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Following are the remaining barriers erected by youth in their way of getting married:

Age of the Life Partners

Another idea picked up from Western influences is that both spouses must be very close in their ages. Age differences are thought to be inimical to a happy marriage. Does closeness in age create better harmony and happiness in married life? In fact, it does not. Harmony and happiness is a frame of mind and matter of attitude. If the spouses have the right attitude and the right emotions, age difference is not a factor at all. Some of the most successful and happy marriages are where spouses have a big difference in age. It is observed in the contemporary society in both east and west. But the greatest model is the example of our Prophet. His first and dearest wife was Khadeejah who was 15 years his senior. Both had exemplary and intense love and respect for each other. Then, love between him and ‘Aaishah was also intense and exemplary despite her being extremely young compared to him. Those who believe in the wisdom of the Prophet can never hold age as a criterion for the harmony and happiness in marriage.

Level of Secular Education

Those Young Muslims who have attained University education or professional credentials usually erect another barrier around them by insisting that their spouse must also be university educated or professional. How much does the education of spouses contribute to the health of marriage? It all depends on how you define education. If it is professional or vocational education for earning Halaal income by men, it is an acceptable criterion. If education means learning of social skills such as decency, broadmindedness, flexibility, knowledge and clear understanding of what kind of life a Muslim should live and how to run household affairs in a happy manner, such education is critical and must be a criterion for selection. If education means just the subjects of arts and sciences that do not teach the aforementioned skills, it is absolutely useless from the harmony, happiness or health of the marriage point of view because the purpose of the marriage is not to discuss and solve medical, legal, philosophical, mathematical or scientific problems and issues. It will be interesting to find out, from those who make this a requirement, if they ever feel like talking about at home with their spouses what they have been talking about all day at work. Or if they frequently strengthen their marital relations by discussing physics, chemistry, math, etc. If that does not happen, why to insist on marrying someone with similar qualifications?

Some people consider education as a proxy for intelligence. They think that a highly educated person must be intelligent and an intelligent person would be easy to relate to, develop an understanding with and have fun with. It is also assumed that an educated person would also have refined thoughts and tastes. Those who assume that all kind of university education brings these benefits are in for a big shock. Many ‘educated’ people have been found lacking common sense and basic listening or human relations skills and have proven to be the most difficult people to develop a common, workable understanding with. Often they fail to understand even the basic Islamic tenets and principles. From marital point of view, what helps is not any education or any intelligence or ‘braininess’; otherwise the incidence of marital problems or divorce rate among the ‘educated’ would have been minimal, which, in fact, tends to be higher. The intelligence and common sense that matters is the social and listening skills aided with an attitude of understanding, accepting and adjusting to meet the needs of the marriage partner and demands of the Islamic objectives of marriage. The only reliable way of finding out if a person has that kind of common sense or intelligence that I have discovered is to see how clear and deep an understanding a person has about the Deen and Islamic living in general. If the person’s lifestyle and comments on religious topics portray proper understanding of faith, philosophy and spirit of Islamic teachings, then the person is intelligent and will be a great life partner, even if the person does not have much of the secular education. On the other hand, if the person is devoid of commitment to Islam or is just a close-minded, ritualistic or blind follower of religion, intelligence is lacking even if the person is the highest scorer in PhD. Spending a lifetime with that person will be a challenge.


Because the purpose of life in Western paradigm is maximizing the instant pleasure through hobbies, sports and fun, they want to spend their time with someone who has similar tastes, preferences, interests and hobbies. Hence, we see great emphasis being placed on commonality of such interest such as music, sports and hobbies. When people worry about the
compatibility of personal interests before marriage, they soon become disillusioned after marriage to each other because no two human beings are exactly the same. Young Muslims have also started putting more emphasis on such things than it deserves. Hence, it also becomes a barrier in getting married. Many engagements are being broken or marriages being called off because of such emphasis on personal preferences. When the engaged young Muslims start chatting and conversing on the phone and internet, the differences emerge which are taken as incompatibilities and marriage is called off.

Islam wants people to enter into marital relationship with an open mind and a flexible attitude to create a happy and loving environment for each other, accommodating each other’s needs to one’s best with the common goal of fulfilling the Islamic objective of marriage. With Islamic objectives being the number one priority in married life, both spouses are to try their best to adjust their lifestyle so that the common Islamic objectives are easily achieved and affection and kindness to each other is maximized. This Islamic attitude cements the spousal relationship stronger with the passage of time as compared to Western way of thinking where mostly difference and disillusionment is increased with the passage of time.

Hence, compatibility among the preferences and interests of the spouses, as understood in the West, is not a key to the happiness and success of a marriage as much as compatibility in the Islamic view of marriage and its objectives is. When people come into relationship with the same Islamic objective, each with a willingness to adjust for the achievement of those objectives together, and to give each other their best, the marriage brings nothing but happiness. As long as both of them are compatible in their religious views and paradigm, share their commitment to Islamic objectives and sincerely come into the relationship with a mindset of giving love and kindness to the other, everything will fall in place. They will have a tremendously happy and loving life together.

