Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Muslim Men Look For In A Wife

What do Muslim men really want from a woman? What do they look for?
What are they attracted to? ...Why don't they listen?

Insha'Allah we shall try to understand what exactly Muslim men look for in potential wives, and why, very often, they don't get it.

*Disclaimer: much of the following is from various Islamic studies and a result of research. This is not definitive nor applicable to all men, but it is a standard. All subheadings are to be taken as general guidelines. Some content is adult material.
Don't say I didn't warn you.

Bismillahi'Rahmani'Raheem. In the name of God, entirely Compassionate, especially Merciful.

Beginning with Prophet Muhammad's ﷺ famous marriage criteria, he said:
"A woman is married for four reasons, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her piety. So you should marry the pious woman otherwise you will be losers (your hands will be covered in dust)." Narrated by Abu Huraira, in Sahih Al-Bukhari & Muslim (Book 62:27, Marriage)
{Read more of the Holy Marriage Criteria on MUSLIMNESS}

Let's break this hadith down.
1) WEALTH » It is acceptable and encouraged in Islamic culture to marry somebody with the same socio-economic background. People marry rich daughters of businessmen all the time. Although it is common to hear that in South Asian/African countries men pressurise prospective wives and their families for high dowries etc, it is very unlikely a Muslim man will marry purely because his future wife is filthy rich. He will have his own money, he's not looking for a joint savings account. Wealth is a great turn-on; it's power, opportunity, intimidating for some (for example if a wife earns more), but real wealth is not tangible. However much a woman or her family earns does not reflect on what Muslim men are really looking.

2) STATUS » During the Prophet's ﷺ time status was categorised into two.
1) "Nasab", which means heritage and lineage. Just as women hope to marry into 'a good family', Muslim men love the idea of marrying into a 'religious family' - being connected to a woman whose family have ethical commitments and she herself is morally upright. 2) The other type of lineage is "Hasab", which is what the ancestors have done that distinguish the potential partner. "Status" for contemporary Muslims can mean popularity, respect, famousness or achievements. We may deny that social ranking means nothing to us, but there is a difference between marrying the daughter of a farmer and the daughter of a professor, or a woman who is a farmer and another who is the professor. Most Muslim men do not use status as a measure of success for potential wives but they do tend to look into it for reasons of prestige and influence. Men will look at a woman's current work in terms of how she may behave in their marriage or raise their future children. IQ and personality is involved. This is explained better further below (see: Personality).

3) BEAUTY » Now, for men, marrying someone for her beauty "jamali ha" is basically love at first/second/third sight, and it happens - a marriage based on looks, I mean. Or it can be a deeper attraction which transcends into her "inner beauty", and this happens too, cliché though it may be. Basically what attracts a man most is a woman's femininity. But the problem here is that Muslim men do not know how to articulate this very personal criteria appropriately. In the above hadith Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is telling men that it's o.k. to be captured by outward attractions but to not fall in love with the ephemeral nature of beauty. Initial attractions will be lost with ageing and if there is no or little appreciation of a woman's other non-sexual assets, that marriage will breakdown pretty easily. This is why women are drawn to a mans' character first (inner beauty) while most men require a visual beauty, that's packed with stimulating contents.

4) PIETY » When men say they are looking for "religious" wives they each refer to very different attributes. They might mean simple women who don't wear bright colours or follow fads; it may be directed at women not orientated towards the material world "dunya", but the events after death "akhirah"; it may mean a woman who has already completed her 5 basic pillars of faith or just one who wears the full H'N'J combo: Hijab-Niqab-Jilbab. Or it may mean all of the above. Realistically, men don't know how to clarify their pious wish-lists. Still, they hope for a woman who is connected to God in her daily life outside of prayers, as well as being aware of the nature of life's challenges. Men tend to tick off a woman's deen straightforwardly but it's not as black and white as it seems, which comes back to outward beauty. The package may look religious, but without a conversation on worries and ambitions, you may later find she's all about the wedding day and shoes.

A note from sh. Yasir Qadhi,
"Understanding the facts of life and things that men do may gross you out. Guys are very simple; they don't worry like women, they don't analyse or think too far ahead. He will take a relationship for granted. For men it's more about 'what can she do for me?' Men want physical services from woman and there are key differences - he says it's the 'things she does for me' whereas women will say it's 'how he makes me feel.' To Muslim women: don't be insulted or upset for it is by Allah's creation that men are way more simple and want basic needs. Of course there is a a need for complex love, but it is not an overriding yearning."

The 3Ds: Drive, Determination & Disposition
While it's not high on their list, it is clear that men find a woman's drive, determination and energy attractive qualities in a life partner.

1) DRIVE. A woman with a zest for life tends to have a more exciting presence than one who is reserved or afflicted with sloth. Men see women's drive as a measure of their mood. It's action, it's motion, it reminds them of themselves. And not surprisingly, men prefer a woman in a generally positive frame of mind.

2) DETERMINATION. Determination is an admirable quality which shows this woman will not give up no matter what Allah throws at her. She will fall. But she will get up. With natural instincts to problem-solve themselves, men can tolerate complainers ("nagging") but not a person who gives up at every obstacle.

3) DISPOSITION. A pleasing disposition overlaps with sound mental health and an easy-to-get-along-with personality. Is your wife-to-be a worrier or a warrior? Is she unhappy and moody? Does she get along with everyone? As the hadith above suggests, a pretty face and religious background are excellent, but they will not necessarily indicate whether she gets easily abusive or jealous.

And now, onto the check-lists.

Read more : What Muslim Men Look For In A Wife

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