|Photo by Umar Mita|
Someone sent me an email asking me a very good question and I think I should share my answer here. I hope it will be beneficial, Insha Allah.
Q: I know that we have to put an effort into pursuing marriage. But what does that mean? What exactly do I have to put my effort in?
A: Regarding effort, I can summarize it in two dimensions:
2. The potential spouse (husband/wife)
This part is the most crucial. You have to put in the effort to better yourself (not only applicable in marriage, but in life as well). Allah doesn't ask you to be perfect, but He does ask you to try your best to become as "perfect" as you can be.
Don't become a spouse only after the nikah, start becoming a spouse NOW! Don't become a parent only after the birth of your first child, start becoming a parent NOW! This means that you have to analyze yourself in terms of your potential as a spouse and as a parent, before entering into the marriage.
In order to do this, you have to come up with some kind of a system to evaluate yourself in terms of your progress as a Muslim - evaluate your relationship with Allah and His creations.
For example, your five daily prayers. You could evaluate your progress by counting how many times do you pray on time.
For example, your relationship with your parents. How many good have you done for them this week? How many bad have you done unto them this week?
Like the saying goes, "Take account of yourself before you are taken into account."
2. The potential spouse
Not only do you have to work on yourself, you also have to know what kind of a spouse you're looking for. My contention is that you will seek based mostly on what your heart desires.
If your heart desires Allah, then you will seek a spouse that can help you get closer to Him. If your heart desires dunya, then you will seek a spouse that can help you get closer to dunya.
Not only that, you have to realize that you are not just choosing a spouse but you are also choosing a parent for your child. Know that the first right of your child is that you choose a righteous parent for him/her.
The Prophet said, "Choose a spouse for your children..." (Ibn Majah).
Here, he gave us a tool (this is not the only tool, but it's an important one nonetheless) for us to evaluate who is the best person to marry. Not only that, this tool can also be used to evaluate ourselves.
With this effort, don't forget to do your istikharah.
Istikharah is a way for us to seek counsel from Allah. To learn more about istikharah, Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda gave a comprehensive explanation about istikharah in this video:
Allah knows best.
May Allah accept. Ameen.