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Would it be permissible to take a person of the opposite gender out for lunch/dinner to know more about him/her. I mean if I like his/her ideologies, way-of-life etc I would go on to marry him/her.
Is that permissible?

  • Yes it is allowed; if your intentions are pure and you are not violating other tenants of Islam. "When Allah causes a man to propose to a woman, there is nothing wrong with him looking at her." reference - in this hadith it is mentioned "him", but if he is looking at her, then she is also allowed to look/interact with him. – Burhan Khalid Mar 27 '14 at 4:56
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As mentioned in other questions and answers, Islam stipulates some rulings around interaction between genders. Starting at the top (most general):

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. (Surah Israa, verse 32)

Based on this, we know that Islam regulates interaction between genders. What you're asking about is called khitbah, or engagement. From my research, I have not found a lot of rulings about khitbah; it depends largely on your culture and society, as long as you fall within the general rulings of Islam.

What Islam explicitly prohibits are things like being alone with the person:

Whenever a man is alone with a woman the Devil makes a third. (Ahmad and Tirmidhi; authenticated by Al-Albani)

We can understand this ruling in the light of the ayah above -- to prevent an unlawful relationship. So obviously, a private date in your or her suite would fall under this ruling.

An interesting scholarly discussion circulates around what "alone" means. The Arabic word is "khulwah." Scholars state that "alone" includes being in the presence of people who would not stop you from committing immorality. Therefore, a public location, such as a public restaurant in a non-Muslim country, would also constitute khulwah.

What does this leave? When I took a class on the fiqh of marriage, we mentioned one scenario that would work: having both sitting together in the presence of a mahram of the girl. This includes her blood relatives, such as her father, brother, sister, mother, uncles or aunts by blood, etc. This is essentially a "chaperoned date."

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