“Matchmaking”. The term evokes thoughts of awkward conversation, shifty feet, and stolen glances, begging the question, why did you think it was a good idea to meet complete strangers?
Let us rewind, back to the moment when you decided, “I want to get married”. Whether this stemmed from a natural feeling of needing companionship or intimacy, pressure from family and friends, or a logical next step of life, it is without doubt, a momentous undertaking that should primarily be rooted in bringing you closer to Allah (swt).
Here, we break down what steps are involved in beginning this journey to look for a spouse. As all things require preparation, so does making the life-changing decision to get married.
Begin in the Name of Allah (swt)
We are all inherently connected to Allah. No matter how much we turn away or forget, the connection remains. For your mind and heart to be at rest in all matters, especially when making such a big decision, let Allah (swt) strengthen and guide you. You may have uttered the statement in a moment of frustration or overwhelm:
Nothing can occur without the will and might of Allah (swt) so turn to Allah (swt) as your He is your Nurturer and first and best friend!
Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has stated that:
“Any servant of Allah (swt) who is attentive to what Allah (swt) requires of him to do, Allah (swt) will be attentive to his demands; and he who holds fast to Allah, He will give him shelter; and he who has chosen Allah (swt) for his helper and shelter will not care about anything, even if the sky falls on the earth, or an epidemic disaster comes to the people. Thus he will be under Allah’s protection against all afflictions for his piety.”
If you only obey Allah’s guidelines for life you will receive His care and protection. In seeking a spouse then, gain stability in the Oneness of Allah (swt) by following His guidelines on what to look for in a spouse. If you are able to trust Allah (swt) then surely you are ready to begin the marriage journey with Allah. Before considering what traits to seek in a spouse, we need to understand the purpose of marriage as Allah (swt) has defined it.
The Purpose of Marriage
“And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you. There are indeed signs in that for people who reflect.”Sūrah ar-Rūm (30), Verse 21
At the natural level Allah (swt) has made marriage a binding structure for companionship and procreation. Marriage limits the weaker, baser tendencies within us and stabilizes Godly families and societies. Stability allows us to grow intellectually and spiritually. And this growth is what helps us to achieve the true purpose of marriage and life, which is nearness to Allah.
You must seek out a spouse whose intellectual and spiritual journey is compatible with yours. You must define what you need in the spouse who will be your best friend, help you reach Allah (swt), avoid sin, and raise a godly family.
Know Yourself to Define Your Criteria
Before you can identify what you need in a spouse you must know yourself. Make note of your strengths and weaknesses in akhlāq and emotional regulation. How do you handle stress or conflict? What makes you sad, angry, and happy. Be honest with yourself as well as consult those who know you best. Understand your personality and temperament.
It is true that there are no absolutely perfect matches. Still, it is essential that spouses have similar and complementary qualities to each other. Expecting from others what one does not possess in themselves will lead to incompatibility. If you wish for a spouse who is very educated and driven but you have not yet cultivated that in yourself, then your lifestyles will be different. And differences of lifestyle lead to different schedules, social circles, budgets, and so on.
It is human nature to put more focus on expectations than we do on self-improvement and faith. It is natural to have hopes and dreams but it is important to be vigilant of our responsibilities and intentions. Hope for good things but guard your hearts from lofty expectations.
The basic guideline for spouse selection is to marry “good, moral people”. Seek out someone who is compatible in belief and morality and is of good family background. Family background should reflect good akhlaq and moral compass. The family of your spouse will have some degree of influence in your life. You need a good family to have harmony and growth.
Allah (swt) has given specific traits to look for that would make for a good, moral spouse. There is great emphasis on finding one who is “chaste, religious, [and] of good akhlaq”. It is stated in the Noble Qurʾān:
Define Your Criteria
So far you have examined the purpose of marriage, your personality and temperament, and the divine instructions. You need to bring these together and reflect deeply on what you need in a spouse based on all of this information. Consider all the traits you would like to consider. Take the time to be specific about yourself and your future spouse.
If one of the traits in your criteria blueprint is spirituality, take the time to be specific on what that means. Not everyone has the same idea of what spirituality, work ethic, or fun activities look like. Whatever your criteria, be specific about what that looks like for you so that you and a potential spouse can identify compatibility and flexibility.
Take the time to consider spirituality, modesty, ḥijāb, community involvement, and family values. All aspects of life that matter to you based on your self-reflection require a very specific picture of what that looks like to you. Things like simplicity are very subjective. For you simplicity may be few material possessions while to another it may be not eating out or going on trips. The more specific you are, the better you will be able to see if a potential spouse is the right one for you.
Some excellent advice from Maulana Nabi R. Mir (Abidi) is to create a scale. First identify all the traits that you wish to measure compatibility with. Then on a scale of one to ten rate each trait for how much you can tolerate differences with a spouse in that area. Remember that there are no perfect matches. You need some flexibility so you don’t lose years rejecting good people.
Continue to Turn Towards Allah
If you allow yourself to lose faith and hope you could lose your way. And this could take you away from a union meant to take you closer to Allah. Always remember that marriage is a foundation of the religion of Allah (swt). You don’t have to wait for a spouse before you further your progress on the journey to a good Hereafter! Allow the search for the right spouse to take its course as everything is in Allah’s time.
Download the entire spouse selection essay below!
Jawad Tehrani, Living the Right Way, al-islam.org
Ibrahim Amini, Principles Of Marriage & Family Ethics, al-islam.org
H.I Maulana Syed Farhat Abbas, Heavenly Match-Spouse Selection Webinar, youtube.com