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Nikah Khutbah Video by Imam Zaid Shakir of USA

Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir

Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

Imam Zaid Shakir is the co-founder of Zaytuna Institute and is Imam of the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California. He is well known as a religious thinker, speaker, educator and activist for justice. Here he speaks beautifully about the necessary qualities of a successful marriage.

The Imam pointed out that while today shyness is often seen as a personality flaw, in Islam shyness or hayaa’ is a branch of faith and is a virtue.

Another important quality is beauty. While it is important for marriage partner to beautify themselves for each other, it is more important to beautify themselves spiritually, because physical beauty fades, but spiritual beauty can grow and increase. The relationship that was once sustained by physical beauty is then sustained by spiritual beauty.

Imam Zaid mentioned permanence. He said that the newlywed couple enters the marriage with an attitude of permanence, firmly intending to be together for life, and even after life in the aakhirah inshaAllah. By holding to this concept of permanence, they ensure that they will remain together through good times and bad.

Remembrance of Allah is another key. Keeping the remembrance of Allah on your tongues, in your lives and in your homes, prevents Shaytan from interfering with your marriage and causing division between you.

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62 Year Old Saudi Prince Pays $50 million for 25 Year Old Bride!

Prince Sultan bin Salman and his new bride.

Prince Sultan bin Salman and his new bride.

Reprinted from Punch
May 1, 2018

Saudi prince, Sultan Bin Salman, has allegedly paid the sum of $50m (about N18bn) as bride price for his new wife, a 25-year-old woman.

It was gathered that the bride, who is believed to be a national of United Arab Emirates, received numerous gifts for her elaborate wedding, aside from the $50m bride price.

No fewer than 30 large boxes were offloaded from a white luxurious bus to be presented to the bride’s family.

A chariot filled with gifts for the bride and her family was also seen at the venue of the wedding.

Stories about the elaborate wedding, which took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Kuwait at Burj Alshaya, have gone viral on the internet, with many reactions trailing it.

A Twitter user, Amal Abdul @amalabdul, shared the details of the wedding on her handle. She tweeted:

“Sultan bin Salman Saudi prince 68 years old married a 25yr old girl. Her dowry was 50M dollars, the convoy had about 20-30 white range rovers, a lot of diamonds as gift and this was her in the wedding gown.”

Amal posted this photo, showing the bride in a wedding dress apparently large enough to make tents for 50 refugees:

Bride in immense wedding gown

Bride in immense wedding gown

Sultan Salman Abdulaziz al-Saud was born in 1956 in Riyadh, so he was actually 62 at the time of the wedding, not 68. He was the first Saudi, Arab or Muslim to travel into space, which he did in 1985 aboard NASA’s space shuttle Discovery. His father has been king of Saudi Arabia since 2015.

Here is a video of the wedding:

My Reaction

I’m honestly sick of reading about Saudi princes buying 300 million dollar homes, a $450 million painting, a half billion dollar yacht. Meanwhile Muslims are dying in refugee camps, starving in Yemen (due to bombing by the Saudis themselves), suffering in Palestine… It’s wretched and disgusting.

It doesn’t bother me that the “groom” is 62 and the bride is 25. I don’t care that this is a cynical arrangement in which he gets a sexy young wife and she gets a filthy rich old geezer. They both know what they’re getting. They’re adults and can make their own choices.

What bothers me is the way the wealth and resources of the Ummah are being squandered. These Saudi royals did not do anything to earn this money with their own hands. They happened to be sitting on top of immense oil fields. Almost overnight they went from being simple Bedouins to the richest people in the world.

This resource is a gift to them from Allah. In fact it is a gift to all Muslims. It is their duty to use it to help all suffering people. Furthermore they should be using this wealth to ensure a future for their own nation after the oil runs out. It should be used to educate the populace to a high level, and to develop industries and technologies that will enable Saudi Arabia to become a world leader.

Instead the money is being wasted on frivolous things, and is being spent to fund wars that harm innocents.

I can understand the impulse to say, “Oh, but it’s so romantic, like a fairytale.” But I don’t agree. All the fairy tales I know are about the brave prince rescuing the damsel in distress.Not about a prince wasting all the kingdom’s wealth on diamonds, chariots and Range Rovers.

So? What do you think?

– Wael Abdelgawad, Zawaj.com Editor

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Out-of-Wedlock Children in Islam: Their Status

Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

Happy babyMany Muslims believe that any child born out of wedlock has no relationship whatsoever with the father. That the child cannot take the father’s name, cannot inherit from the father, and receives no financial support from the father.

This is all true only if the parents are not in a common-law relationship equivalent to marriage; and if the father does not acknowledge paternity and does not live with the mother.

Let’s look at a situation in which the father does acknowledge paternity. The scholars have disagreed on the matter in this case, but one opinion outweighs the other.

Claiming Paternity

Some scholars are of the view that the out-of-wedlock child is not to be attributed to the zaani (fornicator), even if he acknowledges him and wants to attribute the child to himself; rather the child is to be attributed to his mother only.

