What is the position of the scholars about the exchange of photos for the purpose of marriage and with Islamic matrimonial agencies?
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
If a man wishes to marry a woman, he may look at her face and hands. The lawful sight is the one which occurs in the presence of her Mahram (unmarriageable male relative). There should be no seclusion or meeting outside the house etc. Nowadays, the majority of youth (boys and girls) are not concerned about their religious matters. They present their pictures in magazines or through mass media, and sometimes they exchange their photos by correspondence. Everybody knows that all these things lead to unlawful contacts; therefore, it is prohibited in Islam. Sometimes in some customs, people do not get to look at the proposed girl; in this case, one may send a reliable woman to see her on his behalf, or one may see a picture in this case, with some conditions:
1 – This exchange should be through the legal guardian of the proposed woman, because seeing a picture of a non-Mahram woman is prohibited except for a Mahram.
2 – The picture should be modest and one should give back the picture promptly after looking at it.
3 – One should not entertain with the pictures, but when one is serious in marriage, he may see the picture. A person may be allowed to see the picture when he fulfills the above conditions.
As for the matrimonial agencies, they should work under the following conditions:
- The people who are in charge of these agencies should be reliable and trustworthy.
- The role of these people should be limited to establishing a contact between the man who is seeking to get married and the woman’s family. The procedures that follow should be achieved by the concerned parties; i.e., (the ceremony…) in accordance with Islamic law. This work fits into good deeds. If there is any other form of activities for these agencies, please make it clear, so that we could give a Fatwa about it.
Allah knows best.
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