Finding and Being a Winning Spouse
Salim S Yusufali
shahr ramadhan 1431 / aug., sep. 2010
Is “marriage” becoming some of the
- In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were
living without a spouse, up from 35 percent
in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.
- In 2005 married couples became a minority
of all American households for the first time
- Anecdotal evidence
So why should we get married? And what are
the goals of marriage?
Reason 1: Because God desires that
we marry
Marry off the singles who are among
you...(Surah Noor (24):32)
The Prophet (s) said that the most
beloved building built in Islam is that of
Motto of our existence from Ameer alMu'mineen (a):
ًَ َ‫ون ل‬
ًَ ‫ِإلَ ِهي َكفَى ِبي ِع ّزاً أَنً أ َ ُك‬
َ ‫ك‬
O Allah! Honor for me is to be Your servant
Reason 2: Because the Ahlul Bayt (a)
want us to marry
The Prophet (s): Whoever has the
means to get married but doesn’t
marry isn’t from me.
From Imam al-Sadiq (a): The
Prophet forbade women from
holding back and keeping
themselves from marriage.
Reason 3: It is the way we are
Shahwah / ‫( شهوة‬Lust) or “attraction to
beauty without regards to halal or haram”
is a force placed within human soul
Lust is a blessing from Allah
How to make use of this blessing?
Surah Yaseen (36): 36: Immaculate is He
who has created in pairs of what the earth
grows, and of themselves, and of what
they do not know. (According to a
Reason 4: Spiritual Perfection
A woman comes to Imam al-Baqir (a), saying that she
has decided to not marry in order to gain perfection.
The Imam (a) tells her, “Desist from doing so! For if
there were any perfection in doing that, Fatima (a)
would have declined to marry, and none can surpass
her perfection!” (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 100, p. 219)
Hadith from Prophet (s): A muslim man gets no greater
benefit after the benefit of Islam than a Muslim wife
who pleases him when he looks at her and obeys
him when he commands her and protects herself and
his wealth when he is absent.
Reason 4: Spiritual Perfection (cont.)
A man comes to Imam Sadiq (a) and the Imam asks
him if he is married. He says no. The Imam tells
him, “My father said that, 'I would not choose
the world and all that is over it over sleeping
one night when not being married. A married
sleeping person who prays two rakaats is better
than a fasting single person who spends the
night in prayer.'”
From the Prophet (s): A married person who sleeps
is better in the view of God than the single
person who spends the nights praying and the
days fasting.
Reason 5: Self Building
Hadith: Marry off your single
people because God will better
their akhlaq, and increase their
rizq and their chivalry.
Dealing with problems that arise
because of marriage helps one to
mature intellectually and
Reason 6: Protection from Sinning
According to hadith, ½ to 2/3rd of
of a young person's faith is
protected from the Shaytan with
From the Prophet (s): Marry, or
else you will be among the
sinners. (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 100,
p. 221)
Reason 7: Companionship
Allah (swt) created us with a lack of
tranquility and placed that tranquility
within our spouse
Imam Ali (a) regarding the rights of a wife
over her husband: Allah (swt) has made
her a means of tranquility, calm, and
According to some leading scholars, this
is the most important reason!
Misconception: I can find this companionship
without getting married!
Reason 8: Forging Family Ties
Imam al-Rida (a): Even if Allah (swt)
and the Prophet (s) hadn't
commanded us to marriage,
benefits such as the coming
together of relatives and the
formation of new family bonds
would have been sufficient
encouragement... (Mizan al-Hikmah,
v. 2, p. 1178)
Reason 9: Serve God by Serving
One goal of marriage is to “take
each other to paradise”
How Ameer al-Mu'mineen (a) and
Sayyida Fatima (a) described each
other to the Prophet (s) when he
approached them after their
Reason 10: Opportunity to Raise
Prophet (s) takes pride in the
children of his ummah
Children increase happiness in life
After death they can potentially be
“baaqiyyat saalihaat”
Widespread move towards not
having children → erosion of the
family system
Reason 11: Increasing God's
Marry off those who are single among
you...If they are poor, Allah will enrich them
out of His grace, and Allah is allbounteous, all-knowing. (al-Noor (24), 32)
In many ahadith, people who complain
about poverty to the Prophet (s) and Imams
are ordered to marry
From the Prophet (s): Take a spouse as it is
a means of increasing your sustenance.
When am I Ready?
Important factors to consider:
1. Maturity
– Can make important decisions
using a rational process
– Independence of thought
– Can deal with difficulties
2. Financial Readiness
When am I Ready? (cont.)
Important factors to consider:
3. Knowledge of what Islam says
about marriage and spouse
selection and rights of husband and
4. Sometimes marriage can be wajib!
Benefits of Marrying when Ready and
not Delaying
Accumulate the spiritual benefits early
God wants believers to enjoy this world
better than others
Enjoying oneself according to religious
guidelines (without going to extremes)
can result in spiritual growth
Preventing fasad (corruption)
– Hadith: One who has the means to
marry off his child but does not, and
a sin occurs, he is partner in that sin.
Common Barriers Preventing
Marriage On Time
Want to enjoy life and have fun
before chaining ourselves down
We'll get tired of each other!
Young people aren't as mature as
they were in the past
Children wouldn't mind, but parents
No money
Responses to Objections
Should we put aside the advice of
the Ahlul Bayt (a)?
naudhu billah!
Instead let's understand the place of
these ahadith in the entire corpus of
their teachings regarding family life
Response to Objections (cont.)
Training our children at a younger age to
be responsible! A child who is baligh is
an adult in the eyes of Allah (swt).
When spouses do their responsibilities
(for example, keeping up the physical
presence and emotional support) love will
only grow with time
Family level and community level
financial support
Recommended Matchmaking Cycle
Tawakkul and Tawassul
Identify Potential Candidates
Recommended 2 rak'at prayer and
Imam al-Sadiq (a) to one of his
companions: If you wish to marry,
recite a two rak'at prayer, and then do
hamd of Allah (swt) and then recite the
following dua:
ً‫عفَّ ُه َّن‬
ًَ ّ‫يًم َنًال ِن‬
ِ ‫س‬
ِ ‫اللَّ ُه َّمً ِإ ِنّيًأ ُ ِريدًُأَنًأَتَزَ ًَّو َجًفَقَ ِدّرً ِل‬
َ َ ‫اءًأ‬
َ َ‫ًوًأَحف‬
ً‫سعَ ُه َّن‬
ًَ ‫يًوًأَو‬
َ ‫اًوًفِيً َما ِل‬
َ ‫ظ ُه َّنً ِليًفِيًنَفً ِس َه‬
َ ‫فَرجا‬
َ ً‫يًولَدا‬
َ ‫ًوًأَع‬
ً‫ط ِيّباًًت َجعَلُهًُ َخلَفا‬
َ ‫ًوًقَ ًِدّرً ِل‬
َ ‫ظ َم ُه َّنًبَ َر َكة‬
َ ‫ِرزقا‬
‫يًوًبَعدًَ َم َماتًِي‬
َ ِ‫صا ِلحاًفِيً َحيَات‬
Meaning of the Du`a
In this du`a, the one seeking a spouse will
pray for a chaste and virtuous wife who will
protect herself for him, protect his wealth
and be a source of rizq and blessing. He also
prays for a righteous posterity in this world
and the next.
Recommended Matchmaking Cycle
Tawakkul and Tawassul
Identify Potential Candidates
Identifying Potential Candidates
Step #1: Identify your needs, and
accordingly which traits the
candidate ought to have.
Divide these into must-have’s and
Other criteria can be added according
to personal taste.
All are important not equally weighted
(faith is most important)
Reasonable Expectations
Looking for 100% match is not
feasible. Be picky but not too picky!
If a candidate were already at
100%, there wouldn't be room to
grow during the marriage!
Objections to this Structured
Need to see if we love each other
before committing!
Many examples of matched
marriages breaking, or holding
together precariously
Why Marriages Fail or Have Problems?
Success is likely but with conditions:
Spouses identified using Islamic
Spouses meet in Islamic way
Spouses lead married life in Islamic
Most problematic marriages can be
The Love Marriage
Can work, but is not recommended
Chastity and reputation can easily be
Decisions are made based on emotion
Statistics indicate high failure rates
Emotional cost of such failed
relationships is high
May lead to questioning of spouse's
fidelity (especially from the husband)
Love Marriage
From Imam Ali (a):
Love of the People of the Hereafter lasts
due to the everlasting nature of its
Love of the People of this World will
cease to exist due to the transient nature
of its cause.
