1. DEAR ABE: Is arranged marriage religious? –RONNI, NEW ENGLAND, USA
DEAR RONNI : Arranged marriage is based on culture, not on religion. Some basic requirements that all marriages must meet on a religious basis are; that there must be mutual attraction, a dowry for the woman, and a believer should be sure to marry a believer and not an idol-worshipper . These requirements dictate that the couple will need to spend some time together prior to the marriage , but there is no requirement on the arrangement of the marriage.
Relevant Quran Verses:  4:24, 2:221;  Marriage articles, at Islam Unraveled.org.
2. DEAR ABE: Can my son have a girlfriend; or, is it haram and forbidden in Islam? –MALI, NEW YORK, USA
DEAR MALI: Today's society is replete with powerful temptations. The true believers who care about their children will advise them and remind them repeatedly and persistently to keep their chastity . This means staying a virgin until their wedding night, then staying loyal to one's spouse - never committing adultery - for their own happiness. God's advice to keep our chastity, before and after marriage, is for our own good. God is the one who controls our health, wealth, and happiness or misery . .
Relevant Quran Verses: 20:132;  53:43, 53:48;  Answer reproduced from Appendix 34 of the english Quran translation by R. Khalifa.
3. DEAR ABE: Is it okay to celebrate birthday's? –J.K., DETROIT, MI, USA
DEAR J. K.: Absolutely. The Quran gives importance to birthdays:
40: The Age of Decision*
[46:15] We enjoined the human being to honor his parents. His mother bore him arduously, gave birth to him arduously, and took intimate care of him for thirty months. When he reaches maturity, and reaches the age of forty,* he should say, "My Lord, direct me to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Let my children be righteous as well. I have repented to You; I am a submitter." 
Relevant Quran Verses:  46:15.
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