Thursday, June 4, 2015

What should we look for in a partner?

It is very difficult to give general guidelines, as people are individuals and as such have different priorities when selecting a life long partner. However, the hadith of the Prophet(SAW) has given us some clues as to what is to be desired most in both men and women. Because it is usually the male who proposes, the address in the hadith is directed to the male would-be-suitor. He said, "A woman maybe be sought in marriage either for her beauty, nobility, wealth or religious inclination. Seek the last and you will be the more successful." The same holds for the female in the choice of a partner. 

However, the hadith does not exclude beauty. It is one of the qualities satisfying and protecting the hungry gaze. If that is required in the young woman, it is required in the man too. Al-Qurtubi reported the Prophet(SAW) as saying, "Do not give your daughters to the ugly or nasty looking. For they desire of men what men desire of women." 

The wife of Thabit ibn Qays said to the messenger of Allah, "My face and his face will never look at one another" He asked her, "Why?" She said, "I looked at him coming in the company of other of his friends and he was the shortest and the ugliest." The messenger asked her, "Will you return to him the dower he has given you?" She replied, "Even if he asks more, I shall give it to him." The Prophet(SAW) told the husband, "Take what you have given her and release her." He did. 

The age difference between potential partners should not be too great. It is not fair to give a young girl to a man who is twenty or thirty years her senior. If she, for one reason or another, accepts, or he accepts, then it is their choice. But they should be aware of the future of their relationship and the implications of such a marriage. 

A grey haired man passed by a young black haired girl and he proposed to her. She looked at him and said, "I accept, but there is a snag". He enquired to which she answered, "I have some grey hair." The man passed on without a word. She called out, "My uncle, look at my hair!" She had hair as black as coal. He said to her, "Why did you say what you did?" She answered, "To let you know that we do not like of men what they do not like of women." 

Marriage is not for fun or experience. It is a life long relationship. For that reason, any factor detrimental to the relationship should be avoided as much as possible. Highly educated males and females should seek partners of similar educational background. Cultural and family background is very important. Common language is an essential way of communicating. Such things help the two partners to understand, communicate and relate to one another and are factors of stability and success. 

Financial independence and the ability to provide a decent acceptable level of maintenance. Again, this is a way of insuring that outside influences do not spoil an otherwise happy life. 

All ways and means should be considered giving a solid bases for new human experience which is expected to provide a framework for a happy, successful and amicable life. All this is to be considered within the context of Muslims living in Britain today. 

A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man. A Muslim man has to think very seriously indeed before marrying a woman from the people of the book and conversion just for the sake of marriage may not be a genuine reason. In a non-Muslim country a Muslim man has no right to bring up his children as Muslims, and this obligation particularly if love gradually dries up and the relationship begins to show signs of strain. 

The question of common language, background, education and age etc. are meant, in an ordinary stable context, to maximise the chances of success and stability in a very important Islamic institution - that of marriage. However, considering the particular position of Muslim communities living in minority situations, young Muslims, male and female, are exposed to all sorts of challenges be they cultural, linguistic, racial or social. The most fundamental question when choosing a partner is a religious one. As far as language, background, or social position are concerned, these are not significant factors that absolutely must be fulfilled before a marriage can take place, indeed such considerations may not be relevant to young Muslims living in Britain as they have common language - English, and the social positions of their families in their countries of origins may well be equalised living in Britain. If the prospective partner is of a good character, strong religious inclination and the two young people are happy and feel compatible with one another other considerations are not of such importance.

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