Engagement: Correspondence before engagement

Q191 :Is it forbidden to correspond with one's future wife before the engagement, or even to see her, so that both can become acquainted with each other?

A191 : What is intriguing in the way you have phrased your question is your usage of the expression "future wife," in reference to your woman correspondent, even before you are engaged. How can you justify such a description? Be that as it may, the answer to your question depends on your answer to a number of questions which you have to put to yourself. How serious are both of you about going ahead with the marriage? Do her parents know of your correspondence? And do you write with the thought that your letters may be read by them? If so, are they good Muslims who abide by the teachings of Islam? If you are writing to the lady whom you call your"future wife" in secret, and if both of you fear that your letters may fall into the hands of her parents because they will be very angry with both of you and probably take measures to stop this correspondence, then there is something essentially wrong with this relationship, and it is forbidden. In principle, there is no objection to a man getting to know his prospective wife's character and to find out whether her manners, education, temperament, characteristics and other qualities are to his liking. A man needs to be sure that his marriage stands a good chance of success. When writing, however, Islamic standards of morality must be observed. Their must not be love letters of the type poets and film-makers try to glorify. The purpose should be clear, and once the person concerned has determined that the other party will be a good marriage partner or the reverse, he should take practical steps accordingly, either severing the relationship or regulating it into an engagement and marriage. As for seeing her, a Muslim woman has to observe the Islamic standards of propriety and decorum. A man who wants to marry a certain woman may see her in the presence of one or both of her parents, or her adult brother in order to determine whether to go ahead with his proposal and marriage. To see a woman in secret, without the knowledge of her family is not allowed.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )