As Salaamu Alaikum,
Can a Muslim woman reject marriage proposals because she doesn’t like the suitor’s physical looks?
Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) has advised and encouraged young men and women to chose a partner/spouse based upon religiousness and adherence to the teachings of Islam. In other words, when a woman wants to marry a man, then from among all the reasons she can look at, she should give priority to the religiousness of the person. She must look at how much he is obedient to Allah and his Messenger, and how much he practices Islam. If his Islam is good, then this should be the reason for her to accept him in marriage. Regarding this, the Prophet (S.A.W) is reported to have said,
‘When someone whose religion (Islam) and character you are pleased with, proposes to you, then marry him. If you do not do so, then there will be fitnah (turmoil) in the land and abounding mischief’. (Tirmidhi).
This Hadith shows that a woman should give priority to one who adheres to the teachings of Islam and is a sincere practicing Muslim with good character, (for marriage). This should be preferred above the looks of a suitor. Howbeit, notwithstanding this, there is no harm/objection if a woman rejects a proposal on account of the physical looks of a person. It is permissible to do so.
One must understand that marriage is a lifelong commitment which must be filled with love between the spouses and happiness, and there is no doubt that when one spouse is physically attracted to the other, it brings about love and affection for each other. It is for this reason, the Prophet (S.A.W) advised one to look at the person with whom he is marrying so that he may be pleased with the woman he chooses for his wife. In this regard, it is narrated from the companion, Mughiraa bin Shuba (R.A) that he said, ‘I once proposed to a woman, and the Prophet (S.A.W) said to me, ‘Did you look at her? I said, ‘No’. He said, ‘Then look at her, because this is better so that love be created between both of you’ (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, An Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and Ad Darimi).
Here, in this tradition, the Prophet (S.A.S) encouraged a person to look at the other, when the intention is for marriage, so that each party will be pleased with the physical looks of the other, and this will help in creating love and attraction between both parties (who wish to marry each other).
While explaining the above Hadith, the great scholar, Mulla Ali Al Qaari (A.R) writes that the Prophet (S.A.S) instructed the companion to look at the person he was getting married to, since this would have brought about affection and love between both parties, and would not (normally) make a person regret, if he married that person after looking at her’. (Mirqaat Al Mafateeh (Mulla Ali Al Qaari) Vol. 6 page. 281 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan).
The above tradition also indicates that if after looking at a person, one is not attracted to the physical looks of that person, then there is no harm/prohibition in refusing to marry that person. It for this reason also, that the Prophet (S.A.S) encouraged one to look at the other person for the sake of marriage. In this respect, it is narrated from Abu Hurairah (R.A) that a man came and informed the Prophet (S.A.S) that he intended to marry a woman from the Ansar (or he had proposed to her). The Prophet (S.A.S) said to him, ‘Have you looked at her? ‘The man said ‘No’. The Prophet (S.A.S) then said, ‘Then go and look at her, for there is something in the eyes of the Ansari women (which may displease you). (Muslim).
Based on this tradition, many of the great Scholars, Jurists and Imams of Fiqh have stated that it is permissible for one to look at the woman with whom he wishes to marry. This is the verdict of Imam Awzaa’I, Sufyan Thauri, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi, Imam Ahmad, Ishaq (R.A) (May Allah be pleased with them). Imam An Nawawi has also stated, ‘This tradition shows that it is commendable to look at the woman (with whom one wants to marry), before sending a proposal to her, since if he does not like her, he can leave off proposing to her without causing any trouble to her’.
‘The allowance given for looking is only towards her face and hands up to the wrists’. (Mirqaat – Mulla Ali Ali Qari Vol. 6 page 276 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta).
The above Hadith and its explanation, show that it is permissible for a man to discontinue any proposal of marrying a woman if he dislikes anything of her physical appearance. In a similar manner, it is permissible for a woman to reject the proposal of a man if she dislikes anything of his physical looks/appearance.
And Allah Knows best
Mufti Waseem Khan
14th March 2019
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.