Believe it or not, there are still many Muslims who adhere to arranged marriages at this time and age. Some stories are as sweet as a fairy tale, with prince charming riding straight to the king and queen to ask for the princess’s hand in marriage and they live happily ever after. But some, unfortunately, have bitter endings where couples discover how incompatible they really are. We are living in a time where the world is small enough to be reached from one end to another but still big enough for secrets to be hidden. It is difficult to trust someone you’ve only met a few times before getting married.

Of course, dating for Muslims is really a period of getting to know each other, of measuring up the compatibility of a couple before tying the knot. Call it an informal engagement. Furthermore, dating Muslims restrain from any physical contact (not even holding hands!) which might lead to further physical intimacy (and bigger sins). Ina and Masri, Shatirah and Salleh as well as Anisa and Akhdiyat were some friends of mine who met in a religiously-oriented local university. They dated for more than 5 years before getting hitched after graduation and a stable career. Throughout their dating years, I never saw them being physically intimate and this didn’t stop them from showing how much they care for each other.

Since environment influences our moods, the right place and ambience can keep the conversation flowing and build a good rapport between two lovebirds. Here are a few dating ideas for Muslim couples to have some good clean fun while getting to know each other.

Cafes and Restaurants

Good conversations always happen over good food and our city is booming with trendy cafes and hot restaurants with the perfect ambience for a relaxing kind of date. I prefer first dates to be over a good meal because I find that being able to eat comfortably while having a good flow of conversation means a promising relationship. Furthermore, being surrounded by the other guests means it is easy to be careful to stay within the limits of Muslim conduct.

Events, carnivals and concerts

One of the best things about living in this city is that you can always count on there being an event, be it cultural or musical, during the weekends. These events usually are filled with a variety of activities that will cater for different interests, making it perfect for bonding with the loved one. They also provide great opportunities to meet new people for the single and available. Hanging out with a group of friends can ease up any awkwardness of new couples dating as well as providing a comforting circle for established pairs.

Picnics and the Outdoors

There’s nothing more refreshing than spending a beautiful day outdoors with someone special. Whether you opt for a quiet picnic in a scenic park or a robust activity like hiking or biking through the woods, nature never fails to bring out a good mood among company. A very close friend of mine, Salleh, used to bring his wife on picnics and walks in public parks. He admitted that the mood is always much more joyous and less stressful than when walking through shopping malls. For Susila, an acquaintance who’s always flooding my facebook timeline with photos of her weekend sports activities, a date that involves extreme sports and adrenaline rush is ideal for her free spirit.

Of course, as Muslims, certain places aren’t really appropriate for Muslim couples to date. Here are some common places that might present problems:


You never know what temptations lurk in the dark. There have been times when I found myself sitting next to a Muslim couple shamelessly tangling limbs with each other in the dark cinema. It’s always a good idea to go on double dates or with accompanying friends when planning to catch a flick.

Weekend Away

As fun as a trip can be, make sure that you stay in separate rooms! You can still spend your nights and days doing activities together. A couple I used to know is such a pair of adventurous travellers that they’re always going on trips but they always made sure that they get separate rooms or, when camping, separate tents.

Home Alone

Spending the night in like a pair of couch potatoes sounds cozy, right? Well, just remember that we live in a country where religious raids may happen. You might end up getting forced into marriage just for being alone in a closed space. Instead, try a night indoors with a group of friends – it can actually be a fun group date for a few couples.

The golden rule of dating for Muslims is to keep away from temptations of the flesh. As a friend of mine once said, “physical intimacy can make things complicated.” And that is true. When lust gets mixed into the dating process of a Muslim couple, the innocent objective of looking for a life partner might be easily forgotten. For Muslim couples moving forward towards marriage, dating is more than testing the waters and indulging in feelings. It is about working out whether the person you’re currently dating can be the life partner you’re looking for.

Illustration by Xeem Noor

Cek Mek Molek enjoys making observations on love and relationships via her Muslim eyes and heart. She believes that life is like her namesake; crusty and hard on the surface but overflowing with sweetness once you bite the bullet-shaped kuih.

Please note views expressed here are the personal opinions of the columnist and not of