Have you ever tried watching an old sitcom years later and found yourself identifying more with the parents and less with the teens? I find myself in this position now as a father of two daughters. I went from identifying with the guy trying to get the girl while moving past the crazy dad to being the responsible father who protects his girls from men who want to take advantage of them. As a witness to the number of problems leading to divorce among both the religious and non-religious, it's become readily apparent that beyond “religion and character” there are other characteristics potential suitors need to bring to the table before I'll sign off with a recommendation to my daughters, as their wali.  Here are a few that have come to mind:

1. No Umbilical Cord

Unfortunately, a number of mothers have done a poor job of raising their boys.  Rather than teaching them to help around the house, they've shown their sons that Jannah is not just at their mother's feet, but also in her hands as she labors away daily doing her son's laundry, cooking, bed-making, and more.  Marriage then becomes the transfer of the umbilical cord from mother to wife. While I do appreciate the value of a “traditional” home wherein a husband is the main breadwinner and the wife a homemaker (if that's the arrangement a couple chooses), there is certainly room for a man to be in the service of his family as well, following the sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  If the guy thinks that his only role is to work and then laze around the home thereafter, contributing nothing to the family in terms of spending time with the children or helping around the home, he's not welcome to join our family.

2. Financial Responsibility

This potential suitor must have a plan to support himself and his wife financially.  What is his career? How is he planning to support his future family? Is he expecting my daughter to work as well?  I don't have any particular requirement related to what career this guy has (no, he doesn't have to be a doctor) but whatever he chooses should allow him to live on his own as well as pay his rent and bills in the long-term (in the beginning it's understandable if some help is needed from family just to get started). Additionally, does this guy know how to run a budget and balance his checkbook? Does he have a plan to stay out of debt? I realize the majority of people want to plow headfirst into debt in order to keep up with contemporary standards associated with “the American Dream” (I think it's a nightmare), so I'll definitely look for the person who knows how to, practically speaking, live a cash-only existence. In my personal experience, it seems the baraka gets sucked out of a family when there is debt looming over their heads, particularly when it's riba-based.

3. Chivalrous, Honorable, and a True Gentleman

When I read of the Prophet's ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) treatment of his wives, and then see Muslim men denigrating or belittling women, I am astounded.  On the one hand, we have individuals who make their wives into show pieces to parade around the community as trophies and are embarrassed if their wives are religious and want to wear hijab (and think that as the “man” they can order her to remove the hijab). On the other hand, we have a number of insecure individuals who can't fathom having a conversation in which their wives disagree with them, and somehow believe this is disobedience and will destine the wives to be denizens of the Hellfire for their disagreement. These weak-minded individuals believe this despite the fact that, even though the wives of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would argue with him, he controlled his anger and continued to deal with them in the best of manners because he was strong and was the model for maturity. This is how we expect any mature adult to be in a situation of disagreement. If I could sum it up, it's the manners you would expect a man who is completely secure in his masculinity to have with the woman he loves.  In some cultures, it can be something as simple as holding a door open, to holding a standard whereby a man could not fathom hitting a woman (unless his life was threatened or he was defending himself, of course) keeping in mind that what Sūrat'l-Nisā' verse 34 permits is already limited in scope and need not be resorted to.

4. My Daughter Should Like Him

Allowing my daughter to marry someone she wants to marry?  What a concept!  Yes, I won't resort to forcing her to marry someone she doesn't like just so I can steal her dowry later. I won't force her to marry a guy from a particular village my family grew up in that happens to be a medical doctor with a JD. She should genuinely like the guy, have chemistry with him, and have no doubts in her mind that this is the guy she wants to marry. This should be not only because he has many good characteristics, but also because she wants to be with him – she's attracted to him, they have chemistry, and she feels confident, post-istikhārah prayer, that this is “the” dude.

5. Automatic Disqualification

While I don't have any requirement for this person to be an uber-imām who studied at the feet of and gained 'ijazāhs from 1000 scholars, I do expect this person to be a practicing Muslim, maintaining what Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has required upon all of us, and staying away from what He has forbidden. Islam has to be his top priority above all else. Naturally, people who are embarrassed by their faith are losers and, thus, automatically disqualified. Can't handle a woman who wears hijab?  See ya! Come back when you have a spine, thank you.  No interest in practicing Islam?  I have no interest in seeing you as my son-in-law. Excessively bookish views on marriage (i.e. my understanding of how a good marriage functions comes from books of fiqh and online discussions)? Come back when you know a thing or two about how real human beings interact. There are, of course, the preferences others have for automatic disqualification which aren't mine.  For example, race will not be a disqualifier, nor will occupation (unless it's something blatantly wrong), or tribe/caste considerations.

