Praise be to Allaah.
First of all I ask Allaah to guide you and grant you happiness, and I ask Him to increase the numbers of girls like you who are keen to maintain chastity and purity and adhere to the sacred limits of Allaah in their affairs, among the most important of which are emotional relationships that many people take lightly, so they overstep the mark and transgress the sacred limits of Allaah, and Allaah tests them with problems that we read about and hear of, in which there is a lesson for every Muslim and for every wise person.
You should note that correspondence and contact between the sexes is one of the doors that lead to fitnah (temptation). Sharee’ah is filled with evidence which indicates that it is essential to beware of falling into the traps of the shaytaan in this matter. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saw a young man merely looking at a young woman, he turned his head so as to make him look away, then he said: “I saw a young man and a young woman, and I did not trust the shaytaan not to tempt them.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (885) and classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
Hence you did well to cut off contact with this young man, and we hope that you will stop corresponding too, because correspondence is one of the greatest doors to corruption that have been opened for people nowadays. This has been discussed in a number of questions. See the answers to questions no. 34841 and 45668.
This does not mean that it is haraam for a man or woman to like a specific person whom he or she chooses to be a spouse, and feel love for that person and want to marry them if possible. Love has to do with the heart, and it may appear in a person’s heart for reasons known or unknown. But if it is because of mixing or looking or haraam conversations, then it is also haraam. If it is because of previous acquaintance, being related or because of hearing about that person, and one cannot ward it off, then there is nothing wrong with that love, so long as one adheres to the sacred limits set by Allaah.
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
If love develops for a reason that is not haraam, a person cannot be blamed for that, such as one who loves his wife or his slave woman, then he leaves her but that love remains and does not leave him. He is not to be blamed for that. The same applies if he glances accidentally then looks away, but love may settle in his heart without him wanting it to. But he has to ward it off and look away. End quote.
Rawdat al-Muhibbeen (p. 147).
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
A person may hear that a woman is of good character and virtuous and knowledgeable, so he may want to marry her. Or a woman may hear that a man is of good character and virtuous and knowledgeable and religiously committed, so she may want to marry him. But contact between the two who admire one another in ways that are not Islamically acceptable is the problem, which leads to disastrous consequences. In this case it is not permissible for the man to get in touch with the woman or for the woman to get in touch with the man, and say that he wants to marry her. Rather he should tell her wali (guardian) that he wants to marry her, or she should tell her wali that she wants to marry him, as ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) did when he offered his daughter Hafsah in marriage to Abu Bakr and ‘Uthmaan (may Allaah be pleased with them both). But if the woman contacts the man directly, this is what leads to fitnah (temptation). End quote.
Liqaa’aat al-Baab il-Maftooh (26/question no. 13)
Our advice to you is that it is essential to stop corresponding with this young man, and tell him that he has to propose to you through your wali, if he really does want to get married. He should not regard his material circumstances or anything else as a barrier. The matter is simple, in sha Allaah, and if a person is content with little, Allaah will make him independent of means by His grace and bounty. He should at least contact your wali and do the shar’i marriage contract, and if the consummation is delayed there is nothing wrong with that. But if it remains as a promise to get married, ande correspondence continues between you on that basis, this – according to the rulings of sharee’ah and the experience of real life – is a wrong path that opens the door to sin and corruption. You can be certain that you will never find happiness except by obeying Allaah and adhering to the limits set by his sharee’ah. The permissible ways are sufficient and there is no need for haraam means, but we make it hard for ourselves and the shaytaan takes advantage of that.
Your delay in getting married is very harmful for you. You are getting older and this young man’s circumstances are not improving; you are not marrying him and you are not marrying anyone else. Beware of delaying, for that will only cause harm. You should realize that one of these men who have proposed marriage may be more religiously committed and righteous than that young man, and there may be far greater love with him than there is between you and that young man.
And Allaah knows best.