Don’t take good qualities for granted
At the beginning there could be good potentials that get rejected because you can’t see or appreciate their true value. You take their valuable traits as universal and you wrongly think everyone has them. After time when you come across really bad potentials you begin to realise what you missed. You come to know that the good characteristics were not common traits and at times rare. Things are known by their opposites. So how do we deal with that?
Think with your head more than your emotions. If a sister has taqwa, good manners, is from a good family and is acceptable then maybe best to go for it. Someone better coming in the future is not guaranteed. Don’t be greedy- it will never end. Take someone decent and take the marriage from there. Once inside the institution of marriage- don’t compare and be content. Greed, comparing, lack of contentment and waiting for an imaginary or 100% ideal spouse are not good things.
Approach the guardian first
Every single Islamic law is there to bring all benefit and ward off all harm. Islam tells us to talk to the guardian when we are interested in a sister. A lot of proposals go pear shaped even after the sister has accepted. That is because the brother treats the sister as the guardian. A sister could even reject you because of her mood. Don’t let a sister deter you from approaching her guardian under the guise that the guardian is harsh, won’t understand and will get angry. That is not true. The guardian won’t get annoyed because someone did the honourable thing. This is in the sister’s imagination. The guardian is a prerequisite and should make things run smoothly. If a brother approaches you to marry your sister and doesn’t do things behind your back would you respect him or disrespect him? You could find yourself married in a few days after talking with the guardian instead of these pointless conversations accompanied with apprehension.
Marriage is a blessing from Allah SWT and a blessing is not attained by sinning. Who your wife is (if any) is written and you must find your wife in the Halal way which is pleasing to Allah. My advice to brothers who want to get married to a sister, is to go directly the guardian. Negotiate marriage with the sister’s guardian first and get the green light. That is what Islam tells us to do.
Talk to the guardian
There are so many permissible options in Islam.
We as Muslims are able to enjoy love in anyway which is permissible and compatible with our situation. Monogamy and polygyny are both allowed. An egocentric or ethnocentric person will have a very hard time trying to understand Islam. They won’t realise that there are diverse options to cater for all types of people. Something being permissible doesn’t mean you have to do it. When someone sees his world as the world, it is a very hard task to engage with that person. When comments like “You can’t handle polygyny”, “Women prefer monogamy”, “Monogamy is not for men”, are said- what makes that person say that to someone he doesn’t even know? I think these things (not exhaustive) will determine what type of marriage you choose.
- Your personal preference. That will be affected by your upbringing, your outlook on marriage, abilities/competence, etc.
- Societal dynamics. Working all day (no spare time) with little money vs lots of spare time with lots of money, example, gulf.
- Acceptance and understanding of other party. If your wife has the wrong assumption that taking another wife means you don’t love her or finds it hard and it will cause a lot of harm then best to avoid it. If your wife wants you to marry her friend then that is a factor.
- Wants from marriage. Deep emotional connection, strong friendship, massive jealously vs “part time” marriage or sugar daddy marriage.
One size doesn’t fit all. If something is permissible and is suitable for both parties then it is no one’s business. This forcing of personal views onto others as if they are universal is a very self-centred approach that does no one any favours. If a rich man marries a young beautiful woman and they have an understanding- it isn’t for me to speak. If a couple enjoy a “Romeo-Juliet” relationship, good for them. If a man derives pleasure from his quartet who are more than happy and aren’t complaining then why should anyone poke their noses into something which doesn’t concern them?
The second we realise that life is not monochromatic but multifaceted and it doesn’t revolve around us is the second we can all go home and have a coffee. Islam is for everyone. It caters for all needs, environments and times, etc. If something doesn’t suit you that might not be the case for others. So long as someone is not doing something prohibited, they are free of blame.
Take into consideration opinion of family
It is true that family can be blatantly wrong at times and their racism, classism and prejudices, etc, can make them very biased. However a lot of the time they will have contributions which can be of very significant value. Your perception when immersed in something will give you important information from one angle. However, outsiders (who are wise) might see things you are totally oblivious to as they will see things from a different angle. When both perceptions from each angle are combined you will get a more accurate evaluation. It is like an airplane view coupled with street interactions. Both provide interesting insights that bolster each other.
