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The IBA Iqra Society invited Sheikh Kamaluddin Ahmed’s wife ‘Alimah Sobia Ahmed’ on the 22nd of November, 2010 to deliver a lecture on the topic Romance in Islam. The following is an edited version of the notes prepared by Maliha Abidi during the lecture. It also includes some points from a lecture delivered by Alimah Sobia Qasim (a student of the speaker) at a summer program in Karachi called Footsteps.


The word “Muhabbat” comes from the Arabic word “Hubb(a)”, which literally means seed; a seed that every human being has. That is, it is important for us to realize that love (or rather, feeling (verb)) is a function of the heart, just like seeing is the function of the eye.

It is natural to pursue true love.

The problem with this issue or pursuit arises due to the difference between our definition of true love and what it actually is. What we believe to be true love is actually false love gift wrapped as true love by the media and the pop culture for off late, more than any other time, it has turned into an idea that sells. Falling prey to the cultural manifestations of love (Heer-Ranjha, Romeo- Juliet, Laila-Majonoo), and out of sheer ignorance of the deen, we often get frustrated to why Allah does not want us to express one of the strongest emotions he has blessed human beings with.

Such a beloved emotion it is that in the Holy Quran, Allah SWT mentions who He himself loves.

– Allah loves the Muhsineen [Those who do good (to others)]

– the Tawwabeen [Those who turn to rightfulness and recourse much to Him and His Guidance],

– the Mutahhareen [Those who keep their bodies free from filth, minds distant from dirty thoughts and conduct clean from unseemly acts],

– the Muttaqeen [Those who guard themselves against evil],

– the Sabireen [Those who  have capacity to endure hardship],

– the Mutawakkileen [Those who put their trust in Allah and His Laws],

– the Muqsiteen [Those who act equitably and justly]

– and those who fight in His way  against tyranny, injustice, wrongdoings, aggression and transgression.

On the contrary, humans love women, sons, gold and silver, wealth and the dunya. Those who believe are intense in their love for Allah. So intense is their love that they give up all things that displease Him and continuously crave for His approval of them for that is what one desires from his beloved.

Such an honoured emotion it is that the Holy Prophet SAWS has said, “A person will be with whom he loves.” (Bukhari, Muslim) The most common understanding for this hadith is that when a man loves those who are good and pious he will be raised with them on the day of resurrection, and if he loves those who are evil and corrupt he will be raised with these people on the day of resurrection.


Love in Islam constitutes the following:

1. Love for Allah swt

2. Love for the Prophet Muhammad saw

3. Love for others for the sake of Allah.”

Where true love is one whose basis is spirituality, Ishq-e-Majaazi – false love is based on materialism. Materialism does not necessarily mean wealth and hoarding. What materialism in a relationship means is attraction on the basis of physical attraction (usually the case for men) or emotional attraction or attachment (usually the case for women “I feel good after talking to him”).


