Think. Learn. Act. Remind.
These days it is common to find people (especially single young women) saying things like the following:
“I am scared to death of arranged marriages! I want to get to know the person I am about to marry.”
“I am just a plain, honest, sincere individual. I don’t think men find me attractive!”
“We love the same mithai (sweets), the same type of movies, enjoy the same kind of food, are close to our families! I think we’ll suit each other just great!”
“He’s a simple, honest, straightforward guy but I don’t have any feelings for him. I don’t want to marry somebody I don’t love.” (Alternatively, young single men want to marry a Muslim version of Kim Kardashian!)
“Is it fair to say Yes to someone for whom I have no love?”
“Will I be able to fall in love with my husband?”
A lot of confusion exists regarding what is right and what isn’t when it comes to making the all-important choice of a life partner. Let’s try and remove some of this confusion:
Q. Is there such a thing as love?
Yes, there is such a thing as love! Just DON’T start to think that love is what you see in the movies and you will be fine! The love between a husband and wife can be MORE beautiful than any love you see portrayed in any movie and can be a lot stronger, more passionate kind of love. It begins when you set out on the path to marriage to please Allah (SWT) and then leave the rest to Him.
Q. How do I find love?
Surely it is Allah who puts the love between your hearts (yours and your spouse’s). Allah says in the Quran:
30:21 – Translation: And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.
So it is not your responsibility to set out to find love … Allah will take care of it when you take care of one thing as outlined in the answer to the next question.
Q. What qualities should I consider in my future partner?
We will find the answer to our question when we look at the ayaat (Quranic verses) the Prophet (SAW) used to recite at the time of Nikah (the Muslim marriage ceremony):
3:102 – Translation: O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.
4:1 – Translation: O MANKIND! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity, and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of God, in whose name you demand [your rights] from one another, and of these ties of kinship. Verily, God is ever watchful over you! –
33:70-71 – Translation: O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right (Truth);
That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest achievement.
There is a single theme in these three ayahs: taqwa. What is taqwa? It is translated as “fear of God”, “piety”, “righteousness”.
There is a Hadith on this topic as well:
Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
The Prophet said, “A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be losers.
The same holds true when looking for a husband, as the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi was sallam) said,
“When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied asks to marry your daughter, comply with his request. If you do not do so, there will be corruption and great evil on earth. “(Tirmidhi)
Notice how there is no mention of all the things parents stress on these days in determining if a person is right for their son or daughter! There is no mention of education, for example! Beauty/good looks are mentioned as qualities that people marry for but the end result is failure! (To answer all those who ask for tall, fair, beautiful, highly-educated girls and those girls who dream of tall, dark, handsome non-Muslim movie heroes!)
Looking at the Quranic verses from the wedding sermon and the Hadith of the Prophet (SAW), it is clear, that the basic quality to look for in one’s future spouse is Taqwa. Because where there is taqwa, there will be fear of accountability for one’s actions. When that fear of accountability is there, the person will act in the best possible manner in every sphere of life and will give due regard to all his/her relationships and his/her responsibilities. And at the end of the day that is the only thing that counts.
Q. How do we determine that the person has taqwa and is of good character?
That is a million dollar question! Since no one but Allah knows the level of a person’s faith (iman), we can never really be certain of our assessment. So how does one go about determining something that cannot be determined with certainty? The answer is: you do your best. How? To ascertain the character and faith of another person, we have to really do our homework. Not only is this the responsibility of the person who is looking to get married, but it is the responsibility of all those relatives and friends who know about the proposal.
You and your friends and relatives should do at least all of the following:
Talk to the person’s friends (the longer the friendship the better) – find out about the person’s past – was he/she married before ? Or has he/she been dating or having affairs
Observe what kind of people he/she is friends with (the Prophet (SAW) said that a person is on the religion of his friend!)
