Marriage: The Quest for Love & Mercy


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Increasing the Number of Muslims

In Islam, what counts is not quantity alone, but quantity together with quality. Therefore, we are urged to increase the number of GOOD Muslims – not superficial Muslims. Good Muslims are those who live by Allah’s commands and follow His Messenger’s :saw: guidance. Such are the people who should increase and multiply so as to establish Allah’s religion in this life and enter His gardens in the nest.

A Muslim should marry with the intention of increasing the number of righteous Muslims. Subsequently, he should strive to raise his family upon to the true religion. Only then, would they be among the numbers of Muslims who will please and delight Allah’s Messenger :saw: on Judgement Day to the extent that he will boast about them in front of the multitudes of nations who will be present.

Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Marry, because I will exhibit your large numbers (on Judgement Day).”

(Ibn Majah. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 1514)

Abu Umamah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Marry so that (on Judgement Day) I will be delighted by your outnumbering other nations. Do not practice monasticism like the Christians.”

(al-Bayhaqi and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 2941 & as-Sahihah no. 1782)

Strengthening the Muslim Community

When a nation multiplies in the right and lawful way, it preserves the kinship relationships and protects its citizens from diseases – which results in a powerful nation. To the contrary, adultery loosens and severs kinship ties, and results in the spread of diseases and perversions, which cause the nations to decline and fall. Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) wants the Muslim Ummah to be a powerful nation capable of establishing His laws and spreading His guidance in a most efficient way. This may only be fulfilled through maintaining chastity with lawful marriage.


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Spouse Selection

Selecting a Wife

A conditional choice

In Islam, a man is given some choice in regard to marriage. Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:

“If you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry whatever pleases you of (other) women: two, three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just (with them) then (marry) only one woman, or those that your right hands possess (of captives and slaves). That is better in preventing you from doing injustice.”

(Qur’aan 4: 3)

However, “whatever pleases you of women” is a general directive that is further clarified in many texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. There are certain important qualities that a man should seek in the woman whom he wants to be his life-partner and the mother of his children.


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The first and foremost vital quality for a wife is righteousness. The Prophet :saw: urged the men to seek a woman of faith and piety, and indicated that a man attains happiness through marrying her.

Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that the Messenger of Allah :saw: said:

“A woman is sought in marriage for four reasons: wealth, social status, beauty, and din (piety). So seek the one with din – may you then be successful.”

(al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Thawban (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that when Allah revealed the warning in regard to those treasure gold and silver (Qur’aan 9: 34-35), the sahabah (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) wondered,

“What kind of wealth should we then keep?”

And Umar (radhiyAllaahu anh) said,

“I will find the answer to this.”

He rode his camel fast until he caught up with Allah’s Messenger :saw:,
and he (Thawban) was right behind him.

He asked,

“O Allah’s Messenger! What kind of wealth should we keep?”

He :saw: replied:

“Let each of you keep a heart grateful (to Allah), a tongue constantly extolling (Allah), and a believing wife who would assist him in regard to the affairs of the hereafter.”

(Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 2176)

Abu Umamah and ‘Ali (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) similarly reported that the Prophet :saw: said:

“A heart grateful (to Allah), a tongue extolling (Allah), and a righteous wife who would assist you in the affairs of your life and religion – these are people’s best treasures.”

(al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab ul-Iman, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn ‘Abd-ur-Razzaq (in al-Musannaf). Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami no. 4409)


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The Wife Brings Happiness or Misery

In this life, a righteous wife is a main source of happiness, whereas an evil wife is a major cause of misery. Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas (radhiyAllahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“There are four sources of happiness and four sources of misery. Among the sources of happiness are: a good wife who pleases you when you look at her; and when you are away from her, you trust her in regard to herself and your property, an easy ride that enables you to catch up with your companions, a house that is spacious and of many facilities, a good neighbour.

And among the sources of misery are: an evil wife who dismays you when you look at her, who uses her tongue against you, and who, when you are away from her, you would not trust her in regard to herself or your property.”

(al-Hakim. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 1047 & Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 3056). The fourth item in this hadeeth has been combined from another report recorded by Ibn Hibban, al-Khatib and others, verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 282 & Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 887), A shorter form of this hadeeth is recorded by at-Tayalisi and verified to be hasan by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 1803 & Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 3629)


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A Good Character

One should seek a wife who is known to be of good character or who has been raised in a good moral atmosphere. In a hadeeth similar to the earlier one by Abu Hurayrah. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that Allah’s Messenger said:

“A woman is (usually) married for one of three qualities: she is married for her wealth; she is married for her beauty; or she is married for her religion. So take the one of religion and manners – may your right hand then be prosperous.