  1. Basis – False Love (based on selfish motives and materialistic drives) is egocentric. That which comes with looks goes with looks, easy come, easy go. True Love on the other hand is based on spiritual and ethical basis – that is, you like/love the other person because of his/her relationship with Allah SWT and because he is trustworthy, noble, and loves humanity, etc. Thus, it is important to know what the basis of your love is.
  1. False Love lacks commitment and fulfillment of promises. Often in false love, the trend or tendencies are that either side stalls any commitment based on difficult family circumstances, a need to graduate first, or the need to get a job first, or the need for elder siblings to get married first, etc. True Love on the other hand is based on the need to fulfill commitments and promises, and most importantly, the tendency to fulfill the other’s rights. That is exactly why the Nikah is more of a commitment and promise to Allah than to the other person.
  2. False Love is the kind which is heavily influenced by the western or Indian, or nowadays even our own, media and pop culture, where anyone in true love is supposedto have fallen in love at first sight of the other person. True Love on the other hand is something which is developed over time. Its when you live with the other person, and are willing and intrinsically motivated to overlook the other person’s khamiyan (shortcomings), and the cracks of the relationship. When you are more accepting of the fact that relationships are not meant to be “pop-culture perfect”. We just wish that love was that easy. True love is more permanent and eternal.
  3. False Love is where the person in love is supposed to be a deewana, “madly” in love, and in the process forgetting who they are, and that they have other and equally important things in life to take care about. Such love is based on and comprises of excessive attachment. A US research study done to study relationships attempted to find out whether love at first sight existed or not – and interestingly, they found that 9 out of 10 times, there is no such thing as love at first sight. That is, chances are very few that anyone who claims to have fallen in love at first sight, has had a successful relationship with the person they fell in love with at first sight.Often a person in love is indeed in love, but not with the other person, but with the concept of love which s/he has idealized in his/her mind. It’s like a drug – and just like with any drug, there is a high, where you fail to make sense of, or even look at and accept the bigger picture and the reality, and then after the peak there is a downturn and a low.  True love on the other hand is one which leads to a healthy, stable and balanced love/relationship, where the lovers do not forget that they have responsibilities towards their lives outside of this romance – that is, their grades have a right on them, their jobs have a right on them, and more importantly, their families and friends have a right on them. That they have a responsibility towards each of these other subsets of their lives. In true love, people have a balanced life, where they do not excessively need to be with their partner. True love is based on and leads to maturity of the relationship. It is in a Hadith that “your love will make you blind and deaf” – interesting, no? That today people have the words “Love is blind” on the tips of their tongues while it was already confirmed by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) centuries ago. What it simply means is when you refuse to listen to your friends even when they tell you he’s a loser.
  4. False Love leads to anxiety, problems and disappointments. Simply stating, in False Love, your foundation for the relationship and the expectations from this relationship are all unrealistic. You expect the other person to be up at 2am if you call them. You expect expensive gifts on special occasions. You come up with fancy special occasions. All of this burdens the two individuals as well as the relationship. Thus leading to anxiety, problems, tensions, and disappointments if these expectations are not met. True Love on the other hand is where Allah’s raza is involved, and thus Allah showers His blessings and mercy on the jaaiz relationship. The same things (special occasions, expectations, expensive gifts) become easy to do, facilitated by Allah’s mercy. That is why, the purpose of the Nikah-marriage is to bring peace (sukoon) into the relationship, to find peace with this other person. According to the Holy Quran itself, the purpose of marriage-nikah is so that we may find sukoon with our wives (or husbands for that matter when it comes to understanding the greater meaning behind this). However, the Quran specifies that the woman is the source of this peace. For all feminists out there, the woman being a source of this peace is not in the derogatory sense, but in more of an empowering sense. And there is really a simple explanation to this: women being emotional beings, have the capacity to understand other peoples’ needs, and take everyone along, thus. For example, if your dad is upset or not at peace, most times, no one in the family even realizes what is wrong and he gets over it and no one ever finds out. However, if your mom is upset… you can complete the picture yourself  – everyone finds out and everyone knows. Therefore, the Quran says that the woman in the relationship has the power to maintain, sustain and develop the peace of the relationship. However, in no way does the Quran mean to say that the wife is not entitled to sukoon from her husband. Here, another Hadith’s crux: The Prophet (pbuh) told the Sahabas that when they look at their wives and smile out of peaceful pleasure, Allah grants them sawab, and that when they feed a luqma/niwala/bite of food to their wives with their own hands, Allah is pleased and grants them sawab. The Sahabas were quite surprised as to how come Allah is granting sawab for something that they (the men/human beings) feel the need to do as per their natural human desire. The Prophet explained that since they are in a legitimate relationship, their natural desires are halal for them, with their legitimate wives.
  5. False Love leads to haram – in small steps. That is, most (men and) women enter co-education and college not with the intention of developing relationships and all. However, they get attracted to the opposite gender due to interaction, and due to a lack of clarity about what the basis of an Islamic relationship should be, they start interacting. And then they start interacting more; through text messaging, emailing, chatting, meeting on campus more often (outside of zaroori kaam), hanging out a bit more, going out, etc. True Love on the other hand actually leads to halal – that is, true love helps the two people who are attracted to each other realize that they need to be better Muslims, reinforcing their purpose of life. Also, when married through nikah, true love is the one which brings peace to the relationship by bringing these two people closer to Allah. True love is in fact regarded as Nafli Ibaadat, after nikah, of course. Crux of Hadith: When you look at your wife and smile, and when your wife looks at you and smiles, Allah looks at both of you and smiles.
  6. False love brings death to the spiritual heart, while True Love strengthens the spirituality in your heart. No person has two hearts with one to give to Allah and one to give to another person. So if it is towards ghair-Allah, then it can’t be towards Allah. On the other hand, True Love brings life to spiritual heart. The mahboob-e-haqiqi is Allah.
  7. False Love ruins both worldly and spiritual lives, by distracting and keeping you from your studies, work, and namaz etc. and is thus regarded as destructive love. False Love makes you keep and try to fulfill unrealistic expectations, it ruins your priority list, and thus keeps you away from namaz, roza, jaaiz, and Allah’s raza n short. True Love on the other hand, secures both your worldly and spiritual lives. The Aalima gave the example of this couple in LUMS, where the girl was a top grade student before she started hanging out with this guy. She became so negligent that her grades and academic performance dropped to the worst in her academic history, However, their parents had their nikah done, and now the girl hung out even more with him, but her performance rose up again. Why? Because now that she was doing the same things through the right channel and for the right reasons, Allah’s blessings were with her too. She had peace in the jaaiz relationship and thus had His blessings and support.
  8. Lastly, False Love brings disgrace and is looked down upon in the society. True love brings respect and honor.

