|Photo by Umar Mita|
Before reading this post, I recommend you reading this one first: In the Pursuit of Marriage.
Before we begin...
This is just a guideline of how to pursue marriage the halal way. Do keep in mind that there is a degree of flexibility when it comes to pursuing marriage the halal way.
It is not a rigid, black-and-white thing.
To put it in simple terms, what we need to know is what not to do. That basically means knowing and understanding the concept of gender interaction in Islam. Once we have familiarized ourselves with that concept, then we will know our limits and we will know better not to cross them.
Judging from the emails that I have received over the past year or so, I see that a lot of people (especially people my age) are confused about or unaware of how to pursue marriage in the right way. Therefore, I feel obliged to contribute whatever I can.
I also feel afraid.
I feel afraid to write this post because I don't know if I am the best person to touch upon this topic. Please keep in mind that I am not the number 1 guy you should go to for advice on this matter. Whatever I wrote here stems from my personal experience and from attending a few marriage courses.
I ask Allah to forgive me for my mistakes and I ask Allah to bless me in my effort. Ameen.
Let me reiterate that this is not a rigid, black-and-white thing. There is a degree of flexibility. My aim in writing this post is to give you an idea of how to go about pursuing marriage
I hope that this guideline will benefit you, Insha Allah.
Step 1: You found someone
You found someone who looks like a good potential spouse for you.
You found the person yourself
Maybe you were searching or maybe you weren't, but you found that person nonetheless. Maybe in a class, maybe in an event, maybe in a club (not a night club, okay?), maybe in a Masjid, maybe in your neighbourhood, etc.
Someone suggested the person to you
Or, maybe your friends, your family, or someone else suggested the person to you and you find that person interesting. It is important to know that other people (including your parents) can only suggest to you whom to marry. They can't force you to marry that person.
Now that you have an interest in someone, lets go to the next step.
Step 2: You want to know more about that person
Islam never teaches you to marry a total stranger. But if that is the case, how do we come to know the person we want to marry?
At this point, people usually go out on a date. But dating, based on its popular practice, is seen as inappropriate in Islam (except if a man and a woman are already married, in which case it is recommended!)
When people know that dating is not the way to go, they are left with a question,"How am I suppose to know about the person I'm going to marry if we don't date?"
That is a valid question and those who preach against dating often times fail to answer this question. Hence, leaving the questioner feeling confused and lost.
I am going to attempt to answer that question by offering an alternative to dating, a better alternative.
Alternative: Ask around
Ask around about who and how the person is.
Get in touch with people who know him/her best. Personally, I think the people you want to get in touch with are his/her close friends, particularly friends who lived and/or traveled with that person.
If you can get in touch with the person's family members, that's awesome! Family should be the closest social group to a person. Hence, they should know that person very well.
It is important that the people you're asking your questions to are honest with you and understand the seriousness of the situation. Consider this as an amanah (trust).
He/She must tell the truth, even if he/she has to speak negatively about your potential spouse. This is one of the few exceptions when talking negatively about a person behind his/her back is not considered as backbiting. For example, say a woman asks me about my close friend whom she is interested in. She asks me, "Is he hot tempered?" If my friend is indeed hot tempered, I have to tell her the truth. But how much detail should I tell her? That depends on the necessity. If it's not necessary for me to tell her certain details, then I shouldn't do so.
He/She must also keep the conversation confidential. For example, if a woman contacts me to know more about my close friend, it is my responsibility to keep our conversation private. I don't go around and tell people about it.
What to ask?
1. I guess a proper way to start is to ask whether the person is available or not. If the person is taken, then he/she is off limits. By "taken", I don't mean that the person has a boyfriend or a girlfriend. By "taken", I mean that person is already engaged or married.
Alternatively, if the person is not looking to get married at the present moment (for various possible reasons), then you can't do anything about that too.
