Muslim Marriage: Picking Potentials

In the name of God, compassionate & merciful بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ Peace be with you السلام عليكم

Muslim Marriage Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

In my previous article I mentioned the two core ahadith used as Holy Criteria for marriage.

Firstly, the Prophet Muhammad's famous saying:

"A woman is married for four reasons, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her piety. So you should marry the pious woman otherwise you will be losers."
Narrated by Abu Huraira, in Sahih al-Bukhari & Muslim (Book 62:27, Marriage)

Secondly, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

"Whoever comes to you and you're pleased with their deen and character (khuluq) marry them!"

Let's break the first hadith down. "A woman is (generally) married for FOUR THINGS..."

1) "A woman is married for her WEALTH" » It is acceptable in Islamic culture to marry somebody with the same socio-economic background, in fact this is encouraged. This is not to say one richer shouldn't marry someone less wealthy; the general rule is to pair up with someone who understands your expectations. Duping someone into poverty is obviously haram, and let's not even go into those who marry for extortion, to get a visa or an invitation to the promised lands.

What wealth? = The arabic word for rich is "ghani". The majority of us are "ghani" if we own a pair of shoes, have food in the kitchen and are reading this right now, more likely than not, we are "ghani". You should check your wealth status on this interesting Global Rich List Calculator [link].

And if no wealth? = The are two categories of poverty: the "maskeen" and the "fakeer". The "maskeen" has absolutely nothing to his name, absolutely no food to last even the day. And the "fakeer" has only a year's supply of provision. Basically if you have more than a year's supply of provision, shelter and food - you are "ghani".

Marrying a woman based on the depth of her pockets is not a bad thing; but it really isn't the greatest reason for marrying. Some men will marry for help with their business, to elevate their social status, whatever, they're exceptions to the general custom. If you're able, marry a person who's on the same economic level as you, be prepared for a cutback or a promotion and humbly adapt to that change without causing a whoopla. Okay? Good.

If your marriage criteria is based on wealth, remember that it can be lost. Will your love still be there after your partner loses their financial strength?

2) "A woman is married for her STATUS" » This reason splits up into two interesting sub-categories in Arabic. One is "nasab" = which is to do with where the potential partner comes from, their clan, their lineage and their history. There's this attractive idea we have of wanting to marry into 'a good family', who have good character, generosity; you see 'religious families' that you want to be part of, or secular families with ethical commitments that are morally upright. This "nasab" translates today mostly as wealth. Nasab is an old fashioned way of respecting lineage even though Islam removed this concept. Your lineage could be full of royalty or pirates, that doesn't mean you are going to act like one. It's a noble act to respect someone's heritage obviously, and note that for the Sha'fi school of thought this is a good enough reason to marry, but for Imam Malik, it isn't.

The other type of lineage is "hasab" = which is what the ancestors have done, that distinguish the potential partner. So if they write something important, if they conquer countries, if they spread truth, did they discover life on Pluto, that type of action is a "hasab". You naturally find interest in children of famous people, it gives them a type of standing amongst people, it becomes an honour. People marry rich daughters of businessmen all the time. Again this is an outward reason since it doesn't relate to the potential partner directly. It's a credible reason for marrying, it can work, but it's not the best reason or guaranteeing success.

3) "A woman is married for her BEAUTY" » Marrying someone for their beauty - "jaamalee ha" - is basically love at first sight. But you can't rely on Cupid's arrow to keep that spark throughout the marriage. You can marry someone based on their looks as it's human nature to become attracted to the outward appearance as well as good actions. I like the Muslim author Ruqaiyyah Waris' ideas on physical attraction in her book 'The Muslim Marriage Guide': 'Being unduly concerned with our looks can have a detrimental effect on our marriage [...] Basically what attracts a woman most is a man's manliness (and vice versa, a woman's femininity), it may be his awkward shyness or cussed determination [...] Looks have little to do with a happy marriage".

[read or download Waris' Marriage Guide here ]

Beauty also wins initial attraction but does not last. Seeing your wife/husband everyday, you lose that first attraction, you get used to their aging looks. Then you live with them, see them on their 'bad' days when the pretty dimpled smiles are replaced with sleep deprivation; the ephemeral nature is such that even the most gorgeous people can look weird in a different light. As you get older the wrinkles deepen, their looks fade and -pay attention here- your eyes will start wandering to other sources of beauty. See, it was a temporal love to begin with!

4) "A woman is married for her PIETY" » Piety is not necessarily "religiosity"; it's also directed towards individuals who are aware of the nature of the world. Individuals who are not orientated towards the duniya, but the akhirah. People attached to their deen are not worried about accumulation of stuff, but of good deeds. Outwardly you can not show the 'trappings' of religiosity in actions, charity and so on, but in your heart you are not 100% sound. Basically, measuring someone's deen is not as black and white as it seems. Remember - the package may look 'religious', but then after you find it's all about spangles, cars and duniya'ee thinking. Rethink your 'religious' criteria and double-triple-check the potential's intentions.


Wealth is stability, beauty enhances love and lineage is all about fathers and ancestors. After marriage, you can't really say... "well he's/she's the daughter of so and so therefore it makes me proud... he/she used to look handsome now they look like Shrek..." What are they doing for your marriage?

The only thing that lasts is the passion for DEEN. In this hadith we just analysed Prophet Muhammad says marry for deen so that you'll be successful. Maybe the other reasons will be successful for they are legitimate reasons, but blame yourself if it doesn't make your marriage succesfful!. If marriage is based on strong foundations it's almost guaranteed successful.


Secondly, hadith number two:

"Whoever comes to you and you're pleased with their deen and character (khuluq) marry them! If you don't, there will be corruption and great harm in the earth."
Narrated by At-Tirmidhee in 'Nikaah', (#1085), a hasan hadith.

In the first hadith the Prophet (pbuh) said find a woman with excellent 'deeniha', this is the exact same criteria for a potential-fella. However, there's an addition that is especially important from the woman's point of view. It is very, very important for men to have khuluq - character, manner, etiquette. The reason is that the woman is generally in a weaker position by the nature of the majority of marriages. Being married to a man who is religious but easily angered is not a good position. As a parent you don't want to marry your daughter to a raging man. Anger is such an ugly thing that it get into a cycle of abuse, it's unhealthy. So remember ladies with singlitis, use the age-old tactic for finding Muslim men with good khuluq = get them angry, see how they react!

The second part to Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) guidance warns us: if we don't marry on a good foundation, there will be fitnah (tribulation)! Islam's essence for us as Muslims is that for our success to blossom, we need ideal surroundings. However, for whatever social hinderances, marriage has become a long drawn out stressful state which many of us avoid. Society must revolutionise the way it facilitates marriages for Muslims. Muslim communities are environmental forces that shape the way we think and speak; so for us to pick the right potentials for marriage, we need our Muslim communities to bring back the spiritual security. InshaAllah.

Muslim Marriage Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Editor - The Misanthrope
By: The Misanthrope Peace & respect ★


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