Would it be harām to tell the older sister that you like the younger sister?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
We assume this question is in the context of marriage as anything other than marriage is obviously unlawful and totally prohibited.
It is necessary to marry a person to whom one is genuinely attracted to. One of the key objectives of marriage is to safeguard a person’s chastity and enable him to refrain from all immoral actions. If a person is not attracted to his/her prospective spouse and has no inclination towards them, then this defeats the very purpose of marriage.
Incompatibility will spring up in the guise of discord and conflict. Failure to marry a person whom you generally like will leave the doors of indecency and immorality open. One will eventually feed his carnal desires and passions from unlawful avenues as he/she has no fondness for their lawful partner.
One should always do his ‘homework’ well. Before approaching a girl’s family for her hand in marriage, the boy’s family must carry out their own research to assess the compatibility of the girl. The mother and father should enquire from relatives, family friends, neighbours, scholars who know the family and other associates. Time should be given to such a mammoth task. All the while, the boy’s family should be engaged in istikhārah (seeking guidance from Allah).
Every member of the girl’s family should be identified. If at this juncture the qualities of another sister become apparent, then obviously there is no harm at all in changing the direction of a proposal.
The parents should visit the girl’s family informally to have a firsthand account of the girl. Only after all these assurances, should one’s family finally propose for the girl, after which the boy and girl may avail of an opportunity to see one another.
The reason for all these steps is to inhibit future complexities. If the steps leading to a proposal are not executed well, there can be collateral damage afterwards. An innocent boy or girl can be left heartbroken and in grief due to our actions. Such actions can leave a psychological stain on the person involved. It can induce despondency, low self esteem, inferiority complex, jealousy and other unfortunate syndromes and illnesses.
As for the case in reference, if one genuinely feels the younger sister is more suitable and compatible, then there will be no harm per se to mention it. Shari῾ah has granted you the discretion of choosing your marriage partner.
However, this may not be as easy as it sounds. First of all, you should have no contact with the girls whatsoever. Talking to the opposite gender without need is strictly prohibited.
There are many factors to consider before this. Will the parents agree to let their other daughter marry you after the heartache caused to the other sister? Is the younger sister ready to marry? Will the sister be happy marrying the person her sister was supposed to get married to? All such questions stem from this.
All this is obviously overlooking the pain which will be experienced by the elder sister. No doubt it will be improper if you state your desire. Try and devise the most effective method to get the message across. You may consider asking your mother to speak individually to the girl’s mother. Make sure the message is relayed tactfully to reduce the offense the elder sister may experience. After they have spoken, give their family time to digest this piece of information.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mufti Faraz Ibn Adam al-Mahmudi,