Dating in Islamic Discourse
Indeed, Islamic discourse does not recognize the term of dating or courtship. Therefore courtship commitment has no any legal implications. In Islam, pre-marital commitment between man and woman is known as khithbah (proposal). In the “Women Fiqh of the Four School of Thoughts”, it is mentioned that the purpose of khithbah is to make each party both the one who proposes (man) and the one who is proposed (woman) know each other (ta’aruf) so that they will be able to feel comfort or not, either regarding their behavior, temperament, tendency, goals, as well as principles and values of live which is believe by the respective couple.
Qur’an regulates about Khitbah in Surah al-Baqarah / 2: 235 as follows:
“ There is no blame upon you for that to which you [indirectly] allude concerning a proposal to women or for what you conceal within yourselves. Allah knows that you will have them in mind. But do not promise them secretly except for saying a proper saying. And do not determine to undertake a marriage contract until the decreed period reaches its end. And know that Allah knows what is within yourselves, so beware of Him. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.”
When explained the aforesaid meaning, Muhammad Mahmoud al-Hijazi in At-Tafsir al-Wadlih defined khitbah as follows:
والخطبة: طلب الرجل المرأة للزواج بالوسائل المعروفة بين الناس
“Khitbah is a proposal for marriage from a man to a woman according to the manner that has been known by society”. The same definition is also mentioned by Wahbah az-Zuhaili in at-Tafsir al-Munir.
Based on the aforementioned verse and related hadiths, Ulama conclude the provisions of the proposal as follows:
- The woman who will be proposed is not hindered based on Shar’i (Islamic laws) to marry with the suitor
- The woman who is proposed to be married is not being bounded by the proposal of another man.
- They who are engaged just can see each other based on religious provisions.
- The proposal that is addressed to the woman who is undergoing iddah (the time of waiting) especially because of her husband’s death must be in the form of allusion (see the above verse).
- The woman may propose man.
- The man and woman who are bounded by the proposal, their status remains as strangers so that they are forbidden to have sexual intercourse. They are only allowed to see each other and get to know based on Islamic law.
- The proposal can be canceled if there is incompatibility between the both of them.
- If the suitor cancels the proposal, then he is not allowed to reclaim the gift given at the time of proposal. Likewise, if the woman cancels the proposal, then she is obliged to return the gift she has received in the time of proposal.
Based on the explanation above it can be concluded that the commitments of khithbah will not or does not change the status of man and woman becomes husband and wife. However, considering that khithbah is conducted with the manners that are known by the public, then the cancellation of khithbah usually makes social impact such as tension and even hostility between the two big families and a gossip in the society.
To avoid the bad impacts of cancellation of khitbah, mostly Muslim societies take khitbah by having marriage contract (‘aqd nikah) with an agreement that they will not live together as a husband and wife until the whole marraige process is completed. In Indonesia this kind of marriage is called as “suspended marriage”. While the other Muslim communities prefer to take the process of knowing each other (ta’aruf) through courtship that is claimed free from social impact in case there is cancellation or breaking up, then if they feel right for each other, they will take khitbah before marriage so that the cancellation possibility becomes small.
Muslim communities have different opinions about whether it is necessary or not a serious relationship in marriage begins with the courtship stage. The opinion that states it is necessary is because the fiancé and fiancée are able to get to know each other and make sure whether both physically and mentally fit to establish the household. Whereas, those who say it is not necessary, forbid it and argue that the courtship is close to adultery and think that the assessment of whether the both are fit or not can be enough represented by the third credible party. And the third opinion says that courtship is necessary but should not be followed such behavior that leads to adultery.
Regardless of the controversy above, courtship is a phenomenon that is commonly found in the society that should be considered. The process of ta’aruf (knowing each other) that occurs during the period of courtship or khitbah should be a stage where man and woman learn to respond their differences in nature, character, habit, and how to manage these differences wisely to be a positive thing for both of them. This period also should be an important step for both of them to learn to understand, appreciate, respect and cooperate with each other well. Unfortunately, gender relation in courtship, khitbah, even marriage is often unbalanced or unequal so that led to the violence. This shows that instead of adultery, there is the other thing that should be worried in the courtship that is violence.
Violence in Courtship (Dating Relationship)
Up to know, public awareness about violence in the dating relationship (dating violence) has not been as high as their awareness about domestic violence (domestic violence). Courtship or dating relationship is generally assumed to be a loving relationship so that violence is not considered as a part of courtship term. In fact it is not. Violence in the dating relationship can be harmful treatment such as threat, beating, and even murder. Violence in courtship has parallel relation with domestic violence. Unfortunately many people who realize that their boyfriend/girlfriend are perpetrator of violence but still decide to keep continue to pursue a marriage with the expectation that the attitude will change. Though changing a bad habit is not easy so it is almost certainly continue to be a domestic violence after marriage. The violence both in the pre and post marriage whether it is done in domestic or public spaces is an arbitrary act that is not allowed.
Violence in courtship contains multiple violations of the principles of human relation in Islam. The first, the treatment upon human without dignity is contrary to the word of Allah as stated in Surah al-Isra / 17: 70 as follows:
“And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference”.
