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One Critical Mistake A Single Muslimah Makes
 When Finding Her Mr. Right For Marriage

By Yaser Birjas & Megan Wyatt

A while ago, a father came to me for help with finding a potential husband for his daughter. So, I asked him to share her marriage resume with me.

A couple of days later, her father brought me a marriage resume.  After looking through her marriage resume, which was quite long, I told the father:

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“I thought you wanted me to look for a potential husband for your daughter, not a job!”

What she described in all those pages could be summarized in two letters: MD.

So, how did she really need to describe herself?

That’s the focus of this article, and that’s just one of the three critical mistakes Sister Megan Wyatt and I shared with everyone very recently in this webinar.

From my years of teaching on the topic of love and marriage, and counseling singles, married couples, and their parents, I can tell you this:

By knowing about this one critical mistake, you will, in sha Allah, learn how to speak about yourself in a way that attracts the kind of brother you are searching for, allows you to keep at bay the brothers you do not want knocking on your father’s door, and prevents you from turning off the very kind of person you are seeking.

Now, let’s get into the details of that one mistake.

When Sister Megan Wyatt was conducting interviews with single Muslim sisters ages 25-30, she asked them to do the following:

“Describe yourself in a few sentences so I could in turn describe you to a brother who I think may be a potential suitor.”

Almost every sister told her what she does not want in a marriage; the kind of brother she does not want to meet. Hardly anyone actually answered the question. The few sisters who did answer gave short, one-liner responses.

The realization was this: many sisters have no idea how to present themselves.

You may be trying to get married in a way that worked in the past, while you are not like the women of the past.

Sixty to seventy years ago, even in this country, a woman’s role in marriage was clear.

Today, at the age of 19 or 20, most Muslim women expect to complete at a minimum a college degree before getting married.

Along with that degree, there is the question of whether or not you want a career, or perhaps just to dabble in the workforce for some time. Do you want to pursue grad school, and if so, who will take care of the kids, if you have any?

We are looking at this without judgment — however, there is something essential to be understood:

The majority of practicing Muslim men in the West, based on our interviews, blogs, and personal conversations with them across the country, despite growing up here are looking for a wife who will fill a more traditional role, that of a stay at home wife; and at the least to be home with future children, in sha Allah.

And we have also learned that many of you want to do just that: get married, and eventually, be there for your family and children in a more “traditional” role.

Now, many brothers are willing to be flexible to a point, but if you ask most of them their preference, this is what they want…

…leading us to that critical mistake:

Not knowing how to describe yourself for marriage.

What happens when the first thing you say about yourself, or your friend says about you is:

“She is 26 years old, and has a degree in chemistry, and she is currently in grad school.” Or, “…is working in a lab called xyz.”

From the brother’s perspective, he hears a description that says little (or nothing) about what he is looking for in a wife, aside from “educated.”

Let’s take another example:

“She is strong and active in Da’wah, is working on memorizing the Qur’an, has a degree in journalism, and teaches in her local Sunday school.”

Again, excellent qualities. It says a bit more about you, but still, for a brother: what is it that he is seeking?

The difficult reality is that brothers are looking for specific qualities, and when they hear them, it alerts them that this is the kind of sister worth considering.

But what happens if no one is describing you in a way, on your behalf, that speaks his language — that highlights the qualities he desires?

The idea of sitting around and waiting for others to find you someone is an option, but it is not necessarily the most proven option, especially these days.

Many brothers are asking other sisters to help them find a wife, because their families may be abroad, or their parents don’t share the same kind of values as them in terms of the deen.

The fact is that today both men and women are taking more of an active role in searching for a spouse on their own, which means that you may need to learn how to represent yourself to some degree — to explain who you are, and what you want in a husband.

So you need to think: How can I describe myself in a way that is truthful, while also telling him about me in a way that interests him?

So many sisters write about themselves as if they are looking for a pen pal! Seriously.

We sifted through the marriage resumes and bio-data of many sisters that we found online. (That’s another point altogether — having full access to a sister’s photo and her details available to complete strangers, without even having to log in!)

Let’s share two examples:

“I currently work as a Respiratory Practitioner and I intend on pursuing my Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. My hobbies include spending time with family and friends, taking road trips, and traveling the world. I love music and cooking ethnic cuisine! I come from a very loving, understanding, and supportive family.”

“My sister is 26 years old. She is a graduate of ABC University. Currently she is working as a chemist in a big name company. She is a great person with an open mind and a great heart. I am so glad that Allah (swt) blessed me with such a great sibiling. I love her and inshallah if you choose her you will know why she is so great. My sister, XYZ, enjoys reading and going out. She is slim and tall with a great smile. She is not a TV person. She is independent. We are 2 brothers and 2 sisters. XYZ is no. 3 in our little family. I am the older, married sister and I want to help my sister also get married so she can enjoy life like I am doing.”

We got bored reading through these. If we were searching for our own brother, we would think: “Forget this! Everyone sounds the same. Everyone likes to travel, shop, go to the cinema, eat, and everyone says they are a nice and caring person.”

So, what makes those two examples bad?

Reading through thousands of ads like that, here are just a few qualities that we found common in all of them:

  • Vague
  • Too long (too many details)
  • Not to the point
  • Confused or overconfident
  • Too personal
  • Too professional
  • Too flirtatious
  • Too good to be true
  • Too girlish
  • Too picky (race, culture, qualities etc.)
  • Confrontational (expecting a war for rights and obligations)
  • Suspicious

On the other hand, what are the qualities that are common in good descriptions or marriage resumes?

  • Very realistic in self description and in spousal demands (sounds real)
  • Balanced in personality and professionalism
  • Family first
  • To the point
  • Very clear language (Accurate spelling and good choice of words)
  • Natural flow of thoughts

If you’re serious about really getting this concept, we’d like you do a quick exercise (without anyone’s help, just by yourself).

