Does Knowing a Potential Spouse’s Past Matter?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Does knowing a potential spouse’s past matter when for the purpose of marriage?

Is it unrealistic to try to find a man who is as pious as myself?

Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. I pray you’re well.

A potential spouse’s past is not important, and one should not ask or answer questions regarding past sins of any kind.

It is not unrealistic to find a pious and chaste spouse if one looks for the right things when seeking a marriage partner.

Asking about Another’s Past

The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Modesty is a part of faith.’ [Sahih Muslim]

It is a grave mistake for brothers or sisters to ask a potential spouse about their past sins, particularly relationships. Not only is it a sin, but it also puts the other person in a situation where they may sin by speaking.

Furthermore, if the two people do not pursue the marriage interest, all they have gained from each other is knowledge of the other’s sin, while if they marry, the knowledge they have of past relationships wreaks havoc, engenders mistrust and jealousy, and eats away at the marriage from the onset. Given all this, one may ask, what is the benefit in asking the question in the first place?! The gain is nothing, while the damage is plenty.

Unfortunately, it seems many prospective husbands feel it is okay to talk about their past sins and, quite often, how they have abandoned the life of sin for the ‘holy’ life, perhaps believing it enhances their profile, adding an ‘edge’ and distinction to them! The sad thing is that if the prospective wife did the same, there is no merit afforded to her for turning her life around, just moral judgement and disdain.

The truth is, any person with genuine modesty and piety would not expose themselves out of sheer fear, regret, and embarrassment, let alone ask another person such a question directly.

The Sahaba used to weep and be heart-broken if they recollected their past mistakes, and that was for acts before Islam. There is a lesson in this.

The issue is with the men who are asking, not you. Don’t take the attitude of people, even if many, as a reason to doubt yourself or what is right. Similarly, even if other sisters feel it is okay to ask or know about these things, stay firm on what is proper and pleasing to God, and this way you will have kept your dignity.

You may find the following answers helpful also:

Informing a Prospective Spouse About Past Non-Marital Relationships

Finding a Pious Spouse

The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘A strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, though there is good in both’. [Sahih Muslim]

People are at different levels of faith and practice. Seek out a spouse who shows the hallmarks of genuine piety and modesty, not only in their worship, but in their everyday dealings, speech, and general nature and habits.

There are plenty of brothers and sisters like this. If one is sincere that they desire a spouse for the sake of Allah, and look for the right things in a spouse, insha’Allah Allah will send them the right person if it was meant to be.

Get your parents, family, local Imam and others to ask around. It is your right to ask about a potential spouse’s family and upbringing, and general conduct and religious practice.

Please also refer to the following:

Finding A Spouse Archives

Supplication for a Spouse

May Allah grant you every good wish.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.