(Ibn Hibban, Ahmad and al-Hakim. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 307)

A woman of low moral standards should be avoided, even if she has other attractive qualities such as wealth or beauty.

Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“There are three individuals that, when they supplicate to Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala), there supplication is not answered: a man who has a wife of bad character but he does not divorce her, a man who lends money to another man without taking witnesses, and a man who gives money to a weak-minded person.”

(al-Hakim and Abu Nu’aym. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 3075 & as-Sahihah no. 1805)

In this hadeeth, “bad character” pertains mostly to qualities such as looseness and promiscuity, making the woman’s conduct dubious and her chastity questionable.


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Virginity is not a condition for marriage, but is a recommended quality – provided that one has both options and that the women he is considering are equal in other respects. Virginity then becomes a weighing factor for a number of reasons that will be outlined in the subsequent sub-sections.

Jabir bin Abdullah reported that when his father died (Jabir’s father ‘Abdullah bin Amr Bin Haram, was martyred in the battle of Uhud. Jabir was then nineteen years old), he left behind nine girls that Jabir had to look after. Soon after that, Jabir married a non-virgin, and when the Prophet :saw: met him he asked him,

“Have you married, O Jabir?”

He replied,


He asked him,

“Is she virgin or non-virgin?”

He replied,


He :saw: then said:

“Shouldn’t you have considered a virgin who plays with you and you with her, and she laughs with you and you with her?”

Jabir replied,

“Indeed, my father ‘Abdullah died leaving many daughters. I did not want to add to them another young girl like themselves, so I married a grown woman to take care of them and look after them.”

Allah’s Messenger :saw: then said:

“Indeed, you have made a good decision. May Allah bless that tremendously for you.”

(al-Bukhari and Muslim)


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Ability to Bear Children

Since of the important purposes of marriage is reproduction, it is recommended to marry a younger woman who would normally be more likely to bear many children. In turn, this is more likely to apply to virgins than non-virgins.

‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Marry virgins, because they have sweeter mouths (i.e. speech) and more fertible wombs, and are easier to be satisfied with little wealth.”

(at-Tabarani (in al-Kabir). Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 623 and Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 2939)

Ma’qil bin Yasar (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that a man came to Allah’s Messenger :saw: and said,

“I encountered a woman of honour and beauty, but she cannot bear children. Should I marry her?”

He said,


After asking him two more times, Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Marry a woman who is loving and can bear many children, because I will boast of your numbers (on Resurrection Day).”

(Abu Dawood and an-Nasa’i. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 2940 & Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1784)


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Loving Attitude

One should seek to marry a woman who is expected to have a loving and caring attitude toward her husband. This is normally possible to sense from her environment and family’s reputation. The above hadeeth of Ma’qil bin Yasar alludes to this. Similarly, Abu Uthaynah as-Sadafi (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“The best of your women are those who are bearers of man children, loving (to their husbands) comforting, and tolerant – provided that they have taqwa of Allah.

And the worst of your women are those who display their charms (to other than their husbands), and who walk with arrogance. Such are the hypocrites, and those of them who will enter Jannah are as rare as are the red-beaked and red-legged crows.”

(al-Bayhaqi (in as-Sunan) and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 3330 & as-Sahihah no. 1849). The last part of it (about the crow) is also recorded by Ahmad and others from ‘Amr Bin al-‘As (radhiyAllaahu anh) and verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 1850)

Ibn Abbas (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Your women who will be of the dwellers of Jannah are those who are loving (to their husbands), bearers of many children, and caring toward their husbands.”

(Tammam ar-Razi, Ibn ‘Asakir and others. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 287)


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An important quality to be sought in a wife is contentment. A dissatisfied wife would make her husband miserable and push him to do anything to please her.

It is easier for a virgin than a non-virgin to be content with her husband’s financial situation and with what he gives her. Similar to Ibn Mas’ud’s earlier hadeeth, Jaabir bin’Abdillah (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Seek (in marriage) virgins, because they have more fertile wombs, sweeter speech, less slyness and are easily satisfied with little (wealth).”

