Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Purchasing a house on Mortgage (Canada)


I want to buy house here in Canada but I don’t have enough money to buy the house. Can I borrow money from bank I know this is interest but here so many guys says u can buy house with interest and u should be live there u cant do that like business purpose, like BUY and SALE?


In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

1) Interest in its entirety is prohibited in shariah. Consider the followinginjunctions on interest.

يايّها الذين ءامنوا لا تأكلوا الربؤا اضعافا مضعفة.

“Oh you who believe do not eat up interest doubled and redoubled”

(Surah AL-i- Imraan 3:130)

2) ALLAH TAALA proclaims in the most clearest terms in surah al-Baqarah, the prohibition of interest.

الذين يأكلون الربؤا لا يقومون الاّ كما يقوم الذى يتخبطه الشيطان من المس . ذلك بانّهم قالوا انّما البيع مثل الربؤا . و احلّ الله البيع و حرّم الربؤا . فمن جاءه موعظة من ربه فانتهى فله ما سلف . و امره الى الله . و من عاد فاولئك اصحاب النار . هم فيها خالدون .

“Those who eat interest will not stand up (on the day of judgment) but they will stand like he whose intelligence had been spoilt by the touching of shaitaan. That is because they said, “verily trade is like interest” whereas ALLAH has made halaal trade and forbidden interest.

So to whoever came advice from his Lord, then he should abstain, for him is what has passed and his matter is to ALLAH, and whoever rejects then those are the people of the fire. They will abide in it for eternity.” Surah al-Baqarah 2:

قال : و يأذن الله لالبر و الفاجر يوم القيامة بالقيام الا آكل الربا فانه لا يقوم الا كما يقوم الذى يتخبطه

الشيطان من المس.

(Mirqaat Vol. 6 Pg. 42 Darul kutub Beirut)

Mulla Ali Qaari (R.A.) further commentates on this verse saying that ALLAH will grant permission on the Day of Judgment to both the pious and sinful to stand from their graves, except the person who indulged in interest. He will stand in a condition of madness and insanity.

3) يمحق الله الربوا و يربى الصدقت . و الله لا يحب كل كفاّر اثيم

“ALLAH will destroy interest and increase charity and ALLAH dislikes every ungrateful sinner.” Surah al-Baqarah

The increase that is observed through transactions of interest is empty of any kind of blessing and will lead to the certain destruction of the person involved on the Day of Judgment. It is truly a wretched and ungrateful person who lends out the wealth ALLAH has given him in order to collect interest. However much a person increases his wealth through interest it will ultimately avail him nothing. On the other hand charity is a means of salvation for the person

and will ultimately lead to his success on the Day of Judgment. It clear to see from the many examples around us that those people who live their lives on interest seldom find any peace and their wealth has no blessings in it, but those people who are charitable have great blessings in their lives and wealth.

Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) has cursed that person who takes interest, the person who gives it, the person who writes down an interest bearing transaction and the witnesses of the transaction.

عن جابر قال لعن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم آكل الربوا و مؤكله و كاتبه و شاهديه و قال هم سواء.

(Mishkaat Pg. 244 Qadeemi)

Abdullah bin Salaam(رضى الله عنه) has stated that interest is divided into seventy two levels of sin, the lowest level being equivalent to committing adultery with ones own mother and one dirham of interest is worse than committing adultery thirty nine times.

فى شرح السنة قال عبد الله بن سلام : لالربا اثنان و سبعون حوبا اصغرها حوبا كمن اتى امه فى الاسلام و درهم من الربا اشدّ من بضع و ثلاثين زنية.

(Mirqaat Vol. 6 Pg. 42 Darul kutub Beirut)

All the rightly guided ulamaa throughout history have regarded interest haram in whatever form it may be. They considered it a despicable act that should be avoided at all costs.