Final Thoughts

These are some thoughts I've had on this issue – my question to all the other fathers out there, what will you be looking for in the years ahead for your daughters?

71 Responses

  1. BintB

    Salaam Alaykum, Great read…(couldnt help but notice the “a true gentlemen”, wouldn’t it rather be “a true gentleman”?)

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  2. Melanie

    InshAllah Your daughter will find that person you describe. But honestly it might take some time for a young man to grow into that person. Look for the potential for someone to have those qualities, it might be amore attainable.

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    • mw_m

      Really? I’m a 21 yr old male and other than #2, I know plenty of Muslim males my age who fit these requirements. If you’re having trouble finding people with these qualities, maybe the problem is the places where you’re looking.

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    • Siraaj

      I admit given the prevalence of certain social realities this may make it more difficult if it was done today. however, I anticipate as we begin firing more shots into the ether about what makes a good spouse, we’ll find more and more of today’s parents will begin considering these issues and raising stronger sons.

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  3. Abu Musab

    As’Salamu Alaykum

    This is parallel to your point #4, For long as a man can keep my daughter happy, I’ll marry him. Obviously, without crossing the religious boundaries.

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  4. ummmm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Siraaj

      Our faith requires the husband to provide for the family and must pay for their expenses. A wife, on the other hand, is not required to do so – her money is her own.

      In reality, the reason two incomes are needed is because they are required for lifestyles that run on debt – credit cards, mortgages, and more. Take all this out of the equation and one income suffices well enough.

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      • Rahat

        What is your opinion on a husband being mandated to pay his wife’s expenses? surely a grown woman should share in this responsibility too. Such divisions are a tad antiquated and sexist in my opinion.

        And I couldn’t help look up surat-An-Nisā’ verse 34: I find it difficult to understand why it is said that men are in charge of women and find the permission to strike them quite infuriating; this does not seem like something I would want to teach my son.

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      • Siraaj

        The former is an obligation while the latter appears to be a highly disliked permissible course of action after other measures are exhausted and with restrictions. The Prophet (saw) said those who beat their wives are not from the best of us, and as well, the best of us are those who are best to their families.

        There is no gun to anyone’s head to marry – each person should look at what they are agreeing to and consenting.

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  5. um eli

    Umm
    A man who drives a taxi can maintain a family or cooks pizza for a living, families expect to find spouses from similar backgrounds there aremen who are veryvery educatedand dont have degree to saythat they are?
    Idont understand why it makes it harder for you as I think youre cant do attitude is a bigger put off then your bank balance or qualifications.

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  6. ukhthi

    MashaAllah. Excellent article.Everyone should have basic understanding of Quran,know their rights,others rights.

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  7. Ahmed

    As salaam alikuim

    I’ll invite him and his family come over during Maghreb or isba and ask him to lead. It’ll a lot to his religiosity.

    Agree with other points mentioned as well.

    Ahmed

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  8. SisterX

    Excellent article mash Allah! I wish that I could have had a father like you when my own marriage came about. As a new convert to Islam I had no guidance whatsoever from the Muslim community or my non muslim family. Everything was left to me, yet the community put a lot of pressure on me by telling me I had to get married, and that it was not proper for me to be living alone.

    In reality, what I really needed to do was spend time getting comfortable with my new identity as a Muslim woman and understand my religion properly. Instead, less than six months after reverting to Islam I found myself writing the marriage contract. Even the Imam who acted as my wali did not give me any guidance. Regardless of my husband’s good qualities, it was a poorly informed decision. 15 years later I deeply regret my marriage but try to make the best out of it for the sake of our children.

    I definitely agree that there is more criteria than religion and character. Two people may both be Muslim and good people, but their lifestyles may be totally different, as well as their approach and interpretations of religion. Thanks for the article!

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    • Siraaj

      Yeah, unfortunately a lot of sisters who convert end up being pressured to marry immediately and are stuck with someone who isn’t ideal. I’ve seen sisters newly converted who married and then found out what their spouse was really about and divorced quickly thereafter. In some cases, this led to that sister even leaving Islam altogether. I think a number of people see the wali position as a burden rather than a responsibility to Allah (swt) and don’t do their due diligence in vetting the guy. that doesn’t mean if a wali does his due diligence it’ll guarantee a successful marriage, but the attempt should at least be made.

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  9. amad

    Interesting thoughts and it is interesting that as a father, you start eyeing potential suitors many years in advance of the timing. I guess it is some natural fatherly inclination.

    I don’t have any package in my mind– but I do certainly value the need for a stable financial standing. Nothing more stressful to a marriage than living paycheck to paycheck. Of course no doubt on minimum religious standards, like completing the 5 pillars. Other than that, the most important thing for me is for the guy to have a pleasant, calm and soft disposition. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. I don’t care how religious the guy is, even if he is a scholar, if he is not “cool” mannered, I am not interested.

