Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: What are the guidelines for permissible warnings against potential spouses? I was told that when it comes to issues of marriage, we are allowed to say about others what might normally be considered backbiting. Could we speak about other potential spouses from the past that didn’t work out?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well.
In section r2.16 of Reliance Of The Traveller, the author lists six reasons permitting slander. Your question is related to section r2.20 – warning Muslims of evil:
(2) When a person seeks one’s advice about marrying into a certain family, entering into a partnership with someone, depositing something for safekeeping with him, accepting such a deposit, or some other transaction with him, it is obligatory for one to tell the person asking what one knows about the other by way advising him. If one can accomplish this by merely saying, “Dealing with him is of no advantage to you,” “Marrying into the family is not in your interests,” “Do not do it,” and similar expressions, then one may not elaborate on the individual’s shortcomings. But if it cannot be accomplished without explicitly mentioning the individual, one may do so.
Based on this, I would recommend caution and discretion when choosing to warn others about potential spouses. Start with vague warnings, but if more explicit reasons are required, then do so. Always be aware of why you are doing this, and ask Allah to grant you sincerity in your words and actions.
In relation to warning others about past marriage prospects, the same rules apply. I would suggest that if some time has passed since your interactions with this individual, do mention this fact. Perhaps Allah has guided this person without your knowledge. People do have the capacity to change.
Allah Most High knows best.
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Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani