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Islamic and Humane Conditions in Choosing a Spouse

1- The respectable families should provide the means for the young man and woman to meet each other before marriage. It is not necessary to wed them to make them Mahram (lawful to see each other) for this purpose. This has been allowed by Islam, and is considered legitimate in Islamic jurisprudence. They must see each other, so that they can recognize each others' good characteristics or apparent defects, and then decide. This will also block the way for future claims. Of course, this visit should be with the intention of getting married and deciding whether or not to finalize the marriage. It should be void of sin.

Please notice the traditions in this regard:

The Prophet (Pbuh) told Mughayreh, the son of Shua'ba who had married a woman: "Had you looked at her before you got married, there was more hope for you to get along with her." [Marriage in Islam, p.47]

Muhammad, the son of Muslim, the son of Muslim" . said that he asked Imam Baqir (Pbuh): "Does a man who wants to get married have the right to look at the woman?" He answered: "Yes of course. He wants to purchase with the highest price, yet how can he not look?" [Vasa'il al-Shiia, Introductory chapters on marriage, Chapter 36]

Hassan Sary said: I asked Imam Sadiq (Pbuh): "Is it permissible for the man to take a good look at a woman before he marries her? Can he look at her face and the back of her head?" He answered: "Yes. It is not forbidden to look at the back of her head or look at her face." [Vasa'il al-Shiia, Introductory chapters on marriage, Chapter 36]

A man told the sixth Imam: "Is it permissible for a man to look at a woman's hair and her beauties when he wants to marry her?" He said: "If he wants to become aware of her characteristics it is all right." [Vasa'il al-Shiia, Introductory chapters on marriage, Chapter 36]

In another tradition the Imam was asked: "Is it permissible for the woman to stand up so that the man can see her?" He answered: "Yes, she can even wear clothing showing the form of her body at that time." [Marriage in Islam, p.49]

The Prophet (Pbuh) told a man from his companions who had proposed to marry a woman: "Look at her face and her hands."

These traditions and the like imply that if someone chooses a woman to marry, after he investigates about her family, her faith and morality, it is fine to look at her to learn about her physical features such as her hair, her looks and beauty, her height, and her posture. This will block any future claims about her defects which might otherwise cause disappointment or argument. This does not mean that men can go around to look inside every house and observe all the beauties of the Muslim girls to choose one if they please. [Marriage in Islam, p.49]

2- When you choose a wife and decide to marry her, you must intend to marry to seek God's pleasure, not her beauty, perfection, amorous playfulness or coquetishness. You must act to please God and to abide His decree and to follow the tradition of the divine Prophets, especially the noble Prophet of Islam (Pbuh) There are many important traditions regarding marriage in order to get nearer to God and attain His pleasure cited from the Prophet (Pbuh): One who marries for God's sake, and strives to provide the means for the marriage of others for God's sake, deserves to be a Friend of God. [Muhjat ul-Biyza, v.3, p.54]

Yes, people of such character and nobility deserve to be included among those mentioned in the following verse:

God is the protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. [Holy Quran: Baqara 2:257]

God likes men to have a wife and children. That is why He granted John to Zacharias and granted Ismael to Abraham when they were old. God Has stated in one of the verses of His Book to His Pure Prophet:

We did send apostles before thee, and appointed for them wives and children: [Holy Quran: Ra'd 13:38]

3- It is not right to rush into marriage. It has been stated in Islamic teachings that to rush into something is the work of Satan. One must be careful in choosing a spouse. He/she must spend enough time, consult with others, and get to know the other party and his/her family. This is all necessary so that any great loss; spiritual, or psychological blow to either party can be avoided. In this regard Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said: In fact a woman is similar to a necklace. Be careful about the necklace you wear forever. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.233, Vafa Press]

4- The characteristics of a good woman who deserves to get married to a believing young Muslim man have been carefully stated in credible traditions cited in valuable Shiite books. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: When you intend to get married to a woman, investigate about her hair as well as her face, since her hair is also a part of her beauties. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.237]

