My question is: for a female Muslim looking to get married, and parents are searching for matches, how much should she compromise on her practice of Islam for the sake of getting married?Background:
After receiving many proposals of men who did not pray or had some other issues, my parents have engaged me to a man who prays (but not always in the masjid), fasts in Ramadan, sometimes attends halaqa in the masjid, has a halal job, and appears to have good manners. My concerns are: he watches TV shows, goes to the cinema to see movies, does not have a beard, and says that only wearing headscarf is fine and that too can be removed if one feels threatened in the West. However, I cover my face (niqab) and wear a jilbab (outer garment/abaya) as well as proper headscarf. Also, I do not watch TV, listen to music, or go to the cinema. Mainly, I am worried that I will be expected to compromise on my haya by not being allowed to observe full hijab, along with being exposed to unIslamic media which I left years ago. His family has arranged a male photographer to cover the unsegregated wedding, including making a photo album and a wedding video (against my wishes). My parents tell me that I should be content with him being a Muslim and praying Salah. He is 32 and I am 26. He has been living on his own in the West for the past 6 years. I can still try to break off the engagement, but then it may be that I do not even get a man who prays Salah, and I end up even worse off. I have done istikhara, I understand it is a supplication and if things proceed in favour of the wedding, then it means that is Allah's will? My mother says that marriages are predetermined and written in our destiny. I still think I have the right to refuse a man if I think I can't respect him and raise children with him because hijab and unIslamic media are valid concerns to me. Then I think that I can compromise, remove niqab, tolerate music and movies, for the sake of maintaining my chastity and fulfilling the Sunnah. I am very confused. Please advise or at least make dua for my situation. Jazakumullah khairan katheeran. Wassalam.
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,
Certainly, this is a situation many sisters end up in when they arrive to the life stage of seeking marriage. There are two issues to contend with: firstly, meeting a good pious man who is committed to his deen and weighing up if he is pious enough. The second issue is the fear that if you don’t take an offer, maybe no one else will come along, and you’ll be left without a spouse. Or that no one who is pious enough will come along.
This can be a stressful time because we are encouraged to marry in Islam as marriage completes half our deen and protects us from sins. The person we chose will be a companion for life and the father to our children, so we obviously want to be sure we pick the right one. But at the same time we have to avoid being too picky, otherwise no one will meet our criteria.
The definition of piety can be varied from only maintaining one’s obligatory duties to maintaining all voluntary acts of worship and completely abstaining from all things that fall within the grey areas, too. This definition varies from person to person. Ma sha’ Allah, you seem to be a practicing sister who has left behind things that can potentially take you away from the deen, and you fear that the brother’s habits of watching TV and attitudes towards hijab may make him ask you to compromise your own deen. As you have not yet formally married and are only in the engagement stage, you certainly are in the position to call it off before the nikkah, if you wish to. But, like you say, there is the worry that you may not even find anyone as good as he is, if you do.
Certainly, when it comes to marriage, comprise almost always needs to be made to some extent from both the man and the woman. But this compromise should never be that goes against the principles of Islam. Keep in mind that the perfect man who meets all your personal requirements – who always prays, fasts, attends the masjid, as well as abstaining from things such as TV – is difficult for any woman to find since, due to the importance of marriage, we understandably set our standards very high. This is likewise for the man, too; he struggles to find the woman who meets his own individual personal requirements. So, think about what the most important requirements are for you and how well the brother meets these standards. And those he doesn’t meet, are they those that he may be able to compromise on?
In marriage, the couple are to compliment each other, and as they grow together, they prepare to start a family. As the love grows between the couple, and they prepare to start a family, they can be a positive influence on each other. So, there is every chance that upon marriage he could change his ways through your positive influence on him.
However, as you say, your concern is that it may happen the other way round, and he, instead, may force you to move away your deen. It is for you to consider these possibilities and the possible consequences should it head either way, But it could be useful to also find out from him to what extent he is willing to compromise, too, including perhaps the mixed ceremony and male photographer.
You may also find that once in marriage, you become more involved in better activities together that he becomes distracted from the things you dislike. This is something that can be done with your support. For example, there is much for us all to learn about Islam, so it may be that you could study Islam together, take a course together that provides a more halal distraction than music and TV. You say he is practising already, so it seems the foundations to begin are already there.
This is, however, a very important decision for you to make, and you are the only one who can ultimately make this decision under Allah’s (swt) guidance. I hope the points I have made here will make your options a bit clearer.
You have started the process in the best way by asking Allah (swt) to guide you to make the right choice. May Allah (swt) guide you to make the best choice in a spouse and make him the coolness of your eyes whom you will grow together as a couple and get closer to Allah (swt). May you both be content in your deen and with each other, and be good for each other both in this life and the next.