If you are looking for the perfect Muslim man who is the embodiment of prophetic character and constitution in every possible way, then you will never find that person, and if you did, it is unlikely that you will be the perfect paragon of virtue to match him. I mean, anything is possible, but being human and all, it is likely that you, as well as your spouse or potential spouse will have human qualities. However, there is such a thing as an ideal spouse that fits and compliments you.
Every Muslim woman who seeks marriage in Islam should be aware that you are seeking a person to not only be a husband, friend, lover, life-partner, and all those good things; but you are seeking someone to be the imam of your home and family. Of course you want him to be a kind, generous, patient, good-natured, healthy, attractive (to you), and a god –fearing , virtuous husband who is reasonable. Nevertheless, as a woman, you need to be clear about what you really want and seek in a marriage. The imam part is important because any man who is worth his salt as a Muslim man, realizes that in addition to being other things, he must be the Imam of his home. That is not his choice, that is an obligation, a contract between him and his Lord.
Many sisters say they want one thing but when they get it, it turns out that it’s not what they really want. Don’t say you want a strong man, and then resent his strength when he tries to lead, or his firmness in some things, or say you want a knowledgeable man, and want him to disregard his knowledge and follow your or someone else’s whim, and don’t say you want a god-fearing, pious man, and then oppose him when he wants to direct his family to piety.
If a woman wants a man who has these good and godly qualities then she should seek that type of man, and not be overtaken by his looks, his swagger, his car, his walk or his talk. If a woman seeks a husband who does not have the qualities of a good man, then she will likely get a joker. The first thing to check about a potential Muslim spouse is his salat, and if you check his, make sure that you check yours too. Keep in mind that all the beautiful qualities that you want in a husband, you should make sure that comparable qualities exist in your own self. Realistically people are human, are fallible, and no one is perfect, and you are much more likely to find a husband and a lasting marriage by seeking a good man, than a perfect man.
If you are a Muslim woman who does not particularly want to be married to a religious man, or a man who prays, or enjoins you to pray, pays zakaat, fasts and enjoins you to fast, and observes a healthy (non-extremist) Islamic lifestyle, then that is your choice, and you should be honest with yourself about that. He can still be a decent person and not be that much into practicing his Islam.
This is not about blaming this or that person for how they want to live and what they consider important. Islam is a path, not a destination and people struggle with all aspects of their faith from time to time, that is life.
Nevertheless, lets keep it real sisters, if you are not really trying to live the Islamic lifestyle as a wife and a woman, then don’t waste the time of a brother who is looking for that type of lifestyle. You need to be clear with yourself about that, and he needs to be clear with you about that. Likewise, if you as a Muslim woman, know that you want to life a serious and sober Islamic lifestyle, and raise your children accordingly, then don’t be beguiled by a brother who is handsome, talks a good game, drives a nice car, wears designer clothes, but lacks the substance that you are seeking. A woman can help a man evolve and grow, and vice versa, but people can’t change people.
Every woman should have a general idea about how she wants to get pattern her home life, what she’s willing, or not willing to do, and how where she is in her deen, and Allah is the best judge. However, for the new and not so new Muslim woman who wishes to be married and live an Islamic lifestyle here in the United States to the best of their ability, it is important to seek and marry the kind of men who can and will support that type of life. With that in mind, here are some things that you should look for in a real Muslim man. These qualities will not make a perfect man, for such a thing is a fantasy. However, if a brother has these qualities, and you have problems in your marriage as many of us do, a man with the qualities mentioned below, gives you a lot to work with. Just keep in mind, your marriage is not entirely built upon the man and what he does and who he is, it is equally dependent on who, who you are and what you do. Marriage is a two-way street. So each trait that you look for in a husband, you must ask yourself, do you have similar complimentary traits? Similarly, each question you ask about his past and upbringing, be prepared to answer similar questions about yourself. Wallahul Musta’aan.
- You have to know something about his background, his family, his upbringing, his history. Family background is important. You want to know what kind of family he came from, whether or not he was raised by both parents, came from a single parent household, or reared in a foster home. Some of our men who are converts come from broken families, from prison and criminal backgrounds and from the thug, gang, culture of the inner city streets. Of course that is not true for all; nevertheless, is true for many, and we are seeing the results of it in our communities. Thus, in these cases, the question is how much of the previous jaahiliyyah lifestyle has been discarded and replaced by Islamic thinking, Islamic habits, and Islamic traits? If he is a Muslim, but still likes to run the streets, hang out on corners, go to the clubs, sling dope, smoke weed, or run game, then he hasn’t yet crossed over to an Islamic way of life. People can, and will change, and change takes time; however, these days, people are not changing. They are falling to the wayside of Islam in very high numbers
- Does he pray or even know how to pray? If a brother does not know how to pray, then he should be actively learning his salat, and have a salat book in his pocket, or his backpack. He should be up in the Masjid, praying behind someone who knows how to pray. Salat is not an option. If he doesn’t know how to pray, and is not actively learning how to pray, then he is a joker as far as Islam is concerned; he does not take his Islam seriously, and neither should you. The hardest salat upon the hypocrite is the Fajr and Isha prayers. The prophet (SAWS) said: “if people knew what was in the Isha and Fajr (prayers in congregation), they would attend them even if they had to crawl.”[i] If a brother cannot get out of bed for Fajr, or cannot put down the remote control for Isha, then it is likely that he will not establish prayer in the home.
