“He absolutely has to be funny.”
“I can’t marry someone who isn’t assertive.”
“I just want him to supportive of me.”
I’ve heard these statements verbatim. Having gone to many sisters events over the years, the topic always comes up – marriage. A sister says something about her situation and how things are progressing, then all of a sudden, everyone’s caught up in discussing specifics of what they want in that “perfect person” (which, btw, doesn’t exist).
I usually remain quiet and listen. I find that these conversations easily turn superficial and don’t get to the real issue. In my humble opinion, there’s really just one main quality that you need to look for..
You’re probably thinking, yea, well.. that’s an obvious one. But we need to think more deeply about this. When you think of marital issues, what are some of the first things that come to mind? Finances, in-Laws, adjustments, challenges, frustrations, power imbalances, and worst of all, domestic violence or divorce. Now think of the one solution to all of these..
A few months ago, some of my closest friends were contemplating which suitor to move forward with and needless to say, it was a tough decision. The only advice I could give them besides staying as neutral as possible and making lots of du’a was to look for the one who had the greatest amount of taqwa, from their limited knowledge and observations of these brothers. Think about it. If he has Taqwa, if he truly fears Allah, SO many of your hypothetical worries will disappear inshaAllah. If he has taqwa, he will..
- Treat you well and be patient with you
- Have good mannerisms
- Stand up for you when needed and politely correct you when you are wrong
- Not dare to harm you, physically, emotionally, or otherwise
- Apologize and accept his mistakes when wrong
- Provide for you and protect you
- Stay calm in stressful situations
- Make du’a for you and your success in dunya wal akhirah
- Support your personal goals and endeavors
- Seek your opinion and advice
- Not be secretive or deceptive
- Treat you like an equal
- Look at you, not down upon you
- Honor your rights
- Complement you in public and private
- Respect you, your family, and your traditions
- Take the Prophet (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) as his role model
- Make an effort to do more than the average
- Encourage you to seek knowledge and do the same himself
- Be an active member of the community
- Care about the Ummah at large and engage in civic service
- Be generous with you and the family
- Not put a greater burden on you than you can bare and share responsibilities
- Use hikmah whenever problems arise, and in all circumstances in general
- Control his anger
- Be willing to seek outside help if needed
- Be honest with himself and communicate with you like a friend
- Have great ambitions in life and encourage you to achieve yours as well
- Appreciate your differences
- Be an active father and understand his role as a parent
- Make good choices and do istikhara regularly
- Be in tune with your emotions and make an effort to understand you as a person
- Be as forgiving as possible
- Show affection and love
- Think about how the things he does or says will affect you
- Balance his deen and dunya responsibilities
- Appreciate you
- And the list goes on..
The core issue here is that being good to your spouse isn’t just about your relationship with him/her, it’s actually quite reflective of your [true] relationship with Allah. The question arises, how can a sister determine whether a suitor is someone who fears Allah, since, well, Taqwa is in the heart? True, it’s definitely in the heart but it manifests through the limbs and actions. After giving this some thought, these are some things I think are worth thinking about..
- How is his relationship with the Qur’an? Not just reading it but actually learning it..
- Look at how he treats and speaks to his mother. Does he rush her? Walk in front of her? Speak more than she does in her presence? What about with his father?
- If he has sisters, make sure you get an idea of how his relationship is with them. Does he make an effort to know about them and what they’re into? If he doesn’t have sisters, you’re going to need to find more creative ways of figuring this out, but please do not neglect this point (about how he views women in general).
- Get your brother or father to observe two important things. 1. His Wudhu 2. His Salah. Does he make time to learn about Salah regularly and give it its due right? Wudhu and Salah show real taqwa for a man or woman.
- How does he deal with people who can do him absolutely no good?
- How much time does he give to his community?
- Does he love praying Salah in Jama’ah? Is his heart attached to the masjid?
- What role does the Prophet’s (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) Sunnah play in his life? Does he take care and caution to act upon as many sunnan as possible?
- What does he do in his free time? Or better yet, does he even have free time? This says a lot about a person and what’s important to them.
- What does he do if he notices his iman dropping? Does he make an active effort to change something?
- Does he take care of his health and treat his body as an amana?
- Does he read? Regularly..
- How does he interact with youngsters? Elders? What can you extract about his mannerisms based on your observations? So manyof us can get caught up in becoming religious and overlook our akhlaq
- Does he know how to apologize and is this something easy or difficult for him? I’ve worked with a few brothers who just can’t say it. SubhanAllah, you’d think their account balance decreased every time they acknowledged their own mistake and said “I’m sorry, I was wrong”. It’s an ego issue.