    Finally, one of the tough parts is to ensure that you and your wife have similar objectives because that in itself can become a problem!

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    • Siraaj

      we had a gathering at my parents’ home a few days ago and my friends were already telling me who from among my kids would make great matches with their own, lol.

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  10. Susan

    Ma sha Allah, this article has many merits and is well-balanced. However, I would like to emphasize two points: 1) a couple decides what roles they are to play at home and at work, which may differ from what parents may choose for them or have chosen for themselves; and 2) marriage is the decision the daughter (and son) not the parents. La samaha Allah, should the choice of a spouse not be to the parents’ liking, it is important to give good counsel in the strongest of terms, while continuing to safeguard the loving relationship and acceptance of the daughter (or son) by the parents. While so many marriages end up in divorce, even those that started auspiciously, we put our trust in Allah and remember that He, al Jal wa al ‘Alaa is The Best of Planners and only He controls the outcome.

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    • Siraaj

      I agree with point #1, I won’t micromanage that, but if my daughter says she wants to be a stay-at-home mom, then it behooves me to at least make sure the guy who wants to marry her has a plan to support her and not tell her to work post-marriage. Additionally, it’s always her option to not work, and in fact, it’s her right, so the guy should have a plan to handle this in the event she wants to stop.

      With respect to point #2, if one is following the hanafi madhab then your point is valid, that the decision of the girl alone. However, since I’m not hanafi, nor is our family, we follow the opinion that a girl requires her wali’s consent for the marriage contract to be valid and completed.

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  11. shinepatience

    Assalamu’alaykum. As mych as i want to share my story when i encounter that situations, THRICE. Subhanallah. It really needs that FATHERS should teach their daughters to do Salatul Istikharah when someone asked their hand for nikkah. And be reminded.. We should prepare for the MARRIAGE not the WEDDING. May ALLAH Azza wajaal grant the best here in dunua till aakhira. Ameen

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  12. umabdullah

    Id also look for someone who is her equal and someone she can admire and genuinely respect.

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      • Zaheer

        I think ‘equal’ in this context might mean compatible, as in her kuff? I think your article implied it as a general principle, but it might be the one thing that can be said should have been mentioned explicitly – the principle of compatibility/suitabilty (kafaah) in any Islamic marriage – but was not.

        It’s possible (though unlikely) for all your requirements to be met and yet for spouses not to be compatible. The issue then rears its head later in the marriage when the ‘honeymoon phase’ is over.

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  13. A reader from San Jose

    Please! Don’t impose all these stringent rules on your children’s lives. If you want perfection, I’m afraid you’ll disqualify everyone, and you daughters are the ones who’ll end up suffering as a result.

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    • mw_m

      Stringent???? This article reads more like “minimum-wage” characteristics of a potential suitor than perfection. If you consider these stringent rules, might be better to stay single.

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    • Khadija

      I think being realistic doesn’t qualify as being stringent or expecting perfection. I wish my father thinks so. We need fathers who think like this instead of giving their daughters away to a man from their hometown due to which chances of compatibility are almost negligible. Daughters are being forced to marry men because fathers can profit from the match and they wouldn’t take no for an answer as this would distort their masculinity in front of their relatives. Not to mention how some fathers go on and on about how you should be submissive to your husband, not talk back at him, serve him and please him even if he treats you wrong. It doesn’t surprise me that many of my friends have decided not to get married because they know that they will have to go through all this because of the mentality of their fathers (they also threaten heir daughters that they will ask the men to beat them up when necessary). This article is perfect in every way. We need fathers who think and act like this.

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  14. Olivia Kompier

    I can’t believe people think these are stringent or excessive or perfection? low standards much? practice islam, have a job, don’t be a big baby, natural attraction.

    Ya ummah if we can’t get the bare minimum in a human being we’ve got serious issues. (“i know he beats his wife, but masshallah hes an alim”! “i know he doesn’t pray, but he’s a doctor!” “i know he’s butt-ugly and makes you his mommy-maid, but he doesn’t beat you!”) seriously people.

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    • Jumana

      Assalaamu ‘alaikum,

      I’m replying for the second time as apperantly cookies etc weren’t enabled. (Apologies if it has been posted. I don’t usually comment here. Learning…) Your response hit it home for me.

      I’m a single sister, currently on the hunt (if I could wear a banner on my forehead summarising those points, I would!).

