Islamic marriage advice and family advice

African wedding rites or simple nikah?

Muslim wedding in the Gambia

Muslim wedding in the Gambia

As-Salam-Aleykoum brothers and sisters,

I am from a West African country where traditions are very important, especially when it comes to wedding ceremonies. They last over one week most of the time, with many rites. When growing up, I used to be mesmerized by those rites and looking forward to getting married. Now that I am much older and have learned more about my religion, I have realized that I am very uncomfortable with these rites as they do not align with my understanding of religion.

Some of these rites include the bride staying in a room for at least four days, she is asked not to talk much (or at all) during those days, she is not allowed to eat fish all week while in the room, she has to go through a head washing ceremony, etc...

I have tried to bring that up to my father and he brushed it off.  My father is a very open-minded person, however, he would not do anything that will displease his family, mainly his sisters. And he told me my aunts would never agree to that.

When I brought it up with other family members, i was told if you do not go through those rites, you will not have khair in your marriage. I almost flinched because i was scared not to have khair and at times I am conflicted but deep down I know I only want a simple nikah (just like in Islam), no music, no griot, no traditional rites.

I looked up online but did not read much about what Islam says about tradition and wedding rites. Anyone know what religion says about tradition and culture? Should I stand my ground or give in to please family members?

JazakAllah Khair brothers and sisters.

- BeggingForForgiveness

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3 Responses »

  1. assalamualaikum brother.

    As far as I understand, if the cultural norms do not contradict Islam it can be done. They are not forbidden. We all have cultures that have added rituals especially for marriage. Many marriages last days and weeks including in Pakistan, North Africa, and etc. I can understand your concern with no music. But from my limited knowledge drums are permitted in Islam. And I think that is the traditional instrument across Africa. If you are concerned about dancing, maybe separate the genders? Forgive me for my ignorance. I am an American born Pakistani.

    Maybe You can come to a compromise with your family by having a nikkah in a masjid with just close family and then have a reception and days of “marriage” after with everyone.

    MashaaAllah your intentions are pure and righteous. May Allah make it easy for you and guide you to the best decision for everyone. Praying that your marriage is blessed.

    Your sister in Islam.

  2. Asalamualaykum SIster,

    You write:" i was told if you do not go through those rites, you will not have khair in your marriage."

    I agree with MA above that it is completely acceptable to incorporate rites and rituals in your marriage and it is indeed an additional blessing to have happy family members on your wedding day. However blessing comes from Allah alone. I think you need to find a balance that works for you, incorporating your understanding of Islam, your personality, and your natural inclinations.

    As far as staying in a room for 4 days all alone, I'd fight for your right not to. Allah doesn't want us to engage in anything that is bad for our health and being isolated for that amount of time can lead to mental health issues and loneliness. You don't want to be in a desperate state come your wedding day. Explain this to your family. Perhaps if you try your best to engage in the other rites, your family will understand if you don't want to do this one thing.

    I hope you enjoy your wedding day and that there is barakah in it for you, Inshallah.


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