Is it permissible for a man to pray for marriage to a particular woman, or for a woman to pray for marriage to a particular man?
Praise be to Allah.
There is nothing wrong with a man asking Allah to make it easy for him to marry a particular woman, and there is nothing wrong with a woman asking Allah to make it easy for her to marry a particular man. If a Muslim man or woman offers supplication in general terms without specifying anything, and delegates the matter of choosing the best to his Lord, such as a man saying “O Allah, make it easy for me to marry a righteous wife”, or a woman saying “O Allah, make it easy for me to marry a righteous husband”– if he or she does that, that is preferable, because it is complete reliance upon Allah and delegating one’s affairs to Him. Moreover there is a report which indicates that it is preferable to offer supplication in general, comprehensive and concise terms. Abu Dawood (1482) narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) liked comprehensive and concise supplication and he refrained from anything other than that. Classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allah have mercy on him) in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Sharh Riyadh as-Saaliheen (6/16): That is, if a person offers supplication, he should choose the most comprehensive and concise of supplications and refrain from details, because offering supplication in general terms is more comprehensive than limiting it to specific requests.
Moreover, being specific and persisting in offering du‘aa’ for that makes one more attached to the matter, and he does not know whether he will attain it or not. Perhaps if he does not attain it, after all that, he may become more upset and feel the loss more keenly. So it is more appropriate to delegate his affairs to his Lord, and be content with what He chooses for him.
But if a person must be specific, then he should ask for that specific thing provided it is good for him. So he could say, for example: If there is something good for me in So and so, then make it easy for me to marry her, and so on.
Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Sayd al-Khaatir (p. 352): Beware of asking for something without connecting the asking to what is good, for perhaps attaining what one is seeking of worldly matters may be a cause that leads to one’s doom. End quote.
However that is the matter of what is preferable. But if the individual is certain of what he wants and asks for it without any conditions or exceptions, then there is nothing wrong with that, in sha Allah, and Allah decrees whatever He wills.
With regard to differentiating between the whispers of one’s own self (nafs) and the whispers (waswaas) of the Shaytaan, please see the answer to question no. 39684.
We ask Allah to make it easy for you to find a righteous wife who will be a delight to you, for He is Most Generous, Most Kind.
And Allah knows best.