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Marriage FAQ

Choosing a Spouse

1) The attributes a good potential husband has

Praise be to Allaah.

Below are the attributes which will help you to choose a righteous husband, in shaa Allaah. There follows a description of the most important qualities which should be present in the man whom you choose or accept to be your husband and the father of your children, if Allaah decrees that you will have children.

Religious commitment. This is the most important thing to look for in the man you want to marry. The husband should be a Muslim who adheres to all the laws and teachings of Islam in his daily life. The woman’s guardian (wali) should strive to check out this matter and not rely only on outward appearances. One of the most important things to ask about is the man’s prayer (salaah); the one who neglects the rights of Allaah is more likely to neglect the rights of others. The true believer does not oppress or mistreat his wife; if he loves her, he honours her, and if he does not love her, he does not mistreat or humiliate her. It is very rare to find this attitude among those who are not sincere Muslims. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings):

“and verily, a believing slave is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolater), even though he pleases you” [al-Baqarah 2:221]

“Verily, the most honourable of you with Allaah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwaa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqoon (the pious)]” [al-Hujuraat 49:13]

“Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men) and good people for good statements (or good men for good women)” [al-Noor 24:26]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“If there comes to you one whose religious commitment and attitude pleases you, then marry [your female relative who is under your care] to him, for if you do not do that, there will be tribulation on earth and much corruption.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 1084).

As well as being religiously committed, it is preferable that he should come from a good family and a known lineage. If two men come to propose marriage to one woman, and they are equal in terms of religious commitment, then preference should be given to the one who comes from a good family that is known for its adherence to the commands of Allaah, so long as the other person is not better than him in terms of religious commitment – because the righteousness of the husband’s close relatives could be passed on to his children and his good origins and lineage may make him refrain from many foolish and cheap actions. The righteousness of the father and grandfather are beneficial to the children and grandchildren. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord” [al-Kahf 18:82].

See how Allaah protected their father’s wealth for the two boys after the father died, as an honour to him because of his righteousness and taqwaa. By the same token, if the husband comes from a righteous family and his parents are good, Allaah will make things easy for him and protect him as an honour to his parents.

It is good if he has sufficient wealth to keep him and his family from having to ask people for anything, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Faatimah bint Qays (may Allaah be pleased with her), when she came to consult him about three men who had proposed marriage to her, “As for Mu’aawiyah, he is a poor man who has no wealth…” (Narrated by Muslim, 1480). It is not essential that he should be a businessman or rich, it is sufficient for him to have an income that will keep him and his family from having to ask people for anything. If there is a choice between a man who is religiously committed and a man who is wealthy, then the religious man should be given preference over the wealthy man.

It is preferable that he should be kind and gentle towards women, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Faatimah bint Qays, in the hadeeth quoted above, “As for Abu Jaham, his stick never leaves his shoulder”, referring to the fact that he used to beat women a lot.

It is good if he is sound of body and healthy, free of faults, sickness, etc., and not disabled or sterile.

It is preferable that he should have knowledge of the Qur’aan and Sunnah; if you find someone like this it is good, otherwise you should realize that this is something rare.

It is permissible for the woman to look at the man who comes to propose marriage, and for him to look at her. This should be in the presence of her mahram, and it is not permitted to look more than is necessary, or for him to see her alone, or for her to go out with him on her own, or to meet repeatedly for no reason.

According to Islam, the woman’s wali (guardian) should check on the man who proposes marriage to the woman who is under his guardianship; he should ask those whom he trusts among those who mix with him and who know him, about his commitment to Islam and his trustworthiness. He should ask them for an honest opinion and sincere, sound advice.

Before and during all of this, you must turn towards Allaah and pray to Him to make it easy for you and help you to make a good choice and to grant you wisdom. Then after all these efforts, when you have decided on a particular person, you should pray Istikhaarah, asking Allaah for that which is good. For more details on Salaat al-Istikhaarah, please see Question # 2217. Then after you have done your utmost, put your trust in Allaah, for He is the best of helpers, may He be glorified.

Adapted from Jaami’ Ahkaam al-Nisaa’ by Shaykh Mustafaa al-‘Adawi.

We ask Allaah, the Exalted, the Powerful, to make things easy for you, to help you make a wise choice, and to bless you with a righteous husband and good offspring, for He is Able to do all that. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad. 

 

And Allah knows best.



2) Important factors in choosing a husband

Praise be to Allaah.