Other scholars are of the view that if the zaani wants to attribute his out-of-wedlock child to himself, then the child should be attributed to him. This was also the view of some of the salaf (early generations) and was narrated from Imam Abu Haneefah.

The scholars at IslamQA.com say that the view that the out-of-wedlock child is to be attributed to the zaani if he wants to acknowledge him and if the mother was not married to any other man, is more correct, and Allah knows best. It was the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) and his student Ibn al-Qayyim. See: al-Ikhtiyaaraat al-Fiqhiyyah (p. 477) and Zaad al-Ma‘aad (5/374).

Ad-Daarimi narrated in his Sunan (3106) that Sulaymaan ibn Yasaar said: If a man claims that a boy is his son and that he committed zina with the mother, and no one else claims that boy as his, then he may inherit from him.

Ibn al-Qayyim said: Rationally speaking, the father is one of the two parties involved in the act (of zina), and as the child is attributed to his mother and she may inherit from him and he may inherit from her, and the blood relationship is established between him and the mother’s relatives, even though she bore him as the result of zina and the child was the product of the water of both parties and they both agreed that he is their child, why shouldn’t the child be attributed to him if there is no other man who claims to be this child’s father? This is based purely on rational thinking.

So if the father acknowledges paternity of the child, he is considered the father’s child with all the rights and obligations that entails.

Owner of the Bed

Baby sleeping in a shoeIn a separate issue, if the man and woman are in a relationship where they live together – even if they are not married – then the child is considered to belong to that man, as the Messenger of Allah (sws) said, ‘The child belongs to the owner of the bed, and the stone is for the adulterer.’ [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim].”

Also understood from this hadith is that a child born to a married couple is considered to be that couple’s child and is attributed to the husband, even if there was some suspicion of adultery, or even if the mother was raped by someone else. This is best for the stability of the family and the well being of the child, who is innocent in the situation.

On the other hand, the scholars have said that if the relationship was a mere love affair (boyfriend-girlfriend); and the father denies paternity; then the child is not attributed to that man and he does not have to spend on him. The child is attributed to his mother.

DNA Testing

Dna strand

DNA

There are situations where DNA testing could be used to determine parentage, and therefore to accord the child his paternal rights, such as when the couple are unmarried and there is some doubt or question about paternity.

Many Islamic scholars have been slow to acknowledge the possibilities of DNA testing in fiqh. This matter should be seriously considered and studied by a group of scholars. After all, Allah encourages us to learn and use our minds, and to develop new understandings of the world:

“In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and day are signs for those of understanding.” (Quran 3:190)

Zawaj.com Editor Update: I spoke to a local scholar and former professor at Al-Azhar University, Dr. Khalil Gharib, who said that DNA testing can indeed be used to determine paternity in Islam. He reminded me of an incident regarding Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA):

Malik related to me from Yahya ibn Said from Sulayman ibn Yasar that Umar ibn al-Khattab used to attach the children of the Jahiliyya to whoever claimed them in Islam. Two men came and each of them claimed a woman’s child. Umar ibn al-Khattab summoned a person who scrutinized features and he looked at them. The scrutinizer said, “They both share in him.” Umar ibn al-Khattab hit him with a whip. Then he summoned the woman, and said, “Tell me your tale.” She said, “It was this one (indicating one of the two men) who used to come to me while I was with my people’s camels. He did not leave me until he thought and I thought that I was pregnant. Then he left me, and blood flowed from me, and this other one took his place. I do not know from which of them the child is.” The scrutinizer said, “Allah is greater.” Umar said to the child, “Go to whichever of them you wish.”

The salient point here that is ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) hired someone who specialized in studying children’s features to try to determine parentage. That is, essentially, a very crude method of DNA testing. No doubt if modern DNA testing had been available, ‘Umar would have ordered it.

No Shaming

Lastly, the out-of-wedlock child is a full citizen and is innocent of his parents’s sin. He should not be shamed, accused, or made to feel inferior to anyone. No one carries the burden of another’s sins. I detest the terms “son of haram” or “illegitimate” child. “Illegitimate” implies that the child’s very humanity is in question. No human being is illegitimate! We are all spiritual beings, equal in Allah’s sight but for our faith and deeds.

The out-of-wedlock child enjoys all the rights of any other citizen and should not be looked down on in any way.

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A Bulgarian Muslim Wedding: 7 Beautiful Photos

Bulgarian Muslim wedding night

In southwest Bulgaria, Slavic Muslims—aka Pomaks—hold traditional wedding ceremonies in the winter months. In this photo, newlyweds Selve Kuivashi (left) and Djamal Vurdal pose on their wedding-night bed in the village of Ribnovo.

From NationalGeographic.com
BY Becky Little
Photographs by Guy Martin
April 27, 2016

In Ribnovo, Bulgaria, the traditional winter weddings of Slavic Muslims—aka Pomaks—span two days and involve the entire village.

THE SYRIAN REFUGEE crisis has brought international attention to Muslims in Europe. It’s also given rise to a new wave of anti-Islamic sentiment. But as photographer Guy Martin shows in his photos of Ribnovo, Bulgaria, Muslim communities have long been an established part of the Continent.