(at-Tabarani (in al-Awsat) and ad-Diya-ul-Maqdisi. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 624 and Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 4053)

And Utbah bin ‘Uwaym bin Sa’idah al-Ansari (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that the Prophet :saw: said:

“Marry virgins! They have sweeter speech, more fertile wombs and are satisfied with little.”

(Ibn Majah and others from Sa’idah and Jabir. It is verified to be hasan by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 623)


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Naivety, simplicity, and innocence of heart are commendable qualities to be sought in a wife, and are more present in virgins than non-virgins – because of their lesser experience in the ways of life. This is demonstrated in the above hadeeth of Jabir (radhiyAllaahu anh).


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Beauty, wealth and prestige are all mentioned in the earlier hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah as being secondary qualities that should not be sought at the
cost of righteousness.

However, we cannot totally disregard these qualities – especially beauty. Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger :saw: said:

“The best of women is that who pleases him (i.e. her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he orders, and does not subject her person or money to what he dislikes.”

(Ahmad, an-Nasa’i and al-Hakim. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami no. 3298 & as-Sahihah no. 1838)

Similarly Abdyllah bin Salam reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: was asked,

“Who are the best of women?”

He replied,

“The best of women is that who pleases you when you look at her, obeys you when you order her, and safeguards you during your absence in regard to herself and your wealth.”

(at-Tabarani (in al-Kabir) and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 3299 & as-Sahihah no. 1838)

A woman’s appearance being “pleasing” to her husband applies first to pleasing him when he observes her righteousness and obedience to Allah. But it may also apply to pleasing him with her physical beauty. That is why it has been ordained to look at a woman when courting her.


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A man should seek a wife who is compatible with him, and a woman should seek a husband compatible with her. ‘A’ishah (radhiyAllaahu anha) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“Make a (good) choice for your seed: marry (women) who are compatible (to you), and marry (your daughters) to them (who are compatible).”

(Ibn Majah, al-Hakim and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 2928 & as-Sahihah no. 1067)

The question is in regard to the definition of compatibility. In general, it has two major requirements: din and character. These two qualities are among the required qualities for a wife that we discussed above.

Din and character may not be compromised and are the focal point for compatibility. A man or woman who is lacking in either of them is a poor candidate and should not be considered.

Other qualities may add to the compatibility between the two spouses, but none of them can be considered mandatory. Among the examples of compatibility factors is age, language, financial status, family status, national background, etc.

However, one must understand that, except for din and character, all of the other qualities are secondary and should not be overplayed, especially if they would be used as grounds for discrimination based on race, social status, country of origin, etc.

With the above understanding, we can say that age is an important “secondary” compatibility factor. It could become major if the age difference is such as to prevent one of the two spouses from being able to fulfil the marital rights of his (or her) partner.


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Qualities Sought in a Good Husband

Din and Good Character

The Prophet :saw: instructed the guardians of women to marry them to men of good din and character. When a man of known righteousness and good character seeks to marry a woman, he should be seriously considered.

Abu Hurayrah, Ibn ‘Umar and Abu Hatim al-Muzani (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that the Prophet :saw: said:

“If a man comes to you seeking marriage, and you are satisfied with his din and character, marry him – lest a fitnah (harm) and great destruction become rampant on the earth.”

(at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and others. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (Sahih-ul-Jami’ no. 270 & as-Sahihah no. 1022)


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Is Wealth Important?

Unfortunately, when looking for a husband, the woman’s family or wali first look at his bank account, instead of his iman, taqwa and aqeedah (creed).

Furthermore, many of today’s Muslim women have been affected by un-Islamic ideologies. They do not seek a husband who has taqwa and good character, which would guarantee for them a lasting, loving relationship. Rather, they seek a husband who is affluent, has an prominent position, or holds a higher degree of education – all at the cost of religion, morals and eventually, happiness.

While we do not call on Muslims to live in poverty, we emphasise that wealth is a minor factor that should never be compared to din and manners. We should trust Allah’s promise:

“Marry the unmarried among you and the righteous of your male and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His favours. Allah is Bountiful and Knowing.”

(Qur’aan 24: 32)

Whereas Allah gives such a generous and true promise to the righteous, there is absolutely no guarantee that he will not, in the blink of an eye, take away the wealth of a man who is non-religious and ungrateful to Him.