You have been ill informed, interest is not confined to business purposes but rather its prohibition extends to every such dealing wherein interest is found be it of a commercial nature or a personal nature. Interest is also used by the present day conventional banks as a means of exploiting individuals like you. Look at the following example:-

“In a newspaper article entitled: “What the banks don’t want you to know.” Karl Posel, mathematics professor and author of personal finance books says, “ more than eight million South Africans have bonds, but few realize that banks are milking them dry” “ Consider the following scenario: you have a R100 000 bond repayable over 20 yrs at an interest rate of 19.5% a year(assume that this rate remains the same). After 10 yrs of monthly repayments of R1660 you have paid R199 200 in total. Guess how much of your debt you have repaid after 10 yrs?

A paltry R12 500. The remaining R186 700 has been nabbed by the bank as interest charges. And the situation is even more depressing after 16 yrs – of your total payment of R318 720 you have paid off only R45 000 of your debt and still owe the bank R55 000.”

Many Islaamic banks can be found who will offer you a Shariah method of financing, which is void of interest. However there are many banks that claim to be Shariah compliant but turn up bogus. It is best that you investigate the Islaamic bank you want to invest in and see that it passed shariah compliant by a reputable Islaamic institute.

4) Interest opens the door to ALLAH waging war with you:-

يايّها الذين آمنوا اتّقوا الله و ذروا ما بقى من الربوا ان كنتم مؤمنين . فان لم تفعلوا فأذنوا بحرب من الله و رسوله . و ان تبتم فلكم رءوس اموالكم . لا تظلمون و لا تظلمون .

“Oh you, who believe, fear ALLAH and give up what remains of your demand for interest, if you are indeed believers. If you do not abstain, take notice of war from ALLAH and his Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) but if you repent you shall have your capital sum. Deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.”

And Allah knows best


Ml. Abdul Hameed,
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by:
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In'aamiyyah

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Women attending eid prayers.

Umm Atiyah (ra) reported: "The Messenger of Allah (saw) commanded us to bring out on Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha, young women, hijab-observing adult women and the menstruating women. The menstruating women stayed out of actual Salaat but participated in good deeds and Duaa (supplication). I (Umm Atiyah) said to the Holy Prophet (saw): Oh! Messenger of Allah, one does not have an outer garment. He replied: Let her sister cover her with her garment." (muslim)

Ash-Shawkaanee (radiyallaahu `anhu) said:
"Note that the Prophet consistently performed this prayer on every Eid, never neglecting it. He commanded the people to go out for it; he even commanded the free women, the virgins, and the menstruating women to go out, instructing the latter to refrain from praying, in order for all of them to witness this good and the Muslims' supplications. He further commanded the woman who did not own a jilbaab (outer overall garment for women) to borrow her friend's (al-Bukhari)

Can you please verify the above as some people say these hadiths are not true ? do women have to attend the eid prayers? is it wajib or depends on one's choice? in the arab world we see separate areas being assigned for women during eid prayers which we dont find in our countries, if such facility is available can a women go for eid prayers?

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

We confirm that these ahadeeth are recorded in Sahih Al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and thus authentic.

Furthermore, this is not an isolated practice of the Sahaba (R.A). In fact during the era of Rasul Allah ( sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam ) women (excluding those who were menstruating) would attend the Salaats in the Masajid five times a day.

1. This was the general practice and was in fact needed, since Islam was in its initial stages and the women were needed to become accustomed to performing Salaats.

2. Moreover, the aspect of fitnah was far less than in our era.

Therefore, although the need for the women to be accustomed to these Salaats still exists today and will remain till the day of Qiyaama; the element of fitna (evil and mischief) is more threatening today than ever before.

Ponder over the fact that Ummul-Mo’mineen Sayyidatuna Ayesha (R.A) had began to discourage this practice not very long after the demise of Rasul Allah ( sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam ) based on the same element of fitna. Can we imagine what she would have said had she witnessed our era?

3. The scholars of Islam always considered this aspect of the fitna and therefore many of them ruled that women should not attend the Salaat, neither in masjid nor at the Eid Gaah (Musallah).

After quoting the hadeeth in question, Imam Tirmidhi (R.A) has reported from Imaams (Abdullah ibn Mubarak (R.A) and Sufiyaan As Thawri (R.A)) that they considered it makrooh for the women to attend the Eid Salâah. Imam Tirmidhi (R.A) also made reference to the statement of Sayyidatuna Ayesha (R.A) that was quoted above. (Sunan Tirmidhi Vol.2 Pg.430 #539-40).