First part of the exercise (three questions):

1) Write down 3-5 sentences describing yourself.

2) Write down 3-5 sentences about what kind of man you are looking for.

3) Write in only one sentence what you will not consider in a man.

It is important that you know how to speak about yourself confidently.  It is not humility to be unable to describe yourself, and just smile and fumble over words.

Oftentimes, when we think we are acting humbly we are actually attempting to hide our lack of self-esteem and lack of recognition of the qualities that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has given us to share with others.

Remember: you are not going around praising yourself; you are describing yourself for marriage. Think about it.

Now, for the second part of the exercise:

Go back and re-read your answers and ask yourself the following:

1) How true are the things I just wrote down? Is this really me? Is this how my friends and family would describe me?

2) What have I said that would be interesting to the kind of brother I am looking to meet?

As you think about the words, phrases, feelings, and qualities that you would choose, you will find that you may have some of the qualities your ‘Mr. Right’ will like and you may have some qualities your ‘Mr. Right’ will not like.

Being too personal is not a good idea.  Same is true for being too professional.

Whatever the case is, the keyword you need to remember is: “balance.”

Here is the key concept, the bottom line: Learn how to speak about yourself, learn how to describe yourself in a way that allows you to be confident, and beautiful in your modesty, that will connect with the words and thoughts in the mind of your Mr. Right.

Think about how you want to present yourself — the qualities you want to highlight which matter a lot to him, not what makes you fall in love with your own self!

After all, you are looking for a husband, someone from the opposite gender (not a female friend or a buddy).

Just a side note: if you do use a picture in a marriage resume (with permission from your wali!), please do not try to look like America’s next top hijabi model like the ones you see online, and particularly on the infamous Facebook.  Too many sisters try puckering their lips, looking over their shoulders with some sultry pout, etc. which turns off the kind of practicing man you are really seeking.

So, stick to a photo that has hayaa in the image; something normal and natural.

While you are searching for your Mr. Right, remember that in these moments there must be hidden gifts. As Muslims, we are to believe that there is an advantage to every situation in which we find ourselves.

Look at the time that has elapsed, and ask yourself:

“I’m not married, although I’ve been trying for a long time. What is it that Allah wants me to learn? What message, what lesson is waiting for my heart?”

We ask Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) to bless you with sabr, first and foremost, because Allah loves those who have patience, and He is close to those who have sabr.

We ask Allah to bring into your life the kind of husband you are searching for, and to allow your journey from start to finish to be a means of growing closer to Allah, finding His rahmah, and leading you to ever-increasing levels of eman.

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Sh. Yaser Birjas is originally from Palestine. He received his Bachelors degree from Islamic University of Madinah in 1996 in Fiqh & Usool, graduating as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to work as a youth counselor and relief program aide in war-torn Bosnia. Thereafter, he immigrated to the U.S. and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He is also an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, where he teaches popular seminars such as Fiqh of Love, The Code Evolved, and Heavenly Hues.

58 Comments

58 Comments

  1. Avatar

    shirtman

    February 12, 2010 at 6:00 AM

    Great stuff!

  2. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    February 12, 2010 at 6:26 AM

    Ma sha Allah, great article!

    I look forward to part two: The 101 Critical Mistakes Guys Make when Looking for a Muslimah :)

    On a serious note, it would be good to write a complementary article from the Muslim male’s perspective.

    • Avatar

      amad

      February 12, 2010 at 9:37 AM

      I look forward to part two: The 101 Critical Mistakes Guys Make when Looking for a Muslimah

      it’s water under the bridge now unless… ;)

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      February 13, 2010 at 8:22 AM

      Agreed 142%

    • Avatar

      cassiem

      October 15, 2014 at 5:28 AM

      Seriously! Shukr for putting that out there!

  3. Avatar

    Ahmed B.

    February 12, 2010 at 7:30 AM

    MashaAllah, awesome article indeed. I second Sh. Yasir Qadhi’s opinion that the brother’s should receive a complementary article :)

    Quick comment: how about citing examples of good self-descriptions people wrote?

    • Avatar

      Sadaf

      February 12, 2010 at 8:59 PM

      Very valid demand. I second that.

    • Avatar

      SisAnon

      February 12, 2010 at 9:51 PM

      I third that request. I was thinking the same thing halfway through.

      Alhamdulillah good pointers though Shaykh, jazakallah khayr.

  4. Avatar

    Muslima02

    February 12, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    As’salaam Aleykum,

    Jezzak Allahu Khairan for the posting, and I am cracking up at the line about “the over the shoulder sultry pout” I see it so much and all it does is let a brother know you’re Extremely desperate, wa’Allahu Alim. This is coming from a sister who has friends doing this on a regular basis. Then once the contact is made between them and the potential spouse and he’s way in left field with his practicing – hum, wonder why. You attract what you project.

    I was just commenting to my husband that both Brothers/Sisters conduct themselves as if they are shopping at HEB/Walmart on an empty stomach and dinner time is in two hours. We all know when you’re hungry (desperate) you’ll pick up the first thing you see. Often I noticed with my friends that I’ve seen marry in the last couple years is that once they Stop looking and allow the natural process of things to take course (allowing the Wali, community, yourself to mature) the right Brother comes along. The same thing can be said for brothers as well.

    Also, I think we’d have to do a separate write-up to deal with the pit-falls plaguing the Black Muslims when seeking marriage, this can not be done with Prt 2 and grouped with ‘Critical Mistakes Guys Make’. This is coming from a Black person who feels like our issues are entirely different, strangely enough. I could go on for days.