- How often does he reference the akhirah?
- The manner in which he initiates and goes through the proposal process will tell you a lot. Be perceptive.
- How does he react when someone disagrees with him?With one brother, he said something that was factually inaccurate so I simply clarified his point and told him the true fact. Caught completely off guard, he looked directly at me and away. That was the end of that. Then with another brother, I did the same thing. I respectfully disagreed and shared my own opinion. To my surprise, he said, “You know, I never thought of it that way”. :) Major brownie points. It still didn’t work out, but I appreciated his understanding of my opinion.
- Is he engaged with the world and what’s happening around him? He shouldn’t be a news junkie either. Balance is key.
- How is his company? Who does he call friends? Does he call them to the good?
- Does he have an interest in children? Education? Does he have a philosophy on raising kids?
- Is he a gentle person? Is he harder on himself than others? How is his demeanor?
- How much time does he devote to entertainment? Does he take his part of seclusion to focus on himself and his spirituality?
- Does he cope with stress and difficulties in a mature manner?
- Is he a leader? Not necessarily someone who can micromanage a hundred people, but in general, is he able to make the best of a situation and take the lead if need be. A husband has more right over his wife than her father, so it’s very important that you feel confident in your husband’s leadership and the decisions he makes.
- Does he seek counsel or go with whatever he thinks is best?
- How much effort does he put into da’wah work? With either or both Muslims and non-Muslims.
- What does he think about women and their role in 1. Islam 2. Society 3. Our evolving world 4. The home 5. The workplace? etc. etc. Does he make time to learn about the female psyche?
- This is a hard one to determine in the pre-decision process but if you can figure out a way, try to get an idea of his generosity and how he feels about money. This will help with making sure whatever source of income he seeks will be tayyib and halal, and not being miserly.
- Another difficult one to determine – can he cry out of the fear of Allah? Does he have a soft heart?
- Does he see things as black and white or think a little more deeply than the average person? Nothing irks me more than someone who passes judgement without admitting the incompleteness of their knowledge. There are complexities and nuances in almost every issue we come across.
- Does he enjoy getting into useless debates solely for the sake of argument?
- Is he inquisitive and take an interest in a variety of different things to expand his knowledge?
- Is he concerned about the plight of Muslims? If so, what does he do to make a difference locally or nationally?
I’ll end with a story.
After my father married my beautiful mother, he had to come back to America a week later to finish his education. The day before he left, my mom said to him, “You’re going to a land where there are many beautiful women and so many fitan…” Before she could finish, my dad stopped her and said, “I know what you’re getting at. Listen, you are my wife. If I wanted to do any of that, I could tell you I’m going to work here and you would never know where I actually went, I don’t have to travel all the way to America for that. In my heart, I fear the One who will ask me about my actions. You have nothing to worry about. Not today, not ever, inshaAllah.” :) Aren’t they cute? May Allah preserve them.
SubhanAllah, so the point I’m making here is that we should look beyond the superficial measures of someone’s worth. Look beyond the surface and you’ll find so much than you would if you tend to become fixated on first impressions. Another point to remember is that we shouldn’t expect chractartistics in a partner if we ourselves don’t have them or haven’t attempted them. You want a hafidh? Great. How much time have you investing in learning the Qur’an? Also, you may feel that some of the points I mentioned may be stretch from Taqwa, but to me, it’s all interrelated. Why? Two words – Yaqeen and Fikr. Think about it. Lastly, this post was not meant to undermine other important attributes such as personality, compatability, attractiveness, family, financial things, etc. and I believe that they all have their place, but there’s something that trumps all of that – Taqwa. If you find it in him, hold on tight. My mother did. :)
P.S.: Brothers, I know this post was mostly for sisters but you can easily reverse a lot of the points to relate to a sister. And you don’t have to go through each observation I listed, just enough to get a good idea. No, I’m not an interrogator when it comes to these things lol.. well, maybe. Depends.
P.P.S.: If you’re reading this, Congratulations! You’ve finished reading one of my longest posts. :) Here, take this. [Passes invisible cookie through screen]
P.P.S.: Allah has blessed you and I to live through these days of Dhul Hijjah alhumdulillah. Make the most of them, and throw in a du’a or two for me pweez. ;)