4. This is also the view of the Hânafi Scholars. (A’ini in Umdatur Qari Vol.3 Pg. 305; I’laau Sunan Vol. 8 Pg 107)

5. Even those scholars who allow the women to attend attach strict conditions, like:

a. The women should not be scantly adorned.
b. They should not have applied perfume etc.

One cannot say for fact that on the day of Eid, no person would prefer to be shabbily dressed. On the contrary, people generally adorn their best attire on this day. So how can it be justified that the women be permitted to attend when the conditions of permission will certainly be flouted?

6. Another reason for which all the women were ordered to attend was so that the large numbers of the Muslims may become apparent, thereby attracting others towards Islam.
More than being affected by ones inner spirits and enthusiasms, one needs to bear in mind the commands ofAllah and be conscious of not displeasing Him. There is no rational in trying to fulfill a Mustahab (liked) act by perpetuating several haraams and prohibitions.

7. Lastly, some people think that it is only the Asians who prohibit the above.

Hereunder is a short list of the scholars of the past who also prevented the women from attending either the five Salaats in masajid or the Eid Salâah:

1. Sayyidatuna Ayesha (R.A) (Sahih Al Bukhari )
2. Sayyiduna Abdullah b. Mas’ood (R.A) (Majma’uz Zawaahid)
3. Sayyiduna Abdullah b. Umar (R.A) (Musannad ibn Abi Sheyba #5845)
4. Sayyiduna Urwa b. Zubayr (R.A) (Musannad ibn Abi Sheyba #5846)
5. Sayyiduna Qasim b. Mohammed b. Abi Bakr Faqih Al Madinah (R.A) (Musannad ibn Abi Sheyba #5847)
6. Sayyiduna Ibraheem Nakh’ee (R.A) (Musannad ibn Abi Sheyba #5844, #5848)
7. Imaam Abdullah b. Al-Mubarak (R.A) (Sunan Tirmidhi #539-40 Vol.2 Pg.420)
8. Imaam Malik (R.A) (Umdatur Qari Vol.3 Pg. 305)
9. Imaam Sufiyaan As Thawri (R.A) (Sunan Tirmidhi)
10. Imam Abu Yusuf (R.A) student of Imaam Abu Hanifa (R.A) (Umdatur Qari Vol.3 Pg. 305)

Now, ask yourself and question: How many of the above are Asians?

And Allah knows best


Maulana Mohammed ibn Maulana Harooon Abasoomer
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In'aamiyyah

Isha and Fajar Salaah in higher latitudes - 15 or 18 degree?

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

We appreciate you contacting our institute to resolve the issue which you have stated. Since this issue is regarding Canada, the ideal thing would be to contact the Ulama of Canada and follow their opinion. However, we will state our research before you.

Differences regarding the commencing time of Isha Salah

  1. Isha time sets in with the disappearing of al-Shafaq al-Abyadh (whiteness in the sky). This is the view adopted by Imam Abu Hanifa (ra).
  1. Isha times sets in with the disappearing of al-Shafaq al-Ahmar (redness in the sky). This is the view adopted by Sahibain (the two students of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra); Imam Abu Yusuf (ra) and Imam Muhammad (ra)), Imam al-Shaf’ee (ra), Imam Malik (ra) and Imam Ahmed (ra). This is also one narration of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra).

(Badai al-Sanai 1:320 Dar al-Kitab)

The difference between the two Shafaqs.

The difference between al-Shafaq al-Abyadh and al-Shafaq al-Ahmar is of 3 degrees.

(Rad al_Muhtar 1:361 H.M. Saeed Company)

Fatawa pertaining to the commencing of Isha time.

Amongst our Ulama there have been two views regarding the commencing time for Isha Salah.

