What's Love got to do With It: Guidance for Parents of Marriage-Ready Youth | SoundVision.com

What's Love got to do With It: Guidance for Parents of Marriage-Ready Youth

Had Tina Turner been talking about marriage in Islam in her iconic song What’s Love Got to Do With It, she would have been spot on. Unfortunately, however, the message that many Muslim youth get from Western or non-Muslim societies is that love has everything to do with it when it comes to marriage or relationships between men and women. Marriage before intimacy would be considered as drastic as skydiving with no parachute or jumping into an empty pool. “You’ve got to test the waters first,” or “why buy the cow if the milk is free?” are common sayings here in the West. Muslim parents of youngsters who are approaching marriageable age are understandably concerned about how to help their child or children steer clear from temptations before marriage. 

Sadly, some Muslims have adopted Western ideas about marriage, hoping to find true love through dating rather than taking an Islamic approach. Brothers and sisters dream of locking eyes with that special someone from across the ballroom of a friend’s wedding like they see on Hollywood, Bollywood, or the latest Netflix romance. Or perhaps they expect to bump into their potential spouse at a party or nightclub. But let’s get real here; the probability of these situations happening in real-time is slim to none. 

When it was established as we know it over 1400 years ago, Islam liberated men and women from the hassle and immorality of dating or forced unions and made marriage practical and easy. The latest technology has increased the footprint to identify potential spouses, facilitating the process of scouting through apps and enabling online matchmaking. Islamic centers and organizations now plan meet-up events for those who may not have family to help them meet available bachelors or bachelorettes and some even provide premarital classes and counseling.  

Challenging Signs 

Despite naysayers who may criticize chaperoned interviews and halal courtship between Muslim couples as outdated, Allah’s wisdom is timeless and there is no doubt that the teachings in the Quran and Sunnah when it comes to marriage and all other matters benefit our society to this day. Recent studies have shown that 70% of American couples live together before getting married, and 48% of those were more likely to end than the marriages of couples who only cohabited after being engaged or already married.1 In a world where single parenthood, same-sex couples, and fornication is normalized, Muslims have the tools for a solid, healthy marriage so long as they adhere to the foundations of their faith. The question is: are we taking advantage? 

Generally speaking, 50% of Americans are getting divorced; for Muslims, the divorce rate is closer to 33%,2 nevertheless, it is still an alarming statistic. One of the reasons for increasing divorces is the interference of in-laws and their unrealistic expectations. The truth is that Muslims are making marriage hard on themselves by going back to tribalism, classism, or even racism – the very attitudes that Islam came to wipe away. Nowadays parents persuade their children to delay marriage to pursue this dunya, thinking only money and education will guarantee them success in married life. In navigating contemporary social media influences, Muslim families may encounter challenges posed by prevailing ideas of extreme feminism. These narratives sometimes promote messages encouraging girls to prioritize independence from men and cautioning boys against trusting women from a young age. The relationships between men and women are then painted as competitive rather than compassionate. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, however, encouraged marriage for both young and old and often spoke about its benefits and blessings. He once advised: 

“O you young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty.” 

(Sahih Bukhari) 

The instructions to maintain modesty and respectful behavior in interactions with the opposite sex are commandments prescribed by Allah in the Quran. In this hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is giving us a prescription on how to obey these commandments. Some parents, unfortunately, fail to realize that delaying marriage may be pushing their children into greater fitnah, or trials and temptations, especially in the West where sexual promiscuity is so widespread. Young men and women fall into the trap of intermingling freely or spending time alone, often leading to dating and wanting to fulfill their desires in manners which are not permissible. 

Another issue that young Muslim men and women in America face is their families’ opposition to interracial or intercultural marriages. Living in a diverse country like the U.S., young Muslims will come across potential spouses from many different backgrounds and ethnicities. Oftentimes, brothers or sisters spot a prospective spouse at school, in the masjid, or in a community event, and try to pursue marriage in a halal way, but are met with opposition. This potential husband or wife, however, may be from a different cultural or racial background, automatically sparking controversy within the families. Although there may be wisdom in marrying someone who speaks the same language, prepares the same foods the family is accustomed to, and happens to look outstanding in their native dress, it is unjust to forbid a marriage between two people who are compatible based solely on their ethnic backgrounds. It was the advice of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that both men and women should seek someone who is pious and of noble character for marriage. He said:

“If he whose character and Deen pleases you, approaches you in marriage, then marry him, for if you do not, there will be fitnah in the land and vast corruption.” 


The fitnah and corruption described in this hadith may refer to the fornication, breaking of family ties, increasing hostility between Muslim groups, and more of the calamities that we experience today. As Muslims, we must strive to follow the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and seek advice in the way he conducted his affairs. The Prophet married women from different tribes, nations, and even religious upbringings, as was the case with Safiyyah bint Huayy, may Allah be pleased with her, who was Jewish prior to accepting Islam. The example of the Prophet and the pious generations before us demonstrate that marriage between people of varying backgrounds works as long as the spouses and their families are willing to strive for their success. 