    Jezzak Allahu Khairan

    • Avatar

      Musa

      July 11, 2015 at 2:45 PM

      How a person presents him/herself in society determines the kind of people s/he will attract. I could never understand the pseudo-logic of seeing sultry poses as “empowerment” and expecting decent men as life partners at the same time.

  5. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    February 12, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    Ultimately we are all involved in sales : ))If you are doing dawah, or even if you are trying to sell your spouse or children on your ideas; you are involved in sales and must explain how this will be a benefit to them as well as yourself! Truly it seems more difficult now to get married then even a generation ago. I empathize!

    Here is an idea for sisters who wish to get married and live a more traditional life and remember there is nothing wrong with this sentiment.

    ” I would like to support my future husband by providing a stable, respectful environment in my home. Meaning I will always strive to maintain peace and look out for my family’s welfare at all times.”
    ” When we do have children I expect to fully address their needs and not occupy myself with the business of strangers.” Which basically means please give me my rights for maintenance and protection : ))

    • Avatar

      time

      February 12, 2010 at 10:51 AM

      ” I would like to support my future husband by providing a stable, respectful environment in my home. Meaning I will always strive to maintain peace and look out for my family’s welfare at all times.”
      ” When we do have children I expect to fully address their needs and not occupy myself with the business of strangers.”

      MashAllah, thats really nice!

      • Avatar

        Umm Bilqis

        February 12, 2010 at 10:52 PM

        Thank you for that statement> Time.

        Sometimes marriage oriented people are focusing on the wrong issues as Sh,Yasir and Megan Highlight.

        One quick word of advise for both parties (but especially to the brothers) would be to communicate your vision of married life and then let the potential spouse sign on to this vision.

        Quick advise for brothers>>Women like confident men who make them feel secure.
        Quick advise for the sisters>>Mahabba takes a long time to develop and is based on trust and caring.

  6. Avatar

    Bint Mohamed

    February 12, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    As salam aleikom,

    Jazakallah khair for this article I hope people will follow your advice inshaAllah. This is exactly how I found my husband alhumdulillah. Before I started looking for a spouse, I wrote down what questions I would ask and what answers I would accept. I then asked a close friend of mine if she knew any brothers who were looking. She said she knew of a brother, she described to me his qualities. I was looking for a person, not a person with a certain job, or car, or degree (I think people make this mistake often and forget that all those things can be taken away from us). We chatted by email first, I never sent him my picture because I wanted to have honest answers from him first and not hear him reply in a manner just to please me. Then we agreed to meet (with chaperones), I asked him my list of questions. He now says that was what impressed him the most, that I was clear, and I knew what I was looking for. I also asked other people in the community about his qualities, if he was in good character or not. Alhumdulillah it worked out and I make duaa my brothers and sisters also find their spouse soon inshaAllah.

    • Avatar

      Faruk Ahmed Umar

      July 6, 2010 at 10:48 AM

      Please Sister Bint Muhammad do share those questions with other Muslims Sisters. Perhaps it will help. Jazakillahu khairan.

  7. Avatar

    Sincerity

    February 12, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    The probelm I have is probably that there is no brothers in EastZone and too many eligible sisters m’A. Ever since I have been looking, Alhamdulillah Ive kept it totally Halal (told my married friends, aunties, father, etc) however most good brothers are already taken and those who do come along dont even pray five times a day. SubhanAllah.

    InshaAllah everything @ right time, however how are we supposed to meet the like minded people?

    • Avatar

      A Sincere Reality Check

      February 12, 2010 at 10:03 PM

      The probelm I have is probably that there is no brothers in EastZone […] most good brothers are already taken and those who do come along dont even pray five times a day.

      From that one can infer that the Atlantic United States has no Muslims who pray 5 times a day looking to get married.

      Com’on Sis, that’s a bit of stretch and I’m not even sure you read the entire article but just wanted to jump in to throw your 2 cents with the ‘no Muslim brothers’ argument otherwise you would have seen this gem Yaser & Megan conclude with:

      Look at the time that has elapsed, and ask yourself:

      “I’m not married, although I’ve been trying for a long time. What is it that Allah wants me to learn? What message, what lesson is waiting for my heart?”

      • Avatar

        Amatullah

        February 13, 2010 at 3:24 AM

        Please be nice :)

        • Avatar

          Sincerity

          February 13, 2010 at 11:25 AM

          It is all good Amatullah.

          By the way no offense to those who do attend seminars and bother to dress up. ;)

      • Avatar

        Sincerity

        February 13, 2010 at 11:22 AM

        lol U can interpret it however you will, What I meant was pretty clear that those ”who come along” meaning those who come along my way. I was not making a sweeping generalization that no brothers are firm on their Salah. Thats why I asked, how do you meet like minded people inserting that inshaAllah there are brothers who are firm on their Salah and have a strong relationship with Qur’aan.

        Oh and yes I am not sitting here wasting my time waiting for some brother rather I took this time as a blessing and utilizing it to the best of my abilities (Working full time & memorizing Qur’aan full time, as oppose to dolling up for a double weekend seminar to get noticed).

        • Avatar

          ukhti

          February 14, 2010 at 10:01 AM

          From what I have see as to who gets married, that last one may net you a good husband. The brothers are definitely making looks a big priority.

          • Avatar

            Dunia's Stranger

            February 15, 2010 at 8:44 PM

            The brothers are definitely making looks a big priority.

            Its like they say sis:

            ‘what comes around goes around.’

            I’ve had sisters make brothers looks a big priority on my blog (see posts here). arguing they like they way George Clooney’s rocks his beard (i.e. 1/2 inch stuble) rather than Yusuf Islam’s Sunnah beard.

          • Avatar

            Someone Human

            February 15, 2010 at 10:42 PM

            > The brothers are definitely making looks a big priority

            ukhti,

            Imagine a practicing brother who struggles EVERYDAY lowering his gaze, fights off all the open temptations, and saves himself for that “special someone” so, in the privacy of his home (after marriage), he does not have to lower his gaze at all!