Hence romance does exist in Islam but after marriage. It is perfectly okay to feel attracted to someone, in Islam. Until you can commit before Allah to that person, there are certain restrictions. After this commitment (nikah) however, it is more of your responsibility and your spouse’s right, that s/he enjoy romantic gestures from your end. Without a halaal relationship, if one looks at a na mehram with a lustful gaze, Allah SWT denies that person of His rooiat[Gazing at Allah swt] on the day of judgement. (He cannot see Allah SWT on that day).

The points discussed above differentiating between True Love and False Love are not meant to guide the reader with respect to halalifying their haram actions currently! You cannot justify your material attraction to someone by now making it look like a spiritual one. Do the right thing for the right reasons, and Allah will inshAllah grant you what/who you want.

To elaborate, it becomes more important to keep the romance alive once the relationship or attraction or niyyat is officialized through nikah, because without this effort, the marriage will go stale. There will be no emotional fulfillment in your life after marriage without romance. And before nikah, romance will lead to haram only.

Crux of a related Hadith or an event from the Holy Prophet (pbuh)’s life:

Holy Prophet examplified playfulness in marriage.

When he was married to Hazrat Ayesha (pbuh), he once raced her and she won. This was an example of the fact that it is okay and in fact your responsibility and right to have fun with your spouse and arouse romance. On some later day, the Holy Couple happened to again cross that path and they raced again and this time the Holy Prophet won, and he cheekily said to his wife “Tit for Tat”.

Allah says: They are clothing/covering (libaas) for you and you for them….”

The husband and wife are like clothes to each other for three basic reasons –

1. Clothes cover the wearer

2. Clothes compliment the wearer and enhance their beauty

3. Clothes are almost as close to the wearer as the skin itself

In other words, your spouse is someone who hides your weaknesses, covers for you on your weak fronts, while enhancing and highlighting your good points. Also, the spouse is someone who is close to you, when it comes to a spiritual and emotional connection.

