How Important Is Physical Attraction in Marriage?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I have received a marriage proposal recently. SubhanAllah he is the guy I was looking for in terms of the qualities he possesses. However, when it comes to his looks, I question myself greatly. I have always told myself colour does not matter, but I prefer light brown skin and he has a dark complexion.

Can you please tell me how far looks or physical attraction is important in Islam ? What if I accept him and people criticise me, how should I respond ? Will it be wise to accept him for the sake of Allah, even if I am not attracted to his colour?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Jazakillah khayr, dear sister, for raising a very important issue.

Physical attraction

Physical attraction is important in choosing a marriage partner, but not the most important quality.

As a new mother, I can attest to you the importance of good character in a husband. When you have a screaming newborn who wakes you up in the middle of the night, a husband with fair skin will not help you if he is inconsiderate. On the other hand, a husband with dark skin and good character will sacrifice his sleep and help you tend to your baby.

What about both? A husband with fair skin and good character? That would be pleasing to both you and the naysayers around you. However, this is the dunya, and there is no perfection here.

“….It could be that you dislike something, when it is good for you; and it could be that you like something when it is bad for you. Allah knows, and you do not know.” [Qur’an, 2:216]

When we are overly attached to certain ideas (e.g. wanting to marry someone with only x y z qualities), if Allah wants good for us, He will test us in it until we let go of that concept, and hold onto Him. Allah knows better than we do, and it is up to us to trust in His Wisdom.

Marriage for the sake of Allah

It is wise to marry for the sake of Allah, but unwise to marry someone out of feelings of pity, obligation, or guilt. I strongly recommend that you complete the Islamic Marriage course to deepen your understanding of marriage. Investigate your intentions before committing to something as life-changing as marriage. Physical attraction can grow, the more you get to know someone – within the boundaries of permissibility. But if you truly do not feel attracted to him, then it would be unfair to commit to marriage.

Fair Skin Fixation

It is unfortunate that in many parts of the world, the post-colonial mindset still obsesses over and priorities fair skin. Reflect on why this could be the case, and choose to either reject or accept this line of thought. The wound of colonisation runs deep in many families, and there is a mistaken assumption that ‘fairer’ immediately means ‘better’, and that ‘darker’ means ‘worse’. This is a deeply problematic belief. The goodness of someone’s heart is not reflected in the pigmentation of their skin.

“Vile women are for vile men, and vile men are for vile women; and good women are for good men, and good men are for good women. Those are free from what they (the accusers) say. For them there is forgiveness, and a graceful provision.” [Qur’an, 27:26]

A suitable match for you is a good man, inshaAllah, and not necessarily one with fair skin.

Tahajjud

Whenever in doubt, turn to your Creator. Stand up in prayer, or at the minimum, earnest supplication, in that precious time before the entry of Fajr. Ask Allah to grant you clarity and the strength to make the right decision.

Istikhara

Perform the Prayer of Guidance until you reach a point of clarity about what to do, or up to 7 times. I cannot give you an answer, but Allah will, inshaAllah. There is no need to look for a dream. The answer will come to you in the manner events unfold, and in the certainty that will settle in your heart.

The key is for you to remain open to either possibility, and not automatically reject him based on the darkness of his skin, or out of fear of what people will say. People will always talk, especially amongst circles which thrive on gossip. Your job is not to please them, but to please Allah. Ultimately, it is you who will be in that marriage, and not them. If you do choose to marry him and receive criticism from others, respond with goodness and compassion. Smile and say, “Alhamdulilah.” It is not up to you to change people’s minds, but it is your responsibility to live a life pleasing to Allah.

I pray that Allah guides you to the best husband for you, who will be a loving father to your children and your devoted helpmate towards Jannah.

Relevant links:

10 Ways to Avoid Marrying The Wrong Person
When Love Is Not Enough
Is there a concept of soulmates in Islam?

Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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