Qualities to look for in a spouse: Choose the Deen (Religion).

When the topic of marriage comes up the overwhelming advice Muslims will give is choose someone with deen. Deen being the Arabic word for religion. This advice stems from the advice of the prophet scw to his companions, a woman is chosen in marriage for many qualities, beauty, wealth, noble linage, and so forth, but the best is the woman with deen or religion. Religion as the prophet scw adviced here in my understanding encompasses much more than religious worship and extends to good character, kindness, humility, compassion, excellent morals, in short human decency.

Thus when people advice others go for someone with deen, I am assuming they mean qualities that are beyond for example someone who observes the 5 pillars of Islam, has a big beard, wears hijab/jilbab, frequents the mosque, or often utters phrases like MashaAllah, Alhamdullah, SubhanAllah, InshaAllah, Barakallahu fi, JazaKaAllah khair (all beautiful phrases by the way says *MashaAllah*)

It’s a tricky one though, because often times religious or a person with deen has become synonymous with personal worship at best, and other times with the outer exterior first and foremost. I’ll use myself as an example. I wear hijab. I have had several men express interest in marrying me, well of course I wondered about their immigration status having anything to do with their proposals, but that is another story. I am a very curious person and I don’t shy away from asking questions. So I asked them, why would you propose to me when you don’t even know me, apart from seeing me around at school. The answer was well I’d like to get to know you better, because you look like a nice religious girl. I thanked them, said I was not ready for marriage, and advised them to check out the local mosque. The moral of the story, religious or deen has become synonymous with the outer exterior or worship alone, and taking a backseat is human decency.

When I was younger I confused being “religious”, or someone that practices Islam with having good character, righteousness, being just, human decency, kindness, integrity, those beautiful qualities. The reason being I believed if someone was a God fearing Muslim then they would have those beautiful qualities that the faith champions. Thus being religious in my understanding was both in worship that is obeying the commandments like prayer, but also having a good heart. Therefore a religious person in my view feared God in how they dealt with others and because of that fear could never be unjust, or unkind, or cheat, manipulate, and so forth.

I no longer hold that belief, but I do see that confusion exists in many. Someone can be a practicing Muslim, and God fearing as in being a great worshiper-always at the mosque, doesn’t miss prayers, or wears a big beard, has hijab, but at the same time lack human decency, be unkind, unjust, in other words not have a good heart let alone be a good spouse.

There is a quote from Khaled Hosseini author of the Kite Runner which says, “And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.” In this case that is the thing with people that practice religion and have human decency, they think everyone that practices religion has human decency too.


2 Responses to Qualities to look for in a spouse: Choose the Deen (Religion).

  1. Chinyere says:

    I went back in the archives for this one, but two thumbs up! You have realized what it took me my whole life and several years of actually practicing to realize…sadly. You would hope a practicing Muslim would also have those good qualities we all deserve in a spouse, but the way I’m hearing it, more often than not, they don’t. The confusing between good outward Muslim and person with good character leads many a person to choose AnyMuslimUSA (or, International) as a spouse and think that everything will be okay. Muslims aren’t more perfect beings. We have the same vices and shortcomings as everyone else, and just as I wouldn’t just pick out someone based on their outward appearance and begin a short-course engagement with them, neither would I do that with a Muslim.

    • Guulo says:

      Haha. You make it sound like you’re old, I believe we are around the same age and we learn as we grow. I agree with you. I think we put so much emphasis on the outward, when the inward is really what establishes our conduct and conduct/manners is the essence of the Islamic path. It shows in how the message was delivered by the Prophet scw, in the early years, emphasis was on purifying the inward and being just to everyone/all creatures/environment etc. Not saying the inward and outward shouldn’t be in harmony.

      As for the last sentence in this post, the quote I noted. I wasn’t trying to imply I am perfect. I read that and had a cringe so I had to clarify. I just grew up with we are Muslims, ie we are respectful because we are Muslims, we are just and kind because we are Muslims, we don’t cheat etc because we are Muslims. This is perhaps what we were all told. I see it in my little cousins and other children, you can’t do that it’s wrong, ie referring to when someone takes their candy for example. The older I got, I soon learned Muslims aren’t saints and have faults like everyone else. Some even commit the worst type of crimes. This mentality for example I learned could be harmful in terms of victims getting justice, ie sexual abuse, it could be something hard to imagine for a practicing Muslim to do and I’ve seen people find it a conspiracy of sort.

      And the good we ascribe to being Muslim, which is what we should aspire to follow is also found in people outside our community as well.

      Sorry I got off track. This was about marriage and choosing a spouse. For that I follow my mother’s advice, you’ll know in your heart and be at peace with it.

      ps: Hope residency is going well and everything else InshaAllah. Salaamu alaikum.

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