Candice just wrote an interesting post about early marriage and how it helps in terms of preventing young Muslims from having pre-marital relationships and sex. This got me thinking: is a system where people get married without really knowing each other feasible?
Of course not every Muslim couple doesn't get to know each other before marriage - many do, especially when their families are more open and liberal. However there are still many instances where the young couple meet only a few times before tying the knot, and thus barely know each other or the family they are marrying into. To me, this seems so strange. I've never been in that situation and don't know anyone who has, so I can't really speak about whether it works or what the outcomes of these types of marriages are. I guess having grown up in Western countries it seems weird to me - but that doesn't make it bad or wrong.
At the time of the Prophet (pbuh) usually parents would arrange marriages. That makes sense since girls and boys usually married very young and so maybe couldn't make the decision for themselves. However, that isn't usually the case today, particularly since in most countries the legal age of marriage is above 16 (in Iran it's 9!). If a person wants to get married, and they are say 24, should their parents still arrange a marriage? What if they themselves meet someone they are interested in (as is bound to happen in mixed settings such as work, university etc), should they refrain from interacting until they are married? But then how do they know they are interested in each other?
What kind of dating is haram, or is dating as a whole haram, in your opinion? Would two people chatting and going out for coffee be okay as long as they don't do anything intimate? Or should they do nothing at all? (But again - how do you become interested enough in someone to want to marry them, unless you at least talk to them?)
Would love to hear your opinions!