How Can I Determine How Religious My Future Spouse Should Be?
Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
I wanted to ask about choosing a future spouse. We know that his religiosity is the most important thing, but how religious should they be? How do I define how religious I am? How do I determine how religious he is if I don’t know him? Everyone has faults, so what aspects of their religion should we look at?
For example, if I put the condition that he shouldn’t listen to music, it’s hard to find a Muslim that doesn’t listen to music. Most of them know it is haram, but they still do it. So what things should I overlook, and what should I be firm on when assessing his religiosity or character?
Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for contemplating this issue and seeking the best for your worldly and other-worldly affairs.
The Prophet’s Advice
First and foremost, heed the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), who said, “A woman is married for four things: for her wealth, for her lineage, for her beauty or her piety. Select the pious; may you be blessed!” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Imam Munawi mentions in his commentary that “If a woman is married for these reasons, the real aim is to marry her for religion. So select the pious woman, approach her, and don’t look at anything else, or your hands will be impoverished and covered in dust from poverty.” [Sharh al-Jami’ al-Saghir]
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), also told us, “When someone whose religion and character you are pleased with proposes to (the charge) of one of you, then marry to him. If you do not do so, then there will be turmoil (fitnah) in the land and abounding corruption (fasad).” [Tirmidhi]
Imam Munawi mentions in his hadith commentary that “Good character means that his character should be as good as the character of girl that he is proposing to; this is because a man who is not upright is not compatible with a chaste and pure girl.” [Fayd al-Qadir]
Although it can be confusing to figure out the criterion for a husband, the best thing is for you to find someone who has the same standards as you. If you don’t listen to music, seek someone who doesn’t. If gaining knowledge is a priority, seek someone who feels the same. If you don’t want to buy a house on a mortgage, seek someone who doesn’t either. Don’t compromise on the halal and haram, but don’t get on a high horse and say no to every decent proposal. Istikhara is your key.
Generally speaking, I haven’t met a couple that is exactly the same in terms of religiosity. One spouse usually slightly differs from the other spouse. However, when both agree on the basics, which form the foundation for their understanding, their decisions, and their priorities, those slight differences don’t really matter. Compassion and mercy usually take care of the rest and solve those differences. By the grace of Allah, and with istikhara, and with your sincere intention, I feel certain that you will find the right man for you.
I encourage you to make this dua from the Quran, “˹They are˺ those who pray, ‘Our Lord! Bless us with [pious] spouses and offspring who will be the joy of our hearts, and make us models for the righteous.’” [Quran, 25:74]
وَالَّذينَ يَقولونَ رَبَّنا هَب لَنا مِن أَزواجِنا وَذُرِّيّاتِنا قُرَّةَ أَعيُنٍ وَاجعَلنا لِلمُتَّقينَ إِمامًا.
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 aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.