Another event from the Holy Prophet’s life:

To him, Hazrat Khadija was the one person in whom he found utter peace. She was the first person he found solace in when he received prophethood. Even after her death, Hazrat Ayesha (pbuh) used to be sort of jealous of the place Hazrat Khadija (pbuh) enjoyed in the Holy Prophet’s life. In Islam, there is an example for everything that is natural to human beings, as per the need of their natural desires. Human beings need a companion, who they can connect with on a spiritual and emotional (and even physical, yes) level. However, the proper way is the focus of Islam – the proper way to find and commit to this right person is the ways described above.

The lecture or workshop was not aimed at young girls alone entering college so they may be “saved” from evil. It is aimed at them so they are better informed and can make better decisions. It is equally or perhaps more important for people in the middle of their marriages, when their kids have gotten married or have begun getting busy with their lives, and the time is perfect for them to focus on their marriage with renewed passion and interest. They are equally entitled to bring the romance back in their life now that they have extra time at hand.

When it comes to decision making, man and woman are supposed to look to logic first, and only then rely on their gut feeling, generally speaking.

When looking for spouse:

  1. Look at your list.
  2. Look at what Islam teaches.
  3. Think with your head.
  4. Then with your heart.
  5. Plan a course of action conducive to Islamic teachings.

Speaking with reference to Istikhaara.

The Aalima discussed that people need to realize that Istikhaara is not the first step. It is rather a step which is there to facilitate you to make your decision,based on guidance from Allah taala, in the form of primarily a conviction in your heart [It maybe through a dream, but thats not necessary at all]. The point was emphasized that Istikhaara is done when logically and rationally thinking leads you nowhere and leaves you confused. This is because human beings by nature have a thinking process whereby they do a cost benefit analysis, at whatever level, and only when they are met with confusion still do they turn to their heart for guidance. Without doing the thinking job yourself first, you cannot do istikhara.


Yearn for Ishq-e-Haqiqi.

La marghubi illallah

la matlubi illallah

la mahbubi illallah

la ilaha illallah

I have raghbat (attraction towards) of none except Allah, talab  for (desire of) none except Allah, muhabbat (love) for none except Allah, there is no one worthy to be worshiped but Allah.

It’s a very beautiful dua. Initially you develop ragbat for someone. Attraction. Then desire, talab for him/her. Next you fall for that person. And when you have his/her muhabbah in your heart… you start thinking about that person and remembering him in times you should remember your Lord. i.e. nauzubillah, he/she becomes your khuda (god). Hence the dua makes perfect sense.

Another one, Surah Qasas, verse 24. “O my Lord, I am in need of whatever good you grant me.”



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Is love that ends in marriage haraam?


Praise be to Allaah.


The relationship that develops between a man and a non-mahram woman, which people call “love” is a combination of haraam things that transgress shar’i and moral limits.

No wise person will doubt that this relationship is haraam, because it involves a man being alone with a non-mahram woman, looking at her, touching her, kissing, and speaking words filled with love and admiration, which provokes desire.

This relationship may lead to things that are more serious than that, as is happening nowadays.


Studies have shown that most of the marriages that are based on prior love between a man and woman fail, whereas most marriages that are not based on haraam relationships, which people call “traditional marriages”, succeed.

In a field study done by a French sociologist, the conclusion was:

Marriage is more likely to succeed when the two parties did not fall in love before marriage.

In another study of 1500 families, undertaken by Professor Isma’eel ‘Abd al-Baari, the conclusion was that more than 75% of love marriages ended in divorce, whilst the rate among traditional marriages – those which were not based on prior love – was less than 5%.

We can mention the most important causes of this outcome:

1- Emotion blinds one to seeing faults and dealing with them, as it is said: “Love is blind”. One or both parties may have faults that make them unsuitable for the other, but those faults only become apparent after marriage.

2- The lovers may think that life is an unending journey of love, so we see that they only speak of love and dreams, etc. They never speak about the problems of life and how to deal with them. This notion is destroyed after marriage, when they are confronted with the problems and responsibilities of life.

