Muslim Weddings rss

Requirements of Nikah in Islam

Happy Muslim couple

Mohammad Mazhar Hussaini

Mutual Agreement of Bride and Groom

Marriage (nikah) is a solemn and sacred social contract between bride and groom. This contract is a strong covenant (mithaqun ghalithun) as expressed in Quran 4:21. The marriage contract in Islam is not a sacrament. It is revocable.

Both parties mutually agree and enter into this contract. Both bride and groom have the liberty to define various terms and conditions of their liking and make them a part of this contract.

Muslim couple signing the marriage contract.

Muslim couple signing the marriage contract.

Mahr

The marriage-gift (Mahr) is a divine injunction. The giving of mahr to the bride by the groom is an essential part of the contract.

‘And give the women (on marriage) their mahr as a (nikah) free gift” (Quran 4:4)

Mahr is a token commitment of the husband’s responsibility and may be paid in cash, property or movable objects to the bride herself. The amount of mahr is not legally specified, however, moderation according to the existing social norm is recommended. The mahr may be paid immediately to the bride at the time of marriage, or deferred to a later date, or a combination of both. The deferred mahr however, falls due in case of death or divorce.

One matrimonial party expresses ‘ijab” willing consent to enter into marriage and the other party expresses ‘qubul” acceptance of the responsibility in the assembly of marriage ceremony. The contract is written and signed by the bride and the groom and their two respective witnesses. This written marriage contract (“Aqd-Nikah) is then announced publicly.

Sermon

The assembly of nikah is addressed with a marriage sermon (khutba-tun-nikah) by the Muslim officiating the marriage. In marriage societies, customarily, a state appointed Muslim judge (Qadi) officiates the nikah ceremony and keeps the record of the marriage contract. However any trust worthy practicing Muslim can conduct the nikah ceremony, as Islam does not advocate priesthood. The documents of marriage contract/certificate are filed with the mosque (masjid) and local government for record.

Prophet Muhammad (S) made it his tradition (sunnah) to have marriage sermon delivered in the assembly to solemnize the marriage. The sermon invites the bride and the groom, as well as the participating guests in the assembly to a life of piety, mutual love, kindness, and social responsibility.

The Khutbah-tun-Nikah begins with the praise of Allah. His help and guidance is sought. The Muslim confession of faith that ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His servant and messenger” is declared. The three Quranic verses (Quran 4:1, 3:102, 33:70-71) and one Prophetic saying (hadith) form the main text of the marriage. This hadith is:

‘By Allah! Among all of you I am the most God-fearing, and among you all, I am the supermost to save myself from the wrath of Allah, yet my state is that I observe prayer and sleep too. I observe fast and suspend observing them; I marry woman also. And he who turns away from my Sunnah has no relation with me”. (Bukhari)

The Muslim officiating the marriage ceremony concludes the ceremony with prayer (Dua) for bride, groom, their respective families, the local Muslim community, and the Muslim community at large (Ummah)

Marriage (nikah) is considered as an act of worship (ibadah). It is virtuous to conduct it in a Mosque keeping the ceremony simple. The marriage ceremony is a social as well as a religious activity. Islam advocates simplicity in ceremonies and celebrations.

Prophet Muhammad (S) considered simple weddings the best weddings:

‘The best wedding is that upon which the least trouble and expense is bestowed”. (Mishkat)

UK Bangladeshi Muslim couple in wedding outfits

A Bangladeshi Muslim couple in London, UK, wearing traditional Islamic outfits. Man wearing a red and gold colored hat and woman wearing beautiful jewelry.

Primary Requirements

  1. Mutual agreement (Ijab-O-Qubul) by the bride and the groom
  2. Two adult and sane witnesses
  3. Mahr (marriage-gift) to be paid by the groom to the bride either immediately (muajjal) or deferred (muakhkhar), or a combination of both

Secondary Requirements

  1. Legal guardian (wakeel) representing the bride
  2. Written marriage contract (“Aqd-Nikah) signed by the bride and the groom and witnesses by two adult and sane witnesses
  3. Qadi (State appointed Muslim judge) or Ma’zoon (a responsible person officiating the marriage ceremony)
  4. Khutba-tun-Nikah to solemnize the marriage

The Marriage Banquet (Walima)

Traditional foods set out for an Islamic walima.

