Finding love and mercy: Plan Before Searching for a SpouseWritten by Raghad Ebied
Many people will spend months and sometimes even years preparing for a wedding that will last a few hours, not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars invested as well. But how many people actually prepare for marriage itself, which could last a lifetime, by ensuring they have selected the most suitable partner, based on the criteria set out by the Quran and Sunnah (tradition of the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him) and the advice of experts in the field of forming healthy relationships that lead to successful marriages?
Unfortunately, it seems like we are facing a crisis as the number of singles, the average age of marriage, as well as the rate of divorce have all increased in our Muslim community. It is especially alarming that the rate of divorce has increased within the first year or two of marriage, indicating the couple may have lacked in-depth knowledge of the personality and lifestyle of each other before the wedding.
The consequences of a poor choice of marriage partner and marital dissatisfaction are indeed far-reaching and have been correlated to higher rates of depression, lowered physical health and poor worker production, may Allah protect all of us from these negative consequences.
Allah, Glory be to Him in the Highest, describes marriage to us so beautifully in the Quran: “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Ch. 30, v. 21)
There is a world of difference between feeling you know someone and truly knowing that person.
So how can we find this love and mercy? How can we live in tranquility? How can we increase our likelihood of marriages being successful?
We need to learn, understand and plan. There's a quote that says: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I believe planning how you want your marriage to turn out and how you select your partner are some of the most important decisions you need to plan for because they will affect everything in your life -- from your faith, to your happiness, to your future children, to your hereafter.
Maybe some will say that it does not have to be that complicated; however, I believe that when it comes to making a life-changing decision like this, that collecting as much information as you can, and seeking as much insight, guidance and mentoring is a must. Yes, indeed our parents and grandparents got
married and may not have had to do much planning; however, in most cases our parents married from the same families or from the same small town they lived in.
Today we have people marrying from halfway across the world and we live in a completely different society than our dear parents did. We have the influences of a much more open society that includes TV, internet, education, work, etc. and are therefore exposed to many more factors that shape our backgrounds, personalities, and values. As such, there needs to be a process that enables one to evaluate the compatibility of the other spouse objectively and within Islamic guidelines, before the marriage is effected.
After all, we are talking about choosing the person that you will spend the rest of your life and perhaps your hereafter with; the person you will wake up next to everyday, the person you will give your love, time and energy to, the one that will be a parent to your children insha Allah (God willing), and the person who can be your key to jannah (paradise).
There is so much that rests upon this one decision, yet most people conclude within a relatively short time that they really know the other person and consequently they shut their investigative eyes. There is a world of difference between feeling you know someone and truly knowing that person. Not many people know what warning signs to look out for or what the predictors of a successful marriage are. They may not know what questions to ask potential spouses, when to ask them and how else one can evaluate compatibility, all within an Islamic framework.
Ultimately, this is not merely a matter of ensuring a happy marriage between two people ”“ this is a matter of the ummah (wider Muslim community). A happy couple makes a happy and strong family and therefore a successful and strong ummah and a better world insha Allah. The family is indeed the core of society and so selecting the most suitable spouse is indeed a decision of paramount importance. This is why it's important to have a process in mind to follow, and this process includes the following steps:
1. Develop foundation
2. Decide on your desired characteristics in a spouse
3. Consider a potential spouse
4. Istikhara (The guidance prayer)/ istishara (consultation)
5. Parents' approval
To expand on the last point, it is most important that the brother or sister getting married is confident they have chosen a spouse that fits with their background, personality and values; however, it should be a decision that the family comes to together.
In conclusion, in hopes of building a stronger ummah and a better world, one happy couple at a time, I have put together an online course for Muslim sisters on how to choose a suitable husband, a husband that will take them by the hand to jannah insha Allah. The course is based on Islamic guidance from the Quran and Sunnah and a practical, easy-to-understand and comprehensive road map developed by experts in the field of selecting a spouse that will lead to a happy and successful marriage insha Allah.
Raghad Ebied is a professional trainer, facilitator and coach. For more information, visit www.findingloveandmercy.com.
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