Marriage, in Islam, is a solemn contract for it constitutes the family, the cornerstone of the whole society. When looking for a spouse, a Muslim should spare no effort in marrying a practicing person so that they will lead a righteous marital life. Therefore, Islam makes clear the qualities one should look for in a spouse. In this regard, religion stands as the top of one’s priorities.

The eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states: Islam guides the Muslim youth who want to marry to propose to righteous young women so that these women will help them remain steadfast on the right path. Righteous women please their husbands, obey them, counsel them when they need a piece of advice, and are (always) honest with them (especially) when their husbands are away from home. Allah Almighty describes the righteous women saying: “The righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard” (An-Nisaa’ 4: 34).

A Muslim man is to search for these characteristics in the woman he seeks to marry. He should not look only for the woman’s beauty, or her high family status or wealth. It is righteousness that should be the focus. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “This world is (an abode of) pleasure and its best (kind of) pleasure is the righteous woman.” He (peace and blessings be upon him) also said: “By bestowing upon a person the blessing of marrying a righteous woman Allah Almighty has enabled this person to observe half (of the teachings) of his religion. So, he is to be mindful of the other half (of the teachings) of his religion.”

He (peace and blessings be upon him) also said: “The best (worldly) reward that a true believer gets after God-consciousness is having a righteous woman (as a wife).”

A woman’s righteousness is reflected in her abiding by Almighty Allah’s orders and avoiding His prohibitions. He who marries a righteous woman has, in fact, a precious treasure. A Muslim man should not give up seeking to marry a righteous woman on weak pretexts. It is sufficient in this regard to follow the Prophet’s advice that he (peace and blessings be upon him) gave to a person that was seeking marriage, that is: “Marry the religious woman; otherwise, you will be a loser!”

If this is the Prophet’s guidance in this regard, how would a committed Muslim seek to marry a non-practicing woman who would be an obstacle rather than a supporter on his way of piety? It is strange that a committed person would have an inclination like that, though it is natural that a person be in harmony with those who follow his way of life.

The same goes for the committed Muslim woman and her family. When suitors propose to a committed Muslim woman, they should choose the righteous person who will observe her rights and help her go forward on the right path. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “If a person of acceptable religion and character presents himself for marriage, marry him, otherwise, there would be widespread sedition and rampant corruption in the land.”

It is a good intention of a committed Muslim woman to marry a non-practicing person on the purpose of reforming him, but this involves a big risk. Usually it is the man who tries to impose his way of life on his wife, and if she does not respond, he may disturb her way of life and compel her to follow his. That is what the early righteous Muslims warned against when they said: “He who marries his daughter to an immoral man severs the bond of relation between him and her.” They would also advise fathers: “When it comes to marrying your daughter, marry her to a righteous man. When a righteous man loves his wife, he cherishes her, and when he dislikes her, he does not oppress her.”

Hence, I emphasize that in order for the committed Muslims, men and women, to be on the safe side when it comes to choosing a person to marry, they should look for spouses who will suit them in their way of life, commitment and behavior. It is further recommendable that a committed person looks for a spouse that will resemble him/her in the way of thinking and attitudes towards life. This will save them from conflict in opinion which may put their marital life at risk. This, in fact, is an acceptable criterion that goes in line with the pure human nature, day-to-day life, and the teachings of Qur’an. Allah Almighty says: “Good women are for good men and good men are for good women”(An-Nur 24: 26)