A useful piece of advice in the opinion of this author is that a new Muslim should take Islam one piece at a time. It is a total way of life that needs time to adjust. It can take years to leave many non-Islamic behaviors, but sticking to Islam brings happiness in this life and in the one to come. Therefore, allow yourself time to grow as a Muslim and practice what you learn.
For a new Muslim, this author would advise to wait at least a year, preferably more, before thinking about getting married. Marriage is a big decision and one must allow oneself sufficient time to grow before making such a life-changing decision. Many of your views will change after entering into Islam. Marriage will set a direction for your life and determine how you identify yourself later in life. What you may find acceptable today, may not be acceptable after a few years of being a Muslim. Instead of looking to getting married right away, spend some time to not just learn, but live Islam. You would want to marry someone with the same dedication and level of application to Islam as you. That level will fluctuate in the normative years of becoming a Muslim.
Often times, a new Muslim finds himself/herself lonely after accepting Islam, therefore, getting married too early to seek companionship usually results in a quick divorce and bitterness. People often times forget that marriage requires financial and emotional stability.
After establishing a stable base to stand on for your new religion, you can learn the details of marriage in Islam.
Finding a Muslim Life Partner:
What is the purpose of your creation? It is to worship Allah and to draw close to Him. Consequently, choose a mate who will help you fulfill your purpose of creation. Do not ignore the factors in a prospective partner that will assist you in the life to come. This way, Insha-Allah, your love will be blessed.
Consider how seriously your prospective partner tries to draw close to Allah, and not just how physically attractive he or she appears. At the same time, keep in mind that certain level of physical attraction is necessary to get married. Moreover, just because someone is trying their best to be good Muslim does not mean they are faultless or even suitable for marriage. Sufficient inquiries will have to be made.
A new Muslim enters into Islam with a lot of preconceived notions and ideas that shape their outlook on how they perceive things. Western culture promotes marriage as a commitment to one person after having dated or even lived with many, knowing that one is the "right" person. The Islamic concept is much different. For example, in Islam you typically do not "fall in love" before marriage, but after marriage. In Islam, marriage is not a result of romantic love only, which brings intense love in the beginning, followed by later disappointment. In the West, as quickly as people "fall in love," they "fall out of love!" In the West, people imagine their "honeymoon phase" will last forever. It never does. That is why, people keep hopping from one partner to another, trying to keep up the excitement.
Islam, on the other hand, sobers us to stay together when the "honeymoon phase" ends. It gives you guidelines to sustain a healthy relationship for the rest of your life. Love is definitely part of an Islamic marriage, but not the type that is shown in movies and teen romance novels. It is not sensible to destroy your life looking for romantic love that only exists in movies and novels.
Common Sense in Marriage:
1. Allah warns us,
"And do not marry unbelieving women until they believe...even though she attracts you. Nor marry believing women to unbelievers until they believe...even though he attracts you. Unbelievers invite you towards the Fire..." (Quran 2:221)
The person you will live with the rest of your life will without doubt have a great influence on you. Therefore, you should ensure you have similar goals in life. The top of those goals should be seeking Allah's pleasure. When you meet your prospective spouse, ask questions. Just because a man looks religious, does not mean he does not smoke or prays regularly on time. Similarly, if a woman appears religious does not mean she knows how to be a good Muslim wife and mother. Ask about matters that are important to you. Do not take anything for granted. Discuss finances, children, in-laws, work or study after marriage, division of chores, in short, anything that is important to you. It will help you make a decision about whether you want to marry that person or not.
Finding out about the person before marriage is not un-Islamic. Informed decision will save you from much pain and suffering later. Moreover, offer the Istikharah prayer (the prayer for Guidance).
2. Do not expect major changes in a person after marriage. People change with time, and often they do not change how we expect them to or want them to change. For example, if someone has a particular personality trait like stinginess or wastefulness, it is unlikely to change quickly and easily. Getting married with false hopes is ill-advised and risky. Do not criticize someone for their physical flaws later in life. It will ruin your marriage. Be honest with others and yourself and take responsibility for your choices. A initial choice will determine how much effort you will have to put later in your marriage to lead a happy married life pleasing to your Creator.
