Yaḥyā b. Yaḥyā Al-NaysābūrĪ reports:
I was once with Sufyān b. ‘Uyainah – Allah have mercy on him, when a man came to him and said, “O Abū Muḥammad, I complain to you of so-and-so”, meaning his wife, “I am the lowest and most despicable thing to her.” [Sufyān] lowered his head for a few moments, then said, “Perhaps you wanted her in order to better your status.” The man said, “Indeed, o Abū Muḥammad.” Sufyān said, “Whoever goes for glory will be tried with ignominy, whoever goes for wealth will be tried with poverty, but whoever goes for religiousness, Allah will bring together for him glory and wealth with the religion.” He then started to narrate to him:
We were four brothers: Muḥammad, ‘Umrān, IbrāhĪm and I. Muḥammad was the eldest, ‘Umrān was the youngest, and I was in the middle. When Muḥammad wanted to marry, he desired status and married a woman of higher standing, so Allah tried him with ignominy. ‘Umrān desired wealth, so he married a richer woman and Allah tried him with poverty: [her family] took everything from him and gave him nothing.
I pondered their situation. Mu’ammar b. Rāshid once came to us so I consulted him on the situation and told him the story of my brothers. He reminded me of the ḥadĪth of Yaḥyā b. Ja’dah and the ḥadĪth of ‘Ā`ishah. The ḥadĪth of Yaḥyā b. Ja’dah states that the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – said, “A woman is married for four things: her religion, her status (lineage), her wealth or her beauty; so take the religious one and be successful.” The ḥadĪth of ‘Ā`ishah states that the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – said, “The most blessed woman is she who is easiest to maintain.”
Thus, I chose [to marry a woman of] religion and modest dowry, in accordance with the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and Allah gave me status and wealth along with the religion.
Abū Nu’aym, Hilyatu Al-Awliyā` 7:289, 290.
The first ḥadĪth is recorded by Al-BukhārĪ and Muslim. The second is found in Al-Nasā`Ī and other collections but has been graded weak by scholars including Shaykh Al-AlbānĪ. However, scholars point out there is another narration that supports and adds to its meaning. This ḥadĪth states:
It is from the blessing in a woman that she has an easy dowry, an easy proposal [via her guardian] and an easy womb (i.e. she is fertile and bares children without difficulty). One of the reporters of this narration, ‘Urwah, said “And I say from myself, one of the first signs of evil from a woman is for her to have a high dowry.”
This ḥadĪth is recorded by Imām Aḥmad and others and is graded ḥasan by Shaykh Al-AlbānĪ.