From the first conversation, to the day of the Nikkah and everything in between, was at first, an abstract concept.
Upon reading multiple books and blogs, my favourite being the ‘Muslim Marriage Guide’ by Maqsood Ruqaiyyah Waris, or even just watching marriage related Youtube videos by Mufti Menk, it became that much clearer that:
The Islamic way of marriage, as prescribed in Quran and Sunnah, is one of the most honest, purest and most beautiful ways of embarking on a journey which is often the biggest milestone in your life.
Whilst weaving in answers to the questions in my Instagram Q&A box, and filling the gaps with personal anecdotes, I hope this platform becomes one which helps the younger generation (Muslim or not), through the journey of finding the right person – what values I prioritised in a potential spouse, what questions I asked, getting over the nerves, and most importantly, how I knew it was the right person, and right time for me.
Before I begin, a few words on the process I took seems fitting. For many young Muslims, or even just the Asian community, arranged marriages abroad still seem to be a thing. I was sceptical.
“How can I find the one I myself want if it was chosen by someone else or marry before falling in love and, how will it be truly ‘organic’, in the way I wanted it to be?
On a spiritual level, I quickly appreciated that your soulmate is prescribed by Allah SWT and so the means by which this process occurs can only be one of infinite blessings, and to truly just, trust the process. Love is a mounting concept. During the process of marriage and post marriage, love grows daily, you continue to find habits you adore, the more time you spend together. Contrary to conventional opinion, I now don’t hold the view that love is necessary pre-marriage. What is necessary however, is that you should be able to visualise the possibility of falling in love based on the qualities you’ve come to fall in love with and prioritised, and then found in this potential spouse.
On a practical level, I began to think – if those who I hold dear to me and know every bit of detail about my character, the way I like to live my life, my priorities, and most importantly, have my best interest at heart, how can the man they suggest be any of short of those things? Many things in life are introduced to us through referrals, and they quickly become exactly what we hoped for. Marriage is no different. I found this method to be better than the alternative because you now have a group of people who can vouch for this person, who have analysed the both of you, and truly felt it was a match that could last a lifetime.
It was only then, that I became open to the idea. Often for South Asian dads, their daughter getting married is far more emotional than a son. Why? Their daughter is their everything, their pride and joy, and so choosing a spouse that will help run that household is a decision taken with much caution and attention. I trusted that my dad not only knew my priorities, but even those that weren’t apparent to me, because of his lifestyle, which is a lot more religious.
A few asked, why so early? I think if you ask a South Asian aunty, she’d say 22 is a little late lmao but on a more serious note, the benefits of marrying early are infinite. Not only does it save you from the madness that is pre-marital relations which can easily lead to other types of sinning, I also felt that marriage gives your life perspective – you begin adulthood, you grow and mature, and contrary to popular opinion:
“it does not prevent you from ‘living life’, you merely gain a best friend to do that with – to share experiences, to get advice, but most importantly, to guide you on the right path through it all.
Did I feel ready? Not at all, and neither do I think anyone can ever truly be ready for marriage. What I did know was, I was studying for a degree I never thought I was ready for, I was applying to commercial law jobs I felt nowhere near qualified to start. I was definitely in a period of reflection, both professionally and spiritually. I wanted my purpose in life to be something more than just achieving tangible satisfaction through a bank cheque or a first class degree certificate. I wanted to embark on things in life that will bring me true happiness. I began finding new hobbies – reciting nasheeds and Quran, interior design, writing, working on charity projects. I remember once reading the virtues of a righteous spouse, and loved the idea of growing closer to the deen alongside them. It became clear then, that journeys in life are bound to interact and intertwine. Weirdly enough, I didn’t feel ready but I felt like the time was right? Or perhaps, I was beginning to feel spiritually ready, and so ready to take the first step.
