April 29, 1994
Dating, Marriage and Motherhood
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editor's note: The following interview with Imam W. Deen Mohammed was conducted in Sept., 1984 by 9th grade students, Shaukira AH and Rasheedah Muhammad for the former Sister Clara Muhammad-Chicago school paper. The Message. )
RASHEEDAH: Are there any rules or recommendations for dating for Muslim high school sisters?
WDM: Yes, there are rules. Muslim tradition has established that girls, once they reach what we call the age of development (puberty), where they are beginning to show the physical signs of womanhood, they are not to date alone.
They are to be with a mature brother. (It is customary that they go with their brother.)
A mature brother means a brother a little older than they are — at least old enough to have good judgment. He accompanies them as protection against any possible misbehavior on the part of the boyfriend, or the person that the girl is interested in.
Girls can only date with a chaperone. Many times, the parents are the ones that accompany them.
SHAAKIRA: What knowledge is helpful for young teen-agers who have become mothers?
WDM: We believe Islamic traditions are very much like southern traditions for the Black people — the African-American people.
When a young girl got married early or became pregnant early, most of the southerners wouldn't send her away. They would keep her with them.
The girl would remain with them, and the boy would too. The families would continue to raise or give support to the children.
The grandmother would be the one most likely, that would take care of the baby and she would show the girl how to take care of the baby.
The grandmother would become like a mother to the baby. That's the best situation and that's the situation we would like to have over here. It's Islamic and it's also an African-American practice.
We pray that young girls won't become pregnant, but we can't be assured of that. We know that in this society, most likely, some of our young girls will become pregnant and they will have children too early.
They need to continue in the house with parents and with the help and advice from older members of the family. They need to finish their schooling (if they haven't finished).
RASHEEDAH: When teenage girls find that they are attracted to boys, what would you advise them concerning dating or courtship?
WDM: First of all, the free mixing that we have in Western society is un-Islamic. And most of us don't have situations that would protect us from this kind of life.
If we lived in a neighborhood and most of the people there were Muslims, it would be easy for the young girls and boys.
But since we don't, then everything around us is suggesting that we behave as Westerners behave. It's hard to overcome that overwhelming influence around us.
SO WHAT WE suggest is that Muslims (especially young girls and boys) be very, very cautious. Be very alert for misbehavior on your own part and don't invite a situation that you know can lead to un-Muslim-like behavior.
This is the advice that is given to grown-ups in the Qur'an. Allah says to the grown-ups not only should we not commit adultery; He says "Lah-Tukra-Buhah," which means don't put yourself in a situation for adultery.
I understand that to mean that if I go to a home to see a brother and he's not there, but his wife is there, I shouldn't go in the house — I should just say, 'Tell him I came by," and then go on about my business.
If I sit there in the home with her by myself, then that's going to be tempting, maybe — it may invite bad behavior on my part or her part.
SO THE BEST thing to do is stay away from that kind of situation. The same advice is given to the youngsters.
Be careful — don't put yourself into any situation where you know things can possibly happen. If your parents are not at home, don't have friends over; don't have boys over.
If a boy asks to take you somewhere in a car by himself, that's a situation that might invite trouble.
If you don't have a trustworthy brother to go along with you, or a parent — even a friend can be a chaperone. if the friend is one who's known to have good behavior; if you don't have that kind of protection, then my good advice is: Don't be alone in an automobile with a boy; don't be alone at home, in your room, or anywhere with a boy, because inviting trouble.
NOW WE KNOW that the young years of puberty, of physical development, is a very, very strong thing to resist. I was a teen-ager, you know. 1 know that grown-ups will tell you things, but you know what to believe and what not to believe.
Sometimes we forget what we experienced as a youngster, and all of us experienced that 'puberty. It's very difficult to deal with the sex urge when you're in the young teen-age years.
As you get older it becomes easier to deal with, but in those early years it's very difficult.
I believe that is why God has done it that way, so that the parents will say, "No! You're too young to get married!"
So now the youngsters fight the strongest urges (the sex urge) that they will ever experience in their whole life.
IF THEY CAN FIGHT those urges and resist them, in those early years of their teens, then they won't have any trouble being lawful to their mates when they get older.
I believe that is why God has done it that way. But, we must allow for human feelings, human behavior, and the limits on the human being's strength or power to resist temptation.
So what I advise is this: If there exists very strong feelings between two young people, the parents should look at that very seriously, because maybe that's the perfect mate for you.
I know of many marriages that formed (contracted) for girls when they were 14.1 know of one 13.1 know of two or three girls 15. The boys were a little older.
I know of a couple of fellows who were four-to-six years older than the girls, and those marriages have worked fine; they are still together.
They've lasted for 30 years and more, and they're not divorced.
SOME PEOPLE say, "Oh you have to have experience — go out and experience life first, before you decide."
That's a big mistake! That's un-Islamic! You shouldn't go and experience, because once you start experiencing, you get in the habit of experiencing. Then it's hard to be satisfied with one person, because you don't have any loyalties. Your sex loyalties are broken.
THE BEST satisfaction -take it from me, a man who has some experience — the best satisfaction is one woman. Stay with that one mate.
That's the best, because you grow to know each other. You started out with each other, so you are mated for each other from the very start.
Now sometimes you meet a person and something happens. A situation is created where you can't resist, and you have a relationship with somebody whom you don't stay with. Nobody should say, "Stay married to her."
If that happens, that's a terrible tragedy. But you have to live with it. We have to get by that — live with it — just put it in the past and say, "I won't be caught in a situation like that again."
BUT NO GIRL should be forced to marry a boy whom she knows she is not interested in, one she knows she's not going to really love.
SO WE SHOULD encourage young girls to get married early if they are really, really strongly in love.
If the boy is strongly in love with her and she with him and they look like they are going to make successful mates, then the parents and the community should support them and allow them to get married and help them to avoid having children.
Some will say it's un-Islamic to practice contraception or to use contraception, etc. But we know the reality here and we don't want a young girl to come up with three or four children before she's 18. That's not good for her.