Okay, Stealth, I qualify under the general heading of “anyone”, so let me take a shot at telling you a few things which anyone considering embarking upon a marriage should take to heart.
The Prophet, peace be upon Him, said, “Aktharu zzawaji barakatan aysaruha mihnan,” which may be translated as something like, “The mairages which are most blessed are those which bring in their wake the smallest amount of difficulty.” That is generally taken to mean the least amount of extravagance.
When I got married, I asked my Moroccan husband for a negligible amount of Mahr, taqdeeman wa ta’khiran. (at the time of the wedding and further down the road). I was advised to ask for more, and I probably should have, but I did not have any real familiarity with the ramifications of such customs down the line, and, traditionally in America, the custom of providing the dowry is lain upon the bride’s family. The dowry (mahr) should be discussed and decided upon in advance, and it should NOT be for an unrealistically large and impressive amount which you would never actually be able to deliver upon, for you are bound by Shariah law to pay at least half of it in the event that the marriage goes through but, for whatever reason, is dissolved before you consummate it. Should it be dissolved further down the line, (and even if it is not dissolved, you must give the delayed Mahr to your wife, although many people seem unaware of this and have come to think of the delayed Mahr as something which the wife is entitled to only in the event of divorce) you are responsible for giving the bride the entire amount, and if you do not, it will be held against you as an unfulfilled debt in the Hereafter.
… The bride is not allowed to be her own guardian in the case of marriage, and there is a hadeeth which says, “Any woman who conducts her own marriage (without the permission of her guardian), her marriage is not legally binding.” …The groom of a Muslim bride must also be a Muslim, although his ethnicity is not of any consequence. The guardian of the bride will, no doubt, make it clear what he expects his daughter’s Mahr to be; negotiations are common. The bride cannot be married against her wishes, but neither may she marry against her guardian’s (usually her father) wishes.
After I was married, my in-laws sent me a set of gold bangles. That is more customary than rings, although each of my younger sisters-in-law received rings in addition to the beautiful outfits and the bangles and other gifts. Usually, the stone is not important in Morocco. They do not normally care whether it is a real diamond, ruby, emerald, etc. But, the gold MUST be solid, not electroplated. In Morocco, most gold is 18K; they don’t think 14 or 10 is sufficient. In most of the rest of the Middle East and India, 22 or 24k gold is the standard.
Muslim fathers are instructed to accept, as grooms for their daughters, men of good character and devoutness, regardless of their financial status. The Qur’an, in Surat An Nur, explicitly states, “In yakunu fuqara’ yughnihim Ullahu min Fadlihi wa Allahu Wasi3un 3aleem”, which may be paraphrased as, “If it be that they (those who are going to marry) are poor, Allah will cause them to become wealthy (or, to be lacking in neediness, at least) from His bounty, and Allah is Generous and All-Knowing.”
That being the ideal, in the interest of honesty, I must confess that it is not uncommon for the implications of that verse to be overlooked, even though they are further supported by a Prophetic Saying which states, “If a man comes to you asking the hand of your daughter with whom you are well pleased as regards his religion and his manners, allow her to marry him; if you do not do so, there will be trouble in the land, and great perversions.”
… That being said, it is also the right of the father and the daughter to seek out a person who is similar to the prospective bride in terms of education and general background; that makes for easier understanding between the two after the wedding. And it is often a difficult thing to be married to someone whose culture is not very similar to one’s own, even if each partner is a sincere and practicing Muslim. After all, people are only human, and misunderstandings are common on both sides, and unmet expectations often go unvoiced, yet punished by retaliatory and misunderstood reactions.
… And I wish I could be of more help to you; I don’t have any real idea of what your and her circumstances are, but I can tell you that, if it be the case that you are pursuing this out of the emotion, love, “Love” is not enough to build a successful household upon. And, even if each spouse is superlative in terms of his/her patience, manners, understanding, etc., any and every marriage is fraught with difficulties; some minor, some major, some deal-breakers. There is no house upon the face of this Earth which does not deal with hundreds of problems; life is, after all, a testing ground. It is the way in which you handle your problems which will determine your happiness or discontent. Whoever anyone marries, he/she must be ready and able and willing to overlook lapses and give the benefit of the doubt endlessly and trust his/her spouse enough to open up to him/her. The quality of the marital communication is largely in the hands of the spouses. Marriage is not the wedding and the frills and the gifts; it is the journey in this imperfect, transitory world towards the coming, permanent world. It is imperative that, whoever and whenever you marry, you be patient, both with yourself and your wife, and that you are in agreement as to the criterion which you will use to settle disagreements between yourselves.
In all sincerity and hoping that I have not offended anyone, UmMaryam