Traditional foods set out for an Islamic walima.

After the consummation of the marriage, the groom holds a banquet called a walima. The relatives, neighbors, and friends are invited in order to make them aware of the marriage. Both rich and poor of the family and community are invited to the marriage feasts.

Prophet Muhammad (S) said:

‘The worst of the feasts are those marriage feasts to which the rich are invited and the poor are left out.” (Mishkat)

It is recommended that Muslims attend marriage ceremonies and marriage feasts upon invitation.

Prophet Muhammad (S) said:

“…and he who refuses to accept an invitation to a marriage feast, verily disobeys Allah and His Prophet.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawood)

Printed with permission: Marriage and Family in Islam by Mohammad Mazhar Hussaini

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Moroccan Wedding Customs

Moroccan bride wearing a gold dress

Moroccan bride wearing a gold dress, being carried in a litter. Photo by Bruno Barbey, 1984, in Morocco.

Morocco, one of the gems of the North Africa, is the country with very rich and active traditions. Like other cultures of the world, a Moroccan wedding is a great gala event. It’s celebrated with great fun and festivity.

A typically traditional Moroccan wedding process can take up to seven days. It begins with several pre-wedding ceremonies that take place before the actual wedding. According to the old Moroccan wedding traditions, parents would choose the bride for their son. The pre-wedding ceremonies include sending gifts and presents to bride. If the parents of groom are pretty affluent, they send opulent golden jewelry, clothing, and perfumes for the bride.

Another beautiful Moroccan bride.

Another beautiful Moroccan bride.

It is important to note that some of the customs followed in Moroccan weddings have no foundation in Islam. However, the Moroccan culture has adopted those ceremonies and traditions from various cultures including the French.

The “Furnishing Party” is an important pre-wedding ceremony that takes place five days before the fixed wedding date. The Furnishing Party focuses on preparation of the bride’s new home. The party that is primarily a women’s party delivers household belongings such as handmade blanket, mattress, bedding, carpet, frash, Moroccan couch etc., to the couple’s new apartment.

In another traditional pre-wedding ceremony, women and female friends of bride have a party where the bride performs a sort of a “milk bath” to “purify” her. Bride’s negaffa or negassa (female attendants) usually supervise the event. The female attendants, who are usually older married woman, female friends and relatives, help to beautify the bride. They help her dress in a richly decorated wedding kaftan (usually white), adorn her with heavy jewelry, and beautify and darken her eyes with kohl.

According to the Moroccan wedding tradition, the Henna Party or Beberiska ceremony takes place a night before the wedding. The Henna Party is typically for the women of the family, relatives and female friends. Henna artists paint the hands and feet of the bride and her party with Henna. The bride’s hands are painted with intricate designs, which are usually floral and geometrical designs that are meant to ward off evil spirits, bring good luck and increase fertility. The grooms name is often hidden in the henna designs.

The party enjoys tea & cookies, dances on Moroccan music and make merry. Later in the party, the older, married women discuss the ‘secrets’ of marriage with the young virgin bride-to-be. In some ceremonies, the bride is placed behind a curtain to symbolize her change of lifestyle.

Moroccan bride carried in a litterOn the wedding day, sumptuous delicious food is prepared for the guests. The food is prepared in plenty to cater the unexpected guests. The wedding ceremony takes place with great gaiety and celebration. In old times, at some point in the evening, the groom –  accompanied by his family members, relatives, and friends – would move towards the bridal party. They would go singing, beating drums, and dancing. The groom and the bride are then lead to the bridal chamber.

According to another Moroccan wedding custom, the bride would circle her new home three times before becoming the keeper of her new hearth.

