Finding a Spouse – In Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah

In Islam it is clear that marriage is the optimum lifestyle.

“And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed Signs for people who reflect.” [30:21].

Yet, as more and more Muslims become a part of the ‘West’, the ‘West’ becomes part of the Ummah and leads us away from the strict interpretation of Islamic guidelines in regard to marriage.

Making sure that Muslims are well-matched to their spouses is one of the most important and potentially difficult functions in Muslim society. The individual seeking marriage must have his/her priorities straight and be clear on what characteristics are most important to be sought in a spouse in order to have a successful marriage.

There are many characteristics that are important in a husband or a wife but some are much more important than others. Overemphasizing the wrong qualities can lead to disaster down the road just as being neglectful of certain considerations can do likewise. When we come to understand the goals and priorities of marriage in Islam, we may be guided to the Islamic methodology of seeking marriage in Islam and stop blindly following the disbelievers in their ignorant notions of the importance of “getting to know each other” and other such concepts which in reality contribute nothing to and more often sabotage a successful marriage.

The Prophet (saw) taught us in many hadith about the various characteristics which one looks for in a spouse and their relative importance and which ones determine success insha Allah and Allah’s blessing on a marriage. Among those hadith:

“A woman is married for her deen(Religion), her wealth or her beauty. You must go for the one with deen(Religion), may your hands be in the dust! (if you fail to heed)” [Muslim]

“Choose carefully for your seed. Marry those who are equivalent (or “qualified”) and give to them in marriage.” [Ibn Majah and others and it is sahih].

There are some of the most important characteristics that can be found in the Qur’an and the sunnah when it come to choosing a good spouse.

Religion:

We must be careful not to be superficial in this issue. The mere wearing of hijab or keeping a beard and praying in the masjid, while obvious requirements of piety, do not by themselves guarantee it. There are many people who at first glance appear to be abiding by Islam, but upon closer inspection have a twisted understanding of Islam and their practice in reality may leave much to be desired. The characteristic of piety applies to the groom just as much as to the bride. The guardian of the woman should make this his first and top priority just as the man looking for a wife should make it his. The Prophet (saww) said:

“If someone with whose piety and character you are satisfied with 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 and others and it is hassan].

Character and Behavior:

Character is of extreme importance in Islam and goes hand in hand with faith and piety. The Prophet (saww) has even described it as the purpose of his mission to mankind as we can see from the following Quran verse & hadith:

“Bad women are for bad men and bad men are for bad women. And good women are for good men and good men are for good women.”[ An-Noor:26]

Prophet(saww) said:

“Righteousness is good character.” [Muslim]

“I have only been sent to complete good character.” [Al-Hakim and others sahih]

“The believers with the most complete iman are those with the best character.” [Abu Daud and it is sahih].

“I am a guarantor of a house in the highest part of Paradise for one who makes his character good.” [Abu Daud and it is hassan].

Child-Bearing:

“Marry the loving/friendly, the child-bearing for I shall outstrip the other nations with your numbers on Qiyama.” [Ahmad, Abu Daud and others and it is sahih].

Prophet (saww) recommended men to marry those women who are child-bearing. This characteristic is related to some of the goals and purposes of marriage that were mentioned earlier such as procreating the Muslim Ummah, raising a pious family as a cornerstone of society and so forth.

The scholars mention that a man can look at a woman’s female relatives to get an idea whether she is apt to get pregnant easily and often or not. This attribute should also apply to the man. For example a man who say before Islam had a vasectomy would not be an appropriate husband for a Muslim girl getting married for the first time.

Virginity:

There are many hadith which recommend a man marry a virgin woman such as the following:

“Marry virgins for they have sweeter mouths, more productive wombs and are more pleased with less.”[ At-Tabaraani and it is hassan]

Other narrations indicate that she is more likely to be pleased by a man and less likely to be devious and deceiving.

Once, when Jaabir married an older and previously married woman, the Prophet (saww) said to him:

“Why not a virgin? You could have played with her and she with you.” [al-Bukhaari, 1991; Muslim, 715]

The scholars have stressed that this good attribute applies to the husband just as it applies to the wife. One of them wrote: “Similarly, it is preferred for a person not to marry his daughter except to a virgin man if she has never been married before.”

Beauty:

This characteristic has a certain role to play since one of the purposes of marriage is to keep both spouses from sins. The best way to do this is to have a strong attraction between the spouses. Although this is something which surely grows over time, initial impressions can in come cases become an obstacle to a successful marriage.

The Prophet (saww) separated Qais ibn Shamaas from his wife in the famous case of Khul’a and her stated reason was that he was exceedingly displeasing to her.[al-Bukhaari, 5273]

Once a companion told him (saww) that he was going to get married. The Prophet (saww) asked if he had seen her. When the man said no, he (saww)) said:

“Go and look at her for it is more likely to engender love between the two of you.” [Ahmad and others and it is sahih].

Beauty has its role, but remember that it is way down on the priority list under piety, character and deen. When a person puts beauty above all else, the results can be disastrous. This is one of the big reasons that young people seeking to get married must be helped by more mature family members in making their choice.

Moreover, shar’i matters are usually addressed to men, and the scholars of usool have stated that whatever is addressed to men is also addressed to women, unless there is evidence to the contrary, but it is not essential for there to be one text for men and another for women with regard to every shar’i ruling.

The Prophet Muhammad(saww) said:

“Women are the twin halves of men.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (113) and others, classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’].

And Allaah knows best.

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