            I’m not talking about a supermodel in hijab, but someone pleasing to the eye.

            Would that be an unrealistic expectation from a brother?

          • Avatar

            Sincerity

            February 16, 2010 at 1:18 PM

            I have said no to more than one brother because I was not attracted to them physically @ all. It is not about making looks a priority, I believe that one certainly needs to be @ least somewhat attracted to their prospective spouse or else it shouldnt even move to the next point.

            However when brothers are running after girls who aren’t modestly dresses, jewlery , make up, fancy scarves as oppose to those who are dressed up more modestly with no accessory then thats when the Shaytan whispers in that sister ear and tells her to go in public w/ some make up, smaller Hijab & switch to skirts rather then Abaya.

            I dont mind dressing up with some make up if brother comes inside my house with my father present, doing that in public is not something sisters should compromise on.

    • Avatar

      Yanonimous

      June 11, 2016 at 6:45 PM

      Online! And keep searching at every venue/channel (with parents and matchmakers and all). I have met a lot of men, the halal way, in public and with chaperones (usually my parents), and most of them like to drink, smoke, are kind of finding their way to religion (is what they say), but don’t seem to have much orientation towards those goals, and have had tonnnnnnes of women! (and they DONT seem to be inclined to reform at all – a huge source of anger and sadness for me.) The good ones have been previously married. These are out of the few who exhibit mutual attraction with me.

      So I hear ya Sista!! It’s a tough one. Especially when we’ve been raised to establish and continue our careers the whole time. But hang in there, and keep dreaming, hoping and praying and chasing (through actual action) <3

  8. Avatar

    NahyanInc

    February 12, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Excellent, excellent article. mashaAllah.

  9. Avatar

    Ohh that BOy

    February 13, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Mash”Allah great article!
    I like how all the brothers comment saying “Mash’Allah.” I don’t know why I find it funny. LOL

  10. Avatar

    Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

    February 13, 2010 at 8:55 PM

    This reminds me of the very first editorial I wrote on Zawaj.com ages ago, titled, “Impossible Woman Seeks Impossible Man.” You can read it here:

    http://zawaj.com/editorials/impossible.html

  11. Avatar

    Abusafiyah

    February 15, 2010 at 6:20 AM

    Assalaamu Alaikum
    nice article…was thinkning of updating my profile accordingly lol…maybe i’ll just wait till part 2 (For the Brothers)comes out…
    Also pls give some advise to brothers looking for a 2nd & 3rd etc wife please. barukullah feek!

    so whens part 2 coming out?!

    • Avatar

      BK

      December 24, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      For 2nd or more , look for a widow , divorcee who are 30-plus . So the younger unwed brothers can marry young, unwed sisters .

  12. Avatar

    Dunia's Stranger

    February 15, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Also pls give some advise to brothers looking for a 2nd & 3rd etc wife please.

    How about waiting till the single bros have found a first wife.

    Signed,
    Br. without wife

    • Avatar

      Someone Human

      February 15, 2010 at 10:36 PM

      Dunia’s Stranger,

      Interesting point.

      It’s the same point SOME older sisters make: “How about YOU (18 – 24 year old single sister) wait until WE (25+ single sisters) get married first?

      Would you put a “pause” in your life because of someone else? {Like, I’ll roam around do nothing while you graduate, so you can catch up to me?}

      Life moves on :) Sigh!

      • Avatar

        Abusafiyah

        February 16, 2010 at 2:07 AM

        @Someone Human

        Well said,..

        i looked for a long time in the process i literally travelled thousands of miles had meetings with many sisters (in a islamic setting & manner ;)lol at one point i had almost all the aunties from Sh. Hussein Yee’s school looking out for me untill bi ithnillah i eventually found my wife ironnically back in my home country. my suggestions is to make dua..lots of dua especially in sujood and tahajjud salaah.

        now i am back on the search for that illusive foreigner.

        May Allah help all my bros and sisters find their spouses

  13. Avatar

    um

    February 17, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    Jazakum Allahu khairan. Really enjoyed this article, alhamdulillah.

    It would be helpful for sisters to go through this sort of internal process of thinking about who she is, what marriage is to her, how to present herself to the kind of husband she would want, etc. This will raise her self-esteem and confidence, set her criteria, and at the same time she will become more realistic and balanced in her approach, insha’Allah.

    Listing the education and achievements in a resume format – this can be an attempt to show she is respectable, show she is from a good family, good status, that the family invested a lot in her and does not expect her to be mistreated, and so on. We need to move to better ways of communicating value.

    A related topic I’d like to see addressed (for both females & males) — How to present the downsides? No one is perfect – how to be realistic and truthful (e.g. I’m not very good at cooking; I’m a neat freak, etc.) without it being necessarily a deal-breaker, or setting up for lifelong conflicts?

    Jazakum Allahu khairan

  14. Avatar

    Hala

    February 17, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    i think internet marriage stuff is scary i dont know why, i also wouldnt encourage sisters to ever put their picture up in the internet even if they are looking for marriage god knows what horrible people can do with your pictures id advise anyone who uses internet marriage sites esp the sisters, coz i dont know why youd still a broz picture ;p, to be careful and let the person express interest in your qualities first, how beautiful you are should be an added bonus and not solely why you are interesting, i think it is important that the sister mentions if shes educated or works however uninteresting it might be instead of writing im funny or something because,if shes wanting to work and he doesnt want her to work he should know from the start and not be led on, if your looking for someone look at your qualities and ask yourself why would the “amazing rich handsome sophisticated sheikh, i.e. non excistent guy would want to marry you if your not ^the above, btw the author said ask yourself if your friends or fam would describe you that way, i think your friends and fam would describe you in your most flattering way, who has a friend whod call them ugly or not smart enough etc and if you ask my mum she’ll tell you im the most amazing person of all , and thats a bit too untrue, i plan to get married the more traditional way, let the guy find you and beg :P
    salaamz
    hala

  15. Avatar

    Arshada

    February 18, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    On a slightly different note. It was mentioned;

    “The majority of practicing Muslim men in the West, based on our interviews, blogs, and personal conversations with them across the country, despite growing up here are looking for a wife who will fill a more traditional role, that of a stay at home wife; and at the least to be home with future children, in sha Allah.”

