Are you planning to get married? Abu Abdullah outlines what one should look for in a prospective spouse.
The Prophet (sa) has been reported to have said: “A woman is normally sought as a wife for her wealth, beauty, nobility or religiousness, but choose a religious woman and you will prosper.” (Muslim)
Some well-intentioned Muslims try to follow this prophetic advice in choosing a spouse and make religion the principal criteria for their selection. However, soon they face problems: how to define ‘religiousness’ and which particular religious characteristics should a prospective wife have? Are wearing a Hijab and praying regularly sufficient? Certainly, they do indicate righteousness; however, the outward manifestations can sometimes be deceptive, which calls for some deeper considerations before making this important decision.
The foremost of these is having the correct belief or Aqeedah, for the belief systems of people may differ. If a person spends the entire life doing good deeds, but his belief system is corrupted, he may not gain any reward for it in the Akhirah. In terms of marriage, beliefs form the basis of a person’s worldview; thus, two people with different beliefs cannot come to common terms easily, because their perspectives are different. Spouses are like a pair of eyes in the head: each has separate vision, but when they focus on common goals, they provide a depth in perception that is not possible by either one of them alone. Wearing different-coloured eye glasses on each eye, results only in confusion. Further, this poses difficulties for children, who are often left perplexed about how to see reality. Even among Muslims, different sects have different Aqeedahs, so care must be taken in choosing a mate whose belief one concurs with.
Sincerity in Front of Allah (swt)
The next important characteristic may be quite difficult to ascertain. It is sincerity in front of Allah (swt) which is a very private matter, as it is related to the intentions of a Muslim. When a wife does everything primarily for Allah’s (swt) sake, one can be sure that Islam is not just on her lips; it has entered her heart. That is the essence of religion. When she does something good to him or his relatives, it is primarily to seek reward from Allah (swt). It will make no difference to her, if she is appreciated for her good deeds or not, as she knows that Allah (swt) appreciates her. Many typical misunderstandings and complaints in marriages can be neutralized by this great characteristic alone.
Love for the Prophet (sa) and his Sunnah
Love for the Prophet (sa) and his Sunnah is another important consideration for marriage. The Sunnah provides Muslims with exemplary patterns of lifestyle which guide them to the most natural way in which Allah (swt) wants them to live. A wife, who takes the Prophet (sa) as the best role model for herself, will constantly work on improving her character. She will cultivate such good characteristics as patience, thankfulness, humility, devotion, truthfulness, modesty, sincerity, dependability, etc. Such traits are indispensible in a believing wife.
The life of a Muslim, who follows the Sunnah, is characterized by good balance. They fulfill the rights of Allah (swt) as well as of the people around them. A wife who loves the Prophet (sa) will follow the caring way in which he dealt with people. Wives play a significant role in the social interactions of families and friends, so a genuinely concerned and caring wife will be a source of good Dawah and reform. She will constantly think about the welfare of others, in both their religious and mundane matters. She will help in maintaining strong ties of kinship. Certainly, she will not forget the responsibilities she owes to her children, whose characters she has to mould.
Love for Learning
After the love for Allah (swt) and the love for the Prophet (sa) should come the love for learning. A wife who is committed to a lifetime of learning will always look for ways to keep improving herself, both in matters of Deen and Dunya. In each stage of her life, she will eagerly learn the knowledge required for carrying out her responsibilities. Correct Aqeedah will help in building her inner vision by placing what she learns in the correct framework of belief. This will allow her to develop insights about the nature of things. This Hikmah (wisdom) and Firasa (intuition) are rare and valuable qualities to have in a wife. Indeed, the Prophet (sa) has been reported to have said: “Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him the path to Paradise…” (Ibn Majah) She is also more likely to pass on this love for learning to her children.
A wife can have all the above qualities; yet, if she is not obedient, then the family unit is prone to tear apart. Obedience is threefold: to the commands of Allah (swt), to the Prophet (sa) and then to the husband. Every social setting needs a leader: a responsible person who would look after the interests of the entire group. In a family, this responsibility is in the hands of the husband, who should seek to acquire all the above characteristics himself, before demanding them from his potential spouse. A family cannot be led by two people. If the wife does not obey the husband, chaos ensues. At a macro level, family discords lead to disruption in society, since a healthy family unit is the basis of a healthy society.
For a successful Islamic marriage, both husband and wife should be committed to improving themselves and acquiring good characteristics that go beyond mere rituals of religion. If a wife has the right Aqeedah, is sincere to Allah (swt), loves and practices the Sunnah, is committed to learning and is obedient to the husband, then there is very little else that a wise practicing Muslim should consider.