On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allaah, peace be upon him, said: “The woman is married for four reasons: For her wealth, status, beauty and religion. Choose the one that possesses the religion and may you prosper.” [Bukhaari and Muslim]
Sheikh Saalih al-Fouzaan, may Allaah preserve him, mentions in his explanation of this:
“This prophetic narration clarifies some of the characteristics that motivate a man to marry a woman. It also specifies the preferred trait one should look for in a spouse which is marrying a religious one. So it is befitting when an individual intends to marry, that he chooses a woman who is religious. He shouldn’t choose a woman that is negligent regarding her religion due to the Prophet’s, peace be upon him, statement: “Choose the one that possesses the religion and may you prosper.”
1.”For her wealth”: If the woman is wealthy, men will be attracted to her because of it. However this could be harmful to the man and as well as her. In that she could become arrogant and/or oppressive to him and mention (all) her favors that she has done for him spitefully. So as a result the wealth would be the cause for adversity in their marriage.
2. ”For her status”: Means due to her being someone who has a high social status amongst the people. However this could also cause a blameworthy outcome.
3:”For her beauty”: A woman is married for her beauty as well. Men are (naturally) attracted to these type of affairs. With that, this beauty could be a reason for corruption by way of her becoming infatuated with herself and conceited.
4. ”For her religion”: This is the one who should be sought after. “Choose the one who…” Means to marry her.
“May you prosper.” This phrase is used as a form of supplication or encouragement. However the origin was that it was used to supplicate poverty upon someone.
The intent here is an encouragement to marry a religious, god-fearing woman. Because religiosity entails all praiseworthy traits and no harm is associated with it. (In) it is all good contrary to beauty, wealth or status. These matters can bring about unhealthy situations (in a marriage) that would harm and distress the husband.
And although the people are inclined to these qualities, it is proper that the believers’ concern (is about the religion) and not about these matters.”