You might be head over heels for a sister but your mother is warning you she is a gold digger or not good. You might not see that as your focus is on what you find impressive (which could blind you) or you may not know the characteristics of a gold digger (you are ignorant). Listen to what family members have to say and ask them why they think so. Don’t belittle the opinions of anyone as they may be of benefit. Maybe both opinions are right. You are looking at it from one angle while they have a different angle. Combine both angles. It is like when playing boogle. A person will get words you don’t know (then they explain the meanings of the words) or words you know but missed.
Also bear in mind parents have more experience. Even though they might be wrong in other areas that doesn’t mean they are wrong all the time. Polarised thinking is not rational thinking. Get a second opinion as well as listening to their arguments and reasoning. Exercise deliberation and know there is more to what meets the eye.
Don’t engage in the sunk cost fallacy
The sunk cost fallacy is letting past decisions (which were bad) affect making the best decision available at the moment. Let us say in the past you had the chance to marry a very good sister but you thought you could do better so you rejected her. Ten years later you can’t find anyone better than her. She then comes available as a potential spouse once again. However this time her qualities as a spouse are not as good as they were and the dowry is much more. However she is the best option available. At this point what do you do? Compare her to what she was in the first encounter and reject her again or recognise she is the best option available at the moment and not let your past rejection affect your choice? The latter is the best course of action. The best decision is the one which brings the most benefit regardless of what has happened in the past.
Another scenario: Let us imagine you went through a lot of hardship to get married to the sister you liked. You spent a lot of money, you had a hard time convincing your family and her family and a lot of time and effort were spent in the endeavour. However you find yourself miserable in the marriage. What do you do? Say to yourself I put in a lot of hard work and so continue to live in misery or get out of the misery? If you do the former it is double pain- hardship both before marriage and inside it. The wise thing to do is to leave the marriage (if it is unbearable) and not let your past input make you live in pain.
Of course it is best to recognise who comes under a good potential spouse as to not reject good sisters. It is also equally important to check the feasibility of a marriage as to not land yourself in difficult circumstances. If however after doing your best you find that you are not in the best situation then don’t let past decisions prevent you from taking the best course of action.
It is a bit like taking the long way but then realising there is a short way. However you have traversed the long way and going to the short way will actually be longer (to get there). Therefore you continue in the long way. The short way was only the short way if it was taken at the start. Take the decision which is best for now.
Good women are for good men
If you say there are no good women perhaps it is because you are not a good man. You see in the world what is in your heart! Perhaps you need to purify your heart. Perhaps you have very high unrealistic standards. Modify your criteria to a more realistic one where you acknowledge that any woman will have both strengths and weaknesses just like you. Perhaps you are stereotyping all women with one bad experience. That is a cognitive distortion. Look at each woman with fresh eyes and know that every woman is different. Perhaps you have a very narrow criterion. Example, you prefer only Niqabis and only looking in it. Broaden the permissible options and don’t make it hard or tight upon yourself. Perhaps you are comparing women to someone very special in the past.
Realise that maybe the past experience was a one off, so don’t compare and learn to recognise that there are good women (not as good as the very special one in the past). Perhaps there is nothing special about you and so you are stuck with women you don’t find desirable. Work on yourself. Perhaps you have exposed yourself to the fake glamour of social media and so normal women in real life are not appealing. Stop living in a fantasy world. Perhaps you are a perfectionist and any tiny detail doesn’t go unnoticed. Let go of such a rigid mentality. Perhaps you are not giving Deen it’s required weight and your focus is on other things. Know that the woman with Deen is a good woman. Perhaps you are not supplicating enough. Supplicate more and you will be blessed from where you don’t expect it.
QUALITIES OF A GOOD HUSBAND
Husbands with goals to nurture Happy Wives…
No one ever thinks about the characteristics of a Muslim husband. It is always what a wife should do for the husband…and the list never ends: home management, tutoring, ferrying the kids, caring, cooking, cleaning, washing, working even; you name it, she’s doing it, so what about the brothers?
Our beloved Nabi (SAW) was not EVER lazy, so why the men of this Ummah? It is quite interesting, so I thought I’d share it with you!
What a Muslim husband should be like…
>Dress up for your wife, look clean and smell good. When was the last time you went shopping for designer pyjamas? Just like the husband wants his wife to look nice for him, she also wants her husband to dress up for her too. Remember that Nabi (SAW) would always start with Miswak when returning home and always loved the sweetest smells.
>Use the best names for your wife. Call your wife by the most beloved names to her, and avoid using names that hurt their feelings.
