Finding a life partner is important for most people. Many studies show that people with a long-lasting stable relationship tend to be happier. In Islam, this type of relationship is governed by the principles of Islamic marriage. The goal of a successful marriage is to help each other in this life to achieve the best in the next life.
When a man and a woman decide to join their lives in Islam, this is sanctioned by the institution of marriage. The Prophet, peace be upon him, indicated to us in a Hadith that the best thing for two people that love each other is marriage (Ibn Majah).
He also said there are four principal reasons to choose a partner for marriage: their beauty, their wealth, lineage and prestige or their Deen, and he added that choosing someone for their Deen is the key to a successful marriage (Bukhari and Muslim).
It might seem strange that love is not mentioned within those reasons, but more on that a bit later. For now, let’s talk about why the Deen (the way one understands the world and religion) is the most important.
Having the Deen and not knowing about it
Generally, I never ask people why they converted to Islam. At least not point-blank. It is like asking a born Muslim why they are Muslim, why do they believe. In my experience, most people are not ready to answer this question in an informal conversation and can be a bit uncomfortable.
But with David it was different. I had just met him, and our conversation took us there. He told me that he first heard about Islam because he met a girl in college that was Muslim. They started talking and seeing each other in class and he expressed interest in her, but she told him that because she was Muslim, they could not have a relationship.
So, David started researching about Islam. Mainly, he wanted to find topics to speak about with her and also to impress her with what he had learnt. He learnt about the principles of belief, justice in transactions, the high moral and good character that Islam enjoins.
He read about the life of Prophet Muhammad and was impressed by how he was an excellent example of this. Something that particularly stood out for him was the little regard that Islam gives to this ephemeral life. It is important, yes, but only in so far as it is a transition to the next life. David, without telling the girl, decided to become a Muslim.
When he met her again, he told her that he had become Muslim, but her reaction surprised him. Why? She asked. While David was explaining that everything made sense to him, he realised that she did not understand him. She thought he had only become Muslim to marry her. Furthermore, he realised that one of the things that had impressed him the most, the little regard Islam gives this life, is the thing she understood less.
Having the same Deen is the key to a successful marriage
People usually translate Deen as religion. But the word ‘Deen’ encompass so much more than that. One’s worldview would be a more appropriate translation. When two people share the same worldview, they would probably have similar goals and aspirations. And when two people have similar goals, it is a fertile ground to develop a relationship. And when something is sown on fertile ground, if it is properly cared for and watered, it will probably grow successfully.
David realised that, although he had become Muslim and that she was also a Muslim, they did not share their aspirations and goals; he wanted the next life, she wanted this world. Their relationship did not progress, but David got married sometime later and is now a father of two kids.
Having the same Deen is the key to finding love
What is love? That is a difficult question. Something that wise men and philosophers have attempted to answer throughout centuries, and still, we don’t have a definitive answer. Love is elusive, changing, subjective and, therefore, any definition would be the same.
Hence, we can understand that the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not mention love as one of the reasons why someone should get married. It does not mean, however, that two people cannot love each other and get married.
But it is also true that, if we would understand love as something that can be nurtured and developed, it is much more probable that it will appear amongst two people that share the same worldview.
Actually, it is a point of discussion whether love is something that we can nurture or if it is something that is a gift from Allah, since He says:
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.Quran, 30:21
If we understand love as a gift from Allah and a sign from Him, then it is not something we can make happen, but it is our responsibility to put the conditions for it to happen. And, the best way of doing that, is marrying someone who has the same Deen.
Marrying someone with the same Deen/worldview for a successful marriage
Finding a life partner is important for most people. But equally important is making that relationship a successful marriage. Studies have shown that divorces are one of the most stressful situations in a person’s life.
The best and surer way to do that is by finding someone that shares the same Deen/worldview. And the opposite is also true. That means that we should be sincere and honest with ourselves when taking this important step and we should try not to ‘put on makeup’ so that we have a superficial appearance of similitude. That would be an injustice to ourselves and the other person, and a path towards trouble and sadness.