The first element is religion:
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a losers.”(1). The Hadith tells what people usually do. They search for these qualities but the last thing they think of is religion.
The Hadith exhorts people to choose religious wives whether they have the other qualities or not(2). Religious women have upper hand over other women even if they are more beautiful than them because religious women are more preservative to themselves and their husbands’ monies. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are four qualities, whoever was given them has given the good of this world and the next: a thankful heart, a tongue that remembers Allah (all the time), a body that can endure hardships, and a wife who protect herself and her husband’s money.”(3)
Religious women usually treat their husbands well because they do it as piety to Allah. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked which woman is the best? He said: “The one who pleases her husband when he looks at her, obeys him when he commands, and does not do anything in terms of herself or his money in a way he does not like.”(4). The wordings of At-Tabarany are: “A person will not gain something, after embracing Islam, better than a believing woman who pleases him when he looks at her and when he is away, she protects herself and her husband’s money.”
Furthermore, religious women are good members in the society because they know their duties and their rights, so they abide by them and fear Allah in their actions. Religious women appreciate their responsibilities towards their houses and their husbands and children, hence when a religious woman is pretty, it will be better. Islam has stressed the importance of the psychological need of a person to someone to whom he feels comfortable, therefore, it ordained for a fiancé to look at his fiancée, but a young man should beware of seeking beauty and overlooking religion. Abu Sa`id (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Beware of Khadra’ Ad-Damin.“ The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked: who is Khadra’ Ad-Damin? He said: “Pretty woman in a bad environment.”(5)
Second, a woman should be loving and fertile: A woman’s kind treatment to her husband is one of the required qualities which a fiancé should not overlook in his fiancée; this depends on how religious a women is because the more religious she is, the more she knows the rights of her husband on her and the more eager she is to please him in things that do not upset Allah. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The best of your women in paradise is the loving, the one who gives birth to children, who treats her husband kindly. When she makes a mistake or harmed her husband, she would come to her husband, put her hands in her husband’s, and say: I shall not taste comfort until you are pleased.”(6)
A woman should be able to give birth to children and does not have a disease or an ailment to prevent that. Ma`qil ibn Yasar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that a man came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: "I found a woman who is pretty and of good family but she does not give birth to children, shall I marry her? He said: “Do not do that.” He came to him again and asked the same question but the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade him to do, then he came to him for the third time, thereupon the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Marry women who are loving and give birth to children for I will be proud of you before nations.”(7)
After managing these qualities, there come the rest qualities which most people prefer, such as: house holding, the ability of raising children, and proficiency in organizing and beautifying…etc.
When Allah guides you to choose a woman, you should perform Istikharah (A special Salah to invoke Allah to guide you to choose well) because it contains a great reward and goodness.
1) Reported by Al Bukhari, Book of marriage, Chapter on qualified for one another in terms of religion 5090-9/132 Fathul-Bary, and Muslim, Book of marriage, Chapter on the desirability of marrying religious women 10/51 Sharh An-Nawawy.
2) See Subul As-Salam 3 / 238, the commentary of An-Nawawy on Sahih Muslim 10/52, Fathul-Bary 9 / 135.
3) At-Tabarany reported this Hadith in Al Mu`jam Al Awsat 2249-4/155, 156 - see Majma` Al Bahrayn and Al Mu`jam Al Kabir 11275-11/109 and Al Bayhaqy in his book Al Adab, 1030, p. 459. Al Mundhiry said in At-Targhib wa At-Tarhib 7-3/67: Reported by At-Tabarany in Al Mu`jam Al Kabir and Al Awsat, and the chain of narration of one of them is good. Al Haythamy said in Majma` Az-Zawa’id 4 / 273: Reported by At-Tabary in Al Mu`jam Al Kabir and Al Awsat, and the narrators of Al Awsat are the narrators of authentic Hadiths.
4) The Hadith was reported by An-Nasa’y in the book of marriage, chapter on which woman is the best 3231-6/68, Al Hakim in the book of marriage, chapter on which woman is the best 2 / 161, and he said: The Hadith is authentic according to the conditions of Imam Muslim and Adh-Dhahaby agreed to that judgment; Imam Ahmad 2 / 251, and At-Tabarany in Al Mu`jam Al Awsat 71 \ 2136-3. The Hadith is authentic because of Muhammed ibn `Ajlan.
5) Reported in Musnad Al Shihab 957-2/96.
6) Reported by Ibn Abu Ad-Dunya in the book of children, 493-2/682 and said: "In its chain of narration is Khalaf ibn Khalifah Al Ashja`y who is truthful. Al Albany graded it as authentic in Sahih Al Jami` 2604.
7) Reported by Abu Dawud, Book of marriage, chapter on forbidding marrying women who do not give birth to children 2050-2/227, An-Nasa’y in the Book of Marriage, chapter on Chapter on the reprehensibility of marrying a barren woman 3227-6/65, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, Book of marriage the forbiddance of marrying women who do not give birth to children 4040, 4045-6/144, and Al Hakim in his book of Marriage, chapter on marry women who are loving and give birth to children 2 / 162 who said: "This is am authentic Hadith, but Al Bukhari and Muslim did not report it in these wordings and the same view was said by Adh-Dhahaby. Al Bayhaqy also reported the Hadith in the Book of Marriage, Chapter on desirability of marrying women who are loving and fertile 7 / 81. The chain of narration of Abu Dawud is good because of Mustalim Ibn Sa`id who is truthful, but the Hadith has a similar narration that was reported by Anas which makes it classified as authentic. See Fathul-Bary 9 / 111 and Nayl Al Awtar 6 / 105.