Finding a Suitable Partner Part I :Know Thyself!

Bismilahirahman-nirahim,

Asalamoalaykum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

There are a lot of seminars going on which are pertaining marriage. Some are regarding ‘finding the right spouse’ and some are regarding more critical post-marriage issues which use catchy titles such as ‘are you married or happy?’ I’ve attended a few online ones and so far I’ve found them telling us (single Muslims) that we have the right to choose who we want to marry, however it becomes extremely hard for sisters to step out of that ‘uncomfortable’ zone and actually project to the parents/spouse what she’s looking for within the boundaries of the Sharee’ah.

Since I’m in that phase that I’d be needing this advice myself, I thought why not compile a well-thought manner to evaluate oneself before evaluating a potential spouse. This is just a self-analysis and I take no responsibility whatsoever and nor do I claim that it’d give the reader best possible strategy should they need such an advice.

Here are a few questions you may want to think about:

1. Why do you want to get married?

Is it because all your friends are getting married that you too think you should? Is it because you are thinking that marriage is a ticket out of the currently ‘depressive’ world you live in? Is it because you think, thanks to Hollywood, that it’s a means to achieve a happily-ever after? Is it the age factor? So, in short is it a means to an end or is it something else? All these questions DO have a right answer but I suggest you spend time finally getting to know the real you.

2. What are you looking for in a spouse?

Now I know we all want a full-package, meaning the deen, status, money and looks. There’s nothing wrong with wanting all those but since the probability of finding all those in one individual is almost negligible, it’s high time we keep our heads screwed on in the proper manner. The best way to come to a compromise is prioritize the qualities. So what’s the most important thing you want out of the 4? And be honest with yourself!

Let’s take an example:

–Would a man negligent about the prayers in Jama’h (yes congregation is the keyword here!), yet with good manners be someone you’d like to live with? The answer could be yes because since marriage is not the end in itself, you can convince him and he may end up praying five times a day in Masjid. However, that’s the ideal situation. What if you face such a situation after marriage that your Eeman is not as high as it used to be? Then, in that case a spouse with a low Eeman will pull you towards a lower Eeman as well. At such a point, his good manners, ie. his caring nature or willingness to be gentle may not be of any help especially if he’s not got a high Eeman to give you sound advice to reconnect with Allah Subhana Wa’ Ta’la. And after such a situation, it’s a downwards spiral which may end you up in the many traps of Shaytan.

3. Fill in the blank.

I’m willing to give up_________ to ensure a harmonious life with my partner.

Now there might come a point when your Eeman increases at a level much higher than your husband after marriage. You may want to wear Niqab and your husband doesn’t want you to wear it. Arguments may ensue. Some may be constructive, some may be destructive. However, that’s not the point here. The point is, would you be willing to give up your high level of Eeman to ensure a peaceful relationship? Or would you do otherwise? There’s no right answer to this. It’s all subjective.

Another scenario may be that you’re a highly qualified Muslimah who’s got a great career going and your potential partner has no issues with you working either. But after marriage, a situation may arise in which you may have to give up your career, something you’ve worked day and night for before you got married…so would you be willing to give up your career to raise your kids or for whatever reasons? I think in both scenarios, such a situation should be well thought about and communicated to both the parties honestly because you don’t want to set a stage for disaster or in short divorce. You want to know what’s important for you and what’s important for the other partner.

4. What are your character flaws? Everyone has them and the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) made duas to grant him a good character so who are you, my dear sister, to say that you’re ‘perfect’? (or brother)

Now this is a question hardly anyone asks. Spouse-hunting commences and they don’t think twice about where they lack in terms of mannerisms and character. Fine, you want the best partner…but are you the best deal yourself? What do you have to offer to in a marriage? Do you have patience? Do you have tact to navigate through an emotionally demanding situation? Do you have verses of the Quraan memorized to remind your partner when he loses control over himself or is treading the path of haram? Do you have a big heart or do you get upset very easily? Do you know the priorities of a relationship, i.e. the fact that for a man, his mother comes first even after marriage? Are you willing to give him his rights without first asking for yours? Do you have self-control to remain silent when needed the most? Are you stubborn? Are you a thankful person because it’s in a hadith that most women would end up in hellfire since they are ungrateful to their husbands? Are you worthy enough that someone hands you their most precious years of their life and you’re capable of making it the most beautiful and pure? Are you responsible enough to take care of his wealth, his Eeman and his kids in future? Do you know how to communicate politely and know how to use the most appropriate words when your husband is unhappy or angry etc.? If most of the answers to this are ‘No’ then seek help, learn about Islam, attend Halaqas or start a Halaqa with a few sisters and work on your character and manners while you wait for a good proposal.