5-13- Jaber, the son of Abdullah Ansari has stated: "We were sitting with the Prophet(Pbuh). Then we started to talk about women, and how some are superior to others. The Prophet (Pbuh) asked if he should talk to us in this regard, and we welcomed his proposal. He said the best of your women is one who is kind; bears children; is chaste; is respected in her family; and is humble to her husband; beutifies herself only for her husband and is respectful but indifferent to others; obeys her husband; submits to him in private but does not act like dirty old men. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.235]

14 to 18- The Commander of the Faithful (Pbuh) said: The best of your women have five traits. He was asked what they were. Then he answered: leniency; good-temperedness; easy to get along with; one who does not rest until her husband is pleased and calm once he gets angry; protects her husband's honor in his absence. Such a woman is one of the agents of God and should not be disappointed of God's Mercy. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.231]

19- Imam Baqir (Pbuh) said: A man consulted with the Prophet(Pbuh) regarding marriage. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: "Get married, but with a religious woman. God will give you a good reward. A good woman is similar to an especial crow which is hard to get." The man asked what especial crow? He responded: "One with one white leg." [Marriage in Islam, p.59]

20 to 21- Abraham Karkhy said that he told Imam Sadiq (Pbuh): "My wife who was my companion has died and now I am considering getting married again." The Imam told him: "Be extremely careful with whom you marry and share all your secrets, wealth, religion and trust. If you have no choice but to marry, find a well-behaved and good-tempered young woman." [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.232]

22- The Prophet (Pbuh) said: One of the beneficial things that God has destined for a Muslim man is a woman looking at whom pleases him, one who protects his honor in his absence; and one who obeys him in his presence. [Marriage in Islam, p.60]

23- The Prophet (Pbuh) said: "The noblest woman in my nation is one with the most beauty and a nuptial gift of the least amount." [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.236]

24- The Commander of the Faithful (Pbuh) said: The Prophet (Pbuh) asked the people: Let me know what is best for women? Fatimah (Pbuh) responded: That she does not see men, and men do not see her, too. The Prophet (Pbuh) who was amazed at this response said: Fatimah is the chip off the old block![Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.238]

25-26- Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said: The best of your women is one who is grateful if you give her property, and if for some reason you denied her of some property she is pleased and satisfied." [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.239]

27-30- The sixth Imam (Pbuh) said: The best of your women is one who smells good; cooks well; spends properly; abstains from spending at the right time.

Such women are agents of God. For them there is no disappointment. They shall not be sorry. [Marriage in Islam, p.61]

31- The Prophet (Pbuh) said: The most blessed wife is one who imposes the least expenses upon her husband. [Marriage in Islam, p.70]

32-34- The Commander of the Faithful (Pbuh) said: The best characteristics of a woman in marriage are the worst of men's characteristics: pride, fear and jealousy. If she has pride, she will not submit to anyone but her husband. If she is jealous, she protects their belongings, and if she has fear, then she gets afraid of any circumstances and tries to protect herself. Thus she will not fall prey to others. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.238]

35-38- The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Marry virgin girls. They have sweeter lips, and tighter wombs. They learn faster, and their love for their husband and mutual life is more lasting. [Bihar al-Anwar, v.100, p.237]

39 to 40- Imam Sadiq (Pbuh) said: The best of your women is one who is no longer shy when she is undressed in private quarters with her husband. And when she wears her clothes, she is shy. [Marriage in Islam, p.67]

These are the characteristics of a good Muslim woman. Our dear young Muslim men should look for these nearly forty traits in women. Once they find one with a reasonable amount of positive traits, then they should choose her as their wife and the mother of their children. They should try not to be too strict in choosing a spouse, since such an obsession will make it hard to marry.

Adopted from the book: "The Islamic Family Structure" by: "Husayn Ansarian"

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