Love in marriage is created by Allah (swt):
...And He places love and compassion
among you... (al-Room (30), 21)
Finding and Being a Winning Spouse
(part 2)
Salim S Yusufali
shahr ramadhan 1431 / aug., sep. 2010
Ideal Traits / Traits to Inculcate
Traits of an Ideal Spouse
Why did the Ahlul Bayt (a) emphasize certain
traits? They must be important and ought to
be used to:
Characteristics to aim at building /
nurturing for those who wish to (eventually)
get married
Compile a list of must-have and nice-tohave characteristics to be found in spouse
Motivation for those who are already
married and want to improve and have
successful marriages
Recommended Matchmaking Cycle
Tawakkul, Tawassul, and Self-Building
Identify Potential Candidates
Compiling list of must-have and
nice-to-have traits
Compiling the List
Understand your personality type and your
strengths, weaknesses, and future needs from a
This process is itself rewarding:
The ignorance of a man with respect to his faults
is among the biggest of sins. Imam Ali (a)
When Allah the Exalted desires good for a
servant, He disattaches him from the world,
gives him deep insight into the religion, and
shows him his faults. Imam al-Sadiq (a)
Seek to understand advice from the Ahlul Bayt (a)
in this regard
Trait #1: Taqwa
Taqwa = protection = acting in a way
that one is protecting himself from
turning away from God and receiving
His punishment
Taqwa has varying degrees
Traditions greatly emphasis this trait
Example: One who marries his noble
daughter to a sinner receives 1000
curses daily.
Importance of Taqwa in Marriage
When home alone and God is not in the
picture, many things can go wrong.
From Imam Hasan (a): Marry your
daughters to a man who has taqwa, for
if he loves her he will honor her, and if
he dislikes her he will not be unjust to
If things go sour, divorcing someone
with taqwa will be considerably
How to improve one's taqwa
Strengthening one's creed
...Do not marry your daughter to one who
doubts, as the wife will adopt the etiquette
of her husband and he will impose his faith
upon her (Imam al-Sadiq (a), al-Kafi, v.5 p.
Learning about our practical responsibilities
and acting upon them (starting with halal and
How to improve one's taqwa
Have a small, regular program of
Receive spiritual admonishment at
least once a week
How to improve taqwa (cont.)
Participating in congregational
Keeping good company
From Imam Ali (a): If someone's level
of practice isn't clear to you, see
whom he keeps company with,
religious people or irreligious?
Matters relating to Chastity and Modesty
to follow
Trait 2: Good akhlaaq
Reality of akhlaaq : `ilm (knowledge) +
`amal (action)
Examples of good character that
emanates from a soul illuminated with
Divine light: honesty, contentment,
compassion, friendliness, pleasantness,
patience, dignity, forgiveness,
thankfulness, amenability, humility,
respectfulness, softness, optimism,
Importance of Akhlaaq in Ahadith
Story of Imam al-Sajjad (a) marrying a
woman based on her excellent behavior
Do not marry [your daughter] to one
who has bad character. (Imam alKadhim)
The best of your women is she who,
when she is angry or angered, she tells
her husband...”I will not sleep until you
are happy with me.” (Imam al-Sadiq,
man la yahdur)
Importance of Good Character in
Particularly important in times of
Crucial to keep marriage
successful. Examples:
Wife preparing herself for her
husband every day
Husband making compliments and
demonstrating love every day
Means of Improving Akhlaaq
Keep company with one who is honest and
righteous, can influence positive behavior and
whom can be asked to point out faults
From Imam Ali: One's enemies can be more useful
than his brethren for the enemies gift him with his
Observe faults in others and strive to eradicate
them from one's self
Muraqabah (self-awareness) and Muhasabah (self-
Taking a qualified mentor
accounting) ← Particularly emphasized by the
Ahlul Bayt
Trait #3: Compatibility
From the Prophet (s):
– Marry those who are compatible
matches (al-akfaa').
Most important aspect of compatibility
Similar level of faith (Islam + shi`a) and
Believers are the compatible matches of
other believers.
Marry a suitor whose practice of religion and
trustworthiness please you, whoever he
may be.
Other factor that will make marriage
go smoother
Similar background
Similar income bracket
Similar societal status
Intellectual compatibility
Family compatibility
Ideal age gap: 3-7 years (Gulbarg,
Dehnavi p. 37)
Couple (and in some cases their families)
will need flexible personalities and
sophistication if these are not in place.
Trait #4: Good Family
Meaning a family known for its
religiousness, etiquette, noble character
The Prophet (s): Avoid … the beautiful
woman who grows up in a corrupt
The Prophet (s): The best of your women
is she....who is respected in her family.
Coming from a good family is good but
not a hard and fast rule
Good families can be created
Trait #5: Chastity
From the du`a: O Allah grant me
the most chaste among them.
Limited mixing of genders
Modest interaction, language, and
body language
Keeping appropriate company
More about Chastity
Should be in place before and after marriage
Couples will try harder to satisfy each
other's physical and emotional needs
Husband will take more pleasure out of his
wife → stronger love → more care and
reciprocal love
Need to re-evaluate ties and behavior with
Different than being suspicious! We need to
suspect ourselves more than other party.
