The Ideal Wife
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) encouraged marrying women who are religiously committed, as he said: “Women may be married for four things: their wealth, their lineage, their beauty and their religious commitment. Choose the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may your prosper).” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5090; Muslim, 1466.
‘Abd al-‘Azeem Abaadi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: What this means is that a man who is religiously committed and of noble character should make religion his focus in all things, especially with regard to long-term matters. So the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined finding a wife who is religiously committed, which is the ultimate goal.
“may your hands be rubbed with dust” is urging him to strive hard and roll up his sleeves and seek that which is enjoined. ‘Awn al-Ma’bood (6/31).
With regard to the attributes of religiously committed women, we may list many attributes which apply to women who are described as religiously committed. These include:
1. Sound belief
This is the most important attribute. The woman who is from ahl al-sunnah wa’l-jamaa’ah will have achieved the highest and most precious characteristic of religiously-committed women, and the one who is a follower of bid’ah (innovation) and misguidance will not be one of the religiously committed women whom the Muslim is encouraged to marry, because of the bad effect that she will have on the husband or children, or on both.
2. Obedience to her husband, and not going against him if he enjoins something that is right
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: It was said to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): Which of women is best? He said: “The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, obeys him when he tells her to do something, and does not disobey him with regard to herself or her wealth in a way that he dislikes.”Narrated by al-Nasaa’i (3131); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.
So the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) mentioned together three important characteristics to be found in the good, righteous wife. They are:
(i) When he looks at her, he is happy with her religious commitment, attitude, behaviour and appearance.
(ii) When he is away from her, she protects his honour and his wealth.
(iii) If he tells her to do something, she obeys him, so long as he does not tell her to commit sin.
3. Helping her husband in his faith and religious commitment, telling him to do acts of obedience and stopping him from doing haraam things. It was narrated that Thawbaan said: When there was revealed about silver and gold what was revealed, they said: So what kind of wealth should we acquire? ‘Umar said: I will find out about that for you. So he mounted his camel and caught up with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and I was right behind him. He said: O Messenger of Allaah, what kind of wealth should we acquire? He said: “Let one of you acquire a thankful heart, a tongue that remembers Allaah and a believing wife who will help him with regard to the Hereafter.”
Narrated and classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi (3094). In another version it says: “who will help him with his faith.” Ibn Maajah (1856). Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
Al-Mubaarakfoori (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “A believing wife who will help him with his faith” means, with his religious commitment, by reminding him to pray, fast and do other acts of worship, and will keep him from committing zina and all other haraam deeds. Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi (8/390).
4. She should be a righteous woman, and among the attributes of the righteous woman is that she is obedient to her Lord and fulfils her husband’s rights with regard to his wealth and herself, even when her husband is absent. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allaah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allaah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity and their husband’s property)” [al-Nisa’ 4:34].
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient” means: obedient to Allaah, may He be exalted. “guard in the husband’s absence” means: they are obedient to their husbands and even in their absence they guard themselves and their husband’s wealth, seeking the help of Allaah in that, because no one can do that by himself or herself, for the self is inclined towards evil, but the one who puts his trust in Allaah, He will suffice him and help him in his religious and worldly affairs. Tafseer al-Sa’di (p. 177)
It was narrated that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are four things that are essential for happiness: a righteous wife, a spacious home, a good neighbour and a sound means of transportation. And there are four things that make one miserable: a bad neighbour, a bad wife, a small house and a bad means of transportation.” Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan in al-Saheehah (1232); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (282) and Saheeh al-Targheeb (1914).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: A righteous wife will be with her righteous husband for many years, and she is the one who is meant in the hadeeth in which the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “This world is temporary conveniences and the best of its comforts is a believing wife, who when you look at her she pleases you and if you tell her to do something she obeys you, and if you are away from her she protects you with regard to herself and your wealth.”
This is what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined when the Muhaajiroon asked him which kind of wealth they should acquire, and he said: “Let one of you acquire a tongue that remembers Allaah, a thankful heart, and a believing wife who will help him with regard to the Hereafter.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi from Saalim ibn Abi’l-Ja’d, from Thawbaan.
She may offer the love and compassion that Allaah speaks of in His Book, and the pain of separation may be harder for her than death in some cases, and harder than losing wealth or leaving one’s homeland, especially if one of them is fond of the other or they have children together who will be harmed by separation. Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (35/299).
5. Good etiquette and knowledge
It was narrated that Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are three who will be given a double reward: a man from among the people of the Book who believed in his Prophet, then lived to see the Prophet (S) and followed him and believed in him– he will have a double reward; and a slave who fulfils his duty towards Allaah and towards his master – he will have a double reward; and a man who had a slave woman whom he fed and fed her well, and taught her and taught her well, then he set her free and married her – he will have a double reward.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (97) and Muslim (154).
Al-Mubaarakfoori (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“and taught her” means he taught her good manners.
“and taught her well” means teaching in a kind manner.
Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi (4/218).
6. Doing acts of worship and obedience, and refraining from haraam things.
This is part of what being religiously committed means, that is mentioned in the saheeh hadeeth that we quoted at the beginning of our answer.
Al-Khateeb al-Sharbeeni al-Shaafa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: What is meant by religious commitment is acts of obedience and worship, and righteous deeds, and refraining from haraam things. Mughni al-Muhtaaj (3/127).
The one who combines obedience to her Lord, doing the obligatory duties that are enjoined upon her, and avoiding the haraam things that she is forbidden to do, with obedience to her husband, has glad tidings from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that she will be highly honoured when she enters Paradise.