The most important factors for a woman in choosing a husband are his attitude/behaviour and his commitment to religion. Wealth and lineage are secondary matters. The most important thing is that the potential husband should be religious and have a good attitude, because if a man has religious commitment and a good attitude, a woman has nothing to lose: if he keeps her (remains married to her), he will keep her on a reasonable basis, and if he divorces her, he will set her free on a reasonable basis. Moreover, a man who is religious and has a good attitude will be a blessing to her and her children, for they will learn good manners and religion from him. But if the prospective husband is not like that (is not religious), she should keep away from him, especially those who take the matter of prayer lightly or who are known to drink alcohol. We seek refuge with Allaah.

As for those who do not pray at all, they are kuffaar and it is not permissible for them to marry believing women. It is important for the woman to focus on the matter of attitude and religious commitment. With regard to the matter of lineage, this is a bonus. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If there comes to you (to propose marriage to your daughter etc.) a man with whose religious commitment and attitude you are pleased, then marry (your daughter) to him.”

But if you can manage to ensure compatibility (in terms of lineage and socio-economic status, etc.) as well, then this is better.

 

From the Fataawa of Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, from the book Fataawa al-Mar’ah

 

And Allah knows best.



3) Qualities to look for in a potential wife

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that a woman may be married for her wealth, her beauty, her lineage or her religious commitment, and the fact that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) encouraged marrying the one who is religiously-committed indicates that marriages could occur for other reasons, so a man might marry a woman who is not like him.  

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Woman are married for four things: for their wealth, their lineage, their beauty and their religious commitment. Marry the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” 

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4802; Muslim, 1466). 

The fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded guardians to marry the women under their care to religiously-committed men indicates that something other than that could happen. 

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If there comes to you one with whose religious commitment and character you are pleased, then marry (your daughter or other female relative under your care) to him, for if you do not do that there will be tribulation in the land and much corruption.” 

Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1084; Ibn Maajah, 1967. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 1022. 

So the one who is looking for a wife should look for one who is religiously-committed and has a good character; similarly, woman’s guardians should not marry them to anyone but those who are religiously-committed. For a man is influenced by those with whom he keeps company, especially if that lasts for a long time. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “A man will follow the way of his close friend, so let each of you look at whom he takes as a close friend.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2378; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1937). 

“A man will follow the way of his close friend” i.e., he will follow the habits and path of his friends; “So let each of you look” means, think long and hard about; “whom he takes as a close friend” means, whom he regards as a friend and a brother. So if you like a person’s religious commitment and character, take him as a close friend, and if not, then avoid him. For characteristics are easily copied and keeping company with people has an effect on whether you will be good or bad. Al-Ghazaali said: Sitting with and mixing with one whose interest is worldly gain will make you also seek worldly gains; sitting with and mixing with one who is an ascetic will make you care little for worldly gains, because following characteristics are easily copied and one could copy the characteristics of one's friend without even realizing. 

From Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi. 

 

And Allah knows best.



4) Who is the wali for a convert sister or woman who has no wali?

 

If a lady has converted to Islam, none of her non-Muslim family members can act as a guardian (wali) of her interests; no kaafir can act in this capacity over a Muslim. If there is a Muslim with some authority in your area over the affairs of the Muslim community, then he can act in this capacity, based on the Prophet's (peace be upon him) hadeeth:

"No marriage contract can be concluded without the presence of a Wali. A Sultan (authority figure) can act as a Wali for those without one." (see Ibn Majah and Imam Ahmad, Hadith number 1880; also in Salih al-Jaami', hadeeth number 7556.)

If there is no authoritative Muslim person, then one should refer to the community Muslim leader or any Muslim who is just ('aadil), respected, and of high character, such as the director of the Islamic center or its imam, to conclude the marriage contract of this sister, with her consent.

 



5) Who is the Wali for a sister if she has no father?

Praise be to Allaah.

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni (7/5): Marriage is not valid without a wali, and a woman cannot do the marriage contract for herself or for anyone else, or appoint anyone other than her wali to do her marriage. If she does that, the marriage is not valid. End quote. 

The evidence for that is the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “There is no marriage except with a wali.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (2085) and al-Tirmidhi (1101); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. 

If there is no father, then the grandfather is the wali. If there is no grandfather then her brothers are her walis, and it is does not matter if they are younger than her, but it is essential that the wali be an adult. If one of her brothers is an adult then he is her wali, even if he is younger than her. 

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (18/147): 

No one can act as a wali for a woman’s marriage contract except one who is an adult of sound mind. If there is no such person then the qaadi (judge) is the wali, because the ruler is the wali of the one who has no wali, and the qaadi is his deputy in such matters. Adulthood is achieved when a person emits maniy with desire, whether as the result of a wet dream or otherwise, or when hair grows around the private part, or when one reaches the age of fifteen. The one who is of sound mind is the one who handles matters well, by seeking a compatible suitor who is appropriate for the female under his care. End quote. 

