3 Problems with Muslim Weddings Today
By Ajmal Masroor
September 1, 2013
What’s wrong with our weddings?
This month I have attended many weddings and I have invitations for many more. I am invited to conduct the nikah for most of these marriages. I thoroughly enjoy getting people married as this brings people of various backgrounds together and most importantly it unites two people in love and commitment. Marriage is the only way we can maintain a healthy and sustainable society. There should be more weddings and we should celebrate that.
However, I have noticed three terribly disturbing things in wedding celebrations in our community:
1. The wastage and extravagance: Many of these wedding functions cost tens of thousands of pounds. People vie for outdoing each other in wedding halls, décor, costumes, wedding dress, wedding cars, jewelry, and gifts. I have even seen people hiring helicopters to arrive at their weddings! The food is the most expensive part in these functions. Yet in most cases the over spicy and greasy food causes great distress with indigestion, heartburn and other digestive complications!
I can understand people spending reasonable amounts of money to make their special day memorable but spending to show off is certainly in total contradiction to the spirit of weddings in Islam. People should always spend within their means but I am hearing people are borrowing huge amounts of money from banks, remortgaging their properties or using multiple credit cards to pay for their wedding bills.
If marriage is an act of worship in Islam and is performed to seek the Grace and Blessings of God, surely contravening the principles of God would be the cause of disgrace and misery. The question is, are all these expenses for one day of celebration really worth the heart ache and waste?
Allah warns us against those who waste and are extravagant. He calls them the partners of Shaytan (the devil). “Eat and drink, and do not be wasteful or extravagant.” And in another verse he says, “surely the wasteful and extravagant are partners of the devil”. You can never buy true happiness with money or materials. The true happiness is found in moderation, humility and selflessness. Marital bliss is embodied in the spiritual and physical heart of two people coming together to create a safe space for their emotional, physical and spiritual journey and growth. It is in this safe and tranquil space God bestows part of His Love (Mawadda) and Mercy (Rahma). You can never buy this with money. Weddings should always be modest!
2. Atrocious timekeeping: I went to a recent wedding where the guests were asked to arrive by 1pm and I was told to be there at 1.30pm at the latest.
Unfortunately the bridegroom didn’t turn up until after 4.00 and the bride until 5 and lunch around 5.30pm. People were hungry, kids were distraught and to make things even more complicated, the event was organized outdoor in blazing heat of the sun. There were elderly people who were suffering from diabetes and were feeling their blood sugar level altering to alarming levels.
I asked one of the organisers about the reasons for the delay and any indication of time. I was told it was an Asian wedding, what do I expect?
There is no excuse that can justify this rotten culture of bad time keeping. It has become so acceptable that everyone assumes everyone else will be late and they deliberately set off late for such functions. Unfortunately the Muslim community has gained notoriety for the abuse of time to such a degree that now many people would ask, if the event is following GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or GMT (generous Muslim time)? It is a disgrace that people do not keep to time and it is terrible that Islam has been tarnished by the attitude of some Muslims.
I have learned from waiting for hours, I ask those who invite me to conduct their Islamic Marriage ceremony to give me the precise time. Sometimes they complain about the Imam being late for their ceremonies. Lateness is bad but Imams turning up late is very disturbing. I have been told that many imams do not turn up on time, and that is the reason the families give an earlier time so that Imam would arrive on time. I was very sad to hear that and I make it my duty to arrive on time.
There is a direct connection between time and God. We should all remember that God is time and to abuse time is to abuse God. Not keeping to time disturbs other people’s programme and causes unnecessary pain. I remember I had to leave a wedding reception event recently without performing the Nikah because the bride and the groom were 4 hours late.
3. Too many pretentious people: I have attended so many weddings in my life and have met so may amazing people who are genuine and are truly great inspiration. I have also met people who are extremely pretentious and fake. I have failed to understand the real merit in such people.
Many people attend weddings for the wrong reasons. Some attend purely to show off. They wear clothes for people to take notice of them. They wear luxurious suits or dresses for people to recognize their wealth. They talk in the most artificial manner and worse they pretend to be your best friend.
Wedding celebration is all about bringing friends and families together to rejoice in the physical and spiritual union of two hearts. The heart is ruined when artificiality and pretense is at play. People who vie for false attention contaminate the wonderful blessings contained in marriage. Such people attend weddings for promoting themselves. They will make deriding comments about the décor; they would snigger at other people, complain about the food, provide unsolicited advice, be critical for the smallest thing and demand to be the centre of attention.