      From a personal point of view, I’ve become so accustomed to just being happy with the absence of negatives (not beating, not cheating etc) that I sometimes forget that I’m allowed to expect some positives too (sense of humour, kind, gentle, fair). Majority are too focused on paper definition of suitors that they forget to actually look at the guy as a person. Fathers forget that the person who is going to marry that guy is his daughter and a female. While one man may handle another man’s anger well, a female will not. They do not try to put them in her shoes. In most cases, fathers do not really know their daughters well. I think that’s where the problem lies, too. More often we told just to accept it as men do have anger. Its not the anger but the control of it is whats important. May be someone can educate me on this.

      It’s good to have the ability to compromise, but more often we compromise on the wrong things.

      One thing I personally noticed is that for some wild reason, fiercely educated ones by and large , tend to be less religious or has religion on their back seat. Just my observation. If the girl happens to be fiercely educated (doctor, doctorate etc) and also religious, then religious brother who may not be as educated seem to expect her to just switch off from her field completely (of course she should prioritise her home) or they feel insecure. I’m not saying it applies to all. But, profession becomes a deal breaker from both sides.

      It is one of the trials in life. I myself feel confused as to how to go about it sometimes. Alhamdulillah for ishtikhara. May Allah (SWT) help you as parents and your daughters when the time comes. Make plenty of du’aa and keep both pairs of eyes out you two. Keep us singletons in your du’aa too. =D

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  15. Abu Musab

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Amad

      Br. Abu Musab, are you serious about the “oil shaykh”? You really believe that your daughter would get a husband, not just a bank account? And how do you know the person’s experience is a good experience?

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      • Abu Musab

        Br. Amad,

        Ok, I was joking about Oil shaykh but my point was I’ll not hesitate to marry my daughter to a religious man, who happened to be rich and also married… Also, what do you mean by Oil shaykhs are banks account? Do you mean ALL oil shaykhs are merely bank accounts? I know quite a few who spent their money for sake of Allah.

        <>> Simple.. the 1st wife’s testimony would be the best testimony and i’ll keep an eye on him from long before.

        I’ve ample of time to think over before the actual time comes. I’ve started applying for jobs in Saudi… Make dua for me.

        Ma’Salam

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      • Siraaj

        If you know any oil shaykhs who want to hook a brother up with some of that wealth, let me know and I’ll start a kickstarter acct on behalf of my new start up Siraaj, Inc. My services include writing articles and comments on muslimmatters and occasionally on facebook of my own thoughts, a valuable service indeed, jzk!

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  16. Slave of Allah

    You wrote in the first paragraph “…it’s become readily apparent that beyond “religion and character” there are other characteristics potential suitors need to bring…”
    Then you went on to mention things related to one’s character. A man should not be a mama’s boy, should be kind, should not be a bum (in other words, a man must be a man!), these are all part of beautiful manners/characteristics, aren’t they?
    Nothing is more important than what the Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said – religious commitment and beautiful manners. On top of that, the only other thing required, is compatibility between them. And this is also something clearly proven from the Sunnah.

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    • Siraaj

      religion and character are the minimum – but character usually translates into, “this guy is a nice guy”, but he still may inadvertently think his wife is a slave at his beck and call because that’s what he was raised with and that’s what he knows.

      Additionally, this hadeeth is just one, a man who cannot financially support a wife is told to fast, so he should have some ability to support his wife according to what is understood from their ‘urf and social standards.

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      • The Salafi Feminist

        Absolutely.

        In going with the catch-phrase “good character and religion,” we forget that view that phrase in a very general light (or through our own cultural lens), and don’t take into consideration real-life practicalities.

        A guy can be a “good guy” and “religious” – but that doesn’t mean that his personality is compatible with a particular woman’s. His views on the world could be drastically different, his background and his own cultural baggage could be totally opposite to a woman’s, and his understanding of marital dynamics and even religious practice could be in absolutely incompatible.

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      • A Muslim Brother

        I mentioned a criticism of this, br. Siraaj, which i’d like you to respond to:

        Are you saying that you wouldn’t let your daughter marry a student, given all that you know about the fitna that’s going on because the marriage age has been pushed up so high due to requirement #2? If you answer yes to that question on the basis of it being the Islamic responsibility of a man to maintain his wife, then aren’t YOU the one that is living life from a fiqh book and not acknowledging real life – both for your own daughters who will have raging hormones as well as for your potential son in law?

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  17. UmmSarah

    Masha’Allah, great article. While I agree wholeheartedly with what you say, my concern is how to truly determine if the young man is really all these things or just “putting on company manners”? With three daughters, it is something I think about often. I also try to pay it forward by ensuring that my son has all of these qualities and others that will make him a good husband & father.
    For my girls, their future husbands will also have to be interested in books, culture and world events. Where we live, it’s a nice community but all the sons no matter how “educated” only care about sports and videogames. And their mothers are very candid about “not letting” them marry outside their ethnicity in any case. Ironic.
    My duah is that when the time comes Allah SWA will help us, I A.

