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IslamQA: How do you know the person is the one you should marry?

How do you know the person is the one you should marry? It’s just that there are so many options and I don’t want to regret this major decision that is going to change my life.

There is no criterion that you can use to know with absolute certainty who the right person is. So the way I would go about it would be half intellectual and half based on my heart.

The intellectual part is to think clearly about the person’s attributes, his family and his life condition and to speak with your own family and friends and ask about their judgment of the person. This can help you form an idea of the men that are better fits for you than others.

Once you do this, you will likely still have multiple men that may be eligible and that you cannot easily decide between. This is where the heart’s part comes in. Pray, read the Quran, and try to get the person better, and see where your heart takes you. It may take many months of this before you are able to form a clear idea about the man you prefer.

If you eventually settle your mind on a particular man but remain unsure if that is the right man for you, you could consider going forward with an engagement (nikāḥ) without a wedding. This would enable you to date the man in a ḥalāl way without becoming his wife (as discussed here). Some Muslim cultures practice this form of dating, but others have no concept of it. But from an Islamic law perspective it is perfectly wholesome and permissible.

After that you can take things slowly. Create occasions for your family to meet the man and interact with him (for example by setting a particular day or two of the week for him to come to your parents’ home and have dinner there). You can also go out with him on dates with your family’s permission. Since you have performed the nikāḥ, spending time alone with him is permitted in Islam. This will help you gain an idea of what marriage to him would be like.

At some point you will likely feel content in your heart that this is the person for you and you can then plan the wedding. And if you discover that you do not like the man, you can break off the engagement. In such a case Islamic law only requires the man to pay half the alimony that is promised during the engagement if it is broken off before the wedding (i.e. before consummation of the marriage, i.e. sexual intimacy), but the Quran strongly recommends that the woman’s family should take no alimony from the man in such a case.

I hope you find this helpful. Best wishes.

And God knows best.
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