What is the Sunnah with regard to proposing marriage? i.e., if a young man wants to get married, should he send someone to the woman’s family to ask for her hand in marriage from her family? If his proposal is accepted and the woman and her family agree, what is the next step before the khutbah, such as the mahr (dowry) and other things that are required of the man? Is it Sunnah to recite al-Faatihah when the dowry is stipulated? Is it Sunnah to give the woman a ring on the day of the engagement and on the day of the wedding or is there any special kind of clothing?.
If a man wants to get married, and he has decided to propose to a particular woman, then he may go to her guardian on his own, or with one of his relatives such as his father or brother, or he may delegate someone else to propose marriage on his behalf. The matter is broad in scope, and prevalent customs should be followed. In some countries it is regarded as improper for the suitor to go on his own, so attention should be paid to that.
What is prescribed in sharee’ah is for the suitor to see the woman to whom he wants to propose marriage, because of the report narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1087), al-Nasaa’i (3235) and Ibn Maajah (1865) from al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah (may Allaah be pleased with him), who proposed to a woman and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Go and look at her, for that is more likely to create love between you,” i.e., ,ore likely to establish lasting love between you. This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
If the girl and her family agree, then a mahr has to be agreed upon, and the wedding expenses and the wedding date, and so on. This also varies according to local customs, and what the man can afford and what preparations he has made for getting married. Some people do the proposal and the marriage contract in one sitting, and some delay the marriage contract after the engagement, and some they delay the consummation after the marriage contract. All of that is permissible. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did the marriage contract with ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) when she was six years old then he consummated the marriage with her when she was nine. Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5158).
It is not sunnah to recite al-Faatihah at the time of engagement or at the time of the marriage contract. Rather the Sunnah is to recite Khutbat al-Haajah. It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) taught us Khutbat al-Haajah, (to be said) at weddings and on other occasions: “Inna al-hamda Lillaahi nasta’eenahu wa nastaghfiruhu, wa na’oodhu bihi min shuroori anfusinaa wa sayi’aati a’maalinaa. Man yahdih Illaahu falaa mudilla lahu wa man yudlil falaa haadiya lahu. Wa ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu (Verily, all praise is to Allaah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Him from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allaah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allaah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger).
‘Yaa ayyuha’n-naas uttaqu rabbakum alladhi khalaqakum min nafsin waahidatin wa khalaqa minhaa zawjahaa wa baththa minhumaa rijaalan katheeran wa nisaa’an wa’ttaqu-Llaah alladhi tasaa’aloona bihi wa’l-arhaama inna Allaaha kaana ‘alaykum raqeeban (O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allaah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) Surely, Allaah is Ever an All-Watcher over you).’ [al-Nisaa’ 4:1]
‘Yaa ayyuha’lladheena aamanu-ttaqu’Llaaha haqqa tuqaatihi wa laa tamootunna illaa wa antum muslimoon (O you who believe! Fear Allaah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allaah.)’ [Aal ‘Imraan 3:102]
‘Yaa ayyahu’lladheena aamanu-ttaqu’Llaaha wa qooloo qawlan sadeedan yuslih lakum a’maalakum wa yaghfir lakum dhunoobakum wa man yuti’ Allaaha wa rasoolahu fa qad faaza fawzan ‘azeeman (O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth). He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell‑fire and will be admitted to Paradise)’ [al-Ahzaab 33:70, 71].”
Narrated by Abu Dawood (2118) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
The Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas was asked (19/146): Is reciting al-Faatihah when a man gets engaged to a woman an innovation (bid’ah)?
They replied: Reciting al-Faatihah when a man gets engaged to a woman or when the marriage contract is done is an innovation (bid’ah). End quote.
There is no special clothing to be worn for the engagement, wedding or consummation, for either the man or the woman. Attention should be paid to what the people are accustomed to with regard to that, so long as it is not contrary to sharee’ah. Based on that, there is nothing wrong with the man wearing a suit and so on.
But if the woman is in a place where men can see her, she should wear concealing clothes, just as she should before and after the wedding. But if she is among women, she can adorn herself and wear whatever kind of clothes she wants, but she should avoid extravagance and waste and that which calls to fitnah.
As for wearing a ring, it is not prescribed for men or for women, because that involves imitating the kuffaar. See question no. 21441.
May Allaah help us and you to do that which He loves and which pleases Him.
And Allaah knows best.