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The Exception of a Suitor

In the traditions we have many which relates to the time when one is a suitor for marriage at which time it is permitted to look.

Does this not mean, then, that it is not permitted if one is not a suitor? Not only is it permitted but it has been stressed that it is better if one looks. For instance, they said a man wanted to marry a daughter of one of the companions who was a resident of Madinah. The Holy Prophet said to him, "Go and look and then marry. There is something in the eyes of the companions.1 The Holy Prophet told him to look first because the companions were from just one or two tribes and most of them had some kind of an eye defect. He told him to look first and then marry so that later he would not be disappointed.

Mugharyar ibn Shu'bay said, "I had sought to marry. The Holy Prophet said to me, "Have you seen her?" I said, "No. I have not". He said, "Go and see her because it will give strength to your marriage."2
Imam Ja'far, peace be upon him, said, "If one of you sought a woman for marriage, it is better if you see that woman, if your look is one of a suitor."3

When a tradition says that it is permissible as a suitor, then does this mean it is not permitted when one is not a suitor? If 'looking' as a suitor means that only the face and hands can be seen and nothing more, then it is limited that it is not at all lustful. This would mean that looking at other times is not permitted but this is not the way it is. It is permitted for a suitor to look at the face and the hair of a woman even the outline of her form, things that effect the form of a woman's body. It is more extensive and it is clear that which is permitted for a man who is suitor is not permitted at other times. They have also said that if a suitor be a serious one, even if he looks with lust, there is no problem.
1."Salih Muslim", vol.4, p.142.

2. "Jama' Tirmizi", p.175.

3. "Wasa'il", vol.12, p.58, "Wasa'il", vol.3, p.11, "Kafi", vol.5, p.365.

Adopted from the book : "On the Islamic Hijab" by : "Murtaza Mutahhari"

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