  1. Mufti Muhammed Shaf’ee (ra), Maulana Yusuf Benori (ra), and majority of the Ulema of the Indian Subcontinent are of the view that al-Shafaq al-Ahmar disappears when the sun is 15 degrees below the horizon and al-Shafaq al-Abyadh disappears when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. They have conducted months of research checking the times to when the two Shafaqs disappear. After their research they came to following conclusion.
  1. Mufti Rasheed Ahmed Ludhyanwi (ra) concluded that al-Shafaq al-Ahmar disappears on the sun being 12 degrees below the horizon and al-Shafaq al-Abyadh disappears on the sun being 15 degrees below the horizon. He has also done an extended research which can be found in Ahsan Al-Fatwa v. 2 p. 157. (Mufti Shaf’ee (ra) and Maulana Yusuf (ra) were also of this view but after continuing their research they retracted from this view.)

Since most of the Ulama take Mufti Shaf’ee’s (ra) view and accept his fatwa, it will be cautious for the people in your community to also adopt this fatwa.

As stated before that there are differences of opinion between Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) and his two students Imam Abu Yusuf (ra) and Imam Muhammad (ra) regarding the commencing time for Isha Salah and the disappearing of the redness or the whiteness in the sky.

Many jurists have stated that the view of Imam Abu Yusuf (ra) and Imam Muhammed (ra) is the view upon which Fatwa is given. From amongst them are:

  • Allamah Siraj al-Deen Ibn Nujaim in al-Nahr al-Fa’iq
  • Mulla Ali Qari in Fath Baab al-‘Inayah
  • Allamah Qahastani in Jam’e al-Rumooz
  • Alamah Shurabulali in Mara’iq al-Falah
  • Mulla Khusar in Durrar al-Ahkam

Many Jurists have refuted this and have stated that the fatwa is on Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) view. From amongst them are:

  • Allamah Ibn Humam in Fath al-Qadir
  • Allamah Qasim ibn al-Qutlubuga in al-Tasheeh wa al-Tarjeeh ala Muktasar al-Qudoori
  • Allamah Zain al-Deen Ibn Nujaim in al-Barh al-Ra’iq
  • Allamah Fakr al-Deen al-Zaila’ee in Tabyeen al-Haqa’iq
  • Allamah Tahtawi in his Hashiya on Dar al-Muktar as well as in his Hashiya on Mara’iq al-Falah

To practice on the view of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) is safer since everyone unanimously agree upon the permissibility of Isha after the whiteness in the sky has disappeared. Also according to the principle of Fiqh, in normal circumstances fatwa should be giving on Imam Abu Hanifa’s view (see Hashiya of Tahtawi on Dar al-Muktar).

However, in some parts of North America, the whiteness in the sky remains till late in the night, e.g. around 11 o’ clock in the summer days. It becomes very difficult for normal working people to stay up so late for Isha and then wake up early for Fajr and work. For these reason it will be permissible to act upon the view of Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad (the sun being 15 degrees below the horizon).

But this should only be done in the days of summer. In winter there is no real difficultly. Isha should be read on its normal 18 degree time as is the view of Imam Abu Hanafi.

(Fatawa Uthmani of Mufti Taqi Utamani v. 1 p. 390)
(Nawadir al-Faqh of Mufti Rafi Uthmani v.1 p. 218)

And Allah knows best


Ml. Ehzaz Ajmeri,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In'aamiyyah