3- The lovers are not used to debate and discussion, rather they are used to sacrifice and compromise in order to please the other party. Often they have arguments because each party wants to compromise and please the other. Then the opposite happens after marriage, and their arguments lead to a problem, as each one is used to the other agreeing with him or her, without any argument.

4- The image that each lover has of the other is not a true image, because each party is being kind and gentle and trying to please the other. This is the image that each is trying to present to the other during the so-called “love” phase, but no one can carry on doing that throughout his or her life, so the true image appears after marriage, and leads to problems.

5- The period of love is usually based on dreams and exaggerations that do not correspond with the reality that appears after marriage. The lover may think that he is going to bring her a piece of the moon, and he will never be happy unless she is the happiest person in the world, and so on.

But in return, she is going to live with him in one room and on the ground, and she has no requests or demands so long as she has won him, and that is sufficient for her. As one of them said, “A small nest is sufficient for us” and “A small morsel is sufficient for us” and “I will be content if you give me a piece of cheese and an olive”! This is exaggerated emotional talk, and both parties quickly forget it after marriage, and the woman complains about her husband’s miserliness, and his failure to meet her needs. Then the husband begins to complain about having too many demands and too many expenses.

For these reasons and others, we are not surprised when each party says after marriage that they were deceived and that they rushed into it. The man regrets not marrying So and so who was suggested to him by his parents, and the woman regrets not marrying So and so whom her parents approved of, but in fact they rejected him because of her wishes. So the result is this very high rate of divorce for marriages which people thought would be examples of the happiest marriages in the world!


The reasons mentioned above are real, and have happened in real life, but we should not ignore the real reason for the failure of these marriages, which are based on disobedience to Allaah. Islam can never approve of these sinful relationships, even if the aim is marriage. Therefore they cannot escape the just divine punishment, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur’aan nor acts on its teachings) verily, for him is a life of hardship” [Ta-Ha 20:124]

A hard and difficult life is the result of disobeying Allaah and turning away from His Revelation.

And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

And if the people of the towns had believed and had the Taqwa (piety), certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth” [al-A’raaf 7:96]

Blessings from Allaah are a reward for faith and piety, but if there is no faith or piety, or only a little thereof, the blessing will be reduced or even non-existent.

And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter)” [al-Nahl 16:97]

A good life is the fruit of faith and righteous deeds.

Allaah indeed spoke the truth when He said (interpretation of the meaning):

Is it then he who laid the foundation of his building on piety to Allaah and His Good Pleasure better, or he who laid the foundation of his building on the brink of an undetermined precipice ready to crumble down, so that it crumbled to pieces with him into the fire of Hell. And Allaah guides not the people who are the Zaalimoon (wrongdoers)” [al-Tawbah 9:109]

The one whose marriage is based on this haraam foundation must hasten to repent and seek forgiveness and seek a righteous life that is based on faith, piety and righteous deeds.

May Allaah help us all to do that which He loves and which pleases Him.


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Love before marriage?


In Islam is any sort of relationship allowed between the sexes before marriage? I was approached by an older cousin who loves me very much but marriage is impossible for the next few years due to my age and the circumstances. I did not think that a secret affair would be right so I have since turned him down. He claimed that to love is not a sin only under some rules and regulations given by Islam. Was I right in refusing him even though I liked him a lot? And is it haraam upon me to think about/remember him? Jazakallahkhair.

Muslimah, 15, UK




Wa ‘Alaykum-us-Salaam wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh.

1) Islam does not permit any sort of relationship before marriage. Islam forbids fornication, and all actions that could lead to it eventually, and this begins by speaking and looking. This is the unique Islamic way of destroying evil from the root.