In the modern times things have changed a lot. In old Moroccan culture parents would choose a bride for a groom, but the things aren’t the same in the recent times. Young people choose their own marriage partners now. Some of these old Moroccan wedding cultures and traditions have either vanished away or exist only in the rural areas.

Modern Moroccan weddings usually take place at night at big villas that are solely rented out for weddings. The men usually wear suits, and the women don their best caftans made out of delicate laces, and often intricately beaded. The ceremony is full of singing, drumming, dancing, and merrymaking.

Source: HilalPlaza.com

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The problem with Muslim weddings today – and three crazy ideas for fixing it!

So crazy, it just might work!

So crazy, it just might work!

Author Unknown – Edited by Zawaj.com for clarity

Assalamu Alaykom wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

So here goes…

There’s a disturbing pattern/tendency to be found in Muslim weddings these days. People waste too much money!

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said that the least blessed weddings/waleemas are the ones were the rich are invited and the poor are not. And these days we’re seeing people who are spending tens of thousands of pounds on a wedding and they’re only inviting SOME of their friends.

Just some.

So it’s not just that they’re only inviting their friends, it’s that they’re inviting SOME of them.

This is really quite sad.

And of course, because they’re only inviting some, they don’t want to offend the others, so they don’t even tell them until AFTER the big event.

Which is even more offensive !

That’s the irony of lacking approval though – you get that which you were trying to run away from.

Why do they do this ?

1. “It’s MY big day.”

Actually, in Islam, the waleema is supposed to be for ish-har (to make the knowledge of your union public)
… so actually, it’s the community’s day.

Secondly, who benefits more? You or the hotel that’s receiving your 10 grand? So it’s not your big day, it’s the hotel’s big day.

2. “I want this to be the best day of my life!”

Are you sure about that? There will inshaAllah be many more days after you get married. Are you sure that you want them to be not as good as the day of your wedding?! Sounds like a bad deal to me!

And it probably will be the best day of your life with that attitude:

  • you will lose friends
  • the husband and his family, and maybe even the bride’s family are now steeped in debt and the stress makes it hard to enjoy your actual marriage and each others company!

3. “We can’t afford to invite everyone.”

Well, sure, if you’re giving all your money to a 5-star hotel, then it’s going to be kinda hard to invite everyone. They charge you per seat, so now people even say ‘no children’. Cos why should they pay for a full adult meal when the 3 yr old isn’t going to eat a full meal – let alone even know what’s happening! So now parents have to decide which one of their children goes and which one stays. Or they just respect themselves and none of them go.

The above 3 points and all their sub-points are just SOME of the problems that come with modern day marriages.

Just some.

Now imagine it differently:

Imagine that you didn’t so badly lack approval for yourself that you needed to be Cinderella.

Imagine that you didn’t lack approval for yourself that you felt obliged to pay so much money just to prove that “you’re worth it” (just buy some Loreal shampoo!)

Now here are three “crazy” ideas for fixing the whole problem:

1. Have the wedding in the mosque

  1. You give that same $10,000 you were going to spend to a mosque, even though they would only ask for $1,000 or $2,000.
  2. Non-Muslim friends come and it’s dawah.
  3. The mosque benefits and is able to provide more services.
  4. You are rewarded for every person that prays during your wedding, that wouldn’t have in the hotel.
  5. It’s still much cheaper than a hotel.

2. Employ Muslims

You want the place to look amazing, so why not employ low-wage local Muslims to set the hall up for you? You’ll be making their lives MUCH easier with that additional money and whoever brings a smile to a Muslim family, Allah (swt) finds NOTHING to give him/her worthy of that smile that’s less than JANNAH!

… no actually, maybe you want to do it in that big hotel and only invite 50 of your closest friends/family and fight about who gets invited !!! (sarcasm).

The thing about Hollywood weddings is that most of them end in divorce. …Good luck with that !

3. Don’t pay per head !

Just go to a Muslim catering company and ask to feed 300 people. It’ll come to the same price as the 50 that the hotel were going to charge you for! And all those people will make dua for you, and the barakah will mean that 300 people’s worth of food will probably feed about 700 !! … rich and poor.

