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A UAE-based muslim community marriage broker reveals some profile-criteria mistakes – some common and others strange – that many spouse-seekers make and shows why they need to be modified for better chances of success.

While Muslims unquestionably believe that marriage is sunnah, finding a marriage partner nowadays is becoming a more monumental challenge than scaling Mount Everest. As a matchmaker in a Muslim-majority country, I witness these challenges on a regular basis. Marriage facilitators all over the Muslim world are facing similar difficulties. The database of single men and women is crammed and continues to grow exponentially, but success stories are minuscule in proportion. Why this inconsistency? What are singles looking for in their potential mates? Are their criteria realistic or not? Why do marriage hopefuls seem more and more unappealing to each other? Is it possible to tweak the search requirements in order to have better chances of success?

I say yes! When looking at the vast number of singles’ profiles, I see many instances of potential matches –if only given the chance to take it one step further, i.e. meet in real life and then gauge compatibility. However, sadly, the partner specifications given by most candidates (or their parents) are sometimes so restrictive, particular, shortsighted, illogical, or virtually impossible that I am unable to refer a possible matching profile. Singles looking to get married sometimes don’t realise the errors in their judgment, and that perhaps correcting them may lead to achieving their goal – blissful marital union with a compatible partner.

mm1So here I’m pointing out some of the criteria mistakes singles, or their parents, make during partner search and how amending or eliminating them could increase their chances of getting more referrals and eventually, with Allah’s Will, a life partner.

* A number is just a number.

A 24 year old woman asked for referrals from men in the age range of 24-29 years, along with other qualities. One potential candidate, who matched all her requirements, happened to just mark his 30th birthday. But the woman felt 30 was too old for her and declined to look further into it. Two years later, still single, she contacted me again and asked to modify her age criteria to 32 years.

A 6ft tall man requested referrals of women no less than 5’5”, besides a long list of other matching standards. I referred a beautiful and educated woman who met the majority of those standards but fell short by three inches. Suffice to say, he declined to go further, citing incompatible heights.

Advice: There is more to people than their bio-stats. A person does not turn into an ogre on the eve of his birthday nor does three inches detract from someone’s charm. Don’t limit your options by bracketing them in shallow numerical standards. Give people a chance by meeting them in person and then decide if you wish to proceed or pass.

mm9* Professing professions.

A mother of a 28 year old woman specified her preference of profession of her future son-in-law: “Since my daughter works as a laboratory technician, it would be best if her husband also works in the same field. They’ll understand each other better”.

Advice: Understanding and compatibility are not dependent on professions. By laying out such impossible requirements, you are effectively closing all possible doors of suitable referrals. The key is to search for deen and manners in a man of any respectable profession as long as he is able to take on the responsibility of his family.

* Eye of the beholder.

A 31 year old man described himself as average looking and said that he’d be happy with an average-looking religious wife. When I forwarded a matching profile to him, where the woman had described herself as ordinary looking, he apologetically responded in the negative by saying that his mother wants a “very beautiful girl” for him.

Advice: It is crucial that parents not delay their children’s marriages by placing unnecessary obstacles in the way, only to please their whims. Also, a man in such a position should be able to respectfully persuade his mother that at 31 years of age, he is more than ready to settle down with a religious woman whose appearance is acceptable in his eyes.

mm4* Individual vs. family.

A mother of a very religious son revealed her long list of criteria that her potential daughter-in-law should meet and closed it with a strange condition. “I don’t want the girl to have too many siblings.”

Advice: Muslims have been encouraged to have large families by Prophet Muhammad salulahoalaihiwasalum and a person who describes herself and her family as very religious should not have such odd reservations. Please, look at the individual and appraise whether or not she/he is suitable for your child. Any real or imagined negative factors associated with large families will eventually iron out with time.

* Racial block.

A highly eligible, religious young man specified his otherwise fairly simple requirements but then blocked out a chunk of eligible women by stating that he does not want to marry someone from his own country. His reason: “They are all cultural.” Ironically, my database was filled with highly eligible religious women of his country.