It is also important to think carefully before bringing a child into the couple's life. A baby should be brought into a healthy, stable marriage. Many people end up being single parents, bringing children into a dysfunctional family where there is either no dad or no mom.
3. That two people are good Muslims does not mean they will make a good couple. Compatibility is essential. It is important to choose a spouse who views and practices Islam like you. Furthermore, religion is not the only area of compatibility. Work, continuing education, socialization, city of residence, kids, and finances are also among important areas.
4. Realize what are your rights and responsibilities as a Muslim husband or wife and fulfill them to the best of your ability.
5. It is beneficial for newcomers to Islam to search for a role model. Follow the role model in what they do according to Islam and leave the rest.
The only form of interfaith marriages permitted are between a Muslim man and a Christian or Jewish woman with the condition that she be chaste. What it means is that she does not have a boyfriend and does not have sex before marriage.
The Quran states:
"This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking (secret) lovers. And whoever denies the faith – his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers." [Quran 5:5]
Nevertheless, in a non-Muslim country, a Muslim man is discouraged to marry a non-Muslim. Some scholars even say it is forbidden. The reason is that it creates many complexities in case of divorce, which is common, especially with children custody issues.
A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man, even if he is a Jew or a Christian, under any circumstance.
Furthermore, a Muslim man can not marry a non-Jewish or non-Christian woman under any circumstance. Therefore, marriage to atheists, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, agnostics, and Qadianis is not allowed for a Muslim man or woman.
Same sex marriage:
There is no concept in Islam of same sex or homosexual 'marriage'. On the contrary, committing a homosexual act is sinful, and a forbidden act.
So, how do you go about getting married? How do you search for a spouse?
There are a few simple ways to look for a marriage partner.
1. If you like someone, for example, from work or school, you should talk to the Imam of your mosque or some close Muslim friends on how to proceed. Cultural practices differ greatly on what is considered appropriate or inappropriate in this regard. You can start by asking your Pakistani (or Arab) friends, 'What is the best way to approach a Pakistani (or Arab) family for marriage?'
2. If you are starting from scratch, it will be a good idea to first make a 'marriage resume,' with the following information:
· Contact information (address, email, phone, etc)
· Work details
· Little bit about your family
· What you are looking for (age, education, etc)
· Little bit about yourself and your future plans
· May indicate whether previously married or never married, and any children
· May indicate that "special personal information" (like criminal record, health issues, mental illness, etc) will be shared later
Get some help from friends in making this resume if you need to.
You will use this 'resume' to email or give print outs to people you know. Otherwise, they will forget. It also shows them that you are serious.
3. Other sources are Muslim matrimonial websites and social networking websites. There are two types of matrimonial websites: general websites not geared towards any particular faith and websites geared towards Muslims. Some of the Muslim matrimonial websites are run by non-Muslims!
Going through them is a more productive way to find a spouse, but is not as reliable as personal networking. What this means is that you will find a bigger pool of online people for marriage, but you will have to be more careful.
There are a lot of people on Muslim matrimonial websites who are serious about looking for a marriage partner. At the same time, there are many who are either not serious, or, even worse, some who run scams. They know how to explore your weaknesses, or win your sympathy, and lure you into sending them money or sponsoring them from overseas to come to the UK for a better life or will want to marry you just to get residence status in the UK because you are a british citizen and then after 5 years when they have their british passport will pack up and leave you.There are some that may already have a wife either here or abroad.Some might even not be Muslim, but pretend to be one. Yet, some men might pretend to be women. You should be careful not to send money to anyone overseas. If you do, you need to at least understand that it may not be used for the purpose you are sending it for. Beware that it is common for people to lie and misrepresent themselves to get more profile views.
There will be immense cultural differences if you decide to marry someone outside of your home country, and you will do best to follow the advise of someone who has used matrimonial websites successfully and can help you maneuver through them.