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Female Circumcision

Assalam o allaikum Brother Atif,
I hope, by the grace of Allah SWT, you and your family are doing fine.
Brother Atif, the other day at your place we briefly talked about female circumcision. I told you at that time that in Islam there is a permissibility of female circumcision. I was going through some old notes and I found the following that maybe are of valuable information to you.
Hadeeth 1:
The hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (SAW) said: "The fitrah is five things – or five things are part of the fitrah – circumcision, shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking the armpit hairs, and trimming the moustache." [Bukhari - 5889 : Muslim - 257]
The rule of hadeeth is that if it is not mentioned specifically or if the pronouns do not point to a certain gender, the the hadeeth is valid for both sexes. Hence, the above hadeeth is valid for men and women.
Hadeeth 2:
Muslim narrated that 'Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "When a man sits between the four parts (arms and legs of his wife) and the two circumcised parts meet, then ghusl is obligatory." [Muslim - 349]
The two circumcised parts means both men and women may be circumcised.
Hadeeth 3:
Abu Dawood narrated from Umm Atiyyah al-Ansari that a woman used to do circumcisions in Madinah and the Prophet (SAW) said to her: "Do not go to the extreme in cutting; that is better for the woman and more liked by the husband." [Abu Dawood - 5271]
This last hadeeth, although has a direct reference to female circumcision, but this hadeeth is debated among the scholars. It is classified as saheeh by some scholars, like those of Shafii madhab and some from Hanbali madhab, and is classified as Mursal (missing a link) by those of Hanafi madhab and Maliki Madhab.
Regardless of the classification of the above hadeeth, it is not the last hadeeth that is basis of permissibility of female circumcision, rather its the first two ahadeeth. The rule of the hadeeth is that if a weak hadeeth supports the stronger hadeeth, then the weak hadeeth can be used for the purpose of obtaining ahkaam since it is only supplementing the evidence of the sahih hatheeth. In this case the Hadeeth 3 is Mursal, a relatively higher level of classification of weak ahadeeth.
Now, there is no dispute on the permissibility of the female circumcision among the ulama. The debatable matter is , weather it is Fard, Sunna or Mustahab (recommended).
In the book Umdaatus Salik, by Imam Shaafi we see the following riwayah:
ویجب (علی کل من الذکر والأنثی) الختان (وھو قطع الجلدۃ التي علی حشفة الذکر وأما ختان الأنثی فھو قطع البظر [ویسمی خفاضًا])
Circumcision is obligatory ( for both men and women). For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert).
Therefore Shaafi Madhab makes it obligatory.

Imam Nawawy ( who is a shafii scholar) says, 'Circumcision is obligatory for both men and women in our view. This is the view of many of the salaf, as was narrated by al-Khattaabi.It is the correct view that is well known and was stated by al-Shafi'i (may Allaah have mercy on him), and the majority stated definitively that it is obligatory for both men and women. [al Majmoo 1/367].
This is the view of the Hanafis and Maalikis, and was narrated in one report from Ahmad Ibn 'Aabideen al-Hanafi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Haashiyah (6/751): 'Know that circumcision is Sunnah in our (hanafi) view for both men and women.'
The present day Hanafi jurists also hold this opinion that female circumcision is a sunnah.
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal is of the opinion that it is obligatory to have circumcision for men ( derived from the incident of Prophet Ibrahim AS that he went through the trouble of circumcising himself at a very late stage in his life) and it is Mustahab (recommended) to have circumcision for women (based on the above ahadeeth).
May Allah SWT give us the taufeeq to understand this deen in its entirety.. amiin.
ابو حلیمۃ

Dating in Islam

Assalam o allaikum Br. Rizwan,

Based on our conversation last night, I have collected some references for you.
Dating in Islam:
Dating as explained by the western culture is the courtship of a single man and a woman who spend time together to know eachother before making a decision to marry eachother. Some muslims have also taken an excuse out of this practice by saying that one should know with whom he or she is going to get married and to know about the future spouse they resort to the concept dating.
First of all we see what Allah SWT has said about what is being lawful in this case.
الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَّكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلُّ لَّهُمْ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلاَ مُتَّخِذِي أَخْدَانٍ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالإِيمَانِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ وَهُوَ فِي الآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
Made lawful to you this day are At­Tayyibât [all kinds of Halâl (lawful) foods, which Allâh has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, etc., milk products, fats, vegetables and fruits, etc.). The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them. ( Lawful to you in marriage) are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time, when you have given their due Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), desiring chastity ( i.e. taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girl-friends. And whosoever disbelieves in the Oneness of Allâh and in all the other Articles of Faith [ i.e. His (Allâh's), Angels, His Holy Books, His Messengers, the Day of Resurrection and Al­Qadar (Divine Preordainments)], then fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. (Al - Maidah: Ayah 5)
So it is very clear that Allah SWT has prohibited us to be in companionship with people secretly without having a wedlock.
Regarding our culture in Pakistan, we have these evils creeping into our muslim homes as well where people are interpreting Islam in whichever way they deem fit to fulfil their desires but we do not have to go far to get our answers. We just have to see what Prophet SAW said about a practice of being alone with a woman.