Or… get the local Muslim community to cook it for you !! Buy high quality food, organic chicken, nice lamb, organic vegetables, and get them to cook it for you !

Pay them per hour. That’s even cheaper, and you’re employing your brothers and sisters, and the community becomes cohesive.

SubhanAllah… marriage.

Marriage… that which is meant to bring two families together and glue society together has now become a reason not to invite people !!

That’s disgusting.

There’s something else:  Why should you invite people by name? Why should you pay stupid money to print cards and then deliver them ? Facebook, tweet, tell everyone to tell everyone else… and make it an open invite.

If anyone finds this offensive (that they didn’t receive a card)… well you could employ your local gangster to stand by you on your big day and to answer those people back for you.

And don’t just invite the poor Muslims. Take it even further! How many homeless NON-MUSLIMS exist within the district/area that the mosque resides in? There are homeless people two streets away from the white house ! I’m sure there are some near your mosque too! In Western countries, these homeless people will see the joy that comes from Muslims…

… THIS is dawah.

NOT annoying people on the street with a stall:   “What if you die tonight as you think about it? … say the shahadah now !!!”

lol. such low calibre dawah. Better than no dawah I guess.

Marriage. Everyone repeats with an accent as they bop their heads left to right: “marriage is half of your path.” Do it this way and the blessings from it will create your akhira (here-after) insha Allah. Bless your union, bless your life, bless your community, bless your here-after … with a blessed wedding. (the opposite is true also).

Learn to think this way by eliminating your whims and desires.

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Is this the best mahr in the world?

Muslim woman signs marriage contract

Muslim bride signs the marriage contract.

Hiba Ammar writes:

When my father proposed to my mother, he dedicated Surah Al-Imran, which he memorized by heart, as her “Mahr” (dowry).

Many years later, when my husband proposed to me, my father told him that he would have to memorize a surah of the Quran as my mahr. The wedding would not take place unless I received my mahr.

I was asked to pick one of the surahs. I chose Surah Al-Noor, for all the laws that surah contained within it and for the fact that it seemed hard to memorize on my behalf.

Before our wedding day, besides being busy preparing for our “newlywed nest”, my husband was constantly memorizing Quran. The Quran did not leave my husband’s hand an entire month as he was memorizing the surah.

A few days before our wedding day, my husband came to recite to my father the surah which he had completed.

My father told him every time you make a mistake, you must start from the beginning all over again :))

My husband began reciting Surat Al-Noor with his calm and gentle voice in such a beautiful scene which I will never forget. My mother and I would look at one another and would smile awaiting my husband to make a mistake so he would have to start all over again and by that increase my reward.

But my husband – may Allah bless him – had memorized the surah by heart and didn’t forget one single verse.

Once he finished my father hugged him and said to him: “Today I shall marry my daughter to you, for you have fulfilled her mahr and your pledge to me.”

He didn’t pay me a financial mahr… And we didn’t buy gold worth tens of thousands. He sufficed me with Allah’s words as an oath/contract between us.

The question is…. I wonder what surah my daughter will chose as her mahr in the future?

Zawaj.com Editor’s Comments:

What do you think of this practice? Some have pointed out that the mahr is required in Islam because it provides some financial security to the bride in case of divorce. Therefore reciting a surah a as a mahr bypasses this important function.

Also, a substantial monetary mahr may restrain the husband from divorcing too quickly or in a moment of anger, as he will lose his investment, so to speak.

Others feel that in a world consumed by materialism and greed, this practice reminds us of what is truly important. It also avoids placing an undue burden on a young groom who may not be wealthy or who is just getting started in his career.

What do you say, readers?

Wael
Zawaj.com Editor

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3 Problems with Muslim Weddings Today

Muslim couple saying a dua' (prayer) at their wedding.

Muslim couple saying a dua’ (prayer) at their wedding.

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!

Too late

Late!

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.