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No Comparison

When a woman marries a man with din and good character, she will not lose out in any respect: if he keeps her, he will do so in a good manner; and if he releases her, he will do so in a good manner. Furthermore, a man with din and good character will be a blessing for her and her children, and they will all help each other learn and improve in their din.

A woman should avoid a man who does have these attributes – especially is he is negligent of the prayers, drinks alcohol, commits zina, or commits any of the other major sins. Wealth and social status should be her main criteria in deciding for or against a husband.

Sahl bin Sa’d as-Sa’idi (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that once while the Prophet :saw was sitting with some of his companions, a man passed by them. The Prophet :saw: asked one of the companions,

“What do you think of this man?”

Some of them said,

“This is from among the noble people. By Allah, if he seeks marriage, he will be married, and if he intercedes, his intercession will be granted.”

The Prophet :saw: did not say anything.

Another man then passed by them, and the Prophet :saw: asked,

“What do you think of this man?”

Some of them said,

“This is one of the poor Muslims. It is expected that if he seeks marriage, he will not be married; if he intercedes, his intercession will not be granted; and if he speaks, no one will listen to him.”

Allah’s Messenger :saw: then said:

“This man is better than an earth-full of the likes of the otherman!”

(al-Bukhari and Muslim)


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When a man finds a woman of good attributes for marriage, his next step would be to propose to her or her family. We call this “courting” or “khitbah”; it is the act of asking for a woman’s hand in marriage. Depending on the situation, the interested man may personally approach the woman or her representatives, or may ask some of his relatives or friends to represent him in that.

If a man’s proposal is accepted, the woman is considered “engaged” to him. This “engagement” counts as a legally unbinding attachment that precedes the full and binding attachment of the marriage contract.

Even though an approved khitbah is not legally binding upon the two involved parties, it still constitutes a mutual pledge of marriage; and breaking it without valid reason would be an immoral act of dishonesty.

A valid reason for breaking a khitbah would be for the bride’s side to discover a serious problem in the bridegroom of which they were not aware when they gave their approval. Similarly, if the bridegroom discovers a problem in the bride that he did not know when he asked for her hand, he may take that as grounds for breaking the khitbah.


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Examples from the Sunnah

In a hadeeth cited fully later, a man asked the Prophet :saw: to marry a certain woman to him, and he said:

“Go (have her as wife); I marry her to you for the portion of Qur’aan that you have memorised.”

(al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In the case of ‘A’ishah (radhiyAllaahu anha), who was a virgin, the Prophet :saw: proposed to her father. ‘Urwah bin az-Zubayr reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: asked for ‘A’ishah’s (radhiyAllaahu anha) hand from her father Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr (radhiyAllaahu anh) said,

“But indeed, I am your brother!”

Allah’s Messenger :saw: replied,

“You are my brother in regard to Allah’s Din and His Book. But as for her, she is permissible for me (to marry).”

(al-Bukhari. Al-Albani indicated that, even though this is a report from ‘Urwah who is a tabi’i, he must have heard it from his aunt ‘A’ishah or his mother Asma’ (Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1818)

On the other hand, the Prophet :saw: approached Umm Salamah directly. Umm Salamah (radhiyAllaahu anha) reported that her ‘iddah (A woman’s waiting period after her divorce or her husband’s death before she may remarry) was over. Abu Bakr proposed to her and she refused him. Allah’s Messenger :saw: then sent someone to ask for her hand on his behalf and she agreed.

(an-Nasa’i, Ahmad and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa-ul-Ghalil no. 1819)

Abu Bakr bin Hafs reported that when Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) was asked to propose on someone’s behalf he would go to the woman’s family and say:

“All praise is due to Allah, and may Allah bestow His salah upon Muhammad :saw:. Indeed, so-and-so is asking for the hand of so-and-so in marriage. If you marry her to him, praise be to Allah (for facilitating this); and if you reject him, exalted is Allah (Who is above all deficiencies that exist in His creation).”

(al-Bayhaqi. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Irwa-ul-Ghalil no. 1822)

Buraydah bin al-Hasib (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that a group of al-Ansar told ‘Ali (radhiyAllaahu anh),

“Why don’t you consider Fatimah (radhiyAllaahu anha) (for marriage)?”

Acting upon their advice, he went to the Prophet :saw: who asked him,

“What does the son of Abu Talib need?”