“You’re never ready for a journey of a thousand miles, but each one begins with a single step”Lao Tzu
After becoming ‘comfortable’ enough with the idea of marriage, I was then shown a picture of a potential spouse, whose family my dad knew extremely well. The first thing I thought of, as you do, (apologies for the cringe-worthy and slightly superficial content), was that he fits exactly what I wanted appearance wise. Weird because like many other Asian girls, I definitely had not relayed that to my parents. Realistically, denying a 6ft bearded man? Could never be me. I then was told more about him through people I was close to, who were also close to him. I learnt he was very religious, righteous, never spotted gossiping or bad-mouthing, incredibly smart, an extremely good sense of humour – quite simply put, he was a pure, giving soul. Again, exactly what I wanted.
Of course, then came actually meeting. A lot of you asked how I got over the nerves. First, just be yourself, not a modified version you think is appealing, or what is culturally expected of you. Second, if you’re a perfectionist, or like to mentally prepare yourself at all times – brainstorm your priorities, and devise a short set of questions you definitely want to ask. A few questions which encompassed my priorities, were as follows: What qualities do you view as vital for your future wife? What are your plans for the future, career wise and other? What kinds of people would you say you enjoy the company of? (to get a jist of their inner circle as your company is a truly a reflection of you) How do you like to spend your spare time? How do you incorporate your deen into your worldly life? The ‘first conversation’ is a lot less awkward than you think – take a friend or of course, a mahram.
Knowing from a few words, or a few accompanied meetings which are permitted in Islam, how do you, or I for that matter, know he was the right person? An important caveat to this term is worth mentioning. I find the term ‘right person’ to be a strange concept. Finding the ‘right person’ is often confused with a quest for perfection – a person who offers a marriage full of ease, and happiness. Instead, marriage is all about compromise, you’re aware of your standards and your worth, but in the end, you’re going to face scenario’s which may make you doubt whether you went for the right person, but what will make it worth it is that because you are both a spiritual match for each other, you’ll find your way past the obstacles, back on track to the state of happiness you longed for, quicker than if your marriage was just based off of lust – which pre-marital relations can often lead to.
For me, the first meeting was the perfect blend of natural banter, laughter and deep conversation. Our personalities definitely vibed off each other. Despite growing up in environments which couldn’t be more different to each other, we had more hobbies in common than some of the people I grew up with. I also noticed that, just like me, he didn’t take life too seriously – down to earth with a good sense of humour and a bubbly personality. This, coupled with his religious upbringing and open mindset, was well on its way to convince me that he was the ‘right person’, if that phrase holds any weight for you.
It was upon reflection of this encounter, that I really started to feel like I could genuinely fall for him, could see myself marrying him and thus would be interested in getting to know him further, only for the purpose of marriage. I guess this decision was all down to how comfortable I felt in his presence, how naturally the conversation flowed, how knowledgeable he was, and how much we covered in a short space of time. The ultimate deciding factors which convinced me to go ahead with the Nikkah was when I weighed my values and priorities against his, heard numerous people vouching for his good character, and of course, my own meeting with him was one which was natural, but above everything else, it was genuinely, enjoyable.
“I could see him as the father of my kids, a son my dad would only dream of having, and a brother who would fit perfectly into not only my immediate family, but my extended one too.”
And I was right – him meeting my family and cousins felt like the most natural thing ever, like it truly was meant to be.
To those thinking of getting married, or in the process of seeing and getting to know someone, or are coming up to the days of their Nikkah, to them I’d say one thing: remember the sunnah, Hadtih of the Prophet SAW and the touching verses of the Quran, for only they will prove to you the precise manner in which spouses are chosen for you by Allah SWT:
Surah Ar-Rum 20:31 – “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”
Of course take advice from your inner circle, but in the end, avoid subconsciously or consciously prioritising the expectations of society or your family and friends, and take active steps to emulate the way Hadith outlines approaching a spouse, getting to know them, the method of getting married, and the way to live post marriage. You may not be the most practising person, whatever religion you are, but I guarantee you, if you delve into the mannerisms and advice in your religion surrounding marriage, and speak to the people who echo this, you will not only find the person you dreamed of, but qualities will arise in them, that you never even thought were important.
I hope this has been of use, and I pray Allah SWT blesses you all with righteous spouses, who can not only provide happiness for this life, but more importantly, facilitate a hereafter full of blessings Insha’Allah.