So what to do?
One might say, as most of the young Muslims nowadays say, why not marry someone who has Deen as well as beauty, education, same age range, etc.? That would be great! But unfortunately, that is tantamount to asking for perfection and perfection does not exist. Most of the people are good in one or two things but not all and the fact is that most of the people are average on the whole. Unfortunately, most young Muslims I have talked to are asking for too much. They are looking for almost-perfection. They want almost all of the above in their spouse, although they themselves are deficient in some of these criteria. Hardly anyone realizes that they cannot have a spouse that is better than themselves as a whole because the other one is also looking for someone better. If young Muslims take a realistic look at themselves and desire only someone comparable to them, many problems will be solved.

Those young Muslims who cannot be happy with what can be available to them from their community and think that they deserve the best in the society will find themselves lonely for a long time. Finding a person whose two or more strengths match with your requirements while at the same time your two or more strengths match with that person’s requirements becomes an impossible task. To make the matching possible, candidates for marriage have to choose one key quality from the list of the requirements that they want to see in their ideal spouse and seek a match on the basis of that key criterion, while compromising on the rest of the attributes or requirements.

So which is the attribute or quality that one should select to be the key quality for seeking a match and on which others one should compromise? Those who value Islam and want to get married will go for the personal decency of the person (which is, in fact, excellence of one’s Deen and faith). If a person being proposed for them has that quality, they will say yes to the person of average/reasonable looks. Those who insist on criteria other than or in addition to this one quality are neither sincere to their faith nor to Islamic values. They will keep waiting for a perfect person to appear until they learn to compromise somewhere. Perhaps they should send a custom order to Allaah SWT, and in the meantime, while that ideal person is created for them to their custom order, they would have to keep risking their eternal Aakhirah for temporary pleasures of this world they are so badly longing to attain.

Giving importance only to the Deen and making compromises on other criteria for selection of a marriage partner was emphasized by the Qur-aan:

“And whoever among you cannot afford the means to wed free believing women, then (they should wed) believing girls from those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. And Allaah is most knowing of your faith. You (believers) are one from another.” An-Nisaa 4:25

"A Zaani (fornicator) is to marry only a Zaaniyah or Mushrikah; and a Zaaniyah is to marry only a Zaani or Mushrik. Such marriages are forbidden to the believers." (An-Noor 24:3)

"Evil women are for evil men and evil men are for evil women. Women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity." (An-Noor 24:26)

"And the chaste Muslim women and chaste women from those who were given book before you, only when you have paid them their Mahr as protectors in wedlock, not engaging in licentiousness or secret friendships." (Al-Maaidah 5:5)

"And do not marry Mushrikaat unless and until they become Muslim; a Muslim slave girl is better than a noble Mushrikah even if she is pleasing to you. And do not marry your women off to Mushriks unless and until they become Muslim; a Muslim slave is better than a Mushrik even if he is pleasing to you. They (non-Muslims) invite you to Fire, and Allaah invites you by His Grace to Jannah and Pardon. And He makes His revelations clear for people so that they learn and remember admonition." (Al-Baqarah 2:221)

Why Western ideals are creating bigger problems among Muslims than among non-Muslims

In a free market economy, the market determines the value of a commodity so that a commodity sells at a price that is closer to the value people perceive in that commodity. In the same manner, in a free mixing society, people soon find their realistic value others place on them. Hence, they get hooked up with whoever will accept them. When people move, socialize and interact among those within their reach and their social circle, they are attracted towards one another and start liking each other due to natural urges and attractions. Even those who do not find each other attractive at the first glance, start developing romantic attachment if they keep interacting in positive way. Hence, none of them keeps waiting for an ‘ideal’. Rather they are hooked to whoever is available. That is why we see many of them marrying spouses with huge age differences, different ethnic backgrounds, and disparate levels of educations, vocations and professions, etc. Although this culture of free mixing and laissez-faire sexual attitude works as a leveller for connecting people, it has its own deadly consequences and problems for the society and is extremely displeasing to Allaah SWT.

On the other hand, most of those young Muslims who are depending on their parents or elders to find their spouses, they maintain their egos and self worth at their own self-deceiving and inflated level, and hence they keep rejecting reasonable proposals thinking that they deserve the best and perfect ideal. Instead of accepting what is available to them, they keep hoping for the beauty models entrenched in their minds from the media, cultural ideals and the naked beauty they see around them.

The root of the problem is the mixing of paradigms and methodologies. If young Muslims value their faith and are committed to Islam, they must replace Western mindset about marriage with Islamic mindset and paradigm. Those who do so will indeed succeed both here and in the Hereafter.

(next -- conclusion of whom to marry)

Ayub Hamid





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