He replied,

“O Allah’s Messenger! I came in regard to Fatimah the daughter of Allah’s Messenger.”

The Messenger :saw: replied,

“Marhaban wa-ahlan – Welcome, and a family member.”

- and he said no more. Ali went back to that group of al-Ansar who were waiting for him. They asked him,

“What do you bring?”

He said,

“I do not know, except that he said to me, ‘marhaban wa-ahlan.’”

They said,

“Just one of these two words would suffice you from Allah’s Messenger :saw:; he offered you the ‘family’ and ‘vastness’.

(Ibn Sa’d, at-Tabarani and Ibn ‘Asakir. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (Adab uz-Zifaf pp. 173-174)


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The Bid’ah of reciting al-Fatihah

A widely spread practice among Muslims is that, when a man asks for a woman’s hand and her family accepts his proposal, they all raise their hands and recite al-Fatihah. This practice is a bid’ah because it has no basis in the Sunnah or the practice of the pious predecessors.


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Looking at the Courted Woman


When a man intends to marry a certain woman, and prior to formally proposing to her, it is permissible for him to look at her and see as much of her as normally possible. This would help him make the right decision and be sure that he truly is comfortable with her looks and would like to have
her as wife.

Abu Hurayrah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that he was with the Prophet :saw: when a man came to him and told that he had just married a woman from the Ansar. The Prophet :saw: asked him,

“Have you looked at her?”

He replied,


He :saw: said,

“Look at her, because there is something (a smallness) in the Ansar’s

(Muslim and an-Nasa’i)

Al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah and Anas bin Malik (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that al-Mughirah wanted to marry a woman, so Allah’s Messenger :Saw: said to him,

“Go look at her: it will then be more possible to have harmony between the two of you.”

(Ahmad and al-Hakim. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 96)

He went to her house. She was inside her bedroom, and he met her parents and told them,

“Allah’s Messenger :saw: instructed me to look at her.”

They remained speechless, but the young woman raised one side of her bedroom’s curtain and said,

“I strongly reproach you! If Allah’s Messenger :saw: instructed you to look at me, look. But if he did not, do not!

He looked at her, and then married her. He later mentioned,

“No other women attained her status (of love) with me, even though I married more than seventy women!”.

(Ahmad and al-Hakim. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 96)

Muhammad bin Maslamah (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that the Prophet :saw: said:

“When it comes into a person’s heart to court a woman, it is permissible for him to look at her.”

(Ibn Majah, Ahmad and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 98)

Also, Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (radhiyAllaahu anhuma) reported that he heard the Prophet :saw: say:

“When one of you courts a woman, if he could see of her as much as would convince him to marry her, he should do so.”

Implementing this instruction, Jabir (radhiyAllaahu anh) said:

“Afterwards, I wanted to marry a woman, so I used to hide to observe her – until I had seen that which led me to marrying her.”

(Abu Dawood, Ahmad and others. Verified to be hasan by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 99 & Irwa-ul-Ghalil no. 1791)


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It is prohibited for a man to look intently at a woman if he is not her mahram. Looking at a woman for the purpose of marrying her is an obvious exception to this rule and must, therefore, fulfil certain conditions.

Abu Humayd as-Sa’idi (radhiyAllaahu anh) reported that Allah’s Messenger :saw: said:

“When one of yo courts a woman, it is permissible for him to look at her if he only looks because he seeks to marry her – even if she does not know (that he is watching her)”

(Ahmad and at-Tabarani (in al-Kabir). Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 97)

From this and other texts, we derive the following conditions:

1) The difference between a casual look and the look of a man seeking marriage is that the latter is allowed to stare and repeat the look.

2) Looking should be for the purpose of marriage, and not for purpose of fulfilling a desire or lust.

3) A man may only look at a woman who is available for him to marry, knowing that, should be the purpose, her family could possible approve of him.

4) Looking should be without touching or khulwah (privately meeting with her).

5) Looking should be limited to the body parts that a woman is permitted to expose to strangers, namely, her face and hands.

Some scholars based on the above hadeeth of Jabir, permit the man to look at more than the minimum that we specified above. We do not favour this opinion for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it could easily be abused by the sick-hearted, opening for them a wide gate for defaming or lusting after innocent women.

If a man finds that looking was not sufficient to give him a satisfactory idea about this woman that he intended to marry, he may appoint a woman from his relatives to look at her closely and tell him more about her.