Prohibition of being alone with a non-mahram woman:
Ibn Juraij narrated this hadith with the same chain of transmitters, but he made no mention of it:" No person should be alone with a woman except when there is a mahram with her."
Sahih Muslim 3112
Ibn 'Abbas (Allaah be pleased with them) reported: I heard Allaah's Messenger (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) delivering a sermon and making this observation:" No person should be alone with a woman except when there is a mahram with her, and the woman should not undertake journey except with a mahram." A person stood up and said: Allaah's Messenger, my wife has set out for pilgrimage, whereas I am enlisted to fight in such and such battle, whereupon he said:" You go and perform Hajj with your wife."
Sahih Muslim 3110
Prophet SAW said, "Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan is the third among them"
There are many other ahadeeth that give the daleel that its not allowed to be alone with a non-mahram woman. Allah SWT gives a clear commandment to us in Quran regarding our ettiquettes when we see a non-mahram man or a woman.
The following ayah is a direct commandment to the men for their behaviour.
قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ (24:30)
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allâh is All-Aware of what they do.
Below is the ayah that is very mufassil about the behaviour of the muslim women and see that Allah SWT has commanded again for the muslim women to lower their gaze as well.
وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاء بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاء بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُوْلِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَى عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاء وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husband's sons, their brothers or their brother's sons, or their sister's sons, or their (Muslim) women ( i.e. their sisters in Islâm), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allâh to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.
Permissibility to see one's future Spouse:
Now, then what is that permissibility that is often talked about that Islam allowes a person to see the prospective spouse before marriage?
Following is the criteria that Prophet SAW put forth when a man looks for a spouse.
Abu Hurairah related that the Prophet Muhammad said: "Men choose women for four reasons: for their money, for their rank, for their beauty and for their religion, but marry one who is religious and you will succeed.
Bukhari, Muslim.
Although Prophet SAW categorically mentioned that one should choose a spouse based on her religion, the other three things mentioned also needs some consideration. For example, it is not prohibited to marry a woman based on her beauty, it will not be the best choice (as the best choice should be based on her understanding of the deen), but none the less it is not prohibited.
Also, apart from this, there are evidences, where Prophet Mohammad SAW has encouraged the people to see whom they will marry. This is because the physical attraction is a factor that will keep both the man and the woman to be away from the wrong doing and if their mutual attraction is strong, then they are less prone to commit sins.
Once a sahabi told Rasulallah SAW that he was going to get married. Prophet SAW asked him if he had seen the woman. When the man said no, Prophet SAW said, "Go and look at her for it is more likely to develope love between the two of you."
Sunan Ahmad
Prophet SAW also said, "If one of you proposes to a woman and if he is able to look at of her that which motivates him to marry her, let him do so."
Sunan Abu Dawud
There are some key aspects of consideration regarding this looking of the man or woman before marriage. Scholars are divided on the point whether it is sunnah to look at the future spouse or whether it is something that is merely permissible. However in either case, it is something that is lawful.
Also these ahadeeth do not mean that they allow the women to abrogate their limits of Hijab. Even in this looking she should be well covered in Hijab except face and hands. Since it is a special condition of looking for the purpose of marriage proposal, it is allowed for both the man and the woman to take a good look at eachother. If it were any other occasion, they would be averting their eyes from eachother after the first glance and lower their gaze, just as it is explained in the ayah above.
Regarding conversation between the man and the woman in this case is not permissible according to majority of the scholars. The scholars agree based on the above ahadeeth that although it is allowed to see the prospective spouse for their beauty and physical appearance, conversation about various matters is not allowed. The maharim of the woman must be present in this meeting. If there is anything that needs to be known by either one of them, they should find that out through their walis (guardians/parents).
From the above, it can be understood that those muslims who seek an excuse from the ahadeeth of Rasulallah that it is allowed to freely mix with the opposite sex in order to know them better for a possibility of marriage, is not correct and is prohibited.
If there are any particular questions that you might have, please feel free to ask.
ابو حلیمۃ