5. Would you want a separate appartment after getting married?

This is a sensitive question and specifically applies to a  brother with male siblings (brothers). He should keep in mind that he’d be putting the Eeman of his wife and his brothers’ at risk if they end up living in the same house. Because believe it or not, admit or not, it is an issue of proper hijaab. If his wife wears jilbab outside, she’d have to wear jilbab at home all the time since his brothers are around. Problematic. Yes. Very much so.

Also, such a husband would be putting his own marriage at risk due to lack of privacy required to maintain a healthy relationship. I don’t want to delve deep into this but it’s part of a wife’s right to be able to dress nicely at home and wear as much jewelery as she wants etc. without having to worry all the time that it’d be against Islam. She should be able to feel at home. So sisters if that’s the case with you,  you should communicate that you’d want a separate appartment and you have a legit reason, it’s allowed in Islam. However, if you find all the qualities  you’re looking for in a potential husband but the only thing that’s missing is that he’s unable to afford a separate appartment, the best solution out of this is : either you come to a compromise that you’ll get the Nikah done but you’ll only move when he has an appartment ready or you agree to live with him because according to a hadith, Allah SWT provides a couple with Rizq if the husband is already poor [so that inshaaAllah in the next few years, he can get you your own appartment]. But in the latter case, observe proper hijaab and ensure that you come up with rules such as his brothers are not allowed to use the same washroom or enter your room without knocking or interacting with you in a frank manner expecially when your husband is not around etc. to prevent minimal interaction and hence fitna.

6. Do you have any cooking skills?

YES! This may be a cultural thing but it’s highly important that if you’re going to be a home-maker you know how to set up a good meal. It’ll add a level of Ihsaan (excellence) to one’s relationship and may even impress your potential spouse and his family. Not saying that cooking skills is a requirement of a happy relationship but mostly it’s considered an extra good thing on your ‘Resume’.

7. Are you confident about your looks?

It doesn’t matter how you look. The key thing is being confident and portraying that confidence in future. If after marriage, you wallow away in the pits of depression because you’re not very good looking anymore (since you’ve gained a few pounds) then I’m sorry to say but it’d kill your relationship. Nobody likes an under confident person. Do you think you’d be hired for a job if you’re like that? Getting chosen for marriage is something much higher than that. But there should be a balance between confidence (the positive kind) and humility.

8. Lower your gaze sister and help the brothers lower their gaze!

This is not a question. This is a request. Just because you’re looking for a spouse, it doesn’t mean you ‘eye’ the brothers in the MSA meeting, Islamic conferences or the area near the Masjid. Also, observe proper hijab. Don’t wear tight clothes and a hijab on top. Who’re  you kidding? It’s like covering your head and being naked underneath! And don’t wear sparkly hijabs which dazzle the eyes! SubhanAllah. Hide your make-up kits somewhere you can’t find them. You don’t need to use eye-pencil/mascara to attract the right kind of brother. And notice I used the words ‘the right kind’.

Doing all that won’t get you a spouse. You’ll only be ‘eye-candy’, licked once and thrown off in the garbage dumps. You wouldn’t want to be used now would you?

9. Do you make special dua?

Yes. I’m sure you do. But don’t ask Allah SWT to get you married. Ask Him the Most Merciful, to increase you in Eeman, to help you find a righteous spouse who leads you to Jannatul Firdaus and pious upright generations (not just your own children but your children’s children and the next 100 generations) from whom Allah SWT raises the likes of Sahaba and Sahabiaat. Inshaa’Allah. Come on now, wouldn’t you wish to have that? =]

***

I guess this is just a brief list on getting to know oneself before letting others know who you are in a marriage-pursuit.

I could provide with references of Ahadith of the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) and the stories of the Sahabiat but that’d take forever and would make this post a 100 pages long.

InshaaAllah, I hope everyone benefits from this.

And I pray Allah SWT finds for the sisters who fear Allah SWT, brothers who are Muttaqi. Ameen.

[Just a friendly advice from a sister]

And Allah SWT knows Best.

-Umm Sulaim

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