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    • Siraaj

      your trump card after doing your due diligence is salaatul istikharaah as was mentioned above. Everything after that is no regrets, insha’Allah =)

      Siraaj

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  18. Riz Khan

    Mashallah interesting article! The recommendations look reasonable and balance. Though not a father myself yet I would dare to comment from a brother’s point of view. From the comments sections one or two things cropped up. The one is those brothers who consider woman as a thing/slave. I am warning all fathers about such brothers: they have all the super abilities of ruining the life of a woman/wife. Avoid them if you can!

    The comment of Abu Musab on the polygamy point is worth considering as polygamy is allowed in islam. It is something which have been proven beneficial to women in history.I have often seen the cases of marriageable women excess over marriageable men.Statistics from net show find that one husband one wife concept would leave a surprisingly big number of women without any husband. Then there is also the case of aged 40 plus, divorced or deformed sisters etc, where polygamy can really work. Polygamy is not the supremacy of man over woman but rather the Islamic responsibility of men to support as many women as they can but not more than 4 at a time with the condition to do justice to each one of them. The four wives number is for support and welfare; not for sexual fantasies. So a good man who can financially support and treat women gently and make her happy should not be rejected just because he practice polygamy according to the teachings of Islam. I think there is a need to revive polygamy according to its spirit i.e. welfare of women.

    The parents should devise some plan/mechanism of providing muslim brothers and sisters to meet each other through a controlled environment for the purpose of marriage. There is need of education on the part of sisters and brothers to look for their future spouse because the husband and wife relationships is completely different from that of friends or lovers. In Islam there are certain responsibilities and rights of husband and wife. A big mistake would be to treat the relationship as mere love or friendship.

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    • Ali

      It has often been claimed that there are many more marriageable women than men but I have not seen any reliable indicator of that except in war hit countries.

      Why is it that the vast majority of men marrying for a 2nd time choose a wife much younger than the first one? Why are there relatively few men whose 2nd wife is older than his first? I am basing these statements based on what I have observed in the Gulf, Pakistan and Bangladesh

      And here is a question considering yourself as a father; if a man wants to marry your 20 year old daughter as a 2nd wife, would you not ask yourself why he did not look at marrying a divorced or widowed woman instead?

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      • Riz Khan

        Brother Ali as an example I give you the following link from Muslimmatters.org
        http://muslimmatters.org/2013/09/27/muslim-marriage-crisis/

        For your other question…we have developed a mentality that say if a women is divorced then she is second hand thing or used object also if a man is married; he is also a second hand or used object. I am not a father but why would I think that a man should only marry a divorced or widowed sister as second wife. are such men and women second rate things ?

        I am not a father actually unmarried but in any case I would decide according to a criteria of financial and personal traits of the man and lastly it would be the decision of my daughter. I would only give her advice; it would be her own life so therefore her own decision..

        Brother/Sister Salafi Feminist! thnx for the newsflash
        Anyhow I think it is the right of a woman to have a husband, home and family. It is the responsibility of Ummah to provide that. Our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) especially told us to arrange the marriage of diivorced women.

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  19. Riz Khan

    And I would be looking for the following complementary articles if not already on the site!

    1. Mothers – What Kind of woman Will Marry Your Son?

    2. Sisters – What Kind of man Will You Marry?

    3. Brothers– What Kind of woman Will You Marry?

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  20. A Muslim Brother

    I appreciate the article and it has been a great read. Honestly as a university student the scariest part of that list is number 2. Are you saying that you wouldn’t let your daughter marry a student, given all that you know about the fitna that’s going on because the marriage age has been pushed up so high due to requirement #2? If you answer yes to that question on the basis of it being the Islamic responsibility of a man to maintain his wife, then aren’t YOU the one that is living life from a fiqh book and not acknowledging real life – both for your own daughters who will have raging hormones as well as for your potential son in law?

    Also I’d like to see an article from MM giving advice for university students who want to approach fathers for their daughters despite the whole financial issue.

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    • Siraaj

      Some good questions, let me try to answer them.

