The idea of a Muslim woman offering herself in marriage to a righteous man, does not contradict the idea of modesty. However, many women still deem

approaching a man as tantamount to lowering their self-esteem or worth All over the world, Muslim women have been known to be modest and most of the times hardly make their intentions obvious. However, when it comes to matters of relationships-in the context of one that leads to marriage; any move on their part is certainly bound to raise eyebrows. Thus, there has been some serious debate as to whether a Muslim woman is allowed to approach a man with a marriage proposal. An interesting story from Somalia is narrated of how a respected Sheikh was once giving a darsa (religious lesson) on a local TV channel and during the call-in sessions; a female viewer (read admirer) in this conservative Muslim country called in expressing her admiration for the Sheikh. To cut the long story short, this female viewer was offering a proposition to the Sheikh; that she was ready to offer her hand in marriage to him. What followed thereafter were telephone calls from viewers both male and female alike castigating; if not condemning this female caller. Motivated by this particular story, Marhaba Life and Style was on the streets to gauge the take of Muslims on the same as well as whether it is Islamically permissible. As expected, this topic elicited a mixture of reactions. Hamisi Ng’anga from Kawangware in
Nairobi says there’s nothing wrong. “If a girl respectfully offers herself to a suitable man for marriage, it should not be considered a crime! Unfortunately, there are cultural hurdles and traditions among communities who intertwine Islam and their cultural practices. There are those who consider and are against a woman’s family proposing or initiating marriage talks,” Hamisi says. “All these culturally-driven notions and customs that are not endorsed by Islam.” Mwanaisha Munawar from Umoja, Nairobi says that it is ‘rude and offensive’ for a daughter to suggest a suitable man to her parents. Unfortunately, such a move may be misinterpreted by her parents to mean that she is involved in an illicit relationship.

“There is nothing wrong in a woman offering herself to a righteous man. A woman may propose marriage to any righteous and suitable man for herself,” says Rukia Mohammed from Mombasa. “If I truly love a man and I see that he is the righteous husband for me; I will let him know, though that needs a lot of courage and trust in oneself, it’s not an easy thing in this generation,” Rukia adds. For Husna Swaleh, she says that where she comes it would be considered ‘awkward’. “People will start thinking that I was having an illicit relation with the man, so I cannot do it.” Salama Kinoti says that this would be tantamount to ‘lowering herself esteem’. “I would never approach a man for a hand in marriage. It is like ‘cheapening’ yourself… You have no worth. I would rather wait for a proposal to come!” “How will he take me? What if he declines my proposal, will I be the talk of town? I would rather keep quite,” Salama says.

On a personal level, when a shy Ali Mohammed from Eastleigh, Nairobi was asked his thoughts about a Muslim girl proposing to him, Ali says. “I will  feel happy and value that person because she is strong and courageous enough to propose to me. She will have eased my anxiety and cut the chase.” As much as opinions differ from one individual to the other, it is worthwhile to note such a phenomena may be deemed as ‘foreign’ or something new. Truly Islam is a complete way of life such that this topic has been addressed if the teachings and sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) are anything to go by. A general rule in Islamic fiqh is that all things are halal unless they are specifically prohibited by Qur’an or Sunnah. And there is nothing in Qur’an or Sunnah that would suggest that it is prohibited for a woman to initiate a marriage proposal. And Allah knows best However, there is absolutely no prohibition in Islam for a woman to propose marriage to a man. There are no moral or ethical limitations from the Islamic perspective. You will find reassurance in the fact the Khadijah, the mother of the believers (may Allah be pleased with her), is reported to have proposed marriage to him and he accepted. Obviously, our best role model is the Prophet (SAW) and in this we can find a
most beautiful example. Further, during the times of Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him), it was reported that the baitul Mal was overflowing since there was no one coming forward to utilise it. Again this baitul mal was also open for those who wished to marry and had no mahar to pay. Meaning it was open for both Muslim men and women wishing to settle down in a marriage.