How he/she treats close family members and distant ones
Who he/she spends the most time with
What activities they like to do in their spare time (sleep, play video games)
Whether he/she has friends of the opposite gender and what the extent of that friendship is
Whether the person obeys Allah and fulfills his/her obligatory duties towards Him (SWT)
Check out background information for accuracy (this is a MUST in today’s world where people create false identities – ask to see degrees and other documents)
Check out his/her Facebook/Twitter/Google+ profile if available (yes, it’s important … You will often find out about the true character of a person based on his social profile and activities online)
What books he/she has enjoyed (not whether you like the same books but to try and understand what his/her interests are
What kind of movies they watch (same reason as above)
Whether he/she is two-faced: he/she uses a respectful language and tone with people he wants to impress but treats his/her driver, cook, maid, waiter with disrespect
Determine the character of both the prospective spouse AND his/her family: whether you like it or not, the family has a strong influence on your relationship
Find out what the prospective spouse and in-laws are looking for and what they are expecting in terms of rights and duties. (Very important to gauge!)
Look for red flags: lying about his/her past, misinformation regarding education, etc, character flaws, bad friends, bad habits, arrogance, in too much of a hurry to get married without asking for much information about you and your family, etc
Istikhara is essential. There are three components of an istikhara:
1) your own best judgment based on information derived from the above-mentioned sources (background search, evaluation of friends, confirming accuracy of information provided)
2) seeking counsel: ask wise and sincere people around you for advice
3) pray two nafil prayers and pray the istikhara dua at the end.
(Here is the dua:
Allâhumma inni astakhiruka bi ilmika wa astaqdiruka biqudratika wa as’aluka min fadlikal-azimi, fa innaka taqdiru walâ aqdiru wa ta’lamu walâ a’lamu wa anta allamul ghuyâbi. Allâhumma in kunta ta’lamu anna hâdhal amra khayrun li fi dini wa ma-ashi wa aqibati amri faqdir-hu li wa yassir-hu li thumma barik li fihi wa in kunta ta’lamu anna hâdhal amra shari-un li fi dini wa maâshi wa aqibati amri fasrifhu anni wasrifni anhu waqdir liyal-khayra haythu kâna thumma ardini bihi.
0 Allah, I ask of You the good through Your knowledge and I ask You to grant me ability through Your power and beg Your favour of infinite bounty, for surely, You have power and I have none, You know all and I know nothing and You are the Knower of all that is hidden. 0 Allah if in Your knowledge, this matter be good for my faith (Din), my livelihood and the consequences of my affairs in the world and the Hereafter, then ordain it for me and facilitate it from me and grant me blessing in it. But, f in Your knowledge this matter is bad for my faith, my livelihood and the consequences of my affairs in the world and the Hereafter, then turn it away from me and turn me away from it and ordain for me the good wherever it be, and cause me to be pleased with it.
When one reaches the words, which means ‘this matter’, one should think about the matter he is seeking blessings for.
How does one determine the outcome of the istikhara? You will find an inclination towards the best choice in your heart. Do the istikhara yourself. There is no need to ask other people (even pious ones) to do it for you. If after the istikhara, you are still not sure, repeat the istikhara until you are sure. Don’t look for clear answers in dreams … A surety in your heart suffices as an answer.
So, yes, you will be able to fall in love with your husband in an arranged marriage and it is completely fair to say Yes to a proposal even when you have no feelings for the other person. The important thing is to make sure you do not dislike the person based on some physical characteristic (hadith: The man has permission to see the woman’s face before agreeing to marry as the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi was sallam) said, “Go and look at her (the woman you are considering marrying) because this will help your time together to be strengthened.” (Ahmad )) and that you have determined to the best of your ability the person’s level of taqwa and character.
Don’t fall for Hollywood’s interpretation and (mis)representation of love and marital bliss. As long as you are looking to follow the Quran and sunnah, Allah will help you.
May Allah help us have taqwa and may He guide us all to the Right Path. Ameen.