17.5.11

Islamic Weddings

Article

In the traditional Islamic faith, weddings differ greatly from other parts of the world where they are viewed as the joining of two soul mates. In Islamic faith, marriage is viewed as an important social contract and duty.

Under Islam faith, a man may take up to four wives as long as he can prove that he is capable of caring for them all. There may be some differences in various Islamic countries, but certain basics of Islamic principle are always adhered to during the wedding rites.

The marriage ceremony, called the ‘nikah’, is a simple affair that is usually conducted in a mosque on a Sunday:-

  • The nuptials are often officiated over by the Inman, a Muslim religious figure who leads the prayers in the mosque, although any respected Muslim man is permitted to perform the ceremony.
  • The wedding dress of the bride (if she attends) is largely dictated by the customs of the Islamic country where the bride and groom are being married. There is no requirement for the bride to be present at the ceremony, as long as she has two witnesses present, on her behalf.
  • Many brides who attend their wedding choose to wear a white gown, while those brides from the Asian sub-continent often wear a shalwar-qameez outfit in scarlet or gold thread with their hands and feet patterned with henna.
  • During the ceremony the Inman will read a number of verses from the Islamic holy text called the Koran, which specifically remind the couple and the congregation of their duties to each other, to Allah, and the Muslim way of life.
  • A wedding contract is drawn up that shows the husband’s and wife’s commitments to each other. One of the couple must express ‘ijab’ (willingness to consent to marriage), and the other ‘qubul’ (acceptance of the responsibility). Once the couple and two male witnesses have signed the contract, it is proclaimed they are married.
  • Following the nikah some Muslims opt for a few simple rituals at home and a celebratory meal at the bride’s family house. For most however, an important part of the wedding process is the wedding banquet called the walima.
  • The walima is paid for by the husband and is a joyous celebration. It is also a very public announcement of the marriage, required to be celebrated in full public view.
  • According to the teachings of the Koran, an invitation to celebrate a marriage at a walima should never be refused, and it should include all members of the community regardless of their social standing, to uphold the Islamic law of charity.
  • The married couple receive gifts from their guests and in some cultures the bride and groom will sit on a throne to receive them.
  • The most important gift however, is the gift given by the groom to his new bride. This gift is called the ‘mahr’, and it is the symbol of his commitment and responsibility towards her.
  • The amount of mahr is usually according to economic conditions and can be given at the time of the wedding or deferred until later. The gift is for the bride alone and it is up to her to choose how she uses it.
  • The gift can be in the form of money, property or a commitment, such as a promise from the groom to teach her verses from the Holy Koran.



© Copyright Jan Reid-Lennox. All Rights Reserved.