The remote village of Ribnovo is one of two in the country that hold regional types of Slavic Muslim—or Pomak—wedding ceremonies. These take place every winter, the traditional wedding season.

Traditional Pomak wedding dance

In Ribnovo, a wedding party does the traditional houra dance for Salve Kgiselova and her groom, Reihan Kiselov.

Ribnovo Pomak weddings last for two full days, spanning all of Saturday and Sunday. Every winter weekend in Ribnovo, you can see people dancing, eating, and building elaborate bedrooms to celebrate new brides and grooms.

These bedrooms, says Martin, are setup early on Saturday morning outside the bride’s family’s house. They’re meant to show family, friends, and neighbors what the couple’s new life will look like—and also to show off: The bigger and more elaborate the set-up, the better.

Bulgarian Muslim bride with traditional makeup

Salve Kiselova emerges with her makeup finished and her eyes closed, tinsel covering her face.

Soon thereafter, friends and neighbors arrive with presents, which they drop off outside of the bride’s family’s house. Martin says the bride’s family also constructs a 20-foot-tall (six-meter-tall) wooden scaffolding outside the house, where people hang “blankets and rugs and carpets and clothes—[some] handmade, some bought—for the new bride and groom to have in their new home.”

Community involvement is key. Martin says the scaffolding, for instance, usually takes “up to 10 or 15 men to build.” Then there’s the task of setting up the bedroom and dismantling it all at the end of the day. “It takes an army of 50 to 60 people each wedding,” Martin says.

After the morning bedroom spectacle, the bride’s family hosts a Saturday-afternoon celebration. Pomaks eat, pin money on the bride and groom, and dance the traditional houra in the village square. Later, in the evening, the bride and her friends might paint their hands with henna. Young people will end the night at coffeehouses, smoking and talking.

The next day, it all happens again. The bedroom set and the gifts come out in the morning; the groom’s family hosts another party in the afternoon.

Pomak wedding bedroom

Outside a Pomak bride’s family’s house, a wedding bedroom awaits its new inhabitants.

But on Sunday night, the bride doesn’t just have her hands painted with henna. She also lies down while her female friends and relatives carefully decorate her face with white paint and jewels—a process called gelina that Martin says can take hours.

Afterward, the bride is lifted to her feet with her eyes closed and walked out of her parents’ house. Martin says that’s symbolic, “because she’s leaving that house and will not come back there to live.”

Young Bulgarian Muslim woman on her way to wedding celebration

Wearing traditional attire, a young woman in Ribnovo makes her way to Letve Osmanova and Refat Rvdikov’s wedding celebration.

At that point a crowd gathers outside, and the bride and groom stand before them for up to an hour, receiving gifts and having their pictures taken (all with the bride’s eyes still closed). An imam might say a blessing or a prayer. Then the bride begins her ceremonial walk to the house of her husband’s family.

“The bride and groom—it doesn’t matter if they live next door to each other or if they live a mile away from each other—will have to walk … while her eyes are closed,” says Martin.

Bulgarian Muslim teens in a cafe

Before the houra dance at the wedding of Fatme Inuz and Feim Osmanov, teenagers smoke, flirt, and cuddle in a café.

Once they arrive, the groom’s family follows the newlyweds up to their bedroom. The groom’s relatives may lift a red veil from over her face—a throwback to when all marriages were arranged—so that they can symbolically meet her.

After that, everyone (finally) leaves the newlyweds be, for three full days.

Pomak Muslim woman with her baby in the snow

In Ribnovo, a Pomak woman carries her baby in the snow.

Today young people in Ribnovo frequently move abroad in search of work—sometimes for part of the year, sometimes for all of it. And as dating becomes more acceptable, arranged marriages are becoming less common. (Some young Pomaks skip the elaborate ceremony for another reason—one that has less to do with tradition and more to do with finances. After all, it takes a whole lot of money to stage a communal wedding.)

Though Martin says that the Pomak wedding tradition is firmly in place, it remains to be seen whether young people from Ribnovo—exposing themselves to new ideas when they move abroad—will keep coming home to wed.

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Top 10 Ways to Meet a Muslim for Marriage, Part 2 – Talk to Your Friends

Muslim woman blows hearts at husband

One of the best ways to meet a Muslim for marriage is through your network of friends.

By Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

Part 1 – Family Friends

It’s not easy to find and meet a good Muslim man or woman for marriage. This is part two in a series that gives concrete advice on how to find the perfect Muslim spouse.

Part one of this series referred to friends of your family. In this part, I’m talking about communicating with your own friends and asking them if they know of someone who might be a good match for you.

It can be embarrassing to say to your friends, “I’m trying to get married. Do you someone who’s looking?” But in my opinion, being open with your friends about your search is one of the most effective means to find a Muslim marriage partner.

Why does this work so well? Three reasons:

Friends Carry Authority

We tend to give weight to the opinions of our friends. We also tend to think of them as unbiased sources of information. If they do have a bias, it’s usually in our favor. So if a friend says to me, “I know someone who is perfect for you. I’ve known her for a long time and she’s a good Muslim sister.” Then I will probably listen to that friend and trust his opinion. I will be much more likely to consider the woman. Without the recommendation, she’s another face in the sea. With it, she’s a serious candidate.