If all her brothers are minors, and none of them is an adult, then the role of wali passes to those who come next, namely the paternal uncles. If there are no paternal uncles then it passes to the sons of the paternal uncles (cousins). 

If none of these walis are present, then the shar’i judge should act as wali for her marriage, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If they dispute, then the ruler is the guardian of the one who has no guardian.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (2083) and al-Tirmidhi (1102); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood. 

Based on that, if you want to marry this woman and she does not have any wali, then you must refer to the shar’i qaadi in the court so that he may act as the wali for her marriage. 

Note: You say that your first marriage was done without any official registration. Even though it is valid if it meets all the conditions – because it is not a condition of a marriage contract being valid that it be registered officially – we should point out that it is important to register marriages, and we advise people not to take this matter lightly, so as to protect people’s rights and so that foolish men and women will not toy with the matter of marriage contracts. 

And Allah knows best.



6) First meeting for marriage

It is preferable for the person proposing (for the first time) to look at the woman he is proposing to because the prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Go and look at her…” [Narrated by Muslim # 1424].

And for what Al Nasa’ee narrated: Al Mugira Ibn Sho’ba said: “Someone proposed to a woman at the time of the prophet (peace be upon him) so the prophet asked him: (Did you look at her?) He said no. He said: (look at her, by doing this it will be more likely to have a harmonious marriage with everlasting love”.[Narrated by Al Nasa’ee & others, El Albani said that it is authentic in “Sahih Al Gami’a # 859”].

Most of the scholars agreed that the man proposing for marriage is allowed to look at the woman’s face as it is the place that gathers all the charms, and her hands (their face and back), i.e. she should appear in the same state as in her prayers.

This should be without staying alone with each other in a privet place. And without touching one another. He may look, in their meeting, at her more then one time as long as he needs this, until he decides if he’s going to marry her or not.

And Allah knows best.



7) List of questions that can be asked of a potential spouse

 

If one desires to set up a meeting with a member of the opposite gender whom one is seriously considering for marriage, then this is permitted. This will provide an opportunity for both parties to learn about one another, ask questions of one another and generally get a better understanding of aspects related to the wealth, status, beauty, and specifically, religion (deen) of the other person. 

The condition, however, is that they must avoid being alone (khalwa), as being alone with a non-Mahram member of the opposite gender is unlawful even with the intention of marriage. Sitting in a room with the door ajar and other family members within the house capable of entering upon the couple at any point would be sufficient to avoid Khalwa.

In terms of what type of questions should be asked of one’s prospective fiancé, this really depends on each individual, what they are looking for in marriage and what expectations they have from their potential spouse. Hence, it is difficult to compile a definitive list of questions, since each individual is different. Nevertheless, some general questions that have randomly come to mind are presented below:


1) Have you studied Islam and if so, which school of thought do you follow? I.e Hanafi, Malki, Shafi etc.

2) Have you studied the Fiqh of marriage?

3) What is your concept of an Islamic marriage? 

4) What are your expectations from marriage? 

5) How well do you know the rights and responsibilities of the spouses?

6) What are your goals in life? 

7) What expectations do you have from your spouse?

8) How punctual are you with your five time daily prayers?

9) Do you take part in any Islamic activities, and if so, how much time do you spend in such activities?

10) Do you attend Islamic lectures?

11) Which past and present day scholars have the most influence on you?

12) Do you like reading?

13) How do you spend your money? 

14) What expectations do you have from your spouse financially? 

15) Are you financially responsible for other members of your family? 

16) How is your relationship with your family and friends?

17) If you wrong someone, how do you apologize? 

18) Are you easily angered or does it take you a long time to get angry?

19) How do you express your anger? 

20) When there is a dispute in your marriage, how should the conflict be resolved? 

21) How is your relationship with your family? 

22) What do you expect your spouse’s relationship with your family to be? 

23) Will you be living with your family (short term and long term)?

24) Do you have many friends, and if so, what will your relationship with them be after marriage? 

25) How do you like spending your free time? 

26) Do you like to entertain guests in your home and socialise? 

27) Do you like travelling, and if so, what kind of places do you like to visit? 

28) Which countries have you travelled to?

29) How do you like to spend your holidays? 

30) Do you want to have children, and if not, why? 

31) Do you want to have children in the beginning of your marriage?

32) If you do not wish to have children in the beginning of your marriage, then when would you like to have children? 

33) What is the best way of raising children Islamically? 

34) What cultural practices do you like to stick to?

