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How to Ask Others about Your Potential Partner

This blog post is an excerpt from The FYI’s Marriage Prep Toolkit. Check out the full toolkit and The FYI’s very own online marriage prep course here

You can learn more about your potential spouse by engaging with others who know them.

  • Ask to meet with the person’s parents and siblings. Observe how he/she interacts with each family member. What are the overall family dynamics like?
  • Introduce your potential spouse and his/her family to your own family and discuss with your family members what they observed, any concerns they might have, and the overall vibes they felt in their interactions.
  • Don’t be quick to dismiss your family’s observations if they may conflict with your own. Instead, listen and keep an open mind to what they share with you.

Another way that you can learn more about a prospective spouse is by asking him/her to share a list of references with you – people who know him/her very well and can speak to his/her personality, character, behavior patterns, family, etc.

  • You can speak to the references directly, or have a parent or family member who you trust engage with them and ask them any questions you may have.
  • Also, offer your own list of references to the potential spouse so that he/she is able to get to know you through the people closest to you.
  • Some people use this process to determine whether they will even begin the exploration process with a potential partner. Others will engage references as they get to know the person and assess if their impressions align with the potential prospect’s reputation with others.

If you are in a circumstance where you will not be speaking to a prospective spouse directly or your interactions are kept minimal by family, make sure to take advantage of this part of the process as best as you can. Create a list of questions that cover the essential topics for marriage as well as what you feel is crucial for you to know about him/her before making a decision. Reference the questionnaires, add your own questions, and consider this list for references below.

Questions to Ask a Reference
  • How long have you known him/her? And in what capacity?
  • Do you think that he/she is ready to get married? Why?
  • What type of person would be compatible with him/her?
  • What are his/her best qualities? Worst qualities?
  • How would you describe his/her personality?
  • Describe him/her in five adjectives.
  • Can you give me an example of when he/she dealt with anger and/or frustration? How did he/she cope?
  • Who does he/she rely on when making decisions?
  • Have you seen him/her strive towards certain goals in life? What kind of goals is he/she working towards?
  • How would you describe his/her role in his family? With friends? In the community?
  • How does he/she relate with other men and other women?
  • Does he/she abide by his commitments?
  • Do you have any concerns about this person?
  • Are there other people you think I (or my family) should speak to?
  • Is there anything else you’d like me to know about him/her or his/her family?

Finally, consider conducting a background check to identify if the person has any concerning personal, financial, or criminal histories. Although it may make some people uncomfortable, it is helpful in verifying someone’s identity and confirming that he/she is trustworthy and legitimate. 

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).