Just make sure that the friends you talk to are people with good character and morals. If you have a friend who lives a haram lifestyle and goes from one disastrous relationship to another, that’s not the one to ask. But if you know any Muslim couples who are pious and happily married, they’re the perfect ones to solicit help from.

People Care About Friends’ Perceptions

Cute Muslim couple

One of the factors by which we measure a potential spouse – whether we admit it or not – is whether or not our friends will be impressed. It may be shallow, but we all do this on some level. When a woman thinks of being with a man or marrying him, she asks herself, “What will my friends say? Will they like him? Will they approve?” We tend to think of a spouse as an extension of ourselves and our reputations. So a attractive, appealing spouse boosts our own sense of self-worth.

Since our friends’ opinions matter, it’s wise to choose someone from the beginning who our friends approve of. Asking friends for recommendations and connections is one way to do this.

Friends Can Act as Go-Betweens

Another good reason to involve your friends in seeking a spouse is that the friends can act as intermediaries between you and the other candidate. If you know a Muslim couple this works particularly well.

Let’s say you are a man seeking a wife. You tell your friend Ali about it. He talks to his wife Maryam. She says, “Yes, I know someone who would be perfect! Her name is Ghada.” So she talks to Ghada, and perhaps Ali and Maryam host the two of you for dinner. You’re able to meet Ghada in an environment where the two of you are comfortable.

Next: Part 3 – Talk to the Local Imam – But Exercise Caution!

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How Muslim South African Cape Weddings Have Evolved

Capetown South Africa Muslim Wedding

Capetown South Africa Muslim Wedding

By Thakira Desai for Voice of the Cape
FEBRUARY 22, 2016

Cape Town, a canvas of amalgamated cultures, ethnicities, and religions, has over the years experienced many significant changes. With the commercialization of many regions of South Africa, Cape Town has transformed itself into a contemporary city. These changes are evident in the ever popular ‘wedding season’ which takes place across Cape Town during the summer season.

Weddings, specifically within the Muslim community, have adopted a much more ‘organized’ appeal. In previous times, guests knew what to expect; the food was pre-packaged; with meals consisting of chicken, salad – and, if you are lucky, a roll – a cool drink and an ice cream. The tables of guest were also traditionally served Konfyt and snacks.

Today, wedding guests are served five-course meals, with every aspect of the reception venue decorated.

A mother of a new bride, Aziza Allie, describes modern-day Cape Town weddings as “everything has to be a certain way.”

Weddings are big business

Within the Muslim community of Cape Town, couples are more readily usurping western culture. Where previously entire families assisted in the planning and execution of wedding ceremonies, today, it is found that the immediate family residing within the wedding home are the family members who provide assistance. These days, for the wealthy elite, there is also a wedding planner or wedding stylist.

Allie feels that the cost of hosting a wedding reception has increased drastically. The expenses required to host weddings ceremonies, ranging from between R25,000 to R250,000, are so high that many may say could be used instead to purchase a home.

Haniyah Davids, for example, started her own “wedding fund”, choosing to diminish the burden on her parents.

“My husband and I decided to save our money in one account and have a joint wedding. Weddings are so expensive and we really didn’t want to bother our families with money and organizing etc. I felt it worked out better because I had full control of the wedding, but at times I realized it was a costly burden to bear.”

The character of modern-day weddings Allie describes as ‘very stiff’. In contrast, weddings that occurred 30 years ago witnessed the vibrant singing of the cape-Malay Hollandse Liedjies (Dutch songs).

Numerous parents described the cost of modern-day weddings as ‘too’ exorbitant, deeming the reception an ‘unnecessary addition’ to wedding celebrations. Instead, they feel that the nikaah (Islamic wedding ceremony) is “all that is required” – perhaps accompanied with cake and tea for the immediate family. Allie further asserted the importance of the nikaah as the main ceremony of the day.

Allie beseeches couples to learn about marriage; specifically the Islamic aspect of marriage. Also stating that couples should never neglect learning about the deen (religion of islam), an aspect of marriage she regards as ‘vital’ to the overall success of a marriage.

The ‘huisbruid’

As catered weddings are on the increase, the culture of the ‘huisbruid’ appears to be a thing of the past. (Zawaj.com Editor’s note: I don’t know what a “huisbruid” is. I tried to look  it up but couldn’t find anything. Does anyone know?).

Yasmina Jones Sawant, owner of Mina Moo and Baby, who is married for 11 years, met her husband whilst living abroad in London. The two decided to travel to South Africa and make nikaah. Not wanting to impose an unnecessary financial burden on their parents, the couple opted to host a ‘huisbruid’.

Sawant is of the opinion that the choice to host a big ceremony is a personal one. Whilst she prefers to have hosted an intimate ceremony, others may feel more inclined to host a glamorous wedding “with all the frills”.

Sawant recalls that previously family members “would be running around, washing up dishes, and serving wedding guests.” This makes them feel that they are part of something.

Today it could be said that the culture of weddings, with all the “extra trimmings”, appears to distract from the marriage itself – the most important contract that married couples enter into.