2) He claims to love you very much, but if you are not considering marriage, it would be best for you to let go of the idea. It is worth considering, that what the youth of today see as undying love, is many a time nothing more than infatuation and puppy love. True love is the mutual feeling that Allaah creates between man and woman through the Barakah of Nikaah. You are still young, and your outlook in life, and your likes and dislikes will vastly change over the next few years. At this stage, you cannot be sure that this is what you want for life. It would be best for you to forget about him, and ask him to forget about you. If you are written for each other, let it happen at the right time, and in the right manner. Do not force your destiny to unfold before its time.

3) Your refusal of pursuing a Haraam (illicit) relationship, was the right and Islamic thing to do, which most certainly earned you the pleasure of Allaah, inshaAllaah.

4) Thinking about a non-mahram (strange) man voluntarily, is a sin. However if these thoughts come involuntarily, banish them immediately, seek forgiveness and make the Zhikr of Allaah. If you entertain them you shall be sinful.

And Allaah knows best.

Wa Billaah-it-tawfiq.


A. Z. Pandor


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Sexual relationship before marriage


i love a hindu girl. we want to go for marriage. and i know that there is no permission for a muslim to marry a non-muslim. though i have met with her sexually(forcebly by girl). now what to do? shall i go for marriage or not? and how do i get refreshed?



Assalaamualaikum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh.

Allaah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala says in the Noble Qur’aan:

“Do not marry disbelieving (mushrik) women until they have Imaan. A believing slavegirl is undoubtedly better than a non-believing (free) woman even though she may be pleasing to you.” (al-Baqarah, 221)

Alhamdulillaah you are aware that marrying non-believers is not permissible in Islam. Even if a believer does get married to a non-believer the marriage is invalid and thus living together as husband and wife is equivelent to zina (fornication). Alhamdulillaah you have also realised that sharing an intimate relationship with a member of the opposite sex is forbidden in Islam.

First and fore-most you should turn to Allaah in repentance and seek His forgiveness. This is the way to “refresh” yourself. Remember that a sin, no matter how big, is never to huge for Allaah to forgive. Infact, many a time repentance takes a person to a stage of closeness to Allaah that he did not know before.

Allaah Most High says in the Glorious Qur’aan while speaking of the attributes of “the bondsmen of ar-Rahmaan”:

“(and the bondsmen of ar-Rahmaan are those who)….and who do not fornicate. And whoever does so shall meet with a grave punishment. Punishment will be multiplied for him on the day of Qiyaamah and he shall remain disgraced in it forever. Except for those who repent, accept imaan, and perform good deeds. for such people Allaah will convert their sins into good deeds. And Allaah is ever Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. And whoever repents and performs good actions has certainly turned to Allaah in earnestness.” (al-Furqaan, 68-71)

Allaah’s hands are spread out waiting for His bondsmen to turn to Him, and the door of forgiveness is always open for a person who slips.

Secondly, you should ask yourself in all earnestness, thinking with your mind and not your heart, whether what you share with this girl is true love or not. In most cases, what we would see as love before marriage is only an infatuation, that will definitely fade away with time. It would be helpful to read the following dua in abundance:

اللهم الهمني رشدي و اعذني من شر نفسي

Transliteration: Allaahumma alhim-nee rushdee wa a’ithnee min sharri nafsee.
Translation: O Allaah inspire me with guidance and grant me refuge from the evil of my nafs (carnal desires).

If you do feel strongly that you cannot forget this girl and that you really and truly love her, then your decision of marrying her is dependent on whether or not she is ready to accept Islam with sincerity. Many a time non-muslims embrace Islam for the sake of marrying a Muslim, but later on do not follow nor believe in its teachings. This eventually leads to endless problems between the families and later on when children come into the picture. If she truly understands the beauty of Islam and is ready to learn its laws and practise upon them, the nikah can take place after she has embraced Islam. Once she has come into the fold of Islam, whether or not she will remain steadfast and strong on this Deen will be very much dependent on how strong a muslim you yourself are. It could go either way. Either she will influence you or you will influence her. If the latter proves to be true then Alhamdulillaah.

And Allaah knows best.

Wa billaahit-tawfiq


A. Z. Pandor


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