Halal and Haram: Khitbah
Khitbah is a marriage proposal from a man to a woman and a woman may ask for a certain time to think and weigh out the proposal. She has the right to accept or reject the khitbah and if she accepts it, then we called the woman a makhthubah (مخطوبة), or engaged one.
Ash-Syafi’iyah scholars consider khitbah as sunnah or mustahab, arguing that before the Prophet (SAW) was married to Aisha and Hafsah Radhiyallahuanhuma, the Prophet (SAW) proposed/ khitbah to them first.
- Halal Khitbah
It is the khitbah to a single or woman virgin who has never been married before. If she has been married, as long as they have been divorced or her husband has died, the khitbah is halal as long as her iddah has ended.
- Haram Khitbah
It is not permissible for a man to ask for the hand of a woman who cannot be married such as a woman that is mahram, married, unmarried but still within the iddah period, a makhtubah (a woman who had been khitbah by other man), and during Ihram (when conducting hajj or umrah).
- Women who are unlawful to be married
A Man is not permitted to khitbah a woman who is unlawful for him (such as his mother, bladder daughter, bladder sister, aunt, and niece), since the purpose of khitbah is to deliver to a marriage. Others who are also unlawful to accept khitbah are married woman and mahram women because of mushaharah, (i.e mother-in-law, stepdaughter, stepmother, mahram woman due to the same wet nurse mother).
- Married women
A married woman is unlawful to accept khitbah so if a man proposes to her then it does not have any legal implications.
- Women who are within the iddah period
There is no blame upon you for that to which you [indirectly] allude concerning a proposal to women or for what you conceal within yourselves. Allah knows that you will have them in mind. But do not promise them secretly except for saying a proper saying. And do not determine to undertake a marriage contract until the decreed period reaches its end. And know that Allah knows what is within yourselves, so beware of Him. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing. (QS. Al-Baqarah: 235)
In terms of the iddah period, Islam differentiates between unmarried women due to divorce and those unmarried due to death.
The iddah period for the divorced woman according to some scholars is three times that of the pure period of menstruation, and some other scholars say three times the period of menstruation itself. Before expiration of the iddah, a woman may not accept khitbah even though her status is divorced from her husband.
- Left by her husband due to death
The iddah period for a woman who has been left by her husband that has died is four months and 10 days. Before the expiration of the prescribed period, the woman cannot accept khitbah.
- Women who have accepted khitbah
A woman who has already accepted khitbah from a man cannot accept the khitbah, or be makhthubah (مخطوبة) to another, this is unlawful and it is of course also forbidden to marry another man, until the khitbah is revoked or has expired by itself without being pursued for a wedding.
The basic prohibition is found in the following hadith:
Narrated Ibn `Umar:
The Prophet (ﷺ) decreed that one should not try to cancel a bargain already agreed upon between some other persons (by offering a bigger price). And a man should not ask for the hand of a girl who is already engaged to his Muslim brother, unless the first suitor gives her up, or allows him to ask for her hand. Sahih al-Bukhari 5142
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Beware of suspicion (about others), as suspicion is the falsest talk, and do not spy upon each other, and do not listen to the evil talk of the people about others’ affairs, and do not have enmity with one another, but be brothers. And none should ask for the hand of a girl who is already engaged to his (Muslim) brother, but one should wait till the first suitor marries her or leaves her.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5143, 5144).
- A man with Ihram is forbidden to do khitbah
The scholars said that it is makruh for a man who is in a state of ihram to ask for the hand of a woman, until he completes his ihram. The basis of this prohibition is the following hadith:
From Uthman ibn al-Affan radhiyallahuanhu narrated with marfu ‘, “It is not allowed a person who is conducting ihram to marry a couple (as wali) or to marry for himself, and he also cannot do khitbah”. (HR. Muslim)
Referrence: Fiqhul Mar’ah Al-Muslimah by Ibrahim Muhammad Al-Jamal