Ali ash-Shabuni dalam Sofwat at-Tafasir mengatakan bahwa manusia dimuliakan oleh Allah atas makhluk lainnya karena mereka dikaruniani akal, ilmu, kemampuan bicara, dan kemampuannya memilih (memanfaatkan) semua yang ada di alam semesta. Manusia tidak layak menerima tindakan kasar seperti tendangan, pukulan, jambakan, dan tindakan kekerasan fisik lainnya dalam pacaran. Manusia adalah makhluk berakal yang hanya pantas disikapi dengan cara-cara yang santun. Tindakan kekerasan hanya pantas dilakukan oleh sesama hewan yang harus berebut makanan, bahkan saling memakan satu sama lain untuk bertahan hidup. Dengan kemampuan khusus yang dimilikinya, manusia semestinya dapat bertahan hidup tanpa tindakan kekerasan.
Ali ash-Shabuni in Sofwat at-Tafasir said that Humans are honored by Allah above all other creatures because they were granted with intellect, knowledge, speak ability, and the ability to choose (take advantage of) everything in the universe. Humans do not deserve any harsh actions such as kick, punch, and the other action of physical violence in courtship. The humans are the only intelligent beings who only deserve to be treated in a polite manner. Violence only deserves to be conducted by fellow animals for fighting over food, even eating each other to survive. With their special abilities, humans should be able to survive without violence.
Secondly, the action that is closer to adultery. The commitment of courtship and the proposal does not have any legal implications. Therefore, any actions that belongs to the category of sexual violence in courtship such as palpation, kissing, and sexual contact during courtship is close to adultery or even adultery itself if it occurs sexual intercourse and it is forbidden by Allah as stated in Shurah al-Isra / 17: 32:
(And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way).
According to Ibn Kathir, the meaning of the word ‘approach adultery’ is anything that could cause or invite fornication. Adultery is the act of sexual intercourse outside marriage, while the act that approach adultery is its foreplay including a kiss, grope, and so forth that leads a person to have sex intercourse outside marriage.
Except prohibiting sexual interscourse out of marriage, Islam also prohibits the act that forces to do so (ikrah). In Shurah an-Nur / 24: 33 Allah forbids forcing male slaves to fornicate with certain benefits when they desire for chastity though in the system of slavery that exists during the revelation of Qur’an, those things were custom. If Allah prohibits forcing the slave, moreover the free woman like today. The verse is not only related to the prohibition of human trafficking, but also related to the prohibition of forced sexual intercourse which is not allowed.
Thirdly, the wrongdoing (zalim) is the act of persecution or harm toward himself or others with the wrong way that breaks Islamic law (Shari’a). There are many verses that mention this word, for example the prohibition to commit the wrongdoing and to be tyrannized as in usury (al-Baqarah / 2: 279) and a threat to those who commit the wrongdoing as mentioned in Surah ash-Shura / 42: 42:
“The cause is only against the ones who wrong the people and tyrannize upon the earth without right. Those will have a painful punishment”
In the book of Tafsir Maroh Labid, Sheikh Nawawi al-Bantani explained that what is meant by those who commit the wrongdoing in this verse are both the people who start unjust action and those who take revenge. Any kind of violence in courtship whether physical, sexual, emotional, psychic, or economic are included in the category of unjust acts or wrongdoing.
The acts of violence whether during courtship, proposal, or marriage are regarded as the wrongdoing because they are contrary to the religious teachings. Therefore, this violence must be prevented together. The prophet gave the examples how to prevent the wrongdoing and ruthlessness in the following narrations:
عَنْ أَنَسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «انْصُرْ أَخَاكَ ظَالِمًا أَوْ مَظْلُومًا» قَالُوا: يَارَسُولَ اللَّهِ، هَذَا نَنْصُرُهُ مَظْلُومًا، فَكَيْفَ نَنْصُرُهُ ظَالِمًا؟ قَالَ: «تَأْخُذُ فَوْقَ يَدَيْهِ» (رواه البخاري)
“From Anas r.a., narrated; Rasulullah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said: “Help your brother who is committing the wrongdoing (zalim) and who is tyrannized.” They asked: “O Rasulullah, we clearly understand to help people who are wronged but how should we help people who do wrong?” He said: “Hold his hand (in order not to do wrong) “.
عن أَبي سَعِيدٍ قال: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: «مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ، وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَان (رواه مسلم)
“From Abi Said r.a, he narrated: I heard Rasulullah said: “Whoever among you sees a wrongdoing let him change / prevent with their hand (power) if he can not, then with his tongue (orally), and if he can not also, then with his heart (not to feel happy and disagree.) And that is the weakest faith “ (HR Muslim).
Violence is the wrongdoing action where the victims and the actors must be helped. The help for the actors are not by assisting them to do the violence itself, but by preventing it. Violence is also the wrongdoing action that must be prevented with various ways manner, started from rejection in the heart, orally or in the verbal statement, or by actions.
Based on the two aforementioned hadiths, there are three things that can be taken to prevent any kind of violence, including the violence in courtship or dating relationship. The first, by heart means creating awareness for each person that there is violence in courtship, so that they can take an attitude to disagree against violence and take a position to prevent themselves from being the actor or victim. Secondly, orally means by socializing verbally (and in writing) about the danger of violence in courtship so that it will appear a consciousness to create a condition without violence (in courtship) whether in family, school, or work places. Thirdly, through power or authority for example by doing legal protection.
Although there are no rules and regulations that regulates the dating violence specifically, but it is important to identify the forms of dangerous violence in the dating relationship such as beating, sexual coercion, and the others so that we could bring them to the domain of law in order that the actor will get fair sanction and the victim gets adequate protection. In a smaller scale, specific regulation related to the violence also can be conducted in schools. For example, make firm prohibition for students, teachers, school headmaster and the others not to commit any violence and if they do so the consequences must be accepted. (Allah knows best).
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