    I found this point very interesting. It would be interesting to know if sisters are looking for as traditional marriage as the brothers. If in actually they aren’t, then maybe the way they are currently writing about themselves is, less attractive but, more honest representation of who they are. Maybe, they shouldn’t make these changes. They might attract the guys but not truly compatible with him.

    P.S. Very important and well written article. I think it definitely shows sisters how to better present themselves on paper.

    • Avatar

      um

      February 18, 2010 at 6:24 PM

      this is very interesting point. also Hala’s points too.

      the issue of women wanting permission to work. is this why the resume format comes out?

      would having a line that speaks to this issue – for example, Enjoy working but would like to stay home to raise the kids when that time comes – be a another avenue?

      i agree with what was said, that if a sister wants the option to work in marriage she should be up front about that.

      also, this is observational from my limited experience — but there seem to be plenty of brothers out there who say they want traditional wives, but then once married insist their wives work, or make them feel really uncomfortable about being stay at home wives.

      brothers should do some soul searching as well if they truly want a traditional wife or not, and what they mean by that.

      just a note, i don’t know one working sister who isn’t also the primary/sole housekeeper and caretaker.

      • Avatar

        hala

        February 26, 2010 at 6:25 PM

        thats so true sister, and i think we need a bit more of a better definition of what a ‘traditional wife’, is because people are confused
        salaamz
        hala

      • Avatar

        manal k

        June 20, 2011 at 11:47 PM

        Or some brothers would “allow” their wife to work ONLY if she foregoes her wish to spend it as she pleases! Ridiculous..

  16. Avatar

    rafique ameen

    February 20, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    this article is gud for muslim n muslimah nowadays..
    masyaAllah =)

  17. Avatar

    H G

    February 23, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    JazakAllah khair for this very informative and useful article. Alhumdulillah it was very beneficial.

  18. Avatar

    ameen

    February 24, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Salaam everyone found a new Muslim matrimonial site @ Kabbool.com have a look and register its free as there are single muslims online I found a decent Muslima and inshallah with your duas will be married by summer time..Jzk

  19. Avatar

    Ahmad

    February 28, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    I want an article in a males perspective. I really liked this one. I think guys are just as clueless when it comes to marriage. I know I am. I read this and started wondering how I would describe myself. I believe know what Im looking for in a wife but Im still very hazy on how to actually go about it all. Im 21 btw so yes a volley of “TOO EARLY, OMG!” comments will come my way from most adults but Id rather know than be told I dont need to know yet.

  20. Avatar

    yakisha

    March 2, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    The irony here is that you complain the resumes only mention what they don’t want in a husband, but you do the exact same thing. You have not given a single example of what a good resume or description would look like, which would have been helpful.

  21. Avatar

    helper

    March 12, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    JazakAllah khair Shiekh and Sister Wyatt.

    Can you please give a dua to make things ie: marriage and finding the right spouse quicker. Is there anything that we can read to facilitate our affair.

    I read the ayat from surah kahf: Rabbana aatina mila dunka rahmatawn wa hayyi’ lana, min amree na rashada
    and this dua
    Allahumma ya jaami’an naasu li yawmil la raiba fihi ajma baynee wa bayna zawjee

    and also Allah’s names

    Was’salam

  22. Avatar

    khan

    March 14, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    I noticed alot of times when I speak to brothers who are looking that most of them said that they need someone who are attracted to…

    The problem is if all females were ranked just based on their physical looks alone, the brothers definition of good looking was those girls who are 8,9, or 10.

    Thats not good looking, thats gorgeous. If all the brothers want a gorgeous wife, that might be a problem. Specially considering that most of the brothers I spoke to were a 5, 6 or 7 on a scale of 10. So if guys who would rank 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 want girls who are 8, 9 or 10 then there will be an issue.

    Brothers need to wake up and smell real air. Not all air smells rosy ya ikhwan. For proof drive on New Jersey Turnpike across Elizabeth :)

    I should look for a sister who at least is on my level in terms of look. Now the deen, yeah go for 8, 9, or 10 because insha’ALLAH we all will strive to get there and we can get there. Looks, unless we resort to cosmetical surgery, the 5 will remain a 5 and the 10 will remain a 10 for some duration of time until we get real old, then we will all be sevens :)

    • Avatar

      Talkum

      March 14, 2010 at 4:21 PM

      I have the same observation, bro. Brothers at the 4, 5 level looking for ladies at a 9, 10 level. The relevant hadith that comes to mind is “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

    • Avatar

      Maheen

      December 24, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      And don’t forget, we are not necessarily attracted to people initially. I have seen guys who look good, but once I see what utter jerks they are, their ugliness shines through. The opposite applies as well. Good character makes a hottie in the long term as well.

  23. Avatar

    sabirah

    March 14, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    you guys need to remember, nothing is forever.
    the girls on the 8, 9, 10 scale would most likely be on the 3, 4, 5 scale after the first or second child or after 10 years. I have seen many awesome wedding and engagement pictures of women that now look like they are my own grandmother a couple of years later.
    What happened to the custom to ask the imam in the masjid if he knows a suitable brother/sister?