“They forget why they are actually getting married and how they are going to spend the rest of their life together,” says Sawant.

Weddings today provide both the family and the wedding couple with a leisurely experience. This has, however, removed from the experience the time spent bonding with family members in the planning stages of the wedding.
Sawant discourages individuals from placing a financial burden on themselves and their parents when planning their weddings, “instead, start a life you can build on, rather than, work for.”

Capturing those moments

An all important aspect of weddings is the ‘photo-shoot’, which could be described as a staple of weddings since the advent of photography. The owner of A&R Photography, Abubaker Abdullah, explains that Cape Town couples no longer wish to be photographed in Cape Town and Claremont gardens. Couples, instead, prefer more ‘alternate’ venues such as vineyards and farms.

Muslim wedding party in Capetown South Africa

Muslim wedding party visits Claremont Gardens in Capetown, South Africa, for a wedding shoot.

Photography in general has altered the capturing of weddings; where previously couples captured one staged moment, couples today choose between hundreds of photos to be placed in a coffee-table book. With the advancement in technology, weddings are captured, moment by moment, from the Nikah to the ‘bruidskamer’.

Couples are, therefore, through the video-graphical lens, able to appreciate and absorb their special day.

Abdullah explained, that as a staple of wedding ceremonies, photographers charge various prices, ranging between R4 000 to R15 000 – depending on the number of photographers that the couple wishes to employ.

Whilst, videography services range between R10 000 to R15 000, depending on the couples preference of having both angles captured – yes, ‘both angles’!

As service providers, photographers are responsible for capturing what can only be described as a couple’s ‘most important day’.

Why we host a walima

Well known Cape Town aalim, Shaykh Abdurahman Alexander, explained that when the bridal couple marries, according to the shariah (Islamic law); it is Sunnah to host a walima. A walima refers to the celebration of the marriage and a celebration of the bridal couple.

The walima, according to Islam, is hosted after consummation has taken place. Within the Western Cape, however, it is common practice for a reception to be hosted after the nikah on the day of the wedding, prior to consummation of the marriage.

The preferred rule according to scholars, however, is to host a feast after consummation has taken place since consummation indeed calls for a celebration.

An important purpose of the walima is the ‘publicizing’ of the marriage.

The walima holds great esteem within the religion of Islam, to the Extent that the Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon Him) stated that if an individual is invited to a walima, the invitation should not be declined. [al-Bukhaari]

Shaykh Alexander further notes that the religion of Islam discourages individuals from placing themselves in financial difficulty when hosting a wedding reception or walima.

The Prophet Muhammad [May peace and blessing be upon Him] is reported to have said that “The most blessed nikaah is the nikaah with the least expenditure”. [Bayhaqi]

Importantly, Islam encourages individuals not to restrict the invitation list to the rich and elite within the community, but rather extend the invitation to the poor as well.

The Shaykh, however, noted that one has the right to invite whomever one wishes, so much so that the Prophet Muhammad [May peace and blessing be upon Him] is reported to have said that “Whoever is not invited to a walima, and subsequently invades the ceremony, they are like thieves that break into homes at night.”

The Prophet Muhammad [May peace and blessing be upon Him] mentioned that one must not be wasteful and exorbitant about it; everyone can spend according to their means.

The dress requirement, specifically the dress code of the female, is the covering of the entire body, with the exception of the hands and face. It is however permissible that the bride adorns herself whilst preserving her modesty.

The guests of the couple – males and females – are expected to dress modestly according to the requirements of the shariah.

With regard to the separation of genders at the ceremony, Shaykh Alexander, asserts that the religion of Islam prescribes that no unnecessary intermingling between the two genders take place.

In certain areas of South Africa wedding ceremonies separate the genders with the use of a curtain. There is, however, “no hard-and-fast rule for this” within the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Certain individuals do, however, argue that the guests invited to a wedding are generally close relatives and therefore do not require the ‘parda’; the Shaykh however echoes the sentiments of the shariah which implores that no unnecessary intermingling should occur.

In modern times it is becoming prevalent for Muslim couples to adopt Hindu and western culture. The Shaykh asserts that if customs contradict the teachings of Islam and directly violate the Shariah, then these customs should be banned.

Islam, however, embraces customs that results in the bonding of family ties.

The importance of dowry

South Africa Muslim couple at wedding

South Africa Muslim couple

With the regard to the dawer, mahr, or the more commonly understood term, ‘maskavi’, the Shaykh explained that it is the first gift that the husband gives to his wife, and should not be considered the ‘purchase’ of a wife.

The mahr is mentioned in the Qur’an, where Allah says (which may mean): “And give the women their dowries with a good heart” [Qur’an 4:4]. This is the prerogative of the bride. It is, however, advised that brides not make unreasonable requests. Brides should therefore request the mahr according to the income of her groom.

It is narrated by Sahl bin Sad As-Sa’idi that one of the ashaab (companions) came to the Prophet Muhammad [May peace and blessing be upon Him] and said that he does not have anything to provide to his bride as mahr. The Prophet Muhammad [May peace and blessing be upon Him] asked him if he owns anything, he replied that he owned a small iron ring, which the Prophet Muhammad [May peace and blessing be upon Him] stated should be given as the mahr.

