Character Comes FIRST
When the question of marriage arises, what do you look for? Let me put it another way: what do you notice first? Do you notice their wealth, their lineage, their status, character and piety or beauty? As troubling as this is for many of our dear brothers and sisters, many Muslims look first upon beauty before they make a decision to move forward with speaking to the potential prospect.
The Prophet (pbuh) did after all mention that beauty is one of the traits we can marry for, along with the others I have mentioned above. However, while there is nothing wrong with looking at the outward beauty of someone, the REAL beauty is that which you CAN’T see - their character and soul. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever comes to you and you’re satisfied with their deen (faith) and character (khuluq) marry them! If you don’t, there will be corruption and great harm in the earth.” (Al-Tirmidhi in Kitab al-Nikaah (#1085)).
So what was the hikmah behind this hadith? The truth is that our beloved Prophet (pbuh) is advising us that before we look at anything else, we should always look at a person’s character and deen. A person who has a wonderful character and is pious, but is rejected on these things simply means that you are setting yourself up for long-term disappointment and fitnah.
How many times have you met brothers or sisters who married for beauty and nothing else but then were severely let down and hurt afterwards? All the beauty in the world can’t serve or help you in the slightest in the Hereafter, unless it’s matched by deen and character. Subhan’Allah, so many lives have been ruined and so many people have been hurt as a result of bad decisions they made when choosing a spouse. Everyone wants their spouse to be attractive, but the truth is that if they don’t have a good character and or have deen in them, then they are of little use to you in this life or the next.
Subhan’Allah, there is so much hikmah in this hadith - it is immeasurable. Let me also draw your attention to another hadith:
An-Nawwas ibn Sam’an said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, about piety and wrong action. He said, ‘Piety is good character and wrong action is what is hatched up in your self and you do not want other people to know about.’” (Muslim).
The Prophet makes a clear distinction in this hadith about piety coming from good character and bad character being that which you want to hide from others because you are ashamed of it.
The truth is that accepting people with other than good character means you are accepting their flaws and their faults and excusing them. How will people ever change and be better Muslims if they are accepted in the current state they are in? In another hadith, Abu’d-Darda’ reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “There will be nothing heavier in the balance of the believer on the Day of Resurrection than good character. Allah dislikes foul language.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Isn’t that what we ALL want? On the Day of Reckoning, every single person will be desperately hoping their good deeds to weigh heavy in the scales. Marrying a person of piety and good character will, Insha’Allah, help you to be a better person and help your scale be heavy with good deeds in the Hereafter.
You need to understand and realize that beauty will wither and die and is no guarantee that a person will treat you well. Wealth comes and goes. Lineage and status mean nothing if you are not a good person. The only thing you will take with you when you die is your good deeds and everything else will be left behind.
So the next time a good person comes to you to ask for your hand in marriage, think carefully before saying no - it may be you are turning away something in which Allah SWT has placed much goodness for you.
The author is an author, strategist and is the Global Project Manager of Pure Matrimony (PureMatrimony.com).