Redefining Spouse SelectionWorkshop: A Summary

On Sunday 26th November, Dar Al-Islam Centre held a singles-only (ages between 30-45) workshop on the topic of  “Redefining Spouse Selection – The Struggle Of Finding A Spouse”. The workshop aimed to delve deeper into the challenges of spouse selection, whilst providing an informal environment for introductions between singles. The workshop was facilitated by Dr Ali Al-Hilli and Dr Kawther Abbas.

The workshop opened with an ice-breaker exercise, followed by a short presentation delivered by Dr Ali Al-Hilli about the results of his survey into the challenges of finding a spouse. The findings of the survey then provided the basis for the remaining workshop discussion. This took place by splitting the participants into six groups, each given a hypothetical real-life scenario involving the challenges faced by single people. Each group was allocated a set time to discuss each challenge and then to share with the wider group.

The challenges discussed, and the points raised during the discussion, were:

  1. Women proposing to men: There was general agreement that there is no objection to women proposing to men. However, there was a clear reluctance for many participants, owing to the social and cultural expectation that men propose to women. There was a general consensus that an intermediary was a helpful step towards marriage introductions.
  2. The key criteria for spouse selection: Participants suggested that deciding beforehand on one’s essential needs was vital for selecting a suitable spouse. The importance of similar values, for the longevity of a marriage, was also pointed out. Participants also discussed the impossibility of fully knowing oneself or one’s future spouse before marriage, and therefore the importance of tawakul on Allah swt.
  3. Marrying a spouse from a different cultural background: A variety of opinions were raised about these issues, with some participants open to considering a spouse from a different cultural background, whilst others highlighted the practical challenges this could pose, related to language and extended family. Some participants also raised the issue of parental objections to inter-cultural marriages, and the obstacles that such deeply-entrenched ideas about marriage created for single people.
  4. Intellectual differences between spouses: A variety of ideas were discussed in relation to whether intellectual mismatch was an obstacle to marriage. Some participants saw a compatibility in values and principles as more important than intellectual compatibility, and argued that a lack of the latter could be compensated for outside of marriage, for example through friends. Yet other participants stressed the importance of intellectual compatibility in spouse selection, seeing it as an important trait in a spouse. Yet, what exactly constitutes ‘intellectual compatibility’ remained undefined, with some suggesting it amounted to being able to have serious conversations with one’s spouse, whilst others pointed to good life skills, such as decision-making.
  5. Previous relationships (divorce) and children: On the subject of considering a divorcee, the majority of participants were in agreement that this was not an obstacle to marriage. However, on the subject of children from a previous marriage, there were a variety of opinions, with many stating that their decision would be context-specific.
  6. Online dating apps: the majority of participants had used online dating apps and saw them as a viable option, though many raised frustrations about their utility.

The discussion of these challenges, which lasted around 2 hours, helped to raise awareness about the different obstacles that single people face in finding a suitable spouse. Sharing these obstacles in an open and informal environment also helped to address some of the stigma associated with the aforementioned issues.

The workshop ended with some informal socialising between participants. In sum, the workshop offered an informal environment to share and learn about the challenges faced by many single people in our community, whilst offering an opportunity to meet others, in a low-pressure and friendly environment.


  1. Anonymous

    Greatly needed this topic as many people are struggling and some have a reached an age that they cannot marry due to getting old and not finding the “one”.
    However, there’s still so much injustice as some men grown up in the U.K. get influenced by their very traditional mother’s to go back home and find a girl. Whilst leaving the many girls who live in this country with no choice or prospect of a good spouse.

    • Anonymous

      Salaamun alaykum.
      Very encouraging to see such excellent and important work done in a way appropriate and useful for today’s generation of young people.
      May all involved be blessed with guidance from Allah swt and great success in what you want to achieve in dunya and akhirah both insha Allah bi idhnillah swt

  2. Anonymous

    Great work! Barak Allah beekom…

    A suggestion: compiling a database of people looking for a spouse, to help facilitate introductions?


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