Advice: Generalisation is a bad idea. Painting everyone with the same brush not only does disservice to them but also is not fair to your own self. There are all kinds of people in every country. While being open to people from diverse backgrounds is great, there is usually more commonality shared by people of a similar race – fewer the differences, fewer the hurdles to navigate through marriage. Plus, ‘culture’ isn’t bad as long as it isn’t contradicting Islam.

mm8* Passport control.

A biracial and dual nationality divorced mother in her mid thirties insisted on her future spouse being a holder of a particular country’s passport in order to be worth considering.

Advice: In our present society, age and marital status play a direct role in the number of and types of marriage prospects available to you. If you are an AB, with passport of C and residing in country D, you can’t approach a match maker and set ABCD as your partner criteria. You have to be realistic and pragmatic, take your age and past into consideration, and simplify the matters by seeking a person with deen, manners and a sense of responsibility.

* Self-contradiction.

A thirty-something man said that he is very broad-minded and liberal thus open to considering divorcees. However, every time I referred a profile of a divorced woman, he backed out, citing his apprehensions at the unknown causes for the divorces and how he will only get to hear one side of the story in each case.

Advice: You are either prejudiced or not; you cannot be both. If you are genuinely okay about considering a spouse with a past, then do so with whole-hearted acceptance. If you hold doubts about someone’s version of their past or feel you can sit and judge the validity of another couple’s marriage and divorce, then marrying a divorcee is really not suitable for you. Think and decide what you can realistically deal with, and then set your criteria.

mm7* Overt independence.

A 29 year old woman decided she had no need for a wali’s guidance or chaperoning in her partner search since she was a mature and independent professional. She preferred to meet and judge a potential husband on her own – something that I do not facilitate for religious and safety reasons – and only then get her parents involved. This condition also put off many suitors who preferred to walk the traditional route.

Advice: Not all traditions are bad. While every woman and man has a right to accept or refuse a prospective spouse, there is wisdom and far-sighted benefits to be had when our parents handle our matters in a reasonable manner. For a woman, irrespective of age, to privately meet with potential partners and, based on those few meetings, to decide her future, is not only not sanctioned by our deen but also not very wise. Age and life experience give parents the insight to see many things that an unmarried woman cannot perceive. Why not go the traditional way where the guardians first meet and do a check on the candidate and if it looks good, then let their daughter meet and decide?

* Order of the day.

A mother of four daughters lists her elder three daughters ranging in age from 22-30 years. Most of the matching referrals happen to come for her youngest one. But she keeps deflecting them with the idea that the elder ones need to get married first.

mm5Advice: I cannot stress enough how age and time are critical in the marriage search. While it is understandable that a parent would hope that her children marry according to their birth order, it is not an obligation. Putting one daughter’s marriage on hold for an indefinite future for the sake of her siblings can be detrimental. You don’t know how long it will take for the older ones to settle down, and each passing year will bring fewer and fewer options. Don’t postpone one person’s marriage for another. If your children reach the age of marriage, get them married as and when a good proposal comes their way.

* Wishful thinking.

A 32 years old woman has spent a decade waiting for a spouse who will tick all her ‘perfect mate’ ideals checklist. She reasons that Allah is able to grant whatever one asks for, so she will continue to wait and pray.

Advice: Allah is able and can grant all one wishes for. But He is also the One who ordered us to look for deen and pleasing manners and marrying the one who fulfills those two standards. Islam teaches us that this life and everything in it is imperfect, and that true bliss with a blemish-free spouse is awaiting the inhabitants of Jannah. So, why waste time and delay marriage in pursuit of mirages?

mm6To sum up, when it comes to the marriage partner-search, allow yourself to look into and experience a wide range of halal options. There are endless opportunities knocking at the door, if only you will open it and let them in. Remember, sometimes the perfect picture of your marital dream may be painted with colours you did not initially pick out for yourself.

**** To contact the above matchmaker for marriage assistance, please send a mail to the email address listed on the right under ‘Contact’ and inshaAllah, your mail will be forwarded to her. Please do NOT post yours or anyone’s profile details/contact numbers in the comments section below.****

* Details of individuals, cited in the above article, have been modified for the purpose of protecting privacy.