    How degrading is it to grade women anyway? do you rate after western standards? Remember, Allah knows about the Pamela Anderson and Jessica Biel pictures in your basements…

  24. Avatar

    sabirah

    March 14, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    and yes, i have seen many good looking/not so good looking couples that perfectly worked out fine and they produced a nice looking bunch of children.
    @ Talkum that hadith comes into action when we talk about in-laws, I reckon

  25. Avatar

    Seerah

    June 20, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Am i making a mistake by telling brothers that am a sickle cell patient? cos each time i do the next thing i see is their backs even though most of them are of the AA genotype. What could be responsible for this kind of attitude from them, after all that’s the only genotype that’s “safe” for me to marry. Each time they make me feel its better not to tell.

    • Avatar

      Maheen

      December 24, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      Maybe you should wait until the negotiations have become serious instead of mentioning it up front. I had a genetic issue as well, and I only mentioned it to my husband once we had met and both felt we were compatible for marriage. My family and I did not mention it at the beginning of the process because a. We were not sure how this very personal and private information would be used. b. we were not sure if the process of meeting with him and his family would lead to marriage. Once both of us and our families felt it was a good match and we were moving toward marriage, my family and I spoke to his about his, he got the required blood test, and Alhamdu lillah, we got married shortly after that. We have to be open about issues, but we also need to be careful in how that information is used.

  26. Avatar

    Reply

    December 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    How do you know that they are AA?

    To answer your question though, this seems like something of importance that should be brought up soon (whether it should be mentioned right off the bat, I’m not sure). Especially for those that wish to have children, knowing risks and what they might be signing up for will allow them to make a better informed decision.

  27. Avatar

    Olivia

    December 23, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Hey what about “the one critical mistake first wives makes when looking for a cowife”? Probably something like “forgot to mention anything about your husband” *snickers*

  28. Avatar

    Maheen

    December 24, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Could you please post a sample of a good biodata? And as far as looks are concerned, brothers should care -as should sisters. I mean we sisters are promised hot men in Jannah, and few of us would be willing to overlook a guy who is overweight and has little hair. And even if you say you “don’t care” how he looks initially, I can guarantee this will be a problem later in the marriage. So while looking like (starlet/hot celebrity) of the day shouldn’t be an expectation for a potential, there should be some level of physical attraction.

  29. Avatar

    BK

    December 24, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    MashAllah great article !!

    I would like to share what I did.

    Make Dua . And have great reliance upon Allah. You don’t have to check out 10
    Brothers to find a spouse . Some sisters I see wait for someone better. The first one you meet could be your spouse.

    Look for someone who can take you to jannah with him.
    I was very clear on who I wanted to marry . I took advise from baba Ali’ s video and listed about 20 questions without yes/no answers,that would help me know more about him.

    I was careful not to fall in love before knowing the person . So was careful not to be flirtatious at all.

    Did some background research through friends. I knew I must accept the proposal when I started falling in love with his qualities . Accepted the proposal within a month.

    Prayed to Allah to put LOVe and Mercy in our hearts for each other . Got married as soon as possible .

    Alhamdulillah I am blessed with parents who did NOT complain about him being from another community.

    Many a time parents ruin it for their children .

  30. Avatar

    BK

    December 24, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Maheen, I agree with you.

    There should be some sort of physical attraction . Not repulsive looks.

    After that make plenty of dua for physical attraction .

    If Allah blesses spouses with great physical attraction , no one can prevent it :)

  31. Avatar

    Imane

    September 11, 2015 at 1:39 AM

    can’t believe that I just came across this article 5 years after publishment! great article, thanks :)

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Podcast: How Intimate Can a Couple be Post-Nikkah, but Pre-Marriage? | Yaser Birjas

Question:

I just had my nikkah done with my husband and we are having our rukhsati done soon (in the next few months). The reason for [the] delay is just mainly to prepare for the wedding and  [to] accommodate family members’ schedule [for] the wedding. After the nikkah is it permissible to do all the acts that are permissible between a husband and wife even if the rukhsati hasn’t been done?

Sincerely,
Getting married in my 20s

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Marriage

Podcast: Like Tinder, But Safer: Troubleshooting Arranged Muslim Marriages | Newaz Ahmed

The biodatas that we send and receive are inherently superficial. We’re not given much time to make a decision on that limited information, and so the result is the same sort of superficiality, an un-Islamic swipe based on attractiveness alone.

When I tell people I want a religious wife, they seem to translate that as subservient to me, not Allah. And that scares me.Click To Tweet

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#Life

Like Tinder, But Safer: Troubleshooting Arranged Muslim Marriage

Like many people in my mid-20s, I approached my parents about getting married and initially chose to use a more traditional route. That is to say, creating a resume – or biodata – and sending it to matchmaker aunties. I wanted this approach because I wanted to be able to balance my American, Desi, and Muslim identities. I wanted things to be done in a halal way with my parent’s knowledge. However, over the past 2 years, my experience with the process has left me jaded.

Before I continue, I want to preface with two things. The first is that my parents are wonderful. We’ve butted heads, but I recognize that they are doing what they think is best, via a method that they’re used to. Providing critical feedback of the method should not be taken as critical to my parents.

The second is that while I have critical feedback, I am not intending to discredit the entire process. Meeting people through family is hardly a bad thing, and maybe what some people need. It is very possible that I will still end up using this process. That said, there are changes that need to be made, especially in the modern world. I want to make sure that my younger brothers and sisters can get an idea of what the process is, and what they’re in store for.

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Superficiality

The biodatas that we send and receive are inherently superficial. They are, in total, the person’s education/career, info on their parents and extended family, and pictures. There’s nothing written about the person’s personality barring, perhaps, a few sentences about their interests. This doesn’t provide any real depth of information about the other person at all.