I can spot such people from miles away. I do not enjoy their company and it is hard for me to pretend to be unaware of their pretentiousness. They really lack confidence but pretend to have loads of it. They are in constant need for attention and other people’s approval. They do not have sophistication but pretend to be most cultured and sophisticated. You can notice this in the way they dress and their mannerism. Unfortunately, weddings tend attract such people.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy conducting nikah and attending the celebrations. I thoroughly enjoy meeting and talking to people but I do not like phony people and I do not like people who live to showoff. I long for simple, classy, naturally managed, time maintained and unpretentious wedding celebrations. I desperately look forward to easy, relaxing, entertaining and fun filled weddings. You don’t need to dress to impress or seek other people’s approval to have fun. Wedding celebration does not need extravagance, wastefulness and pretentiousness.
© Ajmal Masroor September 1, 2013. Reprinted here with the author’s permission.
Islamic Marriage Khutbah (Wedding Speech)
This is a typical Muslim nikah khutbah (wedding speech) that would be given by an Imam at a Muslim wedding. This particular speech was translated from Arabic, I believe. I do not know the author’s name:
“Thanks be to Allah that we praise Him, pray to Him for help; ask Him for pardon; we believe in Him, We trust Him; and ask Him to guard us from the evil of our own souls and from the evil consequences of our own deeds. Whomsoever He leaves straying no one can guide him. I bear witness that there is no God save Allah, who has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He has sent with truth as a bringer of good news and a warner.
The best word is the book of Allah, and the best way is that of Muhammad, on whom be peace. The worst of all things are innovations and every innovation leads astray, and every thing that leads astray leads to Hell.
Whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger will be guided aright and whosoever disobeys will cause loss to his own self (and thereafter). Hereafter, I ask the refuge of Allah from Shaytan, the outcast.
O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. be careful of your duty towards Allah in whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bear you). Lo, Allah hath been a watcher over you. [Surah Al Nisa' 4:1]
O ye who believe! Observe your duty to Allah with right observance, and die not save as those who have surrendered (unto Him). [Surah Ali 'Imran 3:102]
O ye who believe! Guard your duty to Allah, and speak words straight to the point; He will adjust your works for you and will forgive you your sins. Whosoever obeyeth Allah and His messenger, he verily hath gained a signal victory. [Surah Al Ahzab 33:70-71]“
Marriage is one of the most important acts of worship in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu layhi Wasallam) has told us how to live as Muslims. One of the branches of faith is marriage. It has been thus narrated in a Hadeeth that when a person marries, he has complete half of his religion and so he should fear Allah regarding the remaining half.
Shame, modesty, moral and social values and control of self desire are just a few of the many teachings of Islam. Furthermore, these are just a few of the many worships that a person can complete by performing the ritual of marriage. Through marriage a person can be saved from many shameless and immoral sins and through marriage he has is more able to control his desire. Therefore, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) has said:
“O young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Marriage is a strong oath that takes place between the man and women in this world, but its blessings and contract continues even in Jannah. It is the way of our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), and whosoever goes against this practice has been reprimanded.
Hadhrat Anas ibn Malik narrates:
A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (Sallallaahu layhi Wasallam) asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said:
“Where are we compared to the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven?”
Then one of them said: “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.”
The other said: “I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.”
The third said: “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.”
Allah’s Apostle came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (from my followers).” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Therefore, Islamically, we are all encouraged to get married and not turn away from the ways of our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Salaam). It should be remembered that this duty of marriage is for both men and women. Just as men complete half their religion through this act, it is also the same for women. However, in today’s time, there are many marriage-related issues which arise in people’s lives, as today we see many people abusing the laws of marriage in Islam.
When marrying, each becomes the other’s lifetime companion. Each should understand and appreciate that Allah has brought them both together and that their destiny in life has now become one. Whatever the circumstances: happiness or sorrow; health or sickness; wealth or poverty; comfort or hardship; trial or ease; all events are to be confronted together as a team with mutual affection and respect.
No matter how wealthy, affluent, materially prosperous and “better-off” another couple may appear, one’s circumstances are to be happily accepted with qanã‘at (contentment upon the Choice of Allah). The wife should happily accept her husband, his home and income as her lot and should always feel that her husband is her true beloved and best friend and well-wisher in all family decisions. The husband too should accept his wife as his partner-for-life and not cast a glance towards another.
