahmed has general doubts, he may clarify them by allowing the Wali (mahram guardian) of both to discuss the matter or by speaking to Ayesha in the presence of her Wali as Rasoolullah addressed in his hadeeth in Sahih al-Bukhari: “No man should stay with a lady in seclusion except in the presence of a Dhu- Mahram.”
If his doubts are related to personal matters, then he must abstain from such a question. Allah’s Messenger speaks about the severity of speech and eye contact with a non-mahram in Sahih Muslim: “The adultery of the eye is the lustful look, and the adultery of the tongue is the licentious speech.”
Last but not the least, there is yet a question to be answered regarding the ruling on Ahmed and Ayesha’s Nikaah being conducted through skype. The essentials for Nikaah to be valid are the proposal and acceptance, which in Arabic is known as ijab and qubool respectively, the presence of the Wali without which the Nikaah would be deemed invalid and the presence of witnesses. Another requirement for the Nikaah to be valid is the ijab and qubool to be done in the same gathering without any interruption.
Keeping the situation of Ahmed and Ayesha in mind, it is permissible for such a contract to take place since skype is a means through which the occurrence of deception is less likely. Scholars usually disagree with Nikaah being done through modern means due to the likelihood of trickery and deceit if both parties have not met each other in person and are in different countries. However, this is not the case with Ahmed and Ayesha’s families. Another valid point is that Ahmed and Ayesha’s families know each other and thus are not oblivious to any matter regarding Ahmed’s family. The Nikaah is considered to be in the same gathering since this is a video call and both parties are able to see one another. The above is the ruling of Shaykh Ibn Baaz where he says that if certain conditions are not met then such a Nikaah is considered invalid.
In the above case, all conditions are met. Both have their Wali. There is no room for falsehood because both families know each other and their background and have met in person. Yet, there is another point that should be looked upon. If Ahmed and Ayesha’s families are residing in the same country and city then there is no point of having the Nikaah done through skype or the like. If it is otherwise, then there is no harm in proceeding on with the Nikaah.