A guide to selecting your life partner
By Sister Nahla Abbas Al-A’raji
Marriage is one of the most highly recommended acts in Islam. The Holy Prophet of Islam (blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny) says “The person who marries, safeguards half of his religion.” Let’s look at some factors relating to marriage.
Criteria for Selecting a Marriage Partner
In modern times, the criteria for selecting a marriage partner tends to focus mainly on materialistic traits such as: wealth, beauty, social rank, character, etc. The Holy Quran, however, enjoins Muslims to select partners who are good and pure. Allah (swt) states, “Women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity“ [24:26]
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recommended Muslims to select those partners who are best in religion and morality. The Prophet (pbuh)said "Do not choose a wife for her wealth or beauty. Her wealth will cause her rebellion, and her beauty will cause her corruption. You must consider her faith and religiousness for marriage" [Mustadrak al-Vasa'il, On Marriage Ch. 13]
Freedom to Choose a Marriage Partner
Islam has given freedom of choice to those who wish to get married. The mutual choice of the bride and groom to be is given the highest consideration. Islam does not allow anyone to be forced into a marriage.
The process of spouse selection should be a function of a healthy balance between the freedom of choice of the would-be-spouses and consideration of the influence and consent of their parents. The freedom of choice of those who wish to get married should not rule out the influence and consent of the parents/guardians nor should the parents/guardians ignore the wishes and consent of the spouses to be. After the age of puberty, a male who is baligh and sane has full rights to decide about his own marriage. However, according to the majority of the mujtahids, a baligh and sane girl needs her father or grandfather’s permission. If, however, the father or grandfather refuse the proposal of a suitable man for no valid reason, then the religious judge can over-ride this decision. Since a marriage is a union between two people and their families, it is important for parents to understand the needs of their children and allow them to be with suitable spouses of their choice.
Our 6th Imam, Jafar as-Sadiq states “Do not marry the one you love, love the one you marry”. This is an example of the fact that true love grows after marriage and thus falling in love is not a pre-condition for marriage in Islam. However, for the purpose of selecting an appropriate spouse, the two people involved are allowed to see and/or talk to each other within Islamic boundaries.
How to Help Muslims Get Married:
Imam Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Ali [a] said: “The best mediations is it that you intercede between two persons for lawful marriage so that they both marry under the law of Allah.
AI-Tahthib, vol.7, p. 415 & Al-Kafi, vol. 5, p. 331
Below, are some tips and advice to what parents can do you:
HOW PARENTS CAN HELP:
If you as a parent want to play an effective role in helping your children seek a suitable spouse, things have to be done differently.
1. Understand your role
Your role as a mother or father is to give support to your child. Understand your child’s needs and expectations of their spouse. Remember, it is your child who has to get married, not you. Do not put your personal preferences in the spouse selection process but rather your child’s preferences. The parents therefore have a tremendous responsibility in the process. They should:
A. Suggest individuals as prospective spouses
B. Thoroughly screen and check proposals; call for references
C. Act as the third party between the two candidates
D. Talk to your children about what you both want.
You may live in the same household as your children and think you know them inside out, but often there are many differences between your thinking and your child’s thinking. There is also a generation gap and therefore do not over impose your ideas of a suitable spouse on your child’s.
Open-mindedness and clear communication may reveal a side of your child that may be hard for you to accept. However, you must remember that marriage affects the two people involved in the relationship. They must like the person they are marrying.
2. Clearly outline the rules of meeting a potential spouse
Setting the boundaries of meeting a prospective spouse is your responsibility as a Muslim parent. Allow the two people to talk to one another and see one another in the presence of other people. It is always safer to have these meetings at home where both the children and the parents are comfortable.
3. Investigate thoroughly
One of the reasons for many divorces are the lack of proper investigation of a prospective marriage partner before marriage. Parents have this heavy responsibility of finding out as much as possible about the individual who will possibly spend the rest of their life with their son or daughter.
Investigation does not mean just asking two or three family friends or community members. Deeper digging is necessary.
4. Be honest
Parents as well as individuals looking for a spouse must be honest with regards to their background and other details about their personal lives. Dishonesty in the long run only causes harm to the marriage and thus affects the lives of both the bride and groom and their families. Be honest about your child, their achievements, their strengths and weaknesses and allow both the bride and groom to be to communicate with honesty.
5. Take your time
It’s very important to not rush your son or daughter into marriage. If you find someone for your son or daughter who you think is suitable, take the time and check the facts about that person. Get to know their family and allow their family to get to know you. Ideally, references should always be checked out and investigation about the potential spouse should be done before taking further actions. This goes for both boys and girls.
6. Never Be pushy
Avoid applying unnecessary pressure on your children to get married. Often, this is their reason for marriage, which later becomes a point to use in an argument between the two spouses. Also, do not put pressure of marrying the “right one”. Often a proposal may not be what the young man or woman is looking for and yet the pressure of the family is such that the person unwillingly accepts the marriage.
Another form of pressure is put on those who are given a proposal. It is not uncommon to see girls or their parents pursued by the parents of those who are interested in their daughter. This can even reach a level of harassment at times and only results in bad relationships between the two families.
Forced marriages are against islam and they pose a danger to your children’s future, as well as any children that may come out of the marriage. Would you want your grandchildren to experience the pain and emotional turmoil of a divorce which could have been avoided if both parties had more say in the choice of a partner?
Overall I conclude by saying that I feel the parents do play a major role in selecting the right spouse for their daughter and son but at the same time seeking the right husband or wife is something to be commended for. It is also the responsibility of the Muslim community to help those who are seeking marriage in fulfilling half of their faith. To all those who are single and are finding it hard to select the right spouse, seek help from Allah SWT to get married. Make du`aa’ to Allah for a pious husband or wife who is a blessing for your faith, family, future and hereafter, inshaAllah. Allah SWT always knows best.
Come to terms with what Allah Most High has in store for you. Let Allah’s plan unfold. Insha’Allah, with your du’aa, Allah Most High will grant you all for whom you may wish! As Allah SWT says in the quran;
“And We created you in pairs’ (Quran 78:8)