The Shaykh, who has been performing nikaah’s since 1985, explained that the mahr can therefore be anything of value, in the form of money, property, or in the form of a university degree. The Shaykh further noted that in a ceremony, over which he presided, the bride requested that the groom teach her the Qur’an as her mahr. The most popular request in Cape Town is the Kruger Rand or silver coins, with requests ranging from R5,000.

The bride may grant the groom a gift, if she so wishes, which can only strengthen their bond.

Shaykh Alexander stressed the importance of the duty of parents, and implored them to encourage their children who have reached marital age to attend premarital classes.

The culture of marriages has certainly changed; marriages previously lasted lifetimes. Shaykh Alexander alarmingly recalled that he “performed a marriage that lasted one month.”

The Shaykh attributes the current divorce rate to the influx of romanticized expectations of weddings and marriage produced in television programmes. He explains that individuals in the modern era are conditioned to absorb ideas from television. Couples, instead, should take heed of the marriages of The Prophet Muhammad [May peace and blessing be upon Him] and understand its lessons.

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India Bans “Triple Talaq”

Indian Muslim wedding

Indian Muslim wedding

Reprinted from BBC News Online
2 December 2017

Triple talaq: India considers jail for ‘instant divorce’

Husbands who attempt “instant divorce” could be sentenced to three years in prison under draft legislation being considered in India.

The traditional practice involves a Muslim man saying “talaq” (divorce) three times – in any form, including email or text message.

It was declared unconstitutional by India’s Supreme Court in August, but officials say it has continued since.

The proposed law also provides for fines and support for affected women.

The draft Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill has now been sent to regional governments for consultation.

It would explicitly ban “triple talaq”, in line with the Supreme Court ruling, and lay out procedures legal procedures for a “subsistence allowance” and custody arrangements, the Press Trust of India said.

Those provisions have been made “to ensure that in case the husband asks the wife to leave the house she should have legal protection,” it quoted a high-level official as saying.

India Muslims get married beside a river

An Indian Muslim couple perform nikah beside a river

Under the current draft, people suspected of the offence would not be eligible for bail.

It would also ban the practice in any form – including in writing, or by text message.

Indian news outlets said the legislation is due to be considered during the winter parliamentary sessions, which begins in mid-December.

Muslims are India’s largest minority group, and it is one of a few countries where the practice of triple talaq – which has no basis in the Koran – has survived.

The Supreme Court ruling came after five women petitions the court, arguing the traditional practice violated their fundamental rights.

The court ruled 3-2 in their favour, and labelled it “un-Islamic”.

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Four Keys to a Successful Marriage, Part 1: Respect

Respect word collage

RESPECT

By Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

I was once engaged to a woman with whom I was madly in love. I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her voice was like honey to me, and just her name was a magical incantation.

The thought that she could love me in return – and she said she did – had me walking on the clouds. The first few months were among the happiest of my life.

But then things turned sour. She became short-tempered with me, sometimes sarcastic, and often critical. She still claimed to love me, but the bad times outnumbered the good. My daughter was three years old at the time, and at times the woman was annoyed with my child and even angry. That was the last straw for me. I still loved this woman madly, but I ended the relationship for the sake of my own self-respect, and for my daughter.

My point? “True love,” is NOT the foundation of a healthy relationship. That heady, intoxicating sense of romantic love is amazing and can fill you with happiness, but it’s not sustainable, and even if it can be maintained it’s not enough.

So what does a successful marriage require? Four things:

respect, kindness, honesty and communication

1. Respect

Without mutual respect, all is lost. A marriage cannot survive if one or both of the partners curse each other or abuse each other in any way. Ways in which you can treat your husband or wife with respect include:

  • Greet them kindly, show interest in their well being, ask about their day.
  • Never compare them to anyone else.
  • Notice the good things they do for you, and thank them for their contribution.
  • Always be faithful. This doesn’t only mean not cheating on them, it means to be on their side, to support them through hard times, and to stick with them through thick and thin.
  • Similarly, never demean or criticize your spouse in front of others. Do not gossip about them, mock them or put them down in public, ever.
  • Keep your promises.
  • Consider your spouse’s happiness to be equal to your own (not more important than your own, but equal). Strive to make them happy.
  • Always consult with your spouse before making important life decision that may affect both of you.
  • Listen to your spouse’s opinions. You may not always agree and you don’t have to, but be courteous and listen with an open heart. Genuinely try to understand what your spouse is feeling.
  • When it comes to romance, attend to your spouse’s needs as well as your own. If your spouse is not in the mood at that moment, respect that and do not push. On the other hand, try to be attentive to your spouse’s romantic signals. If you can meet their need without discomfort, do so.

A last word about respect: of course both partners should respect each other, but it is especially important for a wife to treat her husband with respect. I say this because women and men are different. Most women want to be loved, protected, cherished, and included in the man’s inner life. Men, on the other hand, need to be respected. A woman might love a man passionately, but if she doesn’t treat him with respect he will not be happy and the relationship will not last.

