“Someday I’ll marry the right person, with the right reason and with God’s permission.” – Teejay David
There are lots of single Muslims trying to navigate their way through the marriage process. It's not always easy to know what’s permissible, what isn’t, what works and what doesn’t. The list below is a helpful guide for anyone who is thinking about marriage and wants to prepare in advance. It'll help prepare you for what to expect, what to do and what not to do before you begin your quest for "Mr or Ms. Right" and once you start meeting potential prospect, In Sha Allah.
1) 1.DON’T forget to make Istikhara:
There’s an old Arab proverb that says, “Man proposes, God disposes.” Before actively working on oneself and pursuing marriage through worldly means, one has to turn to Allah (swt) and make the Intention for marriage. Next, one should make the dua of Istikhara and put their trust in Allah's divine decree, especially when considering a particular candidate. Istikhara is a prescribed prayer with specific guidelines that should be properly understood. There is also a lot of confusion about how one "interprets" their Istikhara. The book, "The reality of Istikhara" help sheds more light on it.
2) DO have a “checklist.”
It’s important to know what you’re looking for in a partner and to take the extra time to put your thoughts down. Not only does the list give you tangible things to focus on, but it can also reveal whether or not you have your priorities down. If you notice, for example, that most of your requirements are superficial in nature, then you may scale back some things and put focus on more important matters like character, family values and future goals. Additionally, a written checklist can also help your friends and family who are actively on the look-out for you to better screen potential candidates.
3) DON’T dismiss someone if they don’t meet all of your requirements.
Sometimes we think we know what we want but it may take meeting someone we wouldn’t normally consider to open our eyes to other possibilities. When thinking of marriage, you should really give each and every potential candidate a chance to make an impression on you and whatever the outcome, make it a learning experience instead of a wasted one.
4) DO consider “halal-dating.”
Social media, technology, and living in pluralistic as well as gender-integrated societies have completely changed the way modern Muslims are marrying. It’s also impacted the Muslim divorce rate, which has consistently been on the rise for the past 20 years. these realities are undeniable and in order to prevent further problems, as a community, we need to redefine the courtship process without compromising the guidelines of our faith. "Let's talk about dating" is an article that explains more on 'haladating'.
5) DON’T rush into marriage.
Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing wrong with having an engagement period in Islam. The length of time it takes to get from the initial meeting to the nikah process is entirely up to the couple and their families. However, because of cultural misinterpretations or misunderstanding, people are made to feel guilty for not marrying quickly and they end up foregoing the very important process of getting to know someone. Marriage is a life-long union, so creating time to know or thoroughly investigating a potential partner is vastly important. Surely, quickie marriages most times leads to quick and messy divorces.
6) DO request “references.”
Part of the screening process should include meeting / speaking with other people they know (references). This is especially the case for matches found online, through matrimonial events or who live in different communities, cities or geographical locations than you do. If you are introduced to someone who you know nothing about, make sure he/she is thoroughly investigated.If they try to evade certain sensitive issues, then take it as a red flag. Do not let emotions and excitement of a budding romance cloud your judgment.
7) DON’T spill the beans too early!
It’s a natural inclination to want to confide in your friend(s) and family at the onset of any exciting situation. However, when a relationship is just developing it’s too early to get others involved and can backfire against you. You may find yourself prematurely soliciting advice or building up something that doesn't have much potential. A rule of thumb should be to wait until you've had at least 3 substantial conversation/meetings before telling someone else. And make sure the person you decide to confide in is qualified to give you an advice. It should be less about the role they have in your life than it is their ability to give sound, practical, and balanced advice.
8) DO have the confidence to make the first move.
If someone piques your interest then don’t wait around for something to happen but rather make it happen! Both men and women are susceptible to putting too much of the focus on the wrong place. If you are consumed with a fear of rejection or worry too much about some other negative consequence then you are letting life's opportunities pass you by. On the contrary, by reaching out to someone or finding a third person to get involved, you are writing the narrative and thus becoming an active participant in your own life.
9) DON’T rely too much on your “friends.”
Inviting a family member or your best buddy/girlfriend to tag along with you on your first “date” is understandable but after that you really need to think about cutting them loose. While it may be great for you to have the support and presence of a familiar face around you, imagine how your date feels. it's awkward to have strangers around when the focus should be on you and this new person you've just met.
10) DO be nice to everyone.
It’s a fact that we are generally drawn to happy and positive people. You never know what a chance encounter with a stranger can lead to. Perhaps you’re at a wedding and you graciously offered your seat to a stranger. That kind and generous act may make an impression on someone who is also looking for a suitable match for her son/daughter. Love could be around the corner; stay happy so you can welcome it with a smile on you face.
11) DON’T complicate your first interaction.
Whether you’re going to exchange introductory emails or you’re planning to meet someone for the first time make sure to keep it simple. If you lay it on thick in the beginning with too many complicated questions or requirements about time, place, etc; this might put the person off. Part of the excitement of getting to know someone is the build-up, the gradual process of getting to know someone.