Then there is the emphasis that is placed on the pictures. It is important to acknowledge that physical attraction plays a role in all of this. I think one of my early mistakes was that I was trying to pretend it didn’t matter at all, and that’s not reasonable for a marriage. The problem, however, is that given the lack of personal detail in the written part of the bio-data, we are left with the photo being the most personal piece of information presented. Unless you really care about where a person’s grandfather went to University in the 1940’s, that photo ends up being the most important thing you’re making your choice on.

Like “Tinder, but safer,” a friend said to me, as I explained how these situations played out. That’s not far off from how the experience played out for me. We’re not given much time to make a decision on the bio-data, so the result is the superficial, un-Islamic swipe based on attractiveness alone.

How many times have I heard, “Oh, she’s too fat,” or “Oh, she’s too short,” or “Too tall,” or “She’s pretty dark isn’t she?” Bengali speakers will recognize the word “moyla,” [dirty] used to describe women who are slightly darker, which is terribly problematic.

It’s not just that women are being chosen based on their looks alone, but on top of that, they’re being held to Eurocentric notions of what is deemed attractive. We’re all being held hostage to a standard designed by and for an entirely different race of people, and I have been told that it would be weird for me to be attracted to a darker-skinned woman because in the minds of many, dark skin is undesirable.

The superficiality is worse for women, but even as a guy I felt it. I’m fine with how I look, but you can only hear, “Oh, your face looks weird in that picture,” or, “He’s not tall enough,” so many times before it starts to mess with you. Men face another superficial judgment as well: the problem with men being reduced to their ability as moneymakers. I’m a graduate student and there are people in my class who have a spouse and children and are making it by just fine on the stipend we receive. But, inevitably, it will come up that I’m not making tons of money, so how can I support a family? While recognizing that men do have an Islamic responsibility to financially support their families, it troubles me that the process boils men down to one thing and one thing only – money, and not just having enough of it, but lots of it.

Age

I’m relatively young, 27 in May, and so when I started this process two years ago, I told my parents that I was willing to go +/- 3 years, just because I thought that would be a good range to encompass people I’d have some similarities with. However my prospect of an older wife – even a day older – was rejected with quite some vigor. I’ve been disqualified from matching with some women because they were born just a couple of months before I was.

The majority of the biodatas sent to me are of women still in college, between the ages of 19 and 22. It doesn’t matter when I say that’s too young, or how that I feel like I’d be taking advantage of someone who hasn’t fully grown up yet. I get told that I’m wrong.

Do you know how many random aunties and uncles have told me that a 7-8 year age gap is necessary to make a marriage work because otherwise, the women “will demand too much?” It’s shocking that I’m being told specifically that I need a wife young enough to be manipulated and shaped to my desires. When I push back on this, I’m, again, told that I’m weird.

I’m being constantly told to reconsider my age preferences as if wanting to marry a woman in her mid-20’s is a weird thing to do when I myself am in my mid-20’s. The sheer number of times I face this makes me think it’s an inherent flaw in how our cultures think, and not something unique to my situation. This is to say nothing of the fact that people will, to our face, tell me (26) that I’m too young for marriage, but my sister (25) is rapidly passing her expiration date.

Race

As a Bengali man, I have no problem marrying a woman of Bengali descent, but it’s annoying that even in 2020, it’s seen as a taboo to marry outside of your race in Desi culture. I personally have had it conceded to me, that if I choose an Indian or Pakistani woman on my own, that might be ok, but nothing else. Not an Arab. Certainly not someone with (black) African descent. And a white/Hispanic/black convert would cause a genuine scandal.

And even this concession is not universal, as there are many Bengali parents I know who will not let their child marry anyone outside of their own culture. Even when people have pushed through it and married outside of their ethnic backgrounds, there is still gossip and concern as to how the parents could “let this happen.”

Going into this I thought, “Well, all I have to do is show a few videos from Imams talking about how inter-racial marriages shouldn’t be taboo for Muslims,” but it doesn’t matter how many of these clips I show, it falls on deaf ears.

I understand the concern of losing culture and heritage to life in the West, I get it. But if I want to teach my kids about their Bengali roots I can do that with a wife of any background, and if I don’t want to teach them, having a Bengali wife isn’t going to make me any more likely to do so.

Ultimately, the feeling I get is that the older generation wants in-laws who they can go and have chai and gossip with, to do traditional things they saw their parents do with their in-laws. And again, while I empathize with the desire to do something familiar, this seems like an unhealthy reason to dictate why your children can’t marry someone from another race or culture.

Classism

I understand that families need to mesh and that it makes things easier if there are similarities that exist. However, in what world am I reading a biodata and seeing what a woman’s uncle does for a living, and then deciding that she’s marriage material?

It doesn’t work for me that way, but it works on the minds of the older generation, and there are even ways of working the class distinction to your advantage. Uncles in the community have actually told me that marrying into a “lower class” may be good if you want someone to be subservient to you because they’re thankful you brought them to your status. But they’ve also told me that marrying a “higher-class” woman isn’t bad either, because a rich father-in-law could have its perks. Caveat- beware of them being snobby with you, since you may be expected to be thankful, subservient one instead.

I can’t even wrap my head around what people are talking about here, but it’s yet another factor that I end up having to deal with during this process.

Religion

I want a wife who cares about the deen and prays 5 times a day, and I want this not to be a controversial take.

I have been told that’s unrealistic. Literally a couple of weeks ago, an auntie told my sister that ‘modern women’ do not pray regularly and so I should not expect that in a future wife. She said this, of course, to my sister who is both a modern woman and someone who prays five times a day without fail.

