To What Extent Can Men Be Selective in Choosing a Spouse?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad


A girl can learn everything she needs to know about the man. If she chooses wealthy guys with high-paying jobs, she won’t be shamed, but it’ll be seen as normal. She can pick a husband between countless males.

On the other hand, guys can’t even see their fiancees without hijab, they can’t choose between someone who stays in shape and someone who doesn’t, as there is no way he can tell through her modest clothing. If he tries to find a wife to his liking, he’s shamed by scholars saying how the West has brainwashed men to like certain types of women. Yet a woman will be considered intelligent and careful when she’s picky. Isn’t it a bit unfair?


Thank you for your question. SubhanAllah, you bring up some good points, and may Allah reward you for asking about the truth of the matter.

The Standard of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made it very simple. He gave this golden advice, simplifying life for both suitor and prospective bride. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When someone whose religion and character you are pleased with proposes to (someone under the care) of one of you, then marry to him. If you do not do so, then there will be turmoil (fitnah) in the land and abundant discord (fasad).” [Tirmidhi]

And for seeking women, he said, (Allah bless him and give him peace), “A woman is married for four things: for her wealth, for her lineage, for her beauty or her piety. Select the pious, or your hands will be covered in dust!” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Shaming for Wanting Beauty

You are correct that it is totally wrong to shame a man who knows what he wants. He should seek exactly what he wants and should not give a thought to what others say. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When one of you intends proposing marriage to a woman; if he is able to look at that which will induce him to marry her, he should do so.” [Abu Dawud]

That being said, you should never choose a woman for looks if you are compromising on how religious she is, as, with time, one will deteriorate while the other only gets more refined. The best answer that I can give you regarding the beauty of a bride is here:

Considering beauty in a prospective bride
Can I Look at the Hair of a Woman before Deciding to Marry Her?
Can a Man Look at the Body of His Potential Spouse?

Physical Health

The great Hadith and Shafi’i Fiqh scholar, Imam al-Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“…In the Hadith (of Abu Hurayra mentioned first) there is a recommendation of looking at the face of the woman one is intending to marry. This is the opinion of our (Shafi’i) School, the School of Malik, Abu Hanifa, all the scholars of Kufa, Ahmad and the majority of the Ulama. Qadhi (Iyadh) has narrated from a group (of scholars) that it is disliked, but that is incorrect and contrary to the clear text of this Hadith and contrary to the consensus (ijma’) of the Ummah…

Then, it is permitted for him to look at her palms and face only, for they are not considered to be part of the nakedness (awra), and also because by looking at the face, one is able to determine her beauty or otherwise and by looking at her hands one is able to determine the chubbiness of the body or otherwise. This is the opinion of our School and the view of most others.” (al-Minhaj Sharh Sahih Muslim, p. 1068)

I came across some research that talks about a person’s body fat percentage showing on one’s hands; look that up as it can be quite useful! Otherwise, you can be straightforward and just ask her how important exercise is to her and what her workout theories are. Does she believe in cardio only, weight lifting only, or both? Does she like sports? How often does she work out, and what part does it play in her life?


My advice to you is to pray istikhara when you see a suitable girl, make a pure intention, ignore the commentary of those around you, and choose her for religion first. Prepare for marriage well, and seek to emulate the marriages of pious people who feared Allah and knew that marriage is a means of worship – the point of our whole existence.

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.