There are plenty of other concerns surrounding marriage in Islam for young Muslims. To overcome these obstacles, we can turn to the Quran and the Sunnah for guidance. Allah has blessed us and our children with mates so that we may obtain happiness and seek pleasure and companionship. One of the most beautiful verses in the Quran that describe the bond between man and woman is the following:

“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.”

(Surah Ar-Rum, 30:21) 

Tips from Parents of Married Young Adults 

Whether their child is a toddler or a teen, parents may not likely be prepared for the day their little one is ready to get married, but time flies and before we know it, our baby birds will be ready to fly out of their nest and on to new horizons. Even if we are in denial, young Muslims are thinking about marriage, so it is best to prepare for the day that our child surprises us with their inquiries about starting their own family. 

I spoke with several Muslim mothers whose older children have already taken that huge step to ask their most heartfelt advice and tips on how to they got them ready for marriage. Here is what they have to say:

How to Prepare Your Children 

Alejandra from New Jersey offered the following advice.

1. Ask them the right questions. 

Are they really ready for marriage? Are they: 

  • Responsible?
  • Able to maintain a job?
  • Capable of maintaining a household?
  • Ready for parenthood?

2. Make sure they put Allah first.

According to Dr. Suzy Ismail’s book, When Muslim Marriage Fails, the key ingredient that was missing from couples with troubled marriages was that Allah was not at their center.

3. Have them set a clear intention and avoid rushing. 

It is important that they approach marriage in phases; letting them know that at each phase, the purpose is to further get to know one another and they can decide not to move forward at any point if they see red flags. One crucial piece of advice is not ignoring the red flags while keeping in mind that there are no perfect humans – all of us have shortcomings. Young couples must make sure they can live with the things they may not like about their intended spouse. 

4. Educate them on marriage.

It is best that youngsters know the intricacies of marriage in Islam and the rights of the spouses before starting the process. Alternatively, the couple can go through the learning process together. Premarital counseling is an excellent way for them to know what to expect and how to navigate any potential challenges.  

5. Write out what they want.  

Have them make a list of what they want in a spouse and a list of non-negotiable demands. Advise them to stick to the non-negotiables unless it is worth giving up. Ask about the non-negotiable things in the initial stages and ask as many questions as possible, because that is the only way to really get to know the other person. 

Pro Tips for Parents 

Fatima from Pennsylvania cautions parents to be mindful of the following tips. 

1. Put your trust in Allah! 

Pray, make dua, and istikhara, the Islamic prayer for guidance. This is for both parents and offspring. 

2. Remember this is their journey, not yours. 

Advise when asked, otherwise do not interfere, or say anything. They need to go through their own journey just as we went through ours.

3. Do not be hurtful. 

Be kind throughout the whole process and be supportive. Trust that your child is making the right decision (and pray for their success). 

4. Prepare them young.

As far as preparation goes, it starts young. Teach your child household chores, how to cook, do laundry, care for a pet (cleaning poop and feeding them regularly), sewing, reading Quran, going themselves to a sheikh to ask questions or state a concern (this is to instill the Deen so when they are on their own, they will know what to do), etc. 

5. Exhaust all your resources.

Seek out marriage classes, therapy sessions (for them while single and once they are a couple), and books and audiobooks on marriage.

Steps Related to Starting a Family 

Sobia from Virginia shared what she told her children when starting a family.

1. Marriage is a journey.

I told my kids that marriage is part of the journey of life that is mandated by Allah. Many times, especially this generation, they always say “I am not ready.” There are two things we are not ready for: marriage and children.

2. Seek premarital counseling.

During the process of getting to know the person, seek pre-martial counseling. It helps a lot in understanding a potential partner and it helps you decide if this is the right person or not. It also leaves the door open for more counseling if needed in the marriage.

3. Pray for the best outcome. 

The third point is to do istikhara before even talking to the person and find out as much as you can about them.  Trust Allah and the process. Make lots and lots of dua for what you are embarking on, and especially make specific duas according to what you want in in your spouse. 

In embracing your child’s inevitable transition from childhood to adulthood, recognize that seeking companionship is a natural inclination and Allah commands that it be done in a permissible manner. As parents, living through the changes from actively raising our children to witnessing them embark on their own marital journey can be emotionally challenging. Yet, amidst the bittersweet moments of letting go, we can find solace in the wisdom shared by parents who have walked this path before us. They remind us that our role in our children's marriages begins and ends with prayer. While we may struggle with the idea of an empty nest, this newfound chapter offers opportunities for spiritual growth, exploration, and preparation for future joy by Allah’s decree. 

End Notes

1 What's the Plan? Cohabitation, Engagement, and Divorce

2 ‘Before the Nikah’: As Muslim Divorce Rates Rise to A Third Premarital Book and Course Prepares Couples For Marriage | Wisconsin Muslim Journal

Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam

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