In January, 2001, while I was going towards Paris from the airport, I was thinking about the Muslim community in this city. I was particularly wondering, how parents raise their children. I asked my friend Aamir Aqaad: “How do parents ensure that their children stay connected to Deen in this environment?”
Aamir has been a resident of Paris for two decades. He came here from Syria to study and then opened a publishing house of Islamic books. He mulled over my question and then replied:
“A very interesting incident happened a few days ago, which might answer your question. One of my relatives has been a resident of Paris for many years. He was working but was still unmarried. One day, he asked me if I could recommend anyone for marriage.
I knew a Moroccan family and spoke to them on my friend’s behalf. It seemed like a very compatible match. The girl was in her early twenties, educated and intelligent. Her parents liked the guy, but said that they would reach a decision after consulting their daughter. Finally, it was decided that both of them should see each other in person and have a brief meeting.
A railway station was selected as the venue. My wife and I, along with the girl’s parents, sat at some distance from the potential couple to give them some privacy while keeping them under observation. I saw that the girl took out some papers from her purse and handed them over to the potential suitor.
I was quite astonished and asked the girl’s mother what her daughter was doing. The mother replied that her daughter had prepared a questionnaire to quiz her potential spouse about his personal life. In the light of his answers, she would decide whether or not to say yes to his proposal.
Most of the questions had been prepared in French, a language in which my friend was not so fluent. He called me over to help him translate the questionnaire. The questionnaire spanned over three pages. The first page consisted of questions regarding personal life – name, father’s name, address, height, weight, educational qualifications, occupation, status of house (rent or own), salary, work hours, etc.
When we moved on to the second page, the questions were: What is the nature of your relationship with Islam and your Deen? Are you regular with your Salah? How much time do you dedicate to your Deen? How much of the Quran have you memorized? How often do you recite the Quran? Which books of Ahadeeth have you read? How many Ahadeeth have you memorized? Write one page on “Rights of Spouses.” Which book of Seerah are you currently reading? Which Halaqah (study circle) do you attend? Who’s the scholar leading this Halaqah? Which books have you studied in this circle?
I was astounded. I had no idea that in this day and age, there were girls who were so in love with their Deen.
The questions went on: Do you want children? Would you like sons or daughters? What will you name your first child? What kind of qualities would you like your wife to possess?
The entire questionnaire was designed, so as to get a complete picture of the kind of person my friend was. My friend filled out this questionnaire to the best of his efforts. Unfortunately, the girl was not too impressed with the answers and declined the proposal. She told her parents that an individual, who was not sincere with his Rabb (swt), can never be sincere with his wife.”
After hearing this, I was thinking of all the problems that girls face in their marital life. If only they quiz their potential spouse about his level of Deen beforehand, they could easily avoid the problems which come afterwards.
Adapted from “Sunehri Kirnain”, published by Darussalam. Translated for “Hiba” by Hafsa Ahsan.