What are the right ways of hurrying for marriage?

The Details of the Question

What are the hadiths about hurrying for marriage in Islam; how should they be understood? What are the right ways of hurrying for marriage according to Islamic understanding?
I read a hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) advised Ali (ra) to hurry to do 3 things.
1) What is meant in the hadith with the word “hurry”?
2) Does the word “hurry” in the hadith tell us to be quick ONLY when we find a SUITABLE potential spouse after reaching puberty?
3) What kind of “hurry” is meant by the hadith?
4) Some parents do not understand the real meaning of “hurry” and marry their daughters off without thinking well; besides, they have a negative attitude about taking care of their daughters when they grow up. What should be done in that case?
5) Will you give us some guidelines on how to choose the right spouse?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to what is narrated from Ali (ra), the Prophet (pbuh) said to him,

“O Ali! Do not delay three things: The prayer whose time has come, the funeral that has been prepared, and the marriage of a single person when an appropriate (equivalent) spouse is found.” (Tirmidhi, Salah, 127)

Tirmidhi states that this hadith is gharib, hasan. (Tirmidhi, ibid)

- Hakim states that this hadith is sound, and Dhahabi agrees with him. (Hakim, 2/176)

1. In the hadith in question, the expression “do not delay/postpone” instead of the advice “hurry” exists. “Do not delay” does not mean hurry. On the contrary, the expression “delay/postpone” generally means going out of the normal time, lapse of time, going beyond the limits of the time when something should be done. The proverb “Do not put off till tomorrow what you can do today” is a very good example in this regard.

2. Yes, if an appropriate suitor is found for a girl who has reached the age of marriage both biologically and psychologically, it should not be postponed because, since the enthusiasm and desires of the young people are at their peak in those ages, they might not always act rationally and might cause some unpleasant things.

3. We can easily understand what the meaning of not to delay and to hurry is from the following hadith narration:

“The Prophet (pbuh) said:

‘If a person whose religion and ethics you like comes to you (as a suitor for your daughter), marry your daughter off to him. If you do not do so, there will be great mischief and trouble on earth.’

Thereupon, the people who were there said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Even if he has (something we do not like)?’ The Prophet (pbuh) repeated the same statement three times.(Tirmidhi, Nikah, 3)

Tirmidhi states that this hadith is gharib but hasan. (ibid)

4. People are not free from faults even if they are parents. A parent might do many bad things to his children while trying to do good. In this regard, parents should learn the advice of the Book and the Sunnah before they get married, and they should teach that knowledge to their children as the greatest goal of their lives.

We should listen to a striking example from Badiuzzaman Said Nursi here:

“A small example out of hundreds is as follows: A compassionate mother undertakes every sort of self-sacrifice so that her child should not fall into danger in this worldly life and should receive every sort of benefit and advantage; she brings him up with this in view. Thinking, “My son is going to be a Pasha,” she gives him all her property, takes him from the Quran school and sends him to Europe.

But it does not occur to her that her child’s eternal life has fallen into danger. She tries to save him from prison in this world and does not take into consideration his being sentenced to the prison of Hell. Reversing that innate compassion, she makes her innocent child a claimant against her in the hereafter, though he should be her intercessor. He will rebuke her saying: “Why did you not strengthen my belief and so cause me to be lost?”

In this world too, since he did not receive a proper Islamic upbringing, he cannot respond to his mother’s wondrous compassion in the way it deserves; in fact, he does so very deficiently…” (Lemalar, p. 200)

5. The Prophet (pbuh) declares the criteria for choosing a spouse as follows:  

“A man marries a woman for four things: For her wealth, for her family, for her beauty and for her religion... Choose the one for her religion (so that you will not get into trouble), and your hand and house will be blessed.” (Bukhari, Nikah, 15; Muslim, Rada 4)

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