It’s crazy to be told that I’m being too picky because I want a wife who already has her religious-ness established. I have been told, by both aunties and uncles, that it’s better for me to marry a wife who isn’t too religious yet so that I can shape her deen. This isn’t about mutual growth in faith as you may hope for in a marriage. This is about controlling women with religion by only teaching her what I want to teach her. When older women tell you this, it raises so many concerns about what they’ve been through and what they want future generations of women to go through.

When I tell people I want a religious wife, they seem to translate that as subservient to me, not Allah. And that scares me. I don’t mean to fetishize anybody, but I want a wife whose religion drives to be bold, to stand up for what’s right, to be outspoken. I want to partner with someone whose religiosity pushes me to be a better version of myself, not to do what she’s told.

Marry Back Home

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me, as someone who has lived their entire life in the US, to think that I’ll mesh much better with someone with a similar background. This isn’t universal, some people will genuinely get along better with people from “back home,” and that’s fine, but this needs to be a personal choice.

Yet, I keep getting told that it would be better for me to marry from “back home.” I have been told, straight up, if you bring a wife over here, she’ll be more “indebted,” to me because I brought her to America. Setting aside that I don’t want to marry someone who just wants to marry me for a Green Card, why would I want to marry someone who feels like they owe me?

I fail to see how marrying from “back home” is an issue of compatibility in this case, it feels way more like an issue of subservience.

You can see here that the concern isn’t about finding a spouse who matches with my personality, it’s about finding someone who’ll come and cook and clean and bear children for me without speaking up about it because they feel like they owe me. Which segues to…

Gender Roles

I want to preface this section by saying that this is one topic where my parents haven’t, at all, been the source of my concerns, but rather, this something that comes up when talking to certain members of the community.

For men, there is an emphasis on making money to provide for a family, and for women, raising children and taking care of the home. There’s no problem with this model, but it is not the only model. It’s a valid option, but I am being told it’s my only choice.

In the eyes of many, the preference is to pick a homemaker. This seems at odds with the desire to select a woman with a good education, making it seem that I’m then not expected to let her utilize that education professionally. After all, it could be embarrassing for me if my wife makes more than me, and I have been told to be careful, because a wife who makes too much money could be “too independent.”

I must also be careful to stay in my exclusive role as a moneymaker too, and not try to go beyond that. I had pictures with my nephews in biodata because they mean the world to me. I was told to take them out because somehow a man taking care of children is deemed…bad?. I also like cooking. I once said this to an auntie and I remember her saying, “Why do you like doing girl’s stuff?”

Quite bluntly, I don’t want a wife who will only cook and clean and raise children for me. I want someone I can share those duties with because they’re my equal partner, an idea that, to me, keeps getting glossed over in this process. Every couple deserves the opportunity to figure their marriage out for themselves.

Quick Marriages

There are limits to what we can(‘t) do as Muslims. I understand that we shouldn’t have 3 year-long courtships or live together before getting married, and I am not advocating that. But we should be allowed some time to make such an important decision. I’ve been shown bio-datas and have been expected to come back with an answer in two days – just two days – about whether the information on this piece of paper is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Please, can we have a few months? Can we talk, and try to make sure that this is the decision we want to make (chaperoned)? When reviewing potential spouses, try to make sure everyone is one the same page about how much time you give to each other in order to avoid heartbreak and confusion.

Nature Of Relationship With Parents

My parents and I have a pretty good relationship. It’s relatively open and comfortable, but it’s still a Desi parent-child dynamic. Expressing a dissenting opinion is disrespectful, which means it can be harder to speak up without fear of disappointing them.

Plus, my parents and I never openly spoke about sex or physical attraction, at least not in-depth. To go from that to suddenly having to talk to your parents about the physical aspects that you’re looking for in a wife is awkward, and it can lead to miscommunication.

It’s a culture clash on top of a generational one. I have a hard time articulating what I want to my parents, and it’s not easy to figure out. If you know this before starting the process, you can make an effort to speak as openly about things as you can. You can even recruit an older cousin or friend, or an Imam you trust to help you. Don’t do what I did and go by yourself, have people to support you to make sure you and your parents are communicating well.

In Conclusion

It’s not reasonable to expect that you’ll get everything you want in a spouse. There will be compromises that are made, whether they be with yourself or with what your parents want. But don’t sacrifice on the points most important to you. Determine those, know what your must-haves are, and negotiate on other things. Make sure your potential spouse is on board. It can be awkward, especially with how many of us were raised, but talk to your potential spouse about these important things.

While this was a reflection of my own experience, I place emphasis on the aspects I feel are more universal. Speaking to other Desi Muslims in my age bracket, it certainly does seem that my concerns are relatively common. Obviously, there are individual factors that are at play, but these were things that came up regularly when speaking to elders in the community.

I also, again, want to stress that this isn’t an attack on my parents. While I have a level of frustration with how this situation has played out, I recognize that this is what they’re used to. And to their credit, they have made some concessions. Furthermore, it’s not just parents who are playing a role in this. The (often unwarranted) voices of certain elders are given undue emphasis, and that, I think has complicated the situation even further.

Ultimately, I’m not telling people that they shouldn’t consider arrangements or biodata, but if you do, then you must openly discuss this with your parents. Make sure they know what you want, and stand firm if it’s something important, even if it complicates things. It may put a strain on your relationship with your parents, but it’s better to open about things now than to have anger and resentment towards them for years later.

I’ll end with a specific piece of advice to the brothers: You have a duty to learn about why these issues are red flags and to push back on them yourselves. Women can be labelled as too rebellious if they push back themselves, and we need to be aware of this. Speak up for your (biological) sisters, family members, and friends when you notice their discomfort. Make sure you establish with your potential spouse that she is actually on board with the process, not just going along with it because she feels that she needs to. It might be awkward, but it’s important to establish a clear line of communication with someone even before you get married.

May Allah bless us all with happy, healthy, and fruitful marriages. Ameen

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