      First, you have an embedded assumption within your questions – that men of equal age will be the only ones proposing (or close to equal). Using myself as an example, I was 25 when I married my wife who was 19. So it may be that she’ll end up marrying someone while she is in college that is young and already somewhat established – for example, if she’s 18 and the guy is 22 – 23 and employed. Naturally, you were looking at this from your own perspective as I would have also done when i was in college, but when you’re a dad looking out for your daughter, you’re looking out for your daughter ;)

      Second, assuming my daughter is interested in marrying someone who isn’t established himself, he should still have financial resources for the present to support her anyway. As I said in the post:

      “(in the beginning it’s understandable if some help is needed from family just to get started)”

      Let me also point out from experience that although the focus of unmarried individuals is the physical side of the marriage, the reality is that even if you enjoyed that side of it every single day, that would simply make up on average 1 hour of your day. that would mean 1/24th of your marriage is the physical side. Once it subsides, 23/24ths is managing the relationship, bills, possibly school, friendships and relationships that change, potential in-law issues, your health and hers, and much, much more.

      I’ve been married 10 years and alhamdulillah have a strong and positive relationship with my wife, and believe me, there are many many people who trudge through life barely making it from the relationship perspective because managing everything else + the children that come later sucks the lifeblood and energy out of people. Making a relationship work takes a good deal of effort and how well you can manage your finances now, and in the future, will have a major impact on the relationship itself.

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      • A Muslim Brother

        Comment removed due to use of anonymous name despite repeated warnings.

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  21. RCHOUDH

    Great article Mash’Allah! In addition to Amad’s point about a male suitor having to have a soft disposition, I’d also like to mention that a prospective groom should also not be the stubborn/domineering type. I know it goes both ways and ladies should also learn not to be stubborn, but the difference is that usually when a guy is stubborn, it then leads to him becoming a dictator within his own household. Whether it’s because of his cultural upbringing and/or his natural inclinations to wanting things to always be his way, any brother who normally behaves this way, should stop and realize that acting like a dictator will not endear him to anyone, especially his own wife and kids. Islam does encourage that we always try to consult with each other over any important matters affecting the entire family (mashwara).

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  22. The Salafi Feminist

    With regards to finances and it being difficult for university students to marry, I would emphasize that what is extremely important is not necessarily having a high-flying career, but that as a student, the guy already has a solid, practical plan on the steps he will take to becoming financially independent and able to support his (future) wife.

    If a man is able to prove that, as a student, he’s able to handle his finances and not indulge in the immature and irresponsible spending habits of *many* students, that’s a plus… and probably likely to get him married at an earlier age.

    The problem with many young men (esp uni students) is that they think they should be allowed to indulge/ enjoy themselves during uni – whether it be in eating habits, living arrangements, entertainment, finances, etc. – and then complain that fathers are being “too demanding” when they’re asked to prove their mental maturity in order to qualify for marriage.

    You want to get married early? Make the effort to prove that you’re ready.

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    • A Muslim Brother

      Bismillah,

      Salaams sister. How do you propose I go about showing that “mental maturity” when it comes to finances? Should I show my potential father in-law my bank records? (that question was rhetorical of course.)

      Also from my experience it’s women that have a hard time cutting down spending, not so much men. So another one of my worries is that while I would be able to live on a shoestring budget and not live “the american dream” as Siraaj so eloquently put, VERY few women are willing to knock down their living standard from what they had with their parents to something a student can provide. Even if the women themselves are students, when they go back home they have a 50 inch big screen TV and their laundry neatly folded by their mothers. Comments?

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      • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        Dear Brother

        You have been notified before to use your name, a valid Kunyah or your blog handle if you have one (example mine is DiscoMaulvi). All further comments will be deleted if this is not complied to.

        -Aly

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      • A Muslim Brother

        Uh..What are you talking about, this thread is my first time posting on this site. I’ve received no such notification, I don’t have a kunya as I just mentioned i’m not married, nor a blog and I’m sure as heck not going to use my real name. What’s the big deal I haven’t even said anything inappropriate? Is there another guy on this site who calls himself “A Muslim Brother”? There are plenty of other people using pseudonyms why are you targeting me?

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      • The Salafi Feminist

        Wa ‘alaikumus-salaam,

        I would show that maturity by being open about your current lifestyle choices – be honest, upfront, about what you spend on, what your current standard of living is, and what you predict will be that standard for the forseeable future.

        E.g. if you’re spending more money on ramen noodles and video games than a well-balanced diet and saving up for marriage.

        With regards to women, it truly depends. I would be wary of making generalizations about women and their spending habits – I for one know of many women my age, including my best friends, who were and are more than happy to compromise on a high standard of living, and are willing to pitch in on the home front (or any other way they’re happy with) to make things easier for both of them, so long as the husband himself is a good guy.

        Myself, I got married at 18 to a university student… moved to Egypt, where we had no source of outside income other than a very, very small stipend. I had no problem with it, and in fact, after we *did* have a regular income, I was the one in charge of budgeting – not because I’m financially savvy, but because I was able to differentiate between “wants” and “needs.”

