Marriage is highly respected in Islam and can be looked upon as a form of worship.
Indeed, brothers and sisters can complete half their faith through marriage, and marriage itself brings many benefits. Young men are encouraged to marry as soon as they are in a position where they can support a wife, and parents of young women are encouraged to allow them to marry as soon as a proposal is made by a suitable man. The Prophet (ṣall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,
“Young men, those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it keeps you from looking at women and preserves your chastity.” [Bukhari]
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taala سبحانه و تعالى) has given men and women sexual urges. Such feelings are recognised in Islam and are channelled through the institution of marriage. Indeed, procreation within marriage is considered a good deed, worthy of reward. However, sex outside marriage is strictly forbidden.
A Wali is a guardian, usually the closest male relative to a woman (a father, or in his absence, an uncle or brother), who will advise, support and protect her in her search for a marriage partner. A Walishould have a firm understanding of marriage and the importance of compatibility, and must be able act responsibly and give sound advice.
Men do not need a Wali as the Wali’s main role is to protect his guard from enquiries from men who may be unsuitable or whose intentions may not be pure. In this way, enquiries from males are first screened by the Wali, who is able to advise the woman according to his wealth of experience, although she retains the right to make the final decision.
Finding a marriage partner is a huge step – you are looking for a life-long companion, so no decision can be taken lightly. Traditionally, the family was responsible for searching for a suitable partner for the son or daughter and women often played a passive role, although, thanks to the Prophet (ṣall Allahuʿalayhi wa sallam صلى الله عليه وسلم), a girl has the right to express her views on a prospective partner:
"The permission of the virgin is to be sought. And if she does not object, her silence is her permission." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others]
Modern life is quite different; Muslim girls now meet boys at school or at Islamic groups, and communities are no longer static as young people often move away to university or in search of work. This has led to the proliferation of more modern ways of finding a partner.
The most common way of finding a partner is still through ones parents. Give your parents as much information as possible on what you are looking for in a spouse and encourage them to ask friends, family and acquaintances in the Muslim community if they know of a potential partner who is looking to marry. If you have a good relationship with your parents, they can be guided by you and you can have the final say.
Community leaders, such as the Imam or a scholar, will know of other brothers and sisters in the community who are looking for a partner.
Friends can also be of help in your search. Your friends’ spouses may have friends or relatives who are looking to marry. However, make sure that you choose a trusted friend, who will have an idea of what you seek in a companion, and ensure that you involve the Wali as soon as you find someone with potential.
These days, brothers and sisters mix at college, work and at community groups. If you know somebody who you think could be a potential partner, arrange for them to meet your Wali so that the matter of marriage can be discussed. Meeting a partner in this way is allowed; however, both parties shouldbehave modestly.
There are many matrimonial agencies that claim they will find your “perfect match”. Ensure that you research any agency thoroughly before signing up. Find out about their reputation, how contact is made by potential suitors, and what it costs? Whereas some agencies undoubtedly provide a successful service, others are unmonitored and do not respect your privacy; they may give out personal phone numbers so that you are inundated with calls from unsuitable men or women.
The use of matrimonial websites is becoming more and more popular. To many young Muslims, it’s the “new” way. However, it is important to choose a website that has sound Islamic principles at its heart in order to ensure that your search for a marriage partner is halaal.
Before registering, make sure that you read the website thoroughly; a good matrimonial site will publish a code of conduct, confidentiality and privacy statements, which will be easy to find, and the site will be closely monitored, so that any user that abuses the service can be removed from it. The best sites will encourage you to create a username that is different from your own name and will warn you about giving out personal information until you are sure about the person you are in contact with.
Some websites have a live chat facility. Use this rather than other channels such as MSN as it will be monitored and therefore safer. Check out the website’s success rate; the best sites will publish success stories. Read them and get a feel for the type of people who use the service.
When they find somebody who could be a potential match, sisters should encourage them to contact their Wali, and brothers should ask to speak with the Wali. The first meeting should be made with theWali present, although it is permitted for you to meet without a Wali if it is in a public place and the rules of modesty are followed.
“Put your trust in Allah, for Allah loves those who put their trust in Him.” [Qur’an 3:159]