Next: Four Keys to a Successful Marriage, Part 2: Kindness

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Lavish divorce parties and gifts ring alarm bells

Divorce party cake

Divorce parties are often completed with a funny-themed cake to initiate a new beginning. (Courtesy: Social media)

By NADIA AL-FAWAZ
ArabNews.com

“I’m honored to invite you to my divorce party.” This is the type of invitation now being sent out by increasing numbers of women wanting to celebrate the end of their marriages.

Just like weddings or graduation parties, these events are being held at the fanciest halls, with large amounts of money spent on hosting friends and family. The guests are also obliged to turn up with expensive gifts for the happy woman.

This is a new phenomenon in Saudi society, says Tariq Habib, a professor and psychiatrist, and assistant secretary general of the Union of Arab Psychiatrists.

Divorce clearly results in feelings of sadness and happiness, he said.
Habib, however, said that parents should take their children’s feelings into consideration.

“If these parties negatively influence the children socially and psychologically, then they should be canceled,” he said. “But if the couple don’t have any children then no one can prevent the woman from expressing her joy or having a celebration.”

He said women may want to celebrate because they have left a failed marriage or show their ex-husbands that they do not care about them.

Divorce party slogansSuhaila Zain Al-Abideen, a member of the National Society for Human Rights, said celebrations have been triggered by the difficulty women face in getting divorced.

“Women living under injustice, humiliation and misery are the ones who will celebrate. It is not unreasonable that an absolutely happy person celebrates her divorce under these circumstances,” Al-Abideen said.

Al-Abideen does not believe that children would be affected if their mothers are happy.

“Although separations affect children, they would be happy to see their mothers happy, especially if their fathers had abused their mothers,” she said.

Mohammad Al-Saidi, professor of Islamic law at Umm Al-Qura University, said God hates divorce, as confirmed in Hadith, and that people should not celebrate a social tragedy even if they are happy about it.

Al-Saidi urged the media to raise concerns about these parties, and to encourage people not to attend them. “This will cause future tragedies,” he said.

Sahar Rajjab, a certified physiologist and family counselor at the Arab Council, said Saudi nationals should not imitate the West by having these parties, even if they are extremely angry.

“The divorce parties are increasing in an alarming rate,” she said.

“How can guests celebrate women divorcing when they had previously congratulated them on their wedding days?”

Rajab said there is an industry growing around divorce parties, with cake and sweet shops starting to make products for these occasions. This is an unwelcome development, she said.

Social specialist Haifa Safouk said that some women celebrate simply to seek attention.

“There are many reasons for this behavior, but mostly it is because such women are ignorant and not intellectually mature.”

She said some women celebrate because society does not show them any compassion, so it is a way of releasing their frustration and negative feelings.

In addition, the guests invited to these events turn up because they want to support these divorcees. This is not the proper way to show support, she said.

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I’ll Marry Your Sister and You Marry Mine – Swap Marriages in Yemen

Yemeni man and wife with baby

Yemeni man and wife with baby

In the Arab world, when a man gets married he makes a payment to his bride’s family. However in parts of Yemen when a brother and sister from one family marry a brother and sister from another, dowries are often not paid – but this can have tragic consequences.

 

By Mai Noman
BBC Arabic Service

A young man approaches a friend to ask for his sister’s hand in marriage – in exchange for his own sister’s hand. This is “swap” marriage or “shegar” as it is known in Arabic, an ancient marriage custom still practised in Yemen.

The way it works is: “I’ll marry your sister, if you marry mine.”

But the other side of the bargain is: “If you divorce my sister, I’ll divorce yours.”

Swap marriage came about as a way to help poorer families avoid paying dowries, and that is still a big attraction to some families in Yemen today. A dowry can come to about $3,500 – even though most people earn less than $2 a day.

Yemeni village elder in traditional Arab clothing

Yemeni village elder in traditional Arab clothing.

When there is no money to pay for the dowry and other wedding expenses, that’s when “people marry shegar” says Mohamed Hamoud, a village elder in Sawan, not far from the capital Sanaa.

But the survival of swap marriage also owes something to the fact that Yemen is a deeply proud and conservative country whose strict adherence to ancient traditions and values have kept the fabric of society unchanged.

“Our traditions are too important to us,” Hamoud says.

He acknowledges, though, that the practice is in decline, for one simple reason: “It causes too much misery.”

That’s because couples forced first to love can sometimes then be forced to divorce.

Nadia, a young woman in her late 20s, married a man whose sister married her brother. It was a happy marriage and she had three children – before her brother’s marriage broke down, and she and her husband were torn apart.

“Swap marriage is the worst kind of marriage, it’s better to spend all your life alone than to marry this way,” she cries.

Her children were taken away from her, including her youngest, who was then seven months old.

“I begged them to return my daughter to me, I told them, ‘It’s not right, she needs me to breastfeed her.’ I asked them, ‘What have I done wrong?'”

She had done nothing wrong. For her in-laws it was simply a tit-for-tat response. What happened to their daughter had to happen to her.

