In this counseling answer:
• What are the qualities that you love about her? List them on a piece of paper.
• Clearly talk to her and show your interest (while involving your and her parents).
• Inshallah, you will be able to help her practice the religion in a more efficient way.
Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam,
Your feelings towards this girl appear to be present for quite a long time. One thing you should keep in mind is the underlying fact that we don’t necessarily get attracted to someone on the basis of religion and that having feelings toward someone from the opposite gender is completely normal. It’s just the way Allah (swt) created us. We can’t help it. Girls will be attracted to boys. Boys will be attracted to girls. And after lowering our gazes and staying away from what’s wrong, there’s nothing we can do about that.
While you cannot control your feelings of attraction toward someone, you can control your actions. As you are well aware, Allah (swt) has clearly defined limits when it comes to friendship between opposite genders; thus, in your current situation you have two options to “be to the safe side” and stay away from sinning: you either end all forms of communication with this girl or ask her to marry you in an Islamic way.
You seem to be firm about the way you feel about this girl; however, I want you to first ask certain questions to yourself and assess them honestly. How well do you know this girl? What are the qualities that you love about her? List them on a piece of paper. Can your love for Allah (swt) compete with your love for this girl? How will have a wife who is not a practicing Muslim affect you and your future generation? Will your parents agree? Are you okay with the disparity in terms of religion?
Once you have answered all these questions, you will have a clearer picture in mind, in sha’Allah. In the meantime, don’t forget to also seek Allah’s (swt) help by praying the istikharah prayer.
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When you are sure that you want to marry this girl, I would advise that you clearly talk to her and show your interest (while involving your and her parents). Let’s see the manner in which she responds. Once you achieve a positive feedback, instead of imposing the religion on her, start acquainting her with the aspects where she lacks. Make her aware and fond of how beautiful Islam is. Gradually, you will see a change in sha’ Allah where she will accept and implement the religious practices in her life and will continue it throughout.
You can also express your wish to have a practicing Muslim as a spouse, and how significant effect it leaves on the future generation.
Sometimes, we do not know the reason behind the way people act. So, instead of saying, “look, I want you to start praying 5 times a day,” you should say, “Do you hear the Athan? I love the voice of the Mu’azzin. It gives me peace, and when I pray, I feel that I am out of all the trouble and life is serene.” Or you can ask her in a nice manner to go to the mosque with you or pray together at home maybe along with your family.
Always encourage her to seek knowledge, raise questions, and seek the answers. Allah (swt) says in a hadeeth qudsi:
“Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.”
In sha’ Allah, Adopting such approach will actually appeal to her in a way that it will become her way of life. With time, you will then be able to explain the importance of hijab and the protection it gives. In this manner, you will be able to help her practice the religion in a more efficient way. And this will also aid you in becoming a better practicing Muslim, in sha’ Allah.
May Allah (swt) make it easy for you,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.