- Does he know about purification? Does he know how and when to perform a ghusl, the proper manner of wudu, and the performance of istin’jaa? If he does not know the above, then his whole worship apparatus is in disarray, and dysfunctional, not withstanding that he is probably in a perpetual state of impurity. The Prophet (SAWS) said, “Purification is half of faith”. Thus if he doesn’t understand and practice purity, he is bereft of half of his eemaan. On the other hand, if he is attentive with regards to purification, then he is more likely to be dutiful with respect to salat. It goes without saying that if he is steadfast and attentive to salat, then he will be the same in other areas of his deen.
- Is he employed? Does he have halal income? If he is a street hustler, most of the time, his income is from haram sources and in our experience, street hustler dudes, rarely takes care of their families. However, all street hustles are no haram and all street hustlers do not neglect their families, keep that in mind also. You just have to ask the right questions and look into it to the degree it matters to you.
- If he is employed, does he pay zakaat, or take care of his children if he has any? If he is employed, does he make sacrifices for the sake of his job and career, at the expense of his religion? Does he integrate the salat into his work schedule, does he attend Jum’ah. If he sacrifices his religion to earn a living then it is likely that you will get a man who brings home the money, but won’t be an Imam in his home, won’t raise the children as Muslims, and will be less inclined to uphold islamic moral values while he is at work, or at home. There is such a thing as balance; however balance in in following religion and using the latitude that it affords.
- Does he play hooky from Ramadan? If he plays hooky from Ramadan, then he is a joker. He does not take his Islam seriously. Where is this brother during the month of Ramadan? Is he around the Muslims, is he near the Masjid, is he at the iftaar (breakfast), is he in the salat line during any of the taraaweeh? Or is he one of those brothers who calls the Masjid three weeks into Ramadan and asks; ‘when does Ramadan start’? Where is he at Fajr time? Is he sleeping, or is he busy with suhoor and salat. These are the things you need to look at in choosing a good Muslim man. The observance of Ramadan is one of the things that separates the men from the boys as far as deen is concerned. Pay attention to how he handles Ramadan and it will give you a glimpse into what he’s made of.
- Does he take care of himself? Does he have his own place, have his own bills, have his own car, buy his own food, buy his own clothes, pay for his own bus pass? It’s okay if he takes care of himself but is struggling because times are hard these days, but sisters need to understand that taking care of yourself is a certain mindset that a man has, and trying to live off of mommy, baby momma, or your girlfriend is a totally different mindset; it’s the mindset of a boy, pretending to be a man.
- Who are his friends? Are they practicing Muslims? The Prophet (SAWS) said: “A person is upon the religion of his close friend (khalil)”. If his friends are trifling, know nothing, do nothing dudes, then your guy is bound to be like them. If he is still rolling with the non-Muslim, then rest assured, he probably still thinks like one. If he’s rollin with the boys and not the men, then he’s probably still a boy. grown men don’t roll behind little boys.
- Does he have an Imam, or a sheikh from whom he takes instruction? Or is he a floater? If he has no Imam, then his imam is probably Shaitaan. If he is not linked to leadership, or scholarship, (and I’m not talking about the internet), then he is likely going around in circles as far as his deen is concerned, and he will lead you around in circles. This is not true in every case, but it’s very likely.
- What is the relationship with his mother? If he doesn’t honor and respect his mother, then there is hardly any chance that he will honor and respect you as his wife. If he disrespects his mother, then he is already engaged in major sin from the very beginning. You should also talk to his mother. Mothers know their sons, if the mother says he is no good, then she’s probably right.
- Does he attend Jum’ah prayer or does he make invalid excuses? If a brother is missing Jum’ah without a valid excuse, more than 3 times in a row, then he already has a seal on his heart. Abu Ja’d al-Dhamri (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever misses three Jumu’ah prayers by taking the matter lightly, Allah will seal his heart.”[ii]
These are just a few things that our women must consider in choosing a mate. If you are already married, then you should encourage your husband to adopt some of these traits and don’t make excuses for him or just be another mommy for him. Sisters, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage, and there are no perfect men, just like there are no perfect women. However there is such a thing as good and bad qualities in a man, as well as a woman. Try to choose someone in whom the good qualities outweigh the bad. And Allah knows best. Wa bihi tawfeeq. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad.
Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Imam at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Ohio. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the author of the book, “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a critical look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism, and the author of the new e-book, “Killing Marriage in Black Muslim America“, a brief look at the marriage dilemma among Black American Muslims and converts to Islam.
He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Related by Bukhaari