        It depends a lot on your worldview – I am adamant about not having a TV, about being an involved mother, and being responsible enough to manage my own home. That’s not to say that I don’t have my own flaws and weaknesses (I have many), but that as long as I have a non-mouldy, non-rodent-infested roof over my head, hot water, and healthy food (junk food is EVIL) – okay, and an internet connection for my laptop – I really don’t expect or demand too much else.

        I’m not an exception; all of my friends who married at a young age (all of us are young Canadian Muslimahs, some from strong practicing homes, others not so much) were happy to live without certain luxuries so long as their marriages were happy and wholesome.

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      • A Muslim Brother

        MashaAllah sister, well you and your friends are exceptions if you’re willing not only to go from Canada to Egypt but to live there without a proper income. I’m curious why did you have a stipend at all, is your husband studying at al-Azhar or another religious/seminary institution? If so, then how did he end up getting a “proper” income, did he graduate and is now the imam of a mosque or something? The reason I ask is because I’ve actually considered going abroad to study and I’d like to know some details about this kind of thing.

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      • The Salafi Feminist

        Yes, he was studying at al-Azhar. He now works in Kuwait as a teacher of Qira’aat, and as a mu’athin.

        However, please note that it’s not very easy to get these kinds of jobs in the first place – it requires a lot of wasta (connections) and serious bureaucratic headaches.

        As for my friends, they all remained in Canada, but were happy to marry a man with a stable job even if it wasn’t glamorous – a mechanic and a security guard, for example.
        What matters is that the rizq is halaal.

        (However, they also work part-time, as do I.)

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  23. Aasia

    Jazaka Allahu khairan brother Siraaj for this post. I really empathize with you and appreciate the concern you have for your daughters. The points you have put forward are worth taking into consideration seriously. I think after the gift of Imaan and good-natured parents to raise a woman, a considerate compassionate husband is one of the best things a woman can have because I think a husband is a huge influence on a woman. Allah had placed a special spot in a woman’s heart for her husband.

    On the other hand, I would want my daughter to be great wife and take the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) female companions as her role models.

    The #1 quality of any Muslim or Muslimah to be a good husband or wife is to have a true intrinsic love for Allah and His messenger (peace be upon him) and to know and understand Islam much to be successful in all the roles that Allah has ordained for you. That is why Islam exhorts understanding our deen because whoever has been given the understanding of our deen has been given much good. This can only come when we stop to reduce Islam to mere rituals and know that the teachings of Islam deal with every second of our lives and not when you pray or fast and after that it is ok to do whatever you want. Also, try to ponder over the importance of the injunctions in our religion and understand the Quran in Arabic and not be dependent on the translation and act upon the Quran ( stop lip service ) in order to be steadfast whether there is ease or difficulty.

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    • Siraaj

      “To know and understand Islam” is really the crux of the issue – there are many religious individuals who hit the masjid, read qur’aan, abstain from what is haraam, but in terms of dealing with women their understanding of it can often be sanitized of the “reality” of a relationship.

      As an example, I know many brothers will be quick to point out ahadeeth about women being obedient to their husbands, not refusing them in bed unless they wish to be cursed through the night by angels, and that what women owe their husbands cannot easily be sufficed by what they do for them.

      But where are these brothers when we point out that Aisha or Hafsah (ra) talked back to the Prophet (SAW)? That they argued with him? That they sometimes even tricked him? that he was patient through all of it? This is not something limited to just guys wanting to learn, but scholars and families who teach this one-sided view of piety.

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      • Aasia

        Very true. In fact, those who are very strict about the worship aspect of Islam and neglect the social and psychological aspects of our deen should really think twice about the quality and acceptance of their worship. How can you stand before Allah with no shame and no remorse in your heart if you have neglected someone or mistreated someone. Worship is suppose to change you into a better person. melt your heart, be more merciful to others and act as a reminder that you are always a slave of Allah-not only when you just pray or do hajj or fast etc. That is why our beloved messenger (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy for mankind. Iman and good manners can never be separated.

        Of course that is not only the case. If somebody is a inconsiderate husband then it would be no surprise that they are very neglectful about worship-delay prayers often, miss it on the smallest inconvenience etc

        Always in topics such as marriage talking about one party ( e.g women) can cause the other party ( men) to be quick to tell us that their side of story should be voiced as well and vice versa. But here in this article Brother Siraaj as mentioned about women-we should stick to that and the men side of the story can be dealt with ilater nsha-Allah. If it not mentioned in this article then it does not mean that men are neglected. But obviously dealt later because marriage is not about individuals, it about a team of two people who are tremendously influential towards each other. That is why Allah has mentioned a dua in Quran to give us spouses and children that are a coolness for our eyes ( Surah Al-Furqan 25:74)

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  24. Wael Abdelgawad

    Excellent points and a good read. Two things I might disagree on are that I do not accept or agree that An-Nisaa 34 permits violence to women in any form, regardless of how some have translated or interpreted it.