According to the hadeeth: “If a woman prays her five (daily prayers), fasts her month (Ramadaan), guards her chastity and obeys her husband, it will be said to her: Enter Paradise by whichever of the gates of Paradise you wish.” Narrated by Ahmad (1664) and others; classed as hasan by al-Albaani because of another report in Saheeh al-Targheeb, as stated by al-Arna’oot in Takhreej al-Musnad.
7. ]She is a devout worshipper and one who fasts. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “It may be if he divorced you (all) that his Lord will give him instead of you, wives better than you __ Muslims (who submit to Allaah), believers, obedient (to Allaah), turning to Allaah in repentance, worshipping Allaah sincerely, given to fasting or emigrants (for Allaah’s sake), previously married and virgins”[al-Tahreem 66:5]
al-Baghawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “will give him instead of you, wives better than you Muslims” means who submit to Allaah and obey Him.
“believers” who believe in the Oneness of Allaah (Tawheed).
“obedient (to Allaah)” means obedient, or it was said: who offer supplication (du’aa’), or who pray.
“given to fasting or emigrants” those who fast often, or Zayd ibn Aslam said: women who migrated (for the sake of Allaah), or it was said, who go with him wherever he goes.
Tafseer al-Baghawi (8/168).
Thus it is known that “religious commitment” (deen) is a comprehensive word that includes different kinds of worship, obedience, characteristics and attitudes. It is essential to note that that which we have said of these qualities and deeds is not the same with all women, rather there are different degrees thereof, and that is well known. The more modest, knowledgeable and devoted to worship a woman is, the more desirable she is as a wife.
Whatever the case, the woman who is religiously committed is the one who will help a man to protect his own religious commitment, and help him with regard to his Hereafter; she will make him happy when he looks at her and she will protect him when he is absent, and she will raise his children well.
And Allaah knows best. [Islam Q&A]
The Ideal Husband
Religious commitment. This is the most important thing to look for in the man you want to marry. The husband should be a Muslim who adheres to all the laws and teachings of Islam in his daily life. The woman’s guardian (wali) should strive to check out this matter and not rely only on outward appearances. One of the most important things to ask about is the man’s prayer (salaah); the one who neglects the rights of Allaah is more likely to neglect the rights of others. The true believer does not oppress or mistreat his wife; if he loves her, he honours her, and if he does not love her, he does not mistreat or humiliate her. It is very rare to find this attitude among those who are not sincere Muslims. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings):
“and verily, a believing slave is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolater), even though he pleases you” [al-Baqarah 2:221]
“Verily, the most honourable of you with Allaah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwaa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqoon (the pious)]” [al-Hujuraat 49:13]
“Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men) and good people for good statements (or good men for good women)” [al-Noor 24:26]
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If there comes to you one whose religious commitment and attitude pleases you, then marry [your female relative who is under your care] to him, for if you do not do that, there will be tribulation on earth and much corruption.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 1084).
As well as being religiously committed, it is preferable that he should come from a good family and a known lineage. If two men come to propose marriage to one woman, and they are equal in terms of religious commitment, then preference should be given to the one who comes from a good family that is known for its adherence to the commands of Allaah, so long as the other person is not better than him in terms of religious commitment – because the righteousness of the husband’s close relatives could be passed on to his children and his good origins and lineage may make him refrain from many foolish and cheap actions. The righteousness of the father and grandfather are beneficial to the children and grandchildren. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord” [al-Kahf 18:82].
See how Allaah protected their father’s wealth for the two boys after the father died, as an honour to him because of his righteousness and taqwaa. By the same token, if the husband comes from a righteous family and his parents are good, Allaah will make things easy for him and protect him as an honour to his parents.
It is good if he has sufficient wealth to keep him and his family from having to ask people for anything, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Faatimah bint Qays (may Allaah be pleased with her), when she came to consult him about three men who had proposed marriage to her, “As for Mu’aawiyah, he is a poor man who has no wealth…” (Narrated by Muslim, 1480). It is not essential that he should be a businessman or rich, it is sufficient for him to have an income that will keep him and his family from having to ask people for anything. If there is a choice between a man who is religiously committed and a man who is wealthy, then the religious man should be given preference over the wealthy man.
It is preferable that he should be kind and gentle towards women, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Faatimah bint Qays, in the hadeeth quoted above, “As for Abu Jaham, his stick never leaves his shoulder”, referring to the fact that he used to beat women a lot.
It is good if he is sound of body and healthy, free of faults, sickness, etc., and not disabled or sterile.
It is preferable that he should have knowledge of the Qur’aan and Sunnah; if you find someone like this it is good, otherwise you should realize that this is something rare.
It is permissible for the woman to look at the man who comes to propose marriage, and for him to look at her. This should be in the presence of her mahram, and it is not permitted to look more than is necessary, or for him to see her alone, or for her to go out with him on her own, or to meet repeatedly for no reason.
According to Islam, the woman’s wali (guardian) should check on the man who proposes marriage to the woman who is under his guardianship; he should ask those whom he trusts among those who mix with him and who know him, about his commitment to Islam and his trustworthiness. He should ask them for an honest opinion and sincere, sound advice.
Before and during all of this, you must turn towards Allaah and pray to Him to make it easy for you and help you to make a good choice and to grant you wisdom. Then after all these efforts, when you have decided on a particular person, you should pray Istikhaarah, asking Allaah for that which is good. For more details on Salaat al-Istikhaarah, please see Question # 2217. Then after you have done your utmost, put your trust in Allaah, for He is the best of helpers, may He be glorified.
Adapted from Jaami’ Ahkaam al-Nisaa’ by Shaykh Mustafaa al-‘Adawi.
We ask Allaah, the Exalted, the Powerful, to make things easy for you, to help you make a wise choice, and to bless you with a righteous husband and good offspring, for He is Able to do all that. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid [Islam Q&A ]