In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- Pray istikharah to seek Allah’s guidance and help.
2- Consult good people in your community; you may seek the help of the local imam for counseling and assistance.
3- Make religious commitment of your prospective spouse as your top priority,
4- Ask good people to make duaa for you too.
5- Put your trust on Allah and choose the man that you mostly believe to be good for you in this world and in the Hereafter.
Answering your question, Dr. Wael Shehab, PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada, states:
A Muslim should be careful when choosing the future spouse. One should focus on the morals and the characters of the prospective spouse, and make religion and practicing Islam his or her top priority.
Therefore, you need to ask about and spare no efforts to know whether this man is a committed practicing Muslim or not.
Don’t take any decision before you pray istikharah to seek Allah’s guidance. Istikharah Prayer is a 2-rak`ah Sunnah prayer. It is like other forms of duaa. So, its acceptance is based on one’s sincerity, closeness to Allah, etc.
What a Muslim should do when he prays istikharah is that he or she should pray it with devotion and sincerity so that Allah will guide him or her to what is best in this world and in the Hereafter.
The specific method of doing it is as follows:
First, one must offer a Prayer of two rak`ahs with the intention of seeking guidance from Allah. Then he should offer the following supplication:
“Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi`ilmika, wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, wa as’aluka min fadlika al-azim, fa’innaka taqdiru wala aqdiru, wa ta`lamu wa la a`lamu, wa anta `allamu-l-ghuyub.
Allahumma, in kunta ta`lamu anna hadhal-amra [here mention your case] khairun li fi dini wa ma`ashi wa `aqibati ‘amri (or ‘ajili amri wa`ajilihi) faqdurhu li wa yas-sirhu li thumma barik li fihi.
Wa in ta`lamu anna hadhal-amra sharrun li fi deeni wa ma`ashi wa `aqibati ‘amri (or `ajili amri wa ajilihi) fasrifhu `anni was-rifni `anhu, waqdur liya al-khaira haithu kana thumma ‘ardini bihi.”
(O Allah, I seek Your help in finding out the best course of action (in this matter) by invoking Your knowledge; I ask You to empower me, and I beseech Your favor. You alone have the absolute power, while I have no power. You alone know it all, while I do not. You are the One Who knows the hidden mysteries. O Allah, if You know this thing (I am embarking on) [here mention your case] is good for me in my religion, worldly life, and my ultimate destiny, then facilitate it for me, and then bless me in my action. If, on the other hand, You know this thing is detrimental for me in my religion, worldly life, and ultimate destiny, turn it away from me, and turn me away from it, and decree what is good for me, wherever it may be, and make me content with it.)
After one prays istikharah and does his or her best to reach the right conclusion, one has to put his or her trust on Allah and go on the direction that he or she finds his or her heart is inclined to.
It is not a must that one sees a dream or a vision that directs him or her; rather one should be sure that if he or she meets the above requirements, Allah will guide him or her to what is better.
In addition to this, one should take all necessary measures that would facilitate the right choice for him or her. You should consult reliable and trustworthy people, resort to due measures that maintain success, etc.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.