The Perfect Spouse
1- Faith and piety
The prime element, necessary in a successful family life is that the husband and wife must have faith and piety. A man who has faith in God and the Day of Judgment, would never go after debauchery and activities which are both illegal and immoral; activities that shake the foundations of family and have no result but corruption and misery.
A man of faith and piety, in his social life, would not have his eyes on his neighbors’ wife. He will not have relationships with any woman other than his own wife, and thus would be totally devoted to his own household.
In various traditions related from the infallible Imams (AS) it has been said: “Whenever a man came to you with a proposition of marriage, if his temperament and his religious beliefs satisfied you then do accept his proposition.”1
Also in some traditions, believers have been enjoined not to make a match with unrestrained persons and those who drink alcohol. 2 In some of these traditions it has been pointed out that a woman by marrying a man, puts herself at his disposal, and so it is particularly important to consider to whom you are giving your daughter’s hand in marriage. 3
In the same manner, a woman of faith and piety does not take a fancy to a man other than her husband, and would not be seduced by the temptations of Satan. Because she performs her housekeeping and childbearing duties for effectuating God’s satisfaction and with the intent of getting closer to Him and serving Him, so she will not be intimidated by the problems and will not shirk from her responsibilities. On the contrary, she will perform them willingly with love and affection.
Gentleness and cheerfulness are the best and most prominent qualities that any person who wants to be successful in life must have. The bad-tempered person not only is unsuccessful in providing a sound and tranquil life for himself and his family, but also will not have befitting growth and development in his social life.
Cheerfulness is not just a praiseworthy ethical attribute; it is also a sign of having a sound state of mind, and of not being stricken with any psychological abnormalities. That’s because as long as one has not discarded attributes such as selfishness, insolence, stinginess, love of money, mistrust and malevolence, he cannot consistently keep his tranquillity and calm. The nervous pressures of the mentioned repulsive attributes make the person behave peevishly. Maybe it’s because in the traditions cheerfulness is referred to as “hosn-e-kholq” (goodness of character); since unless a person has at least some of the pleasant attributes and characteristics, he will be devoid of this moral norm.
Many people outside their house and in their social life are good-tempered, but inside and within their family life are quite to the contrary. Looking into this matter, asking about it, and acquiring the necessary information is one of the important issues which one must have in mind, when choosing a suitable spouse for a man or woman.
Hussein-ibn-Bashar Waseti says: “In a letter to Imam Reza (AS), I wrote that a relation of mine had come to me with a proposition of marriage, but he is a bad-tempered person. He replied: If that is so, then don’t accept his proposition.” 4
In another saying Imam Sadiq (AS) instructs one of his companions to choose a good-tempered woman as his wife, if he has the intention of marriage. 5
Some people are naturally trustworthy and lack the potential for betrayal and injustice. These are the people who have not tainted their consciences with any pollutant, and have kept their minds away from the reach of unrealistic desires and of material and satanic temptations.
A man who is trustworthy, considers his wife to be entrusted to him by God, and so does not neglect to deal with her legitimate needs and requests. Such a man abstains from maltreating and oppressing his wife. In the same manner a woman who is trustworthy, firstly considers her children to be gifts of God and so tries everything in her power for their better upbringing and safe-keeping. Secondly she considers herself to be the trustee of her husband’s property, and so she would be diligent in guarding and protecting it.
In a saying the Prophet (SAW) has said: “Whenever someone comes to you with a proposition of marriage, if his religious beliefs and his trustworthiness satisfies you, then accept his proposition. If you don’t accept his proposition then there would be immense decadence and great mischief on Earth.” 6
He (SAW) has also said: “A man, accepting the gift of faith, can have no greater a blessing than a faithful and beautiful wife, on whom whenever he sets his eyes he is filled with joy; a wife who obeys his commands, and in his absence safe-guards his precinct regarding herself and his property.” 7
4- Effort and diligence at work
All human beings in the world need to work in order to sustain their existence. Whether you look into the nucleus of an atom or the depths of galaxies, everywhere you see the signs of effort and work. Man too as a part of this system has always needed to work in order to continue his life and provide for it. Achieving grand objectives and having a befitting life is not possible for anyone but the hardworking.
The Holy Qur’an considers the attainment of great divine gifts and an immortal heavenly life to be contingent upon doing righteous deeds and putting forward a suitable effort. In a passage of the Qur’an God says: “ And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for; And that his striving shall soon be seen ”. 8
Activity and endeavor towards quenching the necessities of life, is like a thread linking together a set of beads; its disconnection would mean the break down of the whole set.
And that is why the infallible Imams (AS) in many sayings, using different expressions has insisted with much emphasis on employment as an important need of man’s life. They instructed the faithful to work and recommended all kinds of jobs like agriculture, trade, husbandry, craftsmanship, artisanship, and all other useful and needed vocations, so that both the society’s needs are met and also the welfare and comfort of the person and his family is provided for. 9
It has been narrated from the Prophet (SAW) that he said: “Any person who tries to acquire the worldly wealth in a legitimate manner so as not to be forced to ask others for help and so as to provide for the needs of his family and moreover to be able to help his neighbor out of kindness, he will meet God while his face is glowing like the full moon.” 10
It is also as a result of diligence and perseverance that the wife in the house carries out her duties and does not shirk from them by using excuses. Other than this, if she can and in case the conditions are set in order to help her family and the society economically, she will not refuse a job which suits the dignity of a faithful Muslim woman.
