Finding a Partner
What to look for in a marriage partner
Your choice of spouse will almost certainly be one of the biggest decisions that you will have to make; a decision that you make for life, indeed for eternity. Therefore, much care and consideration is needed.
In this article, you will find guidance on what to look for in a marriage partner, what you should find out about a prospective marriage partner and general advice on ensuring that you make the right decision.
First of all, ask yourself what qualities you would like to find in a wife and keep these in mind throughout your search. Be clear about what Islam has to say about the most important traits to look for and beware that focusing on the wrong characteristics can only lead to unhappiness.
Remember that your search must be halaal and follow the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Do this and you will receive Allah’s blessing. Ask Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى) for guidance, for He rewards those who put their trust in Him.
Most importantly, you should seek someone of good Islamic character to become your spouse, someone of high moral and religious standards. The Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “A woman is normally sought as a wife for her wealth, her beauty, her nobility or her deen, so choose a religious woman and you will prosper.” [Muslim]
The importance of piety also applies to the groom: “If someone with whose piety and character you are satisfied comes to you, marry to him. If you do not do so, there will be trials in the earth and a great deal of evil.” [At-Tirmidhi]
Only a spouse who practises Islam and fulfils the wajib will provide a strong foundation for an Islamic house hold and a religious family. However, outward signs of piety are not enough – simply wearing hijab, attending the masjid, or having a beard do not ensure that he or she will be a good marriage partner. This is just part of the overall package.
Although it is of lesser importance, beauty can also be a consideration. It can provide a strong attraction between partners in a marriage. Our faith allows a prospective husband one look at his prospective wife. It is recommended that this takes places once a marriage proposal has been intended. He is allowed to take a good look, rather than averting his eyes after the first glance. However, the sister must be covered except for her face and hands. She is also permitted to look at her prospective husband.
When looking for a partner, remember that you cannot marry:
- Someone who is mahram to you (unmarriageable kin). This includes family lineage (qarabah), foster relationships (radha’a) and relationships through marriage (sihriyya);
- someone who is already married;
- someone in her iddah;
- a woman that another Muslim has asked in marriage unless she has already refused him;
- a disbeliever ( with exception of Jewish or Christian women), although it is haram for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man;
- a prostitute, unless she has repented her sins.
You will need to find out as much as possible about your prospective partner in order to ensure compatibility. In these days of high divorce rates, seeing a potential partner just once or twice in the company of others is not enough to enable brothers or sisters to decide whether they will be content to spend their lives with this person.
If possible, try to spend some time with your potential partner (this could be by phone or email) without breaching Islam’s restrictions on being alone together, and ideally where you are free from the pressures of others who may want this marriage to take place and who may, therefore, influence your decision.
Talk to others about your potential partner and listen to what they have to say. Do their answers to specific questions match what he or she has told you? Seeing how he or she speaks to and treats others will tell you a lot about him or her. Ensure that you feel good about the partnership. Above all, don’t be pressured into a marriage - after all, it is you who will be spending your life with this person, not your Wali or your parents.
Regularly pray Salaah al-Istikhara, Islam’s special prayer for guidance, and seek advice from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى). “Put your trust in Allah, for Allah loves those who put their trust in Him.”[Qur’an s.3; v.159]
There will be many questions, covering a range of topics, which you will want to ask a potential partner. You will find a summary below of issues you may want to cover. However, this is by no means exhaustive and you should prepare more questions based on your own circumstances. You may feel that some of the questions seem “unIslamic”, yet they reflect the society in which we live today.
- Marriage in general
Why do they want to marry now? What are they looking for in a spouse? If they are from abroad, why do they want to marry someone from this country? Do you speak the same language?
Do they enjoy good relationships with their parents, brothers and sisters? What obligations do they have towards them? Do the parents give their blessing? It is also worth asking about extended family to gain a more rounded picture.
Is their understanding of Islam compatible with yours? How many times a day do they pray? Are they involved in the Islamic community? How are you expected to practise after marriage? What is their attitude to fasting, Zakat, or Umrah?
- Education and achievements
What school did they attend? What subjects did they enjoy/not enjoy? What success did they have? Have they been to university or do they intend to study further? Did you reach a similar level of education?
What is their profession? How many hours a week do they spend working? How much time will you be able to spend together? What is their attitude towards wives working?
- Hobbies and interests/social life
Do they attend any clubs or take part in any events? Do you share any common interests? Would your spouse be happy for you to continue with your hobbies? Do they have non-Muslim friends?
- Where will you live?
With your or their family? Alone? Will you need to move around the country or to a new country? What sort of home will you have?
- Financial issues
Are they financially independent?
Do they want children? If so, when and how many? What would happen if you were unable to have children? Who will take responsibility for child-rearing and discipline?
- How do you plan to resolve any differences between you?
What are their goals and ambitions? How do they expect to live their life?
The above advice should enable you to build a picture of the person that you are considering marrying. However, do not rush things. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى) has given you an inner voice. Listen to it and let it guide you in your decision-making. Does it feel right? Remember that marriage is for life and for the establishment of a family. Above all, put your faith in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى) and you will be rewarded.
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