In this counseling answer:
• If you decide to talk to him directly, then make sure it is in a respectable and halal manner.
• If you are too nervous to approach him directly or are unable to do it for some reason, you could send a message through someone who knows him.
As-Salam ‘Alaikom sister,
Thank you for contacting us regarding your concern. I will try my best to advise you on this matter, in sha’ Allah.
I am very pleased to hear that you have achieved higher education and that you are now working for a good company, ma sha’Allah. You sound to me a very wise and understanding woman who knows what qualities she should be looking for in a spouse.
There is nothing wrong with arranging marriages as long as it is accepted by both the bride and the groom. Islam has honored women by giving them the right to choose their husbands, and parents have no right to forcefully marry them off to someone they dislike. The modern Muslim woman knows this right but does not reject the advice and guidance of her parents when a potential spouse comes along. Parents only have their daughters’ best interest at heart, and they have more experience of life and people. Due to your difficult childhood with your father, it is no surprise that you have struggled to trust other men.
Now that you may have found someone who is trustable and acceptable, the first step to take is to tell your parents about him. Share with them your thoughts about this man and how well-mannered and religious he is.
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If your parents are very traditional and have difficulties to accept that you have found someone whom you are interested to marry, then I suggest that you show some patience with them. They might be used to a different way of doing this in the culture they are living in, and they might have other expectations regarding your marriage, give them some time to accept your request. Speak to them in a polite and respectable way and don’t be forceful or rude to them. I am sure they will accept it in the end when they acknowledge that he is a good man.
Respecting parents is one of the most significant of Islam. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (17:23)
Whilst you are giving your parents some time to think about it and accept it, you can do Istikharah (seek guidance in decision-making) from Allah (swt) to see if your office co-worker is suitable for marriage. Those who seek guidance from their Creator (swt), consulting fellow believers and then remain firm in their resolve, do not regret the decision they have taken. Allah (swt) has said:
“…and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” (3:159)
Your parents will surely agree to it after some time if the Istikharah is positive.
Next step could be to approach this man. You can either talk to him directly or do it through some other people. There is absolutely no prohibition in Islam for a woman to propose marriage to a man. There are no moral or ethical limitations from the Islamic perspective. You will find reassurance in the fact that Khadijah, the Prophet’s (saw) first wife, is reported to have proposed marriage to him and he (saw) accepted. Obviously, our best role model is the Prophet (saw), and in this, we can find the most beautiful example.
If you decide to talk to him directly, then make sure it is in a respectable and halal manner. You can meet him in a public place as long as you follow the Islamic rules of etiquette (having a chaperone, no flirtatious or sexual speech, lowering the gaze, etc.). This may be seen as improper or brazen in some cultures. But that is a cultural attitude, not an Islamic.
If you are too nervous to approach him directly or are unable to do it for some reason, you could send a message through someone who knows him (for example his sister, aunt, cousin, etc.) that you are interested in order to see if he is interested to marry you, too. If your co-worker shows the same interest in you and is serious for marriage, he will surely speak to his parents about you.
When that is done, either you can ask your parents to approach his parents, or he can take his parents to your house to ask for your hand.
I pray that Allah (swt) makes it easy for you and that you marry the person who is best for you, In sha’ Allah.
If the Istikharah is positive for this man, things will go more smoothly and it will be easier for you to talk to your parents, with little problems. If you get trouble after trouble and there is no way you can marry this man, then that’s a no sign.
“…and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (8:46)
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.