Recently, I wrote my first post on the topic of Marriage, within which I mentioned the topics I was intending to write about. However, I received a comment from one Sister who said the following:

Question:

Assalaamo-alaikum,

I had a question I’ve been wondering on the topic of finding a suitable partner for marriage.

I remember hearing a hadith on how a person is married for 4 things – beauty, wealth, family status, righteousness, but that a believer should give preference to righteousness (or something to that effect).

My question is that of the 4 things, beauty, wealth and family status are things that can be seen straight up (generally). However, the one thing a person cannot know – what degree of taqwa another person has – is what we’re told to look for.

Yes of course there are obvious things such as a person drinking or gambling,
etc that are indications. But assuming none of those exist, how do you know another person’s taqwa.

I saw this because i recently had my Nikah broken off as the guy decided he no longer felt like marrying me.

This guy seemed God-fearing, spoke about the importance of taqwa, etc. but turned out to be someone who is unkind, unjust and materialistic (at least it seems so, Allah knows best). Thus how do you know.

Yes Istikhara is a way, but I received good signs in istikhara – which I believe means God wanted me to go through this. But back to my question – how can you judge a person’s taqwa – how can anyone judge whats in another person’s heart for that is where the taqwa resides.”

Answer

One of my main reasons for writing about the Salaah of Istikhara was for this reason; and I was hoping to answer the question in my fourth topic, How to choose a suitable spouse. However, I feel that the question needs to be answered sooner, and therefore, I intend to make a brief answer until that topic is discussed in detail.

First of all, the Hadeeth that has been mentioned is as follows:

On the authority of Hadhrat Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم has said:

تنكح المرأه لأربع لمالها و لحسبها و جمالها و لدينها فاظفر بذات الدين تربت يداك

“A woman is married for four reasons:
for her wealth, her status, her beauty, and her religion; so
try to get one who is religious, may you be blessed.”

[Saheeh al-Bukhari: Book 62, Hadith: 5090]

In the above Hadeeth our Beloved Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, is informing us of the qualities a person normally looks for in a women, he then mentions to us to marry the religious women so that we may be blessed. This Hadeeth applies to anyone looking for a spouse; he or she should be looking for a religious partner and if thereafter the other qualities are found then it would like a bonus.

However, as mentioned in the question, it is usually very simple to recognise a person for their wealth, status and beauty; they all are very apparent. But how does one recognise a religious person; that one quality which we are asked to choose over all others.

There are many ways in which one can ‘try’ to determine the piety of a person and to ascertain whether he is ‘religious’.

However, before doing so, it is important to understand what ‘religious’ is and what it refers to.

Many people have the misconception that a religious person is he who has knowledge; one who talks about religion, someone who merely portrays religion or that person who offers his prayers and supplications. However, this is far from the truth.

Once a disciple of Hadhrat Ashraf Ali Thanvi came to him to ask of his advice regarding two proposals he had received for his daughter; one being from a clean shaven, not religious but at the same time very respectful and obedient man, whilst the second being ‘apparently religious’ but very disobedient, unfriendly and disrespectful. Who should the daughter be given in marriage to? Hadhrat Ashraf Ali Thanvi replied instantly that the person who was respectful should be given the daughter.

The lesson given here is that it is easier to teach a ‘human’ the religion of Islam, but it is a much more difficult matter to make a person in to a ‘human’. The person who was ‘apparently religious’ was in reality far from religion; his actions were contrary to the teachings of Islam. Whilst the person who was clean shaven was in actual fact closer to religion due to his behaviour and manners and for that person to become inclined towards religions is far easier and likely.

Therefore, apparently being religious is not the sign of being religious and one should never mistake a person from their appearance, in fact not even entirely through their acts of worship.

This principle is well taught to us by Hadhrat Umar رضي الله عنه when once a witness went to depose before him. Hadhrat Umar رضي الله عنه said bring to me one who knows you. When he brought a person to him, the man began to praise his character. Hadhrat Umar رضي الله عنه asked him: Is he your closest neighbour? He said: No. He then asked him: Were you his companion in a journey? He said: No. Hadhrat Umar رضي الله عنه then asked him: Did you carry on business with him? He said: No. Hadhrat Umar رضي الله عنه finally said: So, you don’t know him. He then said to the man: Go, take one who knows you.

This clearly shows that a person cannot be thought to be religious by just seeing his appearance or his apparent act of worship because being religious is far more than that. Hadhrat Umar رضي الله عنه explained that it is necessary to be a person’s neighbour, to have travelled with him or to have done some business dealings with him in order to really be aware of his true character for these are the affairs and matters that bring out the true colour of a person.

This leaves us with one final question, ‘how are we supposed to look for a religious person or what do you look for in a spouse to conclude or ascertain that they are from what the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم classed as بذات الدين.

Insha Allah this question will be answered when that topic comes into discussion and further explanation will be given on this matter.

May Allah give us all the zeal and eagerness to choose those who are ‘religious’ and may He give us the understanding and knowledge to differentiate between those who are religious in its true sense as apposed to those who appear to be religious. Aameen.

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