12) DO plan around your stressful day.
If an opportunity arises for you to meet or talk with someone but you’ve had an exceptionally stressful day, let the other person know you need to reschedule. If you go through with something after a rough day, it's much worse for both of you because you'll end up complaining the entire time about your stressful experience or you might allow the negative energy it created to hijack your personality.
13) DON’T go overboard on “selling” yourself.
If you speak too much about yourself or take too much effort trying to “dress to impress,” you may be giving the completely wrong message about who you are. While physical attraction/chemistry is key to a successful match, you don't need to make it your main objective. Chances are by the first few conversations, you will know whether or not it is worth it. Ask questions, listen attentively and dress appropriate for the occasion.
14) DO be your authentic self.
In the beginning of any courtship, aside from making more of an effort with basic manners and etiquette, you should never change yourself or accommodate who you are for anyone else. Being transparent during courtship process is very important, especially since your intention is for marriage. If you have reservation about been truthful and opened, then you are certainly not ready. You need to be truthful enough to yourself, then to your potential partner.
15) DON’T talk about your past relationships/experiences.
Disclosing a previous marriage is required in Islam but anything else is up to your discretion. It’s always advisable however to stay clear of divulging too much about your past, especially any indiscretions or questionable behaviour. Those matters are between you and Allah (swt) and really no one else's business. There are exceptions that you have to take into consideration. For example, if you have any health issues/conditions, it is only fair you disclose it to them.
16) DO be honest.
It’s very important to be honest from the beginning. You don’t have to share your whole life with the person during the beginning stages but be honest about who you are and what you want in life. If a person is worth your time, they will appreciate the expectations you have for yourself. Pretending to be all you think your partner wants you to be is a recipe for disaster.
17.) DON’T zone out.
Listen carefully when the person you are interested in is telling you about their life. By listening carefully you can find out about their personality, likes/dislikes, emotional balance, etc. Try not to interrupt or prepare too many questions. Let the conversation remain fluid and show that they have your undivided attention.
18) DO be aware of time.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of something new and allow yourself to get carried away. If, however, you’re finding yourself talking into the late hours of the night, missing classes or going to work late; then you may need to pull back the reigns for several reasons. You want to make sure you don't get too intimate to the point where it leads to inappropriate conversations.
19) DON’T convince yourself of something that isn’t there.
Most people want to be in a relationship and are happiest when coupled with someone else so it’s perfectly normal to feel eager to find “the One” and start this exciting chapter of your life. However, if you feel you are making more exceptions for things that you normally wouldn't be happy with, then your judgment is being clouded by the eagerness to get married. People can change and adjust for each other, but it shouldn't start off that way. In truth, forcing something for fear of not having it is a sign of weakness of faith. Marriage, like everything in life, is a decree from Allah (swt). So there is he need to be patient until Allah determines the right time and sends the right person.
20) DO trust your instincts.
Similar to the previous point, it’s important to not only look out for red flags but also pay close attention to how you feel with someone. If you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, chances are you are right. if you see patterns in someone's behaviour that worries you, don't dismiss them as nothing or paranoia. Only Allah knows which path is right- sort for guidance through prayers.
21) DON’T ask for too much advice.
People who have a tendency of confiding in too many people or who are always asking others for advice are usually afraid of taking responsibility for their choices. You shouldn’t wait for someone else to tell you how to feel or what to do. You need to stop turning to others and evaluate just how much time you've given to actually thinking about what you want, what you need and whether or not the person you are talking to measure up.
22) DO listen to advice even if you’re not happy about it.
If a friend or family member points out something negative in someone you’re considering don’t react emotionally. Remember, unless there is something dysfunctional about your relationship with them, most likely they are just looking out for you and are coming from a place of love and concern. If more than one person tells you something about your potential partner, be receptive to hearing them out completely.
23.) DON’T be jealous.
Don’t focus too much on what others have. Just because your friend found his/her soul mate, does not mean you are bound to be single forever. Be happy for your friends and don’t waste time being jealous of them. By being happy for your friends, not only will your friendship flourish but also you might meet someone through her.
24.) DO have a life outside the relationship.
It’s important to continue to have a separate life outside your relationship even if you think you’ve found your soul mate. Having a passion such as your career, exercising, spending time with friends/family provides balance in your life and for your relationship. You should continue to grow as a person in all ways that are important to you. This not only makes you more interesting to be with but also makes you more emotionally balanced in your relationship.
25.) DON’T text.
Using texting as your primary form of communication interferes with building a deeper bonding experience. Texting is less rewarding and provides less of the neurochemical reaction our brain needs to increase bonding. An ideal relationship is one where the couple thrives on healthy, direct and regular communication with each other.
Credit: blog.souqhub.com. Modification by Adegbolu Afolabi