Not being “friends” is different than being
Traits #6 and #7: Responsibility &
Good Planning Skills
Hadith: The best of men is he who takes care
Women tend to find these traits a source of
attractiveness in men
of his wife so that she doesn't have to rely on
can these traits be measured?
Taking care of parents / siblings
Is he hard-working?
How does he manage his money?
Does he make impetuous decisions that
he later regrets?
Trait #8: Good Looks
Physical attractiveness is particularly
important for man to see in woman and
should not be ignored
Also shouldn't be the only criterion
From a hadith: A wife should be religious
(‫ )ذات الدين‬and beautiful (‫)جمالء‬
True beauty is on the inside and
outside. Eventually inner beauty (taqwa,
akhlaaq, ilm) outshines outer beauty
Practical Tips Regarding Good Looks
Extreme beauty can lead to arrogance
– Can be addressed in upbringing
and self-bulding
Being attractive is working with what
you have
Regular exercise routine (without going
to the extremes) and observing Islamic
dietary guidelines is necessary for
personal and marriage development
More Practical Tips
Good character, faith, optimism,
speaking well, smiling appropriately,
humility, grooming and hygiene all
lend to outer beauty
Community emphasis on championship
Husbands should buy their wives those
things they need in order to make
themselves beautiful at home
Recommended Matchmaking Cycle
Tawakkul, Tawassul, and Self-Building
Identify Potential Candidates
Compiling list of must-have and nice-tohave traits
Using list to find potential spouse matches
Identifying Potential Candidates
The boy / girl seeking to get married may rely
on a “champion” or a few “champions” who
are trusted individuals (perhaps in the form of
community matchmakers)
– Parents' buy-in is very important
The champion's job is to find potential
candidates based on the criteria and detailed
information about the boy / girl
Start looking locally and then branch out if
– Don't feel shy about using matchmakers
Recommended Matchmaking Cycle
Tawakkul and Tawassul
Identify Potential Candidates
Importance of Investigating the
Traits of a Candidate
From the Prophet (s):
Marriage is like slavery. So if one of you
marries off his daughter, he has given her
to slavery. So look carefully at whom you
marry your noble daughter to.
From Imam al-Sadiq (a): Women are a
necklace so look carefully to ensure you get
the right one.
According to one expert, marriage is the
most important event in your life. (Dehnavi,
p. 31)
Applies to both males and females
Talk to those who know the candidate indepth
Revealing negative information in this
situation is not backbiting!
What about that part we can't find out?
Have to do our duty. From Imam al-Sadiq
(a): Whoever acts upon what he knows, Allah
(swt) shall take care of him with respect to
what he does not know
Investigation will take place even after meetings
are completed to clear up any issues that arose
Common Reasons for Not
Investigating Properly
Putting full trust in one person who knows
both parties
“I know his father and his father's father...”
Not knowing whom to talk to
Misinterpreting the hadith: If a suitor comes
to you whose character and religion please
you then marry [your daughter] to him or else
there will be turmoil on the earth and great
False sense of tawakkul
False understanding of istikharah
What to Investigate
Leadership Qualities
How Well Promises are Kept
Level of Honesty
Recommended Matchmaking Cycle
Tawakkul and Tawassul
Identify Potential Candidates
Meeting Potential Candidates
Looking at picture
Can be alone in a room together as long as
Others can easily enter in upon conversation
No fear of falling into sin
Looking (for a man)
Without intention of lust (though lust will naturally
In order to determine her physical appearance (if
you already know, can’t look)
No barrier preventing marriage (for example she
shouldn’t already be married)
Possibility of proposal being accepted
Meeting Potential Candidates
What to discuss
Try to send questions from beforehand
Write down quotes for later observation
How many times can we meet before
How close can you get without being
The fun in marriage is getting to know
each other!
What to Discuss
Casual Conversation
Practice (for example, taqlid)
Life histories
Expectations of Future
Living alone or with family
Raising children
Education / work plans
How to decide
Using your intellect
Seeking advice from wise people
Taking istikhara
Tawakkul and Tawassul
Do we need to “like” each other
before saying yes?
How sure do I need to be?
From Culture
Need to wait for older siblings to get married
Education is more important than getting
Sayyids can only marry sayyids
Mut’ah is scandalous
Can’t interact with “fiancee” after nikah is recited
before “rukhsatee”
I liked him/her, but the istikhara came out
Culture of expensive weddings
But not all culture is bad…