Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
I have a question regarding choosing a spouse and the ruling in Islam. I have known an Arab man from Algeria for about a year and two months, and I am a Muslim non-Arab. He is 29 while I am 33 years old and have been divorced since more than two years. We met about four months ago, and he visited my family with the intention for marriage. I would like to know what kind of spouse a Muslim woman should consider when getting a husband in terms of spiritual and daily living. When I got to know him, he was working in the Middle East with a company. However, there were some issues with the boss, and he attended a court case to claim the unpaid salary. While awaiting the trial, he was without permanent work and was doing ad hoc jobs and volunteering. His residency was cancelled, and he came to visit me for four months to get to know each other and with the intention to get married. Due to the visa requirement – since he is not my spouse yet – he is not able to stay here long and had to return back to his country till the marriage takes place. He is back in his country now and still has not gotten a job, as I was told that there are no jobs in Algeria. He also mentioned that someone who worked overseas will not find a job in his own country. He does not feel at rest in his country and has said that he will wait for any soul to come and rescue him. He expects a simple marriage, which is not an issue for me. It seems impossible for him to be able to provide a dowry and a simple wedding, which I can understand due to his situation. He once asked me what I could do for him and that if I love him and could lessen his sufferings a lot, then what would I be able to give. I am afraid to commit to the marriage soon as I am not sure that he will be able to provide for the family that we will build. He wanted to rush the marriage due to his residency status, which I am not comfortable with as I would like to know him better in terms of his career goals and how well he would be able guide the wife and family Islamically. I believe that one's intention is important.
Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu:
May Allah make it easy for you and bless your life and the decisions that you make. Seeking marriage is an Islamic duty, but we have to make sure that it is done Islamically and in the way Allah wants from us. Allah, the Most High, sent down the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet for mankind to follow and submit themselves to. For a woman in Islam to get married, she has to have a wali (legal guardian) to perform the marriage, and he is the one who communicates with the intended husband to make sure that he is a trustworthy person. If you have seen this person and there is acceptance between the both of you, then the rest should be left for the guardian since it is not permissible for the both of you to communicate at this level till the marriage contract is established.
Many individuals seek marriage to move to the West, thinking that this would improve their lives. In my opinion, if this person is a sincere Muslim, he should try to marry you and convince you to move with him to a Muslim environment. Allah, the Sustainer, provides wherever the person might be.
I would advise you to have your wali speak to him. If your father and his family are not Muslims, try to go to the Islamic center or a masjid in your locality where people are upon the Sunnah, and seek the help of the community and the community leader. When the family of a Muslim woman are not Muslims, then her guardian is an elder or the imam of the community, you can meet with them in the masjid to help you make a decision.
One of the basic rights of marriage is that the man provides for his wife, so your concerns are legitimate ones, and this man should show clear signs that he can provide for you.
From experience, and as mentioned before, many people use the marriage to move to the West, and then they divorce once they have their citizenship, and in many cases things also work out perfectly, and Allah knows best, and that is why it is important to get your community involved.
May Allah make it easy for you and guide you to do the right thing.