Allah’s Messenger (Sallallaahu layhi Wasallam) said, “The best of you is he who is best to his family”. (Mishkat)
It was the noble practice of Nabi (Sallallaahu layhi Wasallam) to counsel spouses about the awareness of Allah before performing a Nikah by reciting the verses (Nisa v14, Ahzab v69, Al-Imraan v101) from the Quran. All the verses are common in the message of Taqwa (consciousness of Allah). The spouses will be first committed to Allah before being committed to their partner. There can be no doubt in the success of a marriage governed by the consciousness of Allah. I hope and wish every person a very happy and prosperous married life. May peace and Allah’s blessing be upon you.
Is Marriage Through Email Allowed in Islam?
Marriage through E-Mail
Name of Mufti: Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Dear Sheikh, As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh. Now, modern means of communication have made things much easier. I’d like to know whether it’s allowed to make Nikah (marriage) via the e-mail or not. Jazakum Allah khayran.
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Brother, we really appreciate your fowarding this question to us, and we commend your keenness on getting yourself well-acquainted with the teachings of Islam. May Allah help us all keep firm on the Right Path, Ameen!
Brother, first of all, you are to bear in mind the fact that marriage contract, in Islam, is so solemn that it should be concluded in certain way stipulated by Shari`ah so as to set it in order and remove any ambiguity in this regard.
Focusing more on the question in point, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:
“According to Muslim jurists, it is not permissible to marry someone by mail or phone. The same thing can be said about the e-mail. Marriage in Islam is a formal legal contract. It should be very clear who is marrying whom. The Shari`ah emphasizes the announcement of marriage and does not allow any ambiguity in this matter. It is for this reason witnesses for Nikah are necessary.
If the parties who want to get married are not present, they can appoint a wakil (representative). The person who is getting married has to appoint his/her wakil. It is permissible to appoint a wakil through telephone, fax or email. The wakil then should do the ijab (proposal) or qubul (acceptance), in person, on behalf of the person who appointed him. Two witnesses who also personally know the party that is not present are necessary for the contract of marriage.”
Allah Almighty knows best.
Two Aspects of Nikah in Islam: the Inner and the Outer
By Irshaad Hussain, Islam from Inside
Islamic marriage has two sides which are two facets of a single reality.
One facet deals with the inner nature of marriage – the “why” of marriage – the deeper, less self-evident purposes of marriage.
The other is the practical side which seeks to ensure a firm, non-sentimental approach to practical issues which are necessary for a successful negotiation of the difficult path of marriage.
The marriage ceremony (nikah) reflects these two facets.
The Inner Nature
This facet is the intention which the man and woman make internally within themselves as they recite the marriage contract. This intention must be firm and clear and based upon the understanding of marriage as laid out in the Qur’an:
“It is He who created you from a single soul, And made its mate of like nature in order that you might dwell with her in love….”(7:189) The male and female complete each other – together they make a single self and this is how they must strive to make their lives together – as if they are one being, one person.
The Legal Facet
The other facet is the legal facet – the fact that marriage is also a contract with attendant rights and obligations which the man and woman fulfil towards one another. It is in this contract that the man and woman can specify terms and conditions of the marriage, if they wish to. By making the practical side upfront and clear there can be no misunderstandings at a later time. The words of the actual contract are as follows:
The woman says: “I have made myself your wife and have accepted the mahr.” Then the man responds: “I have accepted the marriage.” The words should be recited in Arabic, if possible. If one is unable to recite them in Arabic then a representative (wakeel) recites them on your behalf, as in: “Fatima makes herself your wife….”. It should be noted here that the act of marriage is in the hands of the woman – she is the one who does the giving – the man then accepts what she gives.
It is through the nikah (and only through the nikah) that a man and woman become legally permissable to one another for the type of close and intimate relationship signified in marriage.
The mahr is a “free gift” that the man offers to the woman as a token of the seriousness of his intention and his love for her – that he sacrifices something of his substance to her as a gift that is hers to do with as she pleases. The mahr can range from something immaterial such as teaching a verse of the Qur’an to his wife, to a ring, to property or money. The mahr must be agreed upon by the man and woman themselves, not their parents. The mahr is given to the bride – not her parents. The mahr is hers and hers alone and she may return all or a portion of it to her husband, if she so wishes or use it in whatever way she desires without pressure from the husband or either hers or his family.
RUMI ON MARRIAGE
May your vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, sweet drink and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
your every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name, an omen as welcome as the moon in a clear evening sky….
May spirit enter and mingle in this marriage.
- Rumi (Kulliyat-i-Shams)