Part 4 – The Warning Signs

Marriage – Who is the Right One?

Time to remind ourselves …

What is the purpose of having a husband or a wife, and what are their roles towards each other? One of the clues comes from Surah Rum, verse 21 "And among His signs is this, that He created from you mates amongst yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts, verily in that are Signs for those who reflect."

In Surah Al Baqarah, it is also mentioned that "... they (your wives) are your garments and you are their garments ... " (2:187)

Spouses are enjoined upon us in order to grant us peace and tranquility, and to be mutually complementary to each other. The overreaching goal in a marriage is not to focus on the material successes of this life, but as a mercy in terms of companionship to give us a partner who will support us in our journey to the next life. Allah has created us in pairs and bestows upon the believers tranquility, calmness and comfort between them. He grants them a soft relationship of rahmah (compassion) and mercy.

If we are out of Islam, or we choose people who are out of Islam, then why would Allah bestow such a quality on the marriage? The quality is only given to the believer, the one whose heart is content, not full of the sickness of dunia.

Whoever you marry, his or her habit and custom will not change after marriage. The person will not change for you, and even if he or she does, that change will be short lived. True change takes plenty of iman. This is why it is so much better for yourself in the long run, to be patient and to wait for someone with the right qualities, rather than settling for any person with a half baked character just because he makes your heart flutter!

Think of buying shoes. How many women buy beautiful shoes but can't wear them because they hurt? It may sound funny, but it is the same with spouses. You don't choose one because heor she looks good, you want one because he or she gives you comfort. Uncomfortable shoes will not last too long, they will either end up in the closet or in the bin, and you will instinctively go back to your comfortable shoes in the long run – the ones that fit well, are from a good material, and lasts for years as you journey through life. The same way that if it is not a good fit from the beginning, even the most good looking couple will end up in a sour marriage. We want something long term, and we love those who comfort us. The rest is just the detail and many of them do not really matter.

What do I Look For?

There are plenty of good people out there, but similarly, there are also plenty of people who aren’t. Looks can be deceiving, so be careful when making an assessment.

It is not easy to make a choice when you have limited facts presented before you. However, be aware and try to look beyond appearances. We have, in the earlier articles, given some clues and red flags to be alert of, and this article, insha Allah, will help you develop further insight.

For example, amongst Muslim families from Muslim countries, we sometimes see people with beards, hijab and niqab – people who present themselves as beautiful Muslims, but on deeper examination, have very little Islam in their mannerism and behaviour. When it comes to reality, they are materialistic, discontented and centre their lives around dunia.They have no respect, love, unity or compassion, andtheir talk is focused on the apartment, status, dowry and allowance.

This does not mean to write off a person who outwardly appears to be a beautiful Muslim, but a caution that and you should not just look at appearances when making such a crucial decision. Therefore, don't think that just because someone wears a scarf or has a beard, the criteria of a perfect Muslim has been met. The signs on whether the person is focused on dunia or akhirah lie in the manner and behaviour. Clothes can be taken off, but Islamic mannerism comes from within and is more permanent.

For example, look at the proportion of the conversation or plans on the marriage that focus on materialistic criteria as opposed to talk of akhirah, and you will know how much of Allah is in the heart. Look at other telling characteristics, for example, does the person backbite others, or is stingy, or is too rooted in material status?

Also keep an eye on how the marriage is being planned. In majority of the cases, the discussions before the marriage are akin to a business transaction - the ceremony, the wedding ring, the dowry and the financial expectations. In some cultures, it is as if the bride has been reduced to merchandise to be auctioned to the highest bidder during the dowry negotiations. Where is the talk of Allah, of how each can help the other to become better Muslims and to be a good companion towards jannah? It can be a show-stopper if the man does not offer enough dowry, but does it raise alarm bells when the conversations do not have any references to Allah, what the respective roles in the marriage are, or how the children are to be raised? If the mention of any religious objective or alliance to Allah is swept under the carpet, or makes the potential spouse nervous or uncomfortable, then is this a promising start to building the nucleus of the ummah?

If it is the family making the choice for you, you also have to be critical of their choice. If your family has strong values and makes decisions with wisdom, you are fortunate. If your family is deep rooted in dunia, do they have the authority and capability to make the right choices for you? This is something that you have to think about.

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