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Last Updated: 2011/05/18
Summary of question
Is the marriage of an adherent and practicing religious girl with a carefree and secular minded boy going to be successful?
There is a 25 years old girl who has separated from her husband for the past one year, albeit with the consent of her ex-husband. Now, one of her old university classmates is in contact with her seemingly trying to approach her for marriage but this boy is from a family that does not adhere to religious principles and values such modest dress (hijab), prayers and the rules pertaining mahram and non-mahram. Even he and his family drink alcoholic beverages sometimes. Although the girl does not observe proper hijab, she offers prayers, reads Quran and comes from a Muslim family. The boy has admitted that he has been in sexual relations with girls since the age of 15. The girl's father has died and her mother wonders what to do. Is this marriage advisable? Is it going to work? The boy has said that he is going to offer prayers for the girl's sake? Is it good to rely on such a person who has been educated and brought up in such a family? Kindly, help the girl's mother, and please, note that the girl is receiving proposals from other men also but the girl's mother without seeing them rejects them for this boy's sake.
Concise answer

Islam attaches great importance to real pleasure and prosperity of human beings through Islamically balanced, highly ethical, well-educated and well-behaved families and happy homes. It has important teachings concerning marriage which must be taken into consideration. They include the ethical and moral adherence of the boy and girl, honesty and truthfulness, genealogical originality and equality of the boy and girl in terms of their cultural, financial, family, scientific and religious status. Therefore, considering the boy's present status, such a marriage is unlikely to be successful.

Detailed Answer

Marriage is one of the beauties of creation and a tradition of all nations and peoples of the world. Islam also attaches great importance to it; it has been looked at from different angles and aspects in a way such that it is considered to be irreplaceable with anything. The conducts and practice of the imams and noble servants of God who have the highest degree of knowledge about Islam well endorse the above. Imam Baqir (a.s.) narrated from the Holy Prophet of Islam as having said: "There has not been created any institution in Islam which is more favored and dearer to Allah than marriage.[1]

The Commander of Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s) said: "Engage in marriage; because this is the tradition of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh)."[2]

The Prophet of Islam and all of the Imams have laid so much emphasis on the institution of marriage that it has been considered to be equal to safeguarding half of one's religion. The Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him and his family, stated: "Whoever gets married has safeguarded half of his religion."[3] That is to say, marriage causes a believer's personality to reach a stage where he safeguards half of his faith. Imam Sadiq (a.s) stated: "Two Rak'ats (units) of a married person's Salat (prayer) are better than seventy Rak'ats offered by a bachelor."[4]

All this emphasis implies the extra-ordinary importance attached by Islam to marriage and formation of family. It is a structure in which the first nucleus of a healthy and divine society comes into being. Islam not only attaches importance to marriage itself but also to the way it is formed and continued.[5]

Islam has presented highly valuable guidelines and models for us, and it has explained the characteristics and features of a good spouse and a healthy marriage as shall be enumerated below:

1. Having real faith and adherence to Islamic moral codes: Such a person, being in communion with God, is reliable. On the other hand, a young man who is not abiding by such principles is not likely to remain faithful to his commitments. Imam Reza (a.s) said: "If a man seeks your hand for marriage and you are happy with his religiosity and moral characteristics, give consent for marriage with him. Do not reject him because of his poverty."[6]

2. Having good moral characteristics which cause the parties to the marriage to be happy and have a prosperous family life. It is said in the traditions that a bad spouse leads a person into pre-mature old age.

3. Honesty and truthfulness: If a man gives promises while seeking a woman's hand for marriage but he does not remain committed, there would be no trust in their lives.

4. Genealogical originality: The Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh) said: "Keep away from the grass that grows on dirt i.e. a beautiful woman in a bad family. The Holy Quran says: He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them. According to the verse, the women are a source of comfort and good for men.

5. Avoiding heavy dowry:   The Holy Prophet (pbuh) says: "The best women of my Ummat (nation) are those who are beautiful in face and less in dowry."[7]

6. Cultural, financial, family, scientific and religious equality of man and woman: If a girl is not of equal status to man especially culturally, it will lead to serious problems in the couple's lives. One should try, as far as he can, to marry someone who is considered to be his/her equal. It is only a faithful Muslim who is the equal of another faithful Muslim. The Holy Prophet said: "“If one with whose religion and character you are pleased comes to you (to seek your daughter’s hand in marriage), then marry (your daughter) to him.”[8] 

Given the details you have provided in your message and the fact that the boy has been brought up in an imbalanced, unethical and secular family, it is very much unlikely that the boy will keep his promises and remain committed. Therefore, there is a strong possibility that the marriage will end up in failure.

The girl should be advised to take these matters serious. She should know that marriage with a faithful and religious man who abides by Islamic moral rules and values is very much better and it plays a significant role in her prosperity.

Being carefree and inattentive to prayers and hijab and drinking wine mean that the boy is not the equal of a practicing and faithful Muslim girl. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) says: "If a drinker makes a request for marriage, do not accept him."[9]

We advise the girl to choose the best way after seeking advice from her elders or those of friends and relatives whose knowledge, wisdom, and concern she is confident.

May Allah grant you success.

[1] - Ameli, Shaykh Hurr, Wasail al-Shi'ah,  vol.20, pg.13, Aalulbayt (a.s.) Publications.

[2] - Ibid, pg.15.

[3] - Ibid, pg.17.

[4] - Wasail al-Shia, vol.20, pg.20. رَکْعَتَانِ یُصَلِّیهِمَا الْمُتَزَوِّجُ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ سَبْعِینَ رَکْعَةً یُصَلِّیهَا غَیْرُ مُتَزَوِّجٍ

[5] - Question 2478 (site:2619), index: Abandoning Marriage

[6] - Rayshahri, Muhammad, Mizanul Hikmah, vo.4, pg.280, Darul Hadith Publication.

[7] - Question 1300 (site: 1283), Index: The Philosophy of Marriage in Islam

[8] - Nahjul Fasahah, pg. 37, hadith No.193.

[9] - Hurr Ameli, Muhammad bin Hasan, Wasail al-Shi'ah, vol.20, pg.79, Aalulbayt


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