Dear Respected consultant, As-salamu `alaikum. First, I would like to sincerely thank all of the staff involved in Ask About Islam section for answering upon numbers of questions that I have presented in the past. My newest question concerns a wonderful relationship that I have recently developed with a Muslim man, who is 9 years older than me. I have talked to this man for several weeks and have been meeting up with him constantly, where we discuss my thoughts and questions regarding Islam. Now that we have become very good friends, I have thought about the future. With the help of my friend, I will be taking the shahada any day now. After many months of contemplating the declaration of faith, I have deeply thought about the consequences and the actions that I will have to take, once I officially embrace Islam. Recently, I have been very apprehensive because I am afraid that I will not be able to see the man that has helped me revert to Islam, due to the ‘no dating’ and ‘no free mixing of the sexes’ policies in Islam. I very much understand the reasoning behind these rules, yet I feel like my heart is being split in two. My friend has assured me that he does not intend to use me in any unacceptable way (I feel the same). I feel so grateful and blessed to have Allah send me this man, and I want to continue my friendship with him. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions or guidance.

Dear Beth,

Thank you very much for your message. I highly appreciate the sincere feelings you have towards Islam and also your decent emotions towards the man, who is helping you in your reversion to Islam.

I presume you don't think that dating or having an affair is the only way to keep in touch with him! You are allowed in Islam to have a relation of Islamic fraternity in the public sphere – minding Islamic manners – and you can also exchange ideas and social discussion over the mail or the phone. This is not haram (prohibited), as long as it does not involve any indecent talk. Muslims are first of all, brothers and sisters in faith.

If you do have some kind of affection towards the man, ask why you would not consider getting married.

If he is already married, then you should keep the relation to the very minimum formal level. Otherwise, we would neither be discussing dating here, nor fraternity. Actually, we would be discussing cheating on his wife! So, if you cannot get married - for any reason - then you should restrict yourself to the general kind of relationship, which you can have with any person, in your public life.

The issue is not dating or free mixing dear Bethany. It is the issue of framing a relationship so that it abides by the Islamic rules of social interaction. This is meant to enable Muslims to avoid the development of emotions or a relationship, which would end up violating the boundaries of what is halal (permitted) and approaching the boundaries of haram. Then, things might get out of control.

So, it is the definition of friendship that we are trying to clarify here. And that’s why I prefer using the word fraternity. It implies an equal relationship, in the public space, not a private affair, which takes you to attitudes and practices that are not Islamic.

Islam is not about denying people the right to love, but it is about asking the question: and what is next? Feelings are a matter of heart that one cannot always control, but actions should be set on the path of God, and this is part of Islam as submission to Allah’s guidance.

If you have more in your heart, than circumstances would allow, then keep patient. Pray to Allah to allow you, in the future, to have a legitimate relationship that would end up in marriage. If this can never happen, for one reason or another, then try to shift to the accessible, general Islamic standards of manners. Then, you should know that maybe your destiny is not to marry him. Sister, be sure that piety will bring you happiness and inner peace, even if your heart suffers for a while.

I have felt love myself and was blessed by sharing life with the man I loved, through the bond of marriage. So, I know how it feels! Still, I insisted not to go beyond the Islamic boundaries. Then, we agreed that if we cannot get married, we would keep the relation of Islamic fraternity, and remain forever on the path of Allah as caring brother and sister.

This is not romance sister Beth, but this is life! It is piety - as I said - that brings people eternal happiness and helps them stay on the straight path. We would not like you to hesitate to revert, simply because Allah does not permit you to go dating! If you did that, you might end up remaining friends, but loosing your relationship with Allah, which you have strived to achieve for so long. That is why you have to carefully consider the matter and decide.

If you need to talk more about any feelings you have for this man, kindly send us a personal message and we can resume talks offline. We can also advise you to contact our colleagues in the Cyber Counselor section.

We do understand your feelings, but also we should urge you to make the decision, which would bring
you more happiness for the long term. Keep well and stay in touch.