On finding “the one”

The most common question single sisters have asked me is “How did you know your husband was ‘the one’?” Personally, I followed the advice of my teachers and didn’t put my husband down for not being the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Men are always at a disadvantage because they’re never going to be perfect like the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and neither are we like the Khadijas, Fatimas or Aishas.

A few questions I found useful whilst being single and considering marriage:

First of all, I asked myself “Who am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What do I want to contribute to my marriage?” If you don’t know any of this then you’re not really ready to get married, simply because if you can’t be honest to yourself then you can’t be honest to the potential man/woman considering you. You’ll end up giving them an “I’m x, y, and z” answer and then later they’ll realise you’re the opposite of what you said you were… and that’s called deceit – not the way to start a contract.

Secondly, I asked myself “What won’t I stand for in a marriage?” After all, it’s your choice and there’s compatibility that has to be considered in everything. Habib Kadhim reminded me of this at the Trodden Path retreat and I felt like shooting myself when I realised I hadn’t thought of the obvious – people have got to be compatible with one another and if they “reject” one another due to not being compatible then that’s okay. Don’t just list obvious things (e.g. a partner who is “abusive”, “swears a lot”, “alcoholic”, “nonMuslim”) but write things that are a great “no no” to you. For me, I couldn’t marry a man who didn’t want to travel away from his home city. I have great hopes to travel to sacred places and gain knowledge so marrying someone who was adamant he didn’t want to travel was an absolute “don’t pursue further” for me.

Thirdly, I looked at what I did want in a husband. All too often people ask this question first and therefore forget that they too have a contribution to make towards the marriage. As a result, they seek a marriage partner based on how much they’ll get out of being married rather than how much they’re willing to put into the marriage them self. Ustadha Hedaya Hartford in the marriage course I undertook before getting married, told students to make a list of 5 qualities that we must have in our spouse. She then asked us to ask our self “what, out of these 5 qualities, can I live without?” and then remove that quality from the list. She then asked us to keep going through the list knocking off what quality we could live without such that at the end we’re left with just the 1 quality. From experience of speaking to sisters, they tend to have about 10 qualities so if you want to start out with 10 (or 20) then go ahead… just keep asking yourself at every round “what, out of these qualities, can I live without?” The whole point of this exercise is that you’re left with one quality that you’ll analyse a potential spouse by.

  • If he/she doesn’t have this one quality that you can’t live without then you know you won’t be happy in the future with them so there’s no reason to pursue them further.
  • If he/she does have that quality then you should move forward with that one quality in mind. The other benefit to this is that when you’re married and your spouse rubs you up the wrong way (it happens in every marriage) then you can remind yourself of that one quality you married your spouse for and hence find some balance (i.e. realise that they’re not all that bad).

I asked The Husband if I could post my list up to demonstrate what my list looked like and he agreed (for anyone thinking “you don’t need his permission”, my answer to you is that I did this out of respecting him and not out of being “oppressed” or being in fear of him. Masha’Allah he’s a good man and he deserves my respect).

Ustadha asks us to think of the 5 traits YOU MUST have in a spouse:

  1. Good Understanding of Deen
  2. A job
  3. Good Islamic Character
  4. A sense of humour
  5. Be good looking

Now cross off one to make 4:

  1. Good Understanding of Deen
  2. A job.
  3. Good Islamic Character
  4. A sense of humour.

Now cross off one to make 3:

  1. Good Understanding of Deen
  2. Good Islamic Character
  3. A sense of humour.

Now cross off one to make 2:

  1. Good Understanding of Deen
  2. Good Islamic Character

Now cross off one to make 1:

  1. Good Islamic Character

I’ve heard many sisters say “he has to be practising”. This concerns me and I’m glad in our recent MicroMadrassa Fiqh class, Shaykh Haroon Hanif questioned a sister on what “practising brother” meant. Just because a man has a beard and wears Islamic clothing doesn’t mean that he’s practising. Also, everyone has a different understanding for the word “practising”. It could be that he prays his 5 prayers and reads Imam alGhazali’s Ihya-ulum-Deen every night before he goes to bed; or it could be a man who loves reading the Qur’an; or it could be a man who fasts regularly. Either way, the term “practising” can’t be put on your list until you clarify what this term means to you. Then work from there.

So now through the aid of family/friend connections a potential spouse has been found who has the one quality you can’t live without. You’re now asking yourself “how do I know he/she is ‘the one’?” Truth is, you won’t know straight away but you will know they fit in the “one quality you can’t live without” box and that you’ve only reached this point due to istikhara.

Now it’s up to you (and him/her). My advice: Stop asking yourself if he/she is the one and get married to him/her. I too was nervous, asking myself the same question “how do I know he is ‘the one’?”, more so out of fear as I had seen so many marriages fail and felt I was taking a big risk. But then I asked my dear teacher “how do I know?” and he replied “Asma, when you know you’ll know” and from that answer I realised Allah brought me to this point and my istikhara kept bringing about goodness and even during the obstacles there was ease so I kept going and got married to the potential partner, who now Alhamdulillah is my dear husband.

Granted, some marriages work out and some don’t. That’s life. But at least you’ll know you went in knowing what you wanted to give to your marriage and you chose a spouse who didn’t have any qualities you detested and had the one quality you couldn’t live without.

This entry was posted in Marriage/Family/Society, Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to On finding “the one”

  1. beenish ashraf says:

    asma this is excellent advice, may ALLAH swt keep you smiling always 🙂

  2. Pingback: On being honest when pursuing a potential « SeekersPath

  3. Pingback: On thinking you can change your potential spouse « SeekersPath

  4. Ayesha says:

    I love your marriage articles, mashaAllah. I’m getting married inshaAllah and I too often have this niggly fear here and there on small issues e.g. My OCD on cleanliness, wanting privacy/space at times. However, from my surroundings, I learnt that marriage is about compromising, for the sake of Allah swt and that there are many successful, beautiful and peaceful marriages out there (even with an increase in the ‘d’ word) but it is hard work on both parts and that being forgiving and overlooking such issues can lead to happiness. A Prophetic style happiness 🙂
    PS hope you continue writing about your marriage journey, its thought provoking! May Allah swt bless you and your family xx

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