35) What kind of wedding would you like?

36) Do you have any conditions after marriage? I.e wife not working, hijab etc

37) If the brother sister is divorced with a child: What is the routine for the other parent of the child and their involvement in the child's life?

38) If you are taking on a brother/sister's child from a previous marriage: What do you expect of me in terms of your child? Would he/she live with us?

39) Would you like to stay in the same country or move abroad at some point?

40) Does your work involve a lot of travelling?

41) Do you have any regular medical needs?

42) What is your best achievement to date?

43) Are you involved in any charity work?

44) Do you have a criminal record?

45) Are you willing to take a full medical examination before marriage?

46) What are your career prospects?

47) What's the best thing about you? 

48) What qualities do you think you own that would make a marriage successful inshallah?

49) Do you have any special needs requirements?

50) Where would you like to go on honeymoon?

51) Where would you like to live after marriage? I.e with parents, family or in your own place?

52) When would you like to get married?

53) Do you smoke?


The above are just some of the questions that could be asked of a potential spouse. The list is by no means exclusive, and as such, each individual may add or overlook questions according to their situation, Insha Allah.

And Allah knows best

 



8) Marrying via the Internet & matrimonial agencies

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Firstly, it should be remembered that whatever is permissible in itself will also be permissible via the internet. Those actions which are unlawful, will remain unlawful when practiced by the usage of internet or any other means, such as phones, etc...

To use the services provided by the matrimonial agencies would be permissible, as long as no rules of Shariah are violated. One must be mindful of the fact that, it is not permitted to socialize or interact without reason with someone young of the opposite gender and thus ensure that he/she stays within the limits and bounds of Shariah.

Traditionally in Islamic societies, looking for a suitable partner was the responsibility of parents, family members or some close friends. However, now with a large number of people migrating from one country to another, many people do not have their families that can help them to get married. We also have, alhmadulillah, a large number of new Muslims. They do not get much help from their families for Islamic marriages. Therefore, to use the services provided by these agencies is permissible and at times needed.

In conclusion, you may use the services provided by these agencies, but at the same time ensure that it remains within the limits of Shariah, and not interact with the opposite gender unnecessarily. However, you should avoid using the chat channels, as this falls under the category of unlawful interaction.

May Allah find you a religious and suitable marriage partner who will help you in drawing closer to Allah, and the betterment of this world and the hereafter, Ameen.

And Allah Knows Best



9) Marriage within one's caste

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Suitability and compatibility (kafa’a) is one of the most important things that need to be considered when looking for a spouse. One of the main ingredients for a prosperous and successful marriage is compatibility. This is the reason why Islam laid great emphasis on it. 

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is reported to have said:

“When you find a suitable partner for a widow (non-married woman), then conduct the marriage without any delay.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, 1/206)

Not going into the fiqhi details with regards to suitability (kafa’a), one should remember that it is generally advised to look for a life partner who is compatible to you. He or she should have the same interests, aims, objectives and aspirations as you. When this is found in a certain person, then there should be no reason from abstaining from conducting the marriage.

With regards to the different casts and the tendency in many to marry within one’s own caste, if this is based purely on pride and vainglory, then it is certainly something that is not in line with the teachings of Islam. Many times it is observed that all the other factors (of which religious piety is of utmost importance) are neglected, and only the aspect of lineage is given importance. This is something that certainly needs to be changed.

It should be remarked here that all non-Arabs are considered a suitable match to each other (and for Arabs without a known and established lineage to one of the original Arab tribes, which is rare, as mentioned by Ibn Abidin) from a fiqhi aspect. It could be so that a boy/girl from a different background altogether is a suitable match, rather than your cousin brother or sister. Students of sacred knowledge have a lot in common and it would be advisable to marry a fellow student from a different caste rather than your first cousin who doesn’t even have a clue what you are studying.

Pride, boasting and vainglory based on ancestry, lineage and origin has clearly been condemned in Islam. Allah Most High Says:

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) most righteous of you.” (Surah al-Hujurat, 13)

Allah Almighty also says:

“The believers are but a single brotherhood. So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers.” (al-Hujurat, 10)

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“Verily Allah has removed from you the stupidity of the Jahiliyya and their boasting of their ancestors. Whether you are god-fearing believers or wretched sinners, you are the sons of Adam, and Adam was created from dust.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)

Therefore, basing the search for a suitable marriage partner purely on caste and family origin is certainly something that should be avoided. Parents and elders should be explained in a calm, polite and gentle manner along with complete respect and adab, that this is not something which Islam teaches. The first and primary consideration should be a person’s Deen.

And Allah Knows Best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam