Partner in Paradise


You are standing in front of a showcase admiring a crystal vase. You decide that you want to take a closer look. You pick it up and start examining it from every angle, admiring it even more now that you can see its intricate design. Someone calls you from behind. Startled and distracted, you drop the vase. It falls on the floor and breaks into a million pieces. Who or what will you hold as chiefly responsible for this?

  1. Yourself: you should have been more careful.
  2. The person who called you: after all, he or she startled you.
  3. The shelf on which the vase was placed before you picked it up.

While (a) and (b) might sound plausible, the third scenario is completely illogical. Why would you possibly blame the shelf of the showcase when it had nothing to do with the situation at hand?

Keep this analogy in mind and reflect over the Muslim marriages around you. We hear success stories as well as sad ones. In the case of the latter, at times, you find people ascribing blame to a number of factors which at times are not even related to the situation at hand.

Following are eight practical steps to take once you receive a proposal for yourself or for someone in your family who is under your guardianship. It is important to remember that problems in a marriage can stem from a deficiency in any of these steps.

Step 0: Take the Elimination Test.

  1. Prepare a list of qualities you do not appreciate and would never want in your spouse, for instance, greed, pomp, flirtatious behaviour with non-Mahrams, laziness, habitual and casual lying, etc.
  2. Prepare a list of professions that you would not want your future spouse to be in, for example, banking, modelling, etc.
  3. Prepare a final list of any specific thing that you cannot agree to, for instance, a working wife (for men), or a husband who travels extensively or lives abroad (for women).
  4. When preparing the aforementioned lists, do ensure that you include only those few things that are absolutely non-negotiable for you.
  5. Let your parents know that apart from the suitors who have any of the characteristics in your list, you would be happy to marry a suitor of their choice.

Step 1: Investigate.

  1. Conduct a thorough investigation, even if you think you know the family well. At times, people say: “We have known them for years; we know exactly how they are.” This is a delusion. Just because you know one or two members of the family doesn’t mean you know all of them.
  2. Investigate through the subordinates. Interestingly, a lot of families conduct an investigation using only the references that are given by the proposing family. You should aim to acquire a balanced opinion by asking those who are ‘under’ the family, so to speak. This might include the prospective groom’s subordinates at the workplace, who, by the way, would know a lot more about the temperament and conflict resolution strategies of their ‘boss’ than his friends and cousins.
  3. Profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. nowadays reveal a lot about the suitor’s likes, dislikes, values, and mannerisms. It may also tell you things you would not find through a formal investigation.
  4. Always schedule a one-on-one interview. Fathers may interview prospective grooms while mothers may interview prospective brides. In our culture, unfortunately, it is usually the girl who bears the brunt of answering daunting questions related to her physical features and housekeeping skills. Interviews with boys are minimal and are usually held in the presence of their parents, who answer on his behalf.

Step 2: Ask the right questions.

  1. Avoid extensive and irrelevant questions related to educational qualifications, career plans, and so on.
  2. Always word your questions using the principle of Hikmah (wisdom). You might put off the family if you conduct too many ‘rapid-fire’ rounds.
  3. Relationship of the suitor with Allah (swt) helps determine his or her priorities. Is he/she moderate in worship and does he/she want to grow in the practice of Deen? Is he/she rigid and has a one-track mind that can be stifling for the spouse later on? Is he/she a cultural Muslim, and careless about following Islam?
  4. You may inquire about the suitor’s salary and workplace timings but it is more important to find out what kind of spending habits he has, and how he strikes a balance between his home and workplace.

Step 3: Be practical.

  1. It is said that one should avoid marrying girls into households that are financially at a lower level than their own. This is because such girls may have adjustment problems later on. Likewise, it is said that when marrying boys, girls from equal or lower financial background should be preferred, as they would have fewer adjustment problems.
  2. Girls coming from small families should avoid getting married into large families living in a joint family system. This puts unnecessary strain on any marriage.
  3. While investigating and selecting, families (parents of the suitors) as well as the boy and the girl, must try to match their personal behaviour and value system. Habits can be altered or adjusted to. For example, a man may be a practicing Muslim but he may not be very good with handling finances. Even if he means well, he just doesn’t have the ability or skill to do so. A girl may be a practicing Muslimah but have average housekeeping skills. In such circumstances, the families must analyze what can be adapted to, and what cannot be compromised, before making their decision.

Step 4: Be cool-minded.

  1. At times, families are ‘dazzled’ by the proposals they receive. “We never thought they would consider our son/daughter.” They get so overwhelmed that they totally ignore steps 1-3 and rush into agreeing. “This is such a distinguished family. If we won’t accept the proposal now, we might lose the opportunity. They won’t wait forever.”
  2. Keep your cool in all such circumstances. This might seem to be the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’, but you still need to investigate and be practical.

Step 5: This is not the very last proposal to be received.

  1. At times, when a family (usually of girls) is desperate, it says ‘yes’ to the very first proposal that comes. There have been plenty of cases where parents rushed into a decision and deeply regretted it later.
  2. Have Tawakkul (reliance) on Allah (swt). He is the best of planners and He has created mates for each of his creation.
  3. Don’t treat a proposal as if it is the very last one that you will ever receive. Conduct an investigation, and be practical and cool-minded at the same time.

Step 6: Parents should obtain consent from the girl and the boy.

  1. At times, parents get so excited at the prospect of getting their children married that they conduct almost all the steps without bothering to ask their son/daughter if he or she is even interested in the proposal. This results in quite a few problems later on.
  2. As soon as you contemplate marriage for your son or daughter, the first question to ask them is whether or not they are already interested in someone and want you to initiate a proposal. With co-educational institutes and plenty of mixed-gender opportunities, this is not as far-fetched an idea as it may sound.
  3. If your son or daughter informs you that he/she is indeed interested in proposing to someone, don’t let that be a blow to your ego. Never contemplate emotional blackmailing of your son or daughter in order to steer them into an unwanted marriage.

Step 7: Salat ul-Istikhara and its interpretation.

  1. When you have conducted all the steps and are satisfied with the outcome, you may pray Salat ul-Istikhara. At times, parents keep praying Salat ul-Istikhara during the entire process, which is actually not a bad idea at all. This is because it ensures that if this proposal is not suitable for either of the parties, hurdles start appearing. These may include a negative aspect of the family that becomes apparent, an argument over a petty issue that escalates to a full-fledged dispute and so on.
  2. At times, either the children or the parents are so convinced that this proposal is right for them that they keep praying Salat ul-Istikhara and, at the same time, keep ignoring all the hurdles that keep coming up. It is imperative to trust Allah (swt)! If obstacles are coming in the way, then this union is not meant to be. Accept it and move on.

Step 8: Trust your sixth sense.

  1. It may happen that before or after you have prayed Salat ul-Istikhara, you get this gut feeling that this proposal is not right for you or your son/daughter. Don’t ignore such feelings. Keep praying to Allah (swt), and if this feeling persists, then it might be that this match isn’t right for you or your family after all.

Important Questions to Ask Your Prospective Spouse

  1. Why are you interested in getting married?
  2. How do you think getting married will bring you closer to Allah (swt)?
  3. What are your top three expectations from your spouse?
  4. What are your top three goals in life?
  5. What are your top three leisure time activities?
  6. To what extent does the practice of Deen feature in your lifestyle, apart from the five daily prayers?
  7. What are your top three pet peeves?
  8. How do you think disagreements should be resolved?
  9. If you wrong someone, do you apologize? How?
  10. What kind of a relationship do you have with your family members?
  11. When making important decisions, who do you consult and why?
  12. What is your vision for your future family?

To the prospective bride only

  1. How particular are you about observing Hijab?
  2. What are your plans after marriage: study, work, or stay-at-home?
  3. How will these plans change after having children?
  4. Are you in favour of leaving children with nannies or members of extended family, in order to pursue educational and/or work interests?
  5. Are you comfortable with home management skills?
  6. If your husband has to move abroad for work or study, will you be willing to migrate as well?
  7. Are you willing to live in a joint family setup if your husband cannot provide you with separate accommodation?

To the prospective husband only

  1. Are you particular about Hijab? Would you take care to ensure that your wife is not required to serve male guests of the house or attend mixed gatherings without Hijab?
  2. How will you handle conflicts between your spouse and your immediate family?
  3. If such conflicts increase, would you consider a separate portion or accommodation for your wife?
  4. Are you in favour of taking loans (credit-based or otherwise) to acquire such assets as house, car, etc.?
  5. Are you able to save a portion of your salary?
  6. Do you have a credit card?
  7. If you lose your current job, would you take one offered by a bank (or an institution that deals in Riba)?
  8. If your wife is the only child and required to take care of ailing parents, how will you handle this situation?
  9. How adept are you in basic household chores and would you be willing to take care of them in exceptional circumstances?
  10. Are you particular about home-cooked meals? Would you make an exception, if your wife is ill?

“Libas” – Yours and Mine


“How do you like the newest addition to my wardrobe?” Hina twirled on the ebony floor. “It is grand!” I chuckled at her girlish antics as she continued to swirl her lovely lilac chiffon flares, the fabric catching a twinkle of gold here and there.

“A gift from hubby dear?” I asked my childhood friend.

Her pretty smile instantly transformed into a sour frown. “Yeah right! Do you really think he has the mind or the taste for this kind of stuff? Only I know what I have been through the past ten years of marriage.”

There she goes again, I thought regretfully. Hina’s tendency to magnify petty issues into significant ones almost always ensured that the slightest mention of her spouse enraged her.

“Just check out the fine trimmings in gold. Isn’t it a delicacy?” Hina went back to admiring her dress.

I could only nod with the faintest smile thinking what good it was if she was feeling so bitter inside and did not want to wear it for the most important man in her life: her better half.

“You don’t agree with me, do you?” she caught me off guard. It was as though she had followed my train of thought.

“No… it’s lovely!” I tried to persuade her with a generous smile.

“I didn’t mean the stupid dress. I am talking about my marriage!” Hina said curtly.

I sighed and stayed silent for a while. We had been through this conversation countless times, and I was wondering if it would do her any good to hear it once more.

“You know, Hina, the other day I read something that completely swept me off my feet.”

“Really, what?” she eyed me suspiciously.

“Allah (swt) says to married men in the Quran: ‘It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of As-Saum (the fasts). They are Libas [i.e. body cover, or screen, or Sakan (i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with them) for you and you are the same for them…’ (Al-Baqarah 2:187)”

“It is meant for kind-hearted, loving and God-fearing men, not Adil,” Hina spoke quietly, gazing downward.

“Do you know what that means?” I continued, ignoring her comment “The wife is a resort for her husband, and the husband is a resort for her. Don’t we head to resorts on holidays for enjoyment? This is the kind of relationship that Allah (swt) has ordained for a married couple – to be a source of happiness and contentment for each other. And, naturally, that can only happen when we suppress our desires to lash out in anger at each other, let go of the past mistakes, prevent ourselves from being thankless for the present, and not show mistrust for the future.” I tried to reason with her.

“But what if it is mostly his mistakes… for how long can I preservere?” Hina challenged with tears welling up.

“Love him more than you love this outfit!” I whispered. “He is your Libas. This will one day go out of style and will be either stowed away or donated to the destitute. But your relationship is to stay. What does your Libas do for you? It makes you appear beautiful, it hides your flaws, it protects you from harmful weather, and it states who you are. It is the first thing anyone sets eyes on.”

Hina stared silently then began to sob softly.

“Hina, dear…” I held her soft hand in mine.

“If you lift your garment in public, it is you who will be undressed, not others. May Allah (swt) bless you with wise company, but most people around us relish juicy gossip. Don’t undress yourself before them. Also, if you wash your dirty laundry in public, do you really think your problems will go away? If your husband comes to know of this, will it create an atmosphere of pleasantness or bitterness between the two of you? No matter what misgivings there are between you, they must be solved by both of you. Cherish your relationship with him like a prized gown that embellishes you.”

“It is so hard,” Hina wept like a child.

“I know! It is especially hard when your Libas has been torn, tattered and left at the mercy of cruel gales for so long. Ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and pray earnestly to Him for help every day. Take the initiative and stay steadfast. Don’t let anything or anyone come between you and your Libas. Allah (swt) willing, you will love him and adorn him like never before, and he will do the same for you, eventually.” I reassured her, silently praying to Allah (swt) to grant her wisdom, patience, courage, and above all, tranquility.

I do not know what happened the next year or so, as I lost touch with Hina. One morning, as I was sipping my coffee, I received an email saying: “To my beloved seamstress who taught me how to carry myself in style. By the way, I also want to quote something to her that I later found in the Quran, following my counselling cum fashion designing session with her a year ago: ‘It is He who has created you from a single person (Adam) and (then) He has created from him his wife (Hawwa), in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her…’ (Al-Araf 7:189) May Allah (swt) love you as much as I do. It was you who helped me appreciate my Libas.”

Marriage: A Transit Towards Happily Ever After


“And they lived happily ever after” is how almost all of our childhood fairytales concluded. The media, movies, and novels are all thriving on the man-woman relationship. Unfortunately, they glamourize just one aspect of marriage and delude the youth into believing that it is all about roses, romance, and riches.


The institution of marriage is so much more than that. It is indeed an enchanting bond, but it also entails responsibilities, duties, compromises, and sacrifices. The latter is something we often find we are not ready for!

In order to live a pleasant and successful married life, we have to set right our perspective: happily ever after is only in the hereafter and marriage is just a transit towards it. Do not expect everything to be perfect; the bumps are bound to come. They are only a test for you to pass as you move on to the next world, which is eternal.

The Ground Reality: Life is a Test!

We, as human beings, are not wandering on the earth for nothing. Allah (swt) has created us for a purpose. He says in the Quran: “Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed.” (Al-Mulk 67:2)

We are like students giving an exam. This examination phase is a prelude to the long life in the hereafter. Every coming day and every role that we have is a question paper from Allah (swt) that needs to be filled with answers learned from the Quran and Sunnah. The one who answers correctly shall be granted the ultimate success.

Through the treatise of Nikah, the bride and groom actually enter into a new and tougher exam. From being just sons/daughters and brothers/sisters, they are promoted to many more roles, the most significant of which has to do with forming a new family. Stay calm! Just like a mother does not require her two-year-old to fetch heavy suitcases for her, Allah (swt) does not burden a soul with more than it can bear. You are put through only as much as you can handle.

Every Muslim marriage is set in motion by the Khutbah of Prophet Muhammad (sa). The Nikah sermon is a treasure chest of reminders and advice. Like a guess paper, it hints at the most vital areas that we need to focus on in this stage of life.

Pleasing Him (swt) Together

Can you imagine people talking about death at such an auspicious occasion as marriage? Did you know that the Nikah sermon does talk about it? The first Ayah mentioned by Muhammad (sa) is: “O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:102)

Your death can be in a state of submission to Allah (swt) only if your life has been the same way. Amidst the joy, when one is most likely to forget Allah (swt), Muhammad (sa) is reminding the couple of Him. It is Allah (swt) Who has blessed you with a spouse; your foremost loyalty should be to the ever-loving Rabb (swt). Adorn yourself with Taqwa; be mindful of Allah (swt), His likes and His dislikes at all times. You must not anger Him in order to satisfy others. Eventually, your return and accountability is to Him.

Taqwa (God consciousness) and striving for Allah’s (swt) pleasure should form the foundation of our homes. Strive to be a believing couple in the truest sense and make your dream come true: a perfect life – together forever in the gardens of eternity.

Moreover, remember that Ali (rtam) and Fatima (rtaf) are not the only examples for us. Sometimes, we may encounter a situation like that of Asiya or Lut (as). Their spouses weren’t their partners in Deen; however, this did not become a hindrance for them as they passed their test.

Strengthening the Ties of Relationship

The second most significant lesson in the Nikah sermon is to maintain the ties of relationship. It is not just you anymore. The married couple becomes intertwined in many new relationships.

According to a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa), the most beloved act for Shaitan is to cause a rift between a husband and a wife. Beware of this enemy between you and make it a principle to forgive and reconcile. If one is angry, the other must keep calm at the time.

Regarding the in-laws, remember that Islam is a religion of moderation; it does not demand that we comply with everything the in-laws say, nor does it allow that we forsake them completely. In our culture, unfortunately, one extreme is leading to the other. From having too much influence, they are now being outclassed completely, not even given the status and rights equal to that of a neighbour! Treat your parents/siblings and those of your spouse equally and remember the two golden rules: Ihsan and avoiding negative assumptions.

On a side note, do not peek into the “exam papers” of others to point out their mistakes. Pay attention to your own and worry about the rights you have to give. Insha’Allah, Allah (swt) will take care of yours.

Cherish Your Garment

The look of her magnificent dress was being ruined by the scorn on her face. Yes, sometimes we may have the very best, but our attitude of ungratefulness and picking faults can complicate our life.

Allah (swt) has used the perfect parable for the husband-wife relationship in the Quran. He says: “They are Libas [i.e. body cover, or screen, or Sakan(i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with her – as in Verse 7:189) Tafsir AtTabari] for you and you are the same for them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

Libas is a means of covering; it adorns us, highlights our beauty and saves us from cold and heat. Always be grateful for your spouse without comparing him/her to others. A dress may look beautiful on someone else, but for you it might not even be your size!

Whenever you feel resentful about something in your spouse, start making a mental list of all the positive qualities he/she possesses. Especially, make a list of all the qualities your spouse has that your father/brother or sister/mother do not have! An instant “Alhumdulillah” will for sure come from the heart.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “A believer must not hate (his wife) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim) The same rule goes for believing women.

A husband and a wife constitute the basic unit of the Ummah. They are the producers of the future Muslim generation. Today, the Ummah is facing a severe shortage of quality men. For this unit to raise courageous Muslim leaders, sincere Mujahideen, devoted Daees and true scholars, it needs to be strong and productive! Aim high and build your home over the bricks of Taqwa, gratefulness, and Ihsan.

Inspirational Real Life Marriage Stories


What is true marital love? Let’s take a look at some examples found in true stories:

 Exchange of Lovely Compliments

Once, the Prophet (sa) was sitting in a room with Aisha (rtaf) and fixing his shoes. It was very warm. Aisha (rtaf) looked at his blessed forehead and noticed that there were beads of sweat on it. She became overwhelmed by the majesty of that sight. She stared at him long enough for him to notice. He asked, “What’s the matter?”

She replied: “If Abu Bukair Al-Huthali, the poet, saw you, he would know that his poem was written for you.”

The Prophet (sa) asked: “What did he say?”

She replied: “Abu Bukair said that if you look at the majesty of the moon, it twinkles and lights up the world for everybody to see.”

The Prophet (sa) got up, walked to Aisha (rtaf), kissed her between the eyes, and said: “By Allah, O Aisha, you are like that to me and more.” (Baihaqi)

Reassurance of Love

Aisha (rtaf) and the Prophet (sa) would use code language with each other denoting their love. She asked the Prophet (sa) how he would describe his love for her. Prophet Muhammad (sa) answered: “Like a strong binding knot.” The more you tug, the stronger it gets, in other words.

Every so often Aisha (rtaf) would playfully ask: “How is the knot?” The Prophet (sa) would answer: “As strong as the first day (you asked).” Then, he said: “By Allah, nothing will harm me in this life, when I know that you will be my wife in Paradise.” (Abu Nuaym in Hilyat al-Awliya, 2/44; quoted by Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Lisan al-Mizan, no. 760, Ash-Shawkani in Al-Fawaid, no.1180)

Keeping an Eye on the Real Prize

According to the scholars (Ulema), there was once a very beautiful woman married to a dark man, whose features made him look extremely strange and scary. They were both, however, very happy together, because both were very righteous individuals, who were devoted to Allah (swt). One day, the husband happened to smile in happiness, as he looked at his wife, and at this, she said: “We are the entrants of Paradise.” Her husband asked how she came to know this, and she continued: “When you look at me, you smile in gratitude, and when I look at you, I exercise patience. A Hadeeth says that both the grateful and the patient shall enter Paradise.” (“Islam and Marriage” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad)

Consideration for the Other

Aisha (rtaf) relates: “By Allah, I saw the Prophet Muhammad (sa) standing at the door of my room when some Abyssinians were playing with spears in the mosque. The Messenger of Allah (sa) screened me with his cloak so that I could watch the spear-play over his shoulder. He stayed there for my sake until I had seen enough.” (Bukhari)

While on a journey, Prophet Musa’s (as) wife had to stop because of a headache. Musa (as) told her to rest while he fetched firewood to build a fire for warmth. Here we have an excellent example in which we see prophets engaged in providing ease and comfort to their wives. Hence, men should not shy away from any kind of work and responsibility but embrace the opportunity. (“Islam and Marriage” by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad)

Being Patient for the Sake of Love

The son of Abu Talhah (rtam) and Umm Sulaim (rtaf) had been ailing. Abu Talhah (rtam) set out on a journey, and his son breathed his last in his absence. Very worried that her husband would be extremely saddened at the news, Umm Sulaim (rtaf) she sat contemplating what she should do. She then bathed the child’s body and laid it in the cot with a blanket over it. She requested her family members to not inform Abu Talhah (rtam) about the child’s death immediately.

When Abu Talhah (rtam) came back, he asked (his wife): “What about my child?” Umm Sulaim (rtaf) said: “He is now in a more comfortable state than before.”

The husband hence thought the child was sleeping. The couple ate together, discussed his trip, and retired for the night.

The next morning, she said: “Abu Talhah, if some people borrow something from another family and then the members of the family ask for its return, would they resist its return? He said: “No.” She said: “I inform you about the death of your son.”

He was annoyed at that. Later, Abu Talhah (rtam) came to Allah’s Messenger (sa) and informed him about this. Whereupon, he asked: “Did you spend the night with her?” He answered: “Yes.” The Prophet (sa) then supplicated: O Allah, bless both of them.”

As a result of this blessing, Umm Sulaim (rtaf) gave birth to a child. The Prophet (sa) named him Abdullah. (Muslim)