>Don’t treat her like a fly. We never think about a fly in our daily lives until it ‘bugs’ us. Similarly, a wife will do well all day – which brings no attention from the husband – until she does something to ‘bug’ him. Don’t treat her like this; recognize all the good that she does and focus on that.
>If you see wrong from your wife, try being silent and do not comment! This is one of the ways Nabi (SAW) used when he would see something inappropriate from his wives (R.A). It’s a technique that few Muslim men have mastered.
>Smile at your wife whenever you see her and embrace her often.
Smiling is Sadaqah and your wife is not exempt from the Muslim Ummah. Imagine life with her constantly seeing you smiling.
Remember also those Ahadith when Nabi (SAW) would kiss his wife before leaving for Salaah, even when he was fasting.
>Thank her for all that she does for you. Then, thank her again! Take for example a dinner at your house. She makes the food, cleans the home, and a dozen other tasks to prepare before your return. And sometimes the only acknowledgment she receives is that there needed to be more salt in the soup. Don’t let that be; thank her! Nabi (SAW) used to help his wives with the housework, he mended his own clothes, and patched his own footwear. Never forget –what your wife does for you without any assistance is actually out of her goodness, much of the tasks today’s wife does is actually a favour to you. Acknowledge it. Be grateful.
>Ask her to write down the last ten things you did for her that made her happy. Then go and do them again. It may be hard to recognize what gives your wife pleasure. You don’t have to play a guessing game, ask her and work on repeating those times in your life.
>Don’t belittle her desires, comfort her, sometimes the men may look down upon the requests of their wives. Nabi (SAW) set the example for us in an incident when Safiyyah (R.A) was crying because, as she said, he had put her on a slow camel. He wiped her tears, comforted her and brought her the camel.
>Be humorous, play games with your wife, and surprise her once in a while with gifts. Nabi (SAW) encouraged the giving of gifts.
Look at how he would race with his wife Aisha (R.A) in the desert. When was the last time we did something like that?
>Don’t ever refer to your wife in the third person, & never in a negative or mocking manner, even if you are right. Remember, she is the mother of your children. She deserves their respect & honour more than anyone else in the world. Don’t promote & advertise yourself as better than her. Let Allah be the judge, protect her dignity.
Woman was not made from man’s head to be superior over, nor his feet to be trampled on. She emerged from his side to walk next to, from under the arm to be protected & from near the heart to be loved & valued.
>Don’t feel intimidated by your woman’s strengths or aptitude, admire her, & treat her as an equal as in the eyes of Allah. Encourage her, support her & be there for her. Allah has not granted superiority of one over the other, but rather has assigned each different tasks according to the uniqueness of His male and female creation. Nabi (SAW) has said that if he would have commanded bowing to any other aside from Allah, it would have been the wife to the husband. This is not a matter to inflate your ego, but to underline how much you need to do for her so as to have earned this status. Remember your attitude towards her would determine the depth of her love for you, her appreciation, and the warmth of her behaviour towards you.
>Don’t be a “ruler”. Be a mediator; compassionate, loving, understanding, compromising. This is what wins a woman’s heart, nothing more, nothing less. Hear her cries for acceptance, don’t complicate matters for her, make things easier. Always remember the words of Allah’s Messenger (SAW): ‘The best of you are those who treat their families the best. And I am the best amongst you to my family.’ Try to be the best.
>Every time you see your wife, don’t order her to do something, neither complain about anything. She’ll begin to avoid you and your company like the plague! Stop finding faults with her all the time, she’ll lose respect for you. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Use hikmah (tact), be diplomatic. and be considerate. Do things to develop her love for you and strengthen the bond.
>NEVER EVER COMPARE YOUR WIFE TO YOUR MOTHER, SISTER, SISTER-IN-LAW, OR ANY FEMALE, who is supposedly “better” at something than she is. Don’t praise other women so as to make her feel as if she “doesn’t-cut-the-cloth”. This spells disaster for her self-confidence, and stunts love between spouses. She’ll begin to feel inferior, and in her desire to live up to your expectations, she’ll soon feel taken for granted, because you’d never recognise her attempts, but always find something else that’s not right or needs to be bettered. Your wife will soon begin to despise you, she’d feel like your servant, a wall-fly, because it’s always “so hard to please you” and you’re “never satisfied”! So please be cognisant of this habit!
>In conclusion: Everyone has weaknesses, find agreeable ways of working around them together. Never forget to make Dua to Allah (SWT) to make your marriage successful.
Allah knows best!
With inputs from Islamic Research Foundation