Meeting potential partner

Parents and guardians should play an effective role in helping their children seek the right partner. This is more relevant to the parents in relation to daughters (especially virgins) but it applies to sons as well.

Parents have a tremendous responsibility in the marriage process, they may suggest individuals as prospective spouses, screen and check proposals and act as the third party between the two candidates, but their biggest responsibility is to help and guide their children to make the best choice based on their insight and experience.
The following is a guide for parents and wali's to help them to aid their sons and daughters. They are not hard and fast rules which will guarantee success; they are just a few points of helpful advice.

1. Parents/guardians have to sit down with those who they are responsible for and openly discuss what kind of husband or wife they are looking for.

Parents may live in the same household as their children and think that they know them inside out, but many parents are shocked to find their children's' ideas about who they want to marry can be drastically different from what they expected.

Marrying cousin 'Muhammad' or 'Shanaaz' from “back home” may just not be acceptable! Or the nice boy or girl from the local cultural community who is highly educated and very well-off financially may be of little interest to a son or daughter because of their lack of Islamic knowledge and practice.

Open-mindedness and clear communication may reveal a side of your kids that may be hard to swallow. However, you must remember that marriage primarily affects the two people involved in the relationship. They must like the person they are marrying.

2. Clearly outline the rules of meeting a potential partner

Parents/guardians must set boundaries as to how and when they will meet prospective candidates. Too often, Muslims stray by thinking seeking a spouse is an excuse to engage in dating. Dating occurs when a man and woman spend time alone together. This is usually not with the intention of getting involved in a long-term or serious relationship. It is just to “have fun”. There is no little to no serious discussion of future plans and/or the intention to marry.

Dating can occur amongst two Muslims seeking marriage if they want to go out alone, with no third party present to “get to know each other”. This can also develop through hours of unnecessary phone or e-mail conversations. Setting the boundaries of meeting a prospective partner is the responsibility of the parent/guardian and the meeting must be chaperoned so the two are not alone together in total seclusion. They can be alone in a room together but the parents, guardian or a third party need to be within hearing distance of the couple.

5. Investigate the potential partner thoroughly

One of the reasons for many divorces is the lack of proper investigation of a prospective marriage partner before marriage.

Parents/guardians have this heavy responsibility of finding out as much as possible about the individual who will possibly spend the rest of their life with their son or daughter. One should look to the individual's family, friends and others in verifying their deen and character. No time or expense should be spared in carrying out this duty as many problems occur soon after marriage due to inadequate investigation of the potential partner.

6. Honesty

Parents/guardians, as well as individuals looking for a spouse must be honest with regards to their credentials, background and other pertinent details about their personal lives.

Inflating a son or daughter's educational credentials, religiousness or maturity will only backfire when checking reveals the true nature of things.

8. Forceful Marriage

Some parents/guardians exert extreme pressure to get their children to marry the “right one”, often in complete variance with what the young man or woman is looking for. They go to extreme lengths to hand pick and completely decide who their sons and daughters marry and they exclude them from the process.

This is not condoned in Islam. Forced marriages are not only unIslamic, they are a social problem that affects not only the immediate family but the wider community and in some extreme cases result in so-called 'honour killings'.