Khitbah ,or engagement, in Islam is simply a commitment or promise to marry at a future time. It is just a preliminary step towards marriage and a chance for each party to know the other more. However, the engaged couple are not considered married yet. So, they should adhere to the same regulations and restrictions that organizes relationship between males and females. The fiancée should wear hijab in the presence of her would-be husband and both of them should stick to the Islamic teachings and etiquette.
In this regard, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, President of the Fiqh Council of North America, states: Khitbah is engagement whereby the man and woman decide to get engaged to marry at their convenient time. During this time, they and their families try to know each other. During the time of engagement, the couple is not married and they are not allowed to be alone with each other. It is forbidden for them to have intimate relations during this time. The parties can break the engagement without going through the process of divorce or talaq. They should return the engagement ring and other gifts, but this can be waived if there is mutual agreement and understanding.
As far as marriage is concerned, there are certain customs and traditions that Muslims observe in Muslim countries and communities such as khitbah, nikah, rukhsati and walimah, et cetera.
What we are concerned about here is that Muslims should carry out such marriage-related customs according to the teachings of Islam and apply the teachings of Islam.