I desperately need your help and advice on an issue. I am a 25-year-old Muslim female who studied engineering. I currently work in a good company.
I have been an emotionally cold-hearted girl throughout my life, especially with males because I have observed very few guys are what we would call decent or of good character. And the male population of the subcontinent is generally not what you would consider a good husband. (My own father was not unfortunately and I have had a rough childhood with emotional abuse.)
Now, there is this guy with me (same age) at my office who is a very decent and intelligent individual, a real gentleman. He treats women with respect, does not stare or ogle at them (what I admire best about him!), and talks with them very nicely. He is morally a good person, I feel.
However, he does not have a beard or wears his trousers above his ankles, but somehow his moral character and decency has made me like him. I don't want to date him (never done that) or flirt with him, but whenever I think about the qualities I would like in my future spouse, I think he fits the bill.
I have never felt this thing towards any other guy before. I am not very open and frank with guys in general, so these feelings amaze and scare me equally.
To conclude, the thing is that my parents have started looking for proposals as I am of marriageable age, but so far I have yet to see a prospect as decent as the guy I mentioned above.
In addition, I have been going through this hellish process known as the arranged marriage proposals and rejection for the last two years. I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I have always wanted that if I get married, it would be to a gentleman.
I want to marry someone I will willingly respect and love as my husband and my leader, but currently I am in a fix! I would like to ask what my options are in the light of Islam in this matter.
Can I pray to God for help that He makes some way towards a halal relationship with this guy? Please don't say “why don't you send your guardians with your proposal”.
In the country where I live I will get labelled as a promiscuous woman for my life if I did so, and the proposal would be, of course, rejected because that is the culture here. Only guys' families can send proposals.
Please help and advise me!
In this counseling answer:
There is nothing wrong with arranging marriages as long as it is accepted by both the bride and the groom.
The first step to take is to tell your parents about him. Share with them your thoughts about this man and how well-mannered and religious he is.
Whilst you are giving your parents some time to think about it and accept it, please pray Istikharah.
If you decide to talk to him directly, then make sure it is in a respectable and halal manner.
You will find reassurance in the fact that Khadijah, the Prophet’s (saw) first wife, is reported to have proposed marriage to him and he (saw) accepted.
If you are too nervous to approach him directly or are unable to do it for some reason, you could send a message through someone who knows him.
As-Salam ‘Alaikom sister,
Thank you for contacting us regarding your concern. I will try my best to advise you on this matter, in sha’ Allah.
I am very pleased to hear that you have achieved higher education and that you are now working for a good company, ma sha’Allah. You sound to me a very wise and understanding woman who knows what qualities she should be looking for in a spouse.
There is nothing wrong with arranging marriages as long as it is accepted by both the bride and the groom. Islam has honored women by giving them the right to choose their husbands, and parents have no right to forcefully marry them off to someone they dislike.
The modern Muslim woman knows this right but does not reject the advice and guidance of her parents when a potential spouse comes along.
Parents only have their daughters’ best interest at heart, and they have more experience of life and people. Due to your difficult childhood with your father, it is no surprise that you have struggled to trust other men.
Now that you may have found someone who is trustable and acceptable, the first step to take is to tell your parents about him. Share with them your thoughts about this man and how well-mannered and religious he is.
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If your parents are very traditional and have difficulties to accept that you have found someone whom you are interested to marry, then I suggest that you show some patience with them.
They might be used to a different way of doing this in the culture they are living in, and they might have other expectations regarding your marriage, give them some time to accept your request. Speak to them in a polite and respectable way and don’t be forceful or rude to them.
I am sure they will accept it in the end when they acknowledge that he is a good man.
Respecting parents is one of the most significant of Islam. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (17:23)
Whilst you are giving your parents some time to think about it and accept it, you can do Istikharah (seek guidance in decision-making) from Allah (swt) to see if your office co-worker is suitable for marriage.
Those who seek guidance from their Creator (swt), consulting fellow believers and then remain firm in their resolve, do not regret the decision they have taken. Allah (swt) has said:
“…and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” (3:159)
Your parents will surely agree to it after some time if the Istikharah is positive.
Next step could be to approach this man. You can either talk to him directly or do it through some other people. There is absolutely no prohibition in Islam for a woman to propose marriage to a man. There are no moral or ethical limitations from the Islamic perspective.
You will find reassurance in the fact that Khadijah, the Prophet’s (saw) first wife, is reported to have proposed marriage to him and he (saw) accepted. Obviously, our best role model is the Prophet (saw), and in this, we can find the most beautiful example.
If you decide to talk to him directly, then make sure it is in a respectable and halal manner. You can meet him in a public place as long as you follow the Islamic rules of etiquette (having a chaperone, no flirtatious or sexual speech, lowering the gaze, etc.). This may be seen as improper or brazen in some cultures. But that is a cultural attitude, not an Islamic.
If you are too nervous to approach him directly or are unable to do it for some reason, you could send a message through someone who knows him (for example his sister, aunt, cousin, etc.) that you are interested in order to see if he is interested to marry you, too.
If your co-worker shows the same interest in you and is serious for marriage, he will surely speak to his parents about you.
When that is done, either you can ask your parents to approach his parents, or he can take his parents to your house to ask for your hand.
I pray that Allah (swt) makes it easy for you and that you marry the person who is best for you, In sha’ Allah.
If the Istikharah is positive for this man, things will go more smoothly and it will be easier for you to talk to your parents, with little problems. If you get trouble after trouble and there is no way you can marry this man, then that’s a no sign.
“…and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (8:46)
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