2. Provided that the person is available, now lets look at some of the things that our Prophet put emphasis on.
a) For a husband, our Prophet emphasized on two things: Akhlaq and Deen. These two things are not the only thing that you should look for in a man, rather they should be the top two things on your list.
"If a man comes [and asks for your daughter's hand in marriage] who possesses ethical conduct and religious origin, then marry him [to her]. If you do not, it will be a great trial and mischief on the face of the earth." (al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim with a sound chain of narrators)
b) For a wife, I think we all know of this famous Hadeeth:
"A woman is married for four reasons: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty, and her deen. So choose the one with [good practice of] the deen, may your hands be rubbed in dust." (Bukhari 5090; Muslim 1466)
This Hadeeth does not suggest that the deen is the only thing you should look at and nothing else. This Hadeeth suggests that you should put her deen as your no. 1 priority. This is similar for seeking a potential husband, as mentioned above.
Imam Ibn Hajr (rahimahullah) explains: "We understand from the [above] hadeeth a recommendation to marry beautiful women except in the case where in there is a beautiful woman who is not religious vs. a religious woman who is not beautiful [i.e. you should choose the religious woman who is not beautiful]. Indeed, if they are similar in their deen, then the beautiful one is more worthy of marriage!" (Fathul-Bari 9/134)
Islam is a realistic religion.
You can ask about other things that are important and relevant to you, but don't go beyond that. You don't have to know everything about him/her. You only need to know enough about the person so that you can make a decision.
3. Compatibility is another important factor to consider.
A better alternative?
I mentioned before that this is a better alternative. Why?
Because you are asking the people that know the person inside out. They have been together with the person long enough to see the spectrum that made up that person you want to marry. They have seen the person in his/her best and in his/her worst.
They have known the person honestly and clearly. There is no acting and pretending.
Step 3: Consultation
It is important to consult people who are experienced in the areas of marriage.
I would recommend that the first people who you want to consult with are your parents. Other people that you want to consider for consultation: a marriage counselor, an Imam, a friend who is married, a teacher, etc.
Ask them for advice and guidance.
Step 4: Istikharah
This is the key in this whole endeavor.
I highly recommend that you check out the video below by Sheikh Abdul Jangda. He comprehensively explained the concept of Istikharah and how to perform it properly.
Istikharah: How To & Why? - Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda
Step 5: Making your decision
Based on the answer to your Istikharah, make a decision whether you want to propose to the person or not. Or if somebody already proposed to you, make a decision whether you want to accept the proposal or not.
Whether you want to propose or answer a proposal, you can do so in a few ways:
1. Inform the person directly (Facebook, email, text, letter, etc.).
2. Inform the person through a third person (a parent, a friend, or anyone else you trust).
3. For men, I highly recommend that you go straight to her house and ask for her hand from her father.
Step 6: Determination and Tawakal
Accept the outcome (whatever it may be) with an open heart. Have faith in Allah and be optimistic.
This guideline is not the only thing that you should rely on. Please don't.
My aim is just to give you an idea of how to pursue marriage without causing Allah to be displeased with you. My aim is to show you that there is a better way of getting married, without going through the impermissible.
This topic needs to be taught properly. A blog post is not enough. I know that this blog post does not answer all questions. But that was not my intention. Like I said before, I just want to give you an idea of how to pursue marriage the halal way.
But really, when you learn this stuff, you'll realize that pursuing marriage is easy. The sad thing is that we make it hard.
The society needs to take heed. There are a lot of young people out there who want to get married (some of them need to get married), but they can't. Sometimes they can't get married for legitimate reasons, such as not having the financial means. But other times, they can't get married for reasons that are ridiculous and can be avoided.
For example, "You can't get married to that person because he/she is not from the same country/race/hometown."
Seriously, what kind of a reason is that?
Don't make the halal hard. Because that will make the haram easy.
To supplement this blog post, I highly recommend that you watch this video: Towards Solving the Marriage Dilemma - Sheikh Alaa El Sayed.