The Prophet (SAW) says: “The spinning-wheel under the hands of a righteous woman is like the spear in the hands of a man who is fighting for the sake of God.” 11
Some housewives, who are not busy at home all the time, may have some free time. It is not deserving of these women to spend their precious time in vain or even worse to pollute it with sinful pastimes or unholy meetings. Without a doubt there is nothing as valuable as time. It is taking advantage of this free time that causes one’s religious and worldly life to thrive and makes him or her worthy of God’s paradise. The great masters of religion and science have led humanity and done their greatest services to the society using these same opportunities. That is why the Prophet (SAW) in his instructions to Ma’az ibn Jabal says: “The wise man spends his time on three things: accumulating spiritual wealth and acquiring provisions for the next life, trying to provide for his worldly life, and participating in sound recreations which are not polluted by sin and corruption.” 12
5- Good appearance.
One of the qualities that is praiseworthy in any believer is beauty and maintaining a good appearance. God the Exalted is the source of beauty. He has created the world in His own image. From this point of view and in their original shapes, the creations of God are all beautiful. But when comparing different kinds, species, and persons with one another some of them seem to be better and more beautiful than others. Looking beautiful and having a good appearance helps to strengthen social connections and creates affection. That’s why in the sayings of the infallible Imams (AS) believers have been enjoined to keep these qualities in mind. It will suffice to bring just one tradition as an example. 13
Abi-Basir says that ‘Imam Ali (AS) said: “God is beauteous and He likes beauty and He wants to see the signs of His gifts on His servant.” 14
And thus the strengthening and consolidation of family connections and matrimonial relations, which are heavily emphasized upon by our religious leaders, require having this quality in mind when choosing a husband or wife. Of course when setting the priorities, human and spiritual characteristics come first, and certainly looking only for outer beauty, without paying any attention to the spirituality and religious conduct is detrimental and damaging. This has been disapproved of in many traditions. 15
Imam Sadiq (AS) has narrated in a saying from the prophet (SAW): “The best of the women of my nation is the one who has the best looks and the least Mahr (marriage portion given by the husband to the wife).” 16
Having good looks is a non-spiritual factor, but the extent of Mahr is a sign of faith, purity of heart and soundness of conscious. Thus having both of these qualities would mean that the woman has both a good character and good looks. According to some traditions there is a correlation between these two. This has been verified by science and experience, and despite not being an absolute rule, is true in most of the cases.
Imam Reza (AS) narrates from his father that the prophet (SAW) said: “Seek goodness amongst the good-looking, because their conduct is more praiseworthy and closer to goodness.” 17
Being beautiful and having a good appearance is not just one of the good qualities a woman as a wife can have, but is also one of the praiseworthy qualities of a man.
Imam Sadiq (AS) narrates from his father that one day a man came to the prophet’s house and asked to be let in. His holiness came across a bowl of water, looked in it at himself and made his beard tidy. Muhammad-ibn-Fazl Tabarsi writes about his holiness: “Not only did he pay attention to his appearance before his wives and in his home, but he also did that when going out and meeting his companions.” 18
In this report being tidy and having a good appearance at home has been taken for granted. It is tending to one’s appearance when going out that has been praised and enjoined. Imam Kazim (AS) said: “Man’s preparation of himself for his wife causes her chastity to increase and strengthen.” 19
The above mentioned points when observed may be the most important factor turning a man or a woman into a perfect spouse. In choosing a wife or a husband one must also keep these points in mind. Of course this is not to mean that qualities such as knowledge, wisdom, social manners, and others are not important, but dealing with all the qualities of a perfect spouse will be dealt with at another opportunity.
1- Wassail ash-Shi’a, vol. 14, Introduction to marriage, Section 6.
2- Ibid. Section 29.
3- Ibid. Section 28, Hadith 8.
4- Ibid. Section 3, Hadith 1, p.54.
5- Ibid. Section 6, Hadith 1, p. 13.
6- Mustadrik al-Wasail, old edition, vol. 2, p. 537, Introduction to marriage, vol. 24, Hadith 1.
7-Ibid. p. 544, Hadith 5.
8- Surah an-Najm, Verse 39-40.
9- Wassail ash-Shi’a, vol. 12, Introduction to trade.
10- Mustadrik al-Wasail, vol. 2, Introduction to trade.
11- Makarim al-Akhlaq, p. 238.
12- Ershad ul Qoloub, vol. 1, p. 74.
13- Wassail ash-Shi’a, vol. 3. Ahkam al Malabis, Section 1-10.
14- Ibid. Introduction to marriage, Section 1, Hadith 2.
15- Ibid. vol. 14, Introduction to marriage, Section 14 & 7, Hadith 7.
16- Ibid. vol. 6, Hadith 8.
17- Ibid. Section 21, Hadith 4.
18- Makarim al-Akhlaq, p34
19- Ibid. p. 97