    Secondly, regarding this piont: “Excessively bookish views on marriage (i.e. my understanding of how a good marriage functions comes from books of fiqh and online discussions)? Come back when you know a thing or two about how real human beings interact.”

    A religious young man who has been chaste and modest in his relations with women is not going to have any experience with male-female relationships beyond his own relatives. And he will not know anything about marriage aside from what he’s observed in his parents and other married couples, and what he has read in the books of fiqh. And that’s okay. I’m sure you don’t want someone who has learned all about male-female relationships by going through a string of girlfriends.

    Young people who are inexperienced with relationships do often go through predictable stages of difficulty after marriage. They have to learn to deal with jealousy and insecurity. They have to learn to share their lives and compromise. They begin to see each others’ flaws and must learn to live with them and love their partner in spite of them.

    These are difficult lessons to learn, and that’s why humility and compassion are two of the most important character traits any prospective bride or groom can have. Also, they will definitely need wise counsel from parents during those initial years of marriage.

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    • Siraaj

      However it is interpreted, the view has existed for some time now and while we may have our own interpretation, others may have their own and it may be something to consider when marrying your own daughter. My own belief is that it likely allows some form of light corporal punishment, but in practice I can’t see myself doing it because the Prophet (SAW) was never known to do this, he spoke against it, and my mom raised me to not hit women anyway.

      The function or role of books of fiqh are not in teaching relationship basics or understanding, but legal rules. A marriage built on legal rulings is bound to fail, particularly if either husband and wife are micromanaging the execution of their rights and remaining minimal on their responsibilities.

      For example, if I asked the question, “What if your spouse was not in a good mood and not responsive to your advances what night, how would you deal with it?” If the response is, “It’s my right as a husband and if she doesn’t respond, the angels will curse her into the night,” then it’s clear that while the response was right from a fiqhi perspective, it lacks compassion and real-world understanding and practicality. These ideas should be known before, not after marriage. If one’s parents or cultural environment didn’t teach this, then they’re simply not ready for marriage, and you don’t want your daughter to be collateral damage for someone else’s emotional growth.

      I’m not saying a guy will not mistakes along the way in understanding how to relate and communicate with their spouse – what I am saying is that basic human decency, consideration, and mercy should already be present before marriage.

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      • Wael Abdelgawad

        “…basic human decency, consideration, and mercy should already be present before marriage.”

        Right, I get you now. I fully agree.

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      • The Salafi Feminist

        What Siraaj said.

        Neither I nor my ex-husband had any previous relationships before marriage… but it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that when jealousy and insecurities arise in a relationship, that instead of indulging them, one needs to mature about them – by taking ownership of those emotions and controlling one’s behaviour to reflect a higher standard, rather than going the immature route and saying “But it’s my right! The angels will curse you! You are a horrible, evil spouse!” And so on.

        The sad thing is that we forget about basic, universal akhlaaq and adab when it comes to marriage, and that taking responsibility for ourselves in the area of inter-personal relationship (within a marriage and outside of it) are required of every Muslim.

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      • Razan

        Referring to Brother Wael’s original comment – the young man you’re describing could very easily fit the description of my brother. The average guy who’s only lived at home will not have ‘relationship experience’.

        I guess that as a female, I’m a bit worried about this description though because it doesn’t totally fit ME. I’m a religious Muslima brought up in a religious household, and I’ve never been in a romantic relationship – but I’ve lived at a boarding school where I had very deep, day-to-day relationships with my friends (female) that gave me a LOT more relationship experience than what I see other people my age having. I also have studied and worked alongside men/guys my age for a long time, so I’m fairly confident/comfortable around guys.

        I guess it worries me that I might come off as ‘too’ confident or comfortable to suitors, and make people think that I’m non-religious. I don’t want to pretend to be who I’m not, though, especially during the marriage process.

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  25. AliK

    Your article is well written and provides great insights. One important detail which I feel is a reality we live in and is not addressed at all in our muslim community is the issue of disability. I work with people with disabilities and it always makes me wonder, would a father give away his daughter to a person who met all the criteria but just happened to be disabled? The way things stand currently, most fathers would not be open to that, which I feel goes back to the topic being a taboo one.

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  26. M I P

    Subhanallah, it makes you think. Before choosing a man who can marry my daughter I should ask myself if I am showing the example of that man.

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    • Aly Balagamwala

      Dear M I P

      Your comment is valid but your name and associated URL were not valid as they were of an advertising nature. Kindly, please use a name or a valid kunyah in future comments.

      Best Regards
      Aly

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