According to Ustadh Mohammed Abdallah-the mudir (Principal) of madrasatul Hudda in Nairobi’s California, estate says that it is perfectly fine for Muslim lady to approach a Muslim man in a most honorable way. However, let him know your intentions by hinting or being flat out about it,  depending upon the customs in your society. It is not prohibited by Islam,” Ustadh Abdallah says. Additionally, Ustadh Abdallah adds that, Islamically, marriage negotiations can be initiated or marriage can be proposed by either of the two parties. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with a daughter or son suggesting a suitable and righteous person to the parents provided it is done with decorum and observance of Islamic guidelines. In the above narration, Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) offered his daughter, Hafsa (Allah be pleased with her), not only to one but two individuals: Sayyiduna Uthman and Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (Allah be pleased with them), with the latter already being married. As such, there is nothing wrong with a woman’s guardian (Wali) proposing marriage on her behalf to a righteous and suitable man.

As such, it is perfectly acceptable for a woman’s family to propose marriage. Likewise, it is not indecent or disgraceful for a woman to desire a man for his righteousness, piety and good character, and thus propose marriage to him as long as it is done through the proper channels and without violating any rules of Shari’ah. Thus it is at this juncture that Ustadh Abdallah cautions and advices that after such a proposal has been expressed, there are certain issues that need to be addressed before the wedding bells. These men should be measured along the lines of good character and above all-a Muslim. “If a woman identifies a man of good character and deen and can make a good husband, she is allowed to send a message of proposal to him, but the intensions should be positive of marriage not of outof- wedlock relationships kind,” Ustadh Abdallah says. A Fatwa issued by the eminent Muslim scholar, Dr. `Ali Jum`ah, Professor of the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence at Al- Azhar Univ., states, that there is nothing in the Shariah to prevent a Muslim woman from proposing to a righteous Muslim man. However, a Muslim woman should be careful not to be deceived by the appearance of a certain person and wrongly judge him as a righteous man. Having stated this, there are several points that a proposing woman should keep in mind. She should select a righteous matchmaker, whether a man or a woman, whom she may use as a “middle-man” in the affair of seeking a pious spouse. Also, she should only choose a virtuous man who is committed to Islam and is financially able to maintain her and  cater for her needs. Here, we would like to shed light on the issue of privacy. She is not allowed to sit in privacy with a non-mahram male under the pretext of proposing, etc.

This also shows the importance of matchmakers. Alternatively, Ustadh Abdallah further says that others ways that she could do this would be to ask her parents to approach the man’s parents; or to send a message through someone who knows him like for example her mother, or aunty that she
is interested, in order to know if he also interested. Again we can also learn from our beloved Prophet (SAW) was once approached by another woman for a a marriage proposal but declined in a honourable manner with putting her to shame. The Prophet (SAW) did not disapprove of that or criticise her. Though the Prophet did not wish to marry her, he matched her with someone else and the woman accepted. Thus, the idea of a Muslim woman offering herself in marriage to a righteous man, that does not contradict the idea of modesty, so long as he is trustworthy with regard to his religious commitment and moral attitude. It was narrated that Thaabit al Banaani said: “I was with Anas ibn Maalik and a daughter of his was with him. He said: ‘A woman came to the Messenger of Allah (SAW) and offered herself in marriage to him. She said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, do you want to marry me?’ The daughter of Anas said: ‘How little was her modesty. How shameless, how shameless!’ Anas said: ‘She was better than you; she had a liking for the Prophet (SAW) so she offered herself in marriage to him.’” (al-Bukhaari) ‘She is better than you’ here indicates that it is permissible for a woman to offer herself in marriage to a righteous man, and to tell him of her liking for him because of his righteousness and virtue, or because of his knowledge and honor, or for some characteristic of religious commitment, and that there is no shame on her if she does that, rather that is a sign of her virtue.

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