Yemeni child plays in Sawan, in front of traditional Yemeni homes

Yemeni child plays in Sawan, in front of traditional Yemeni homes.

Nadia considered resorting to the law to get her children back, as the law does side with mothers in these cases, but she decided against it. In practice, tribal and social customs tend to overrule the law of the state.

She did not see her daughter again for three years. “When I saw her for the first time after all those years I thought to myself, ‘She won’t recognise me.’ I imagined her saying: ‘You are not my mother how could you be my mother when I haven’t seen you since I was a few months old?'” she says.

Many religious scholars oppose swap marriage and have declared it un-Islamic on the grounds that the dowry is an essential part of the Muslim marriage contract.

“The dowry payment is meant to provide women with some financial security as they leave their home,” Yemeni sheikh Mohamed Mamoun explains.

But in some cases swap marriages occur even when families do pay a dowry. In fact, whenever two families exchange daughters, the couples’ fates will most likely be sealed together.

Brother and sister Waleed and Nora married their cousins in shegar, but both families paid dowry and agreed not to make the two marriages dependent on each other.

The swap in this instance was meant to ease the mounting pressure on parents to find suitors for their daughters. In a country where more than a quarter of females are married off before the age of 15, a girl’s family starts to worry if their daughter is not asked for by her mid-teens. It was also a case of following the examples set by previous generations, as Waleed and Nora’s parents had happily married their own cousins in shegar.

Neither sibling wanted this marriage and yet they did little to try and stop it.

“We’re not the type of children who could say ‘No’ to their father,” says Waleed.

They decided to surrender to what they saw as their destiny and give the marriages a chance. But it wasn’t long before Waleed’s relationship started to face problems.

After nine months, and against his family’s wishes, he decided to divorce his wife.

Yemeni woman walks in front of a wooden door

Yemeni woman walks in front of a wooden door

Waleed’s in-laws, overcome with grief and anger, then decided to return his sister to her parents in retribution, ignoring the original agreement that the marriages would not depend on one another. And also ignoring the fact that Nora had turned out to be happy with her husband.

“Of course I felt guilty about my sister, she had to live away from her husband,” Waleed says. But he insists he couldn’t bear his unhappy marriage any more.

The dilemma of whether to choose your own happiness over your sibling’s is just one of many complications couples face when entering this kind of marriage.

Fortunately, through the intervention of family and friends, Nora was reunited with her husband, but not all those who “swap marry” are as lucky.

Nadia is a case in point, and her pain and heartache will be familiar to many Yemeni men and women.

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Top 10 Ways to Meet a Muslim for Marriage, Part 1 – Family Friends

Happy couple silhouetted against the sunsetBy Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

A single Muslim looking for a good partner for marriage is on a rough road full of obstacles. If you’re looking for someone pious, the problem is that religious Muslims generally do not mix with the other gender, so where is the opportunity to meet someone?

First of all, let’s stop marrying our cousins. Yes, it is allowed in Islam and I can see how in exceptional circumstances it might be necessary. For example if one comes from a very small village with few choices.

First cousin marriages, however, have a statistically higher chance of resulting in children with serious birth defects. Beyond that, I’ve noticed that cultures that consistently interbreed tend to be narrow minded and tribal. They are closed off to new ways of thinking and doing things, closed off to different cultures, and suspicious of outsiders in general, even when those “outsiders” are Muslims.

We need to open our eyes and look beyond our own families for marriage partners. We must build bonds among the Ummah, bring in fresh blood and share our unique cultural traditions.

Secondly, in Islam we do not date, by which I mean we do not engage in the practice of spending personal time with a variety of people of the opposite gender until we find someone compatible. This practice inevitably leads to zinaa (fornication), which of course is prohibited in Islam. It also sets women up to be taken advantage of by men, because often the women are looking for a serious relationship that leads to marriage, whereas the men are looking for sexual pleasure and are willing to play along and say whatever is necessary to get it. At that point the man abandons the woman and leaves her broken and confused.

No, Western style dating is definitely not the way.

So how then does one meet a good person outside the small circle of family and relatives?

1. Family friends

This first point may not work for the kinds of closed-in families that tend to marry cousins, because their circle of friends can be very limited. However, for anyone else this can be a major network. For many of us, we grew up knowing the children of our parents’ friends. We played with them, and saw them at dinners, weddings and other events.

If there’s someone you’re interested in within this circle, just ask your parents to speak to their parents. Who knows, they might be interested as well, and you will have found a good match with someone who already has ties to your family.

Also consider looking outside your own community and culture. Muslims in the West tend to congregate by community – Egyptians with Egyptians, Iraqis with Iraqis, etc. But many go beyond that, getting to know Muslims of other backgrounds and races.

If your family is open minded, then discuss your wishes with them. In my own city I know one Egyptian family whose son married the daughter of some Iraqi family friends; another son married an Afghani girl, again family friends. I have a white American convert friend who is happily married to a Pakistani sister, and I know a Hispanic brother who is married to a Pakistani. I also know of two white + African American couples. And that’s just in the limited circle of people I know. It’s becoming more and more common.

Next: Part 2 – Talk to Your Friends

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