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From Heinz 57 to Islam

Heinz 57 ketchup

Before Islam, Mary was a “Heinz 57” of religion

Zawaj.com Editor’s comment: I want to state clearly that I don’t approve of the way sister Mary went about things here. She and Ahmed carried on a secret affair and were unfaithful to their spouses (in spirit, if not in deed). I understand that she was abused by her first husband, and I’m happy that things worked out for her, Alhamdulillah – if indeed they have worked out. But it could easily have been disastrous. She could have ended up in a secret relationship, not given her full rights, and with a new husband she could not trust. With that said, here’s the story:

By Mary Farrag

Reprinted from ReadingIslam.com

Before reverting to Islam I was, well, let’s say Heinz 57 (Editor’s note: for those of you not familar with American colloquialisms, Heinz 57 is a sauce with a lot of different ingredients – in other words, a mix).

I was baptized Catholic, made my confirmation as a Lutheran, and we attended whatever church was near to our house. Which probably turned out to be a good thing.

I left my family’s house when I was the age of 17. As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved into the one bedroom apartment that my boyfriend had. We only lived there for a very short time. Then we moved to a larger apartment.

At this time I really wasn’t going to church anymore because I was too busy working for God. My boyfriend wasn’t religious at all. Actually he was agnostic. Always, he needed things proven to him.

Well, eventually we married but never had any children. We stayed together a total of 18 years.

I didn’t know anything about Islam at all until my current husband wanted to start chatting with me. We were both using a program called Freetel. I don’t think it is even available anymore.

I was used to chatting with many people but never chatted with an Arab. One night I saw on the top of the screen: Ahmed is Calling. I had never even heard of this name before, so I was reluctant to accept the chat.

After a few times of him trying to call me, I accepted. We started off with the usual chat. Where are you from? Are you married? Do you have any children? Then we continued from there.

We were both very unhappy in our marriages. So we became friends. After six months of chatting everyday, I decided that I needed to know this man that I was now in love with. So I came to Egypt and stayed for 23 days.

It was confirmed that yes, we were actually in love. Neither one of us could imagine this was true. We toured most places in Cairo and some parts of Alexandria. At this time, I still didn’t know very much about Islam.

So after the 23 days, I returned to USA. My visit to Cairo confirmed what I needed to do. I needed to get a divorce from my current American husband.

He was very bad to me. He physically and emotionally abused me. During the next six months I was away from Ahmed and fell into a very deep depression.

Learning About Islam

Also during that time, Ahmed, now my husband, started to tell me about Islam. I was interested in anything he had to say.

I was working for low income public housing at the time of all of this. One day, one of my tenants came into the office to pay her monthly rent. Her name is Aminah.

She said to me “Miss Mary, you look different, something has changed in you.”

I told her about my trip and how I was in love with an Egyptian man who was a Muslim. She said that it was so cool. She said that her mom also is a Muslim and she asked me if I would like to meet her mom.

So I agreed and I met Rashida and we instantly got along. She also was a revert, but had reverted 25 years ago. So we started to meet more often, and she also started to teach me about Islam. So between Ahmed and Rashida, I became very interested in Islam.

I started to also study on my own. I started to go to meet Rashida; she had a shop that sells incense, oils and Islamic clothing. So now I was on my way with Islam.

One day I asked my husband-to-be, Ahmed, if he was going to make me become Muslim? On my trip here to Cairo, we got engaged, even though he was still married. So, he said “Mary, look I love you, but I can not make you become Muslim”.

He said, “That is between you and Allah.”

This is exactly what I needed to hear. So, Rashida started to take me to many places where Muslim sisters were. I loved them. They were so nice and peaceful and loving.

Declaring Shahadah

So 3 days before I was to move to Egypt to marry Ahmed, which was 6 more months after getting engaged to him, I called Rashida and told her that I wanted to become Muslim.

She told me to come to her and bring a hijab. So off I was to Rashida’s house. We stood outside on her balcony and she started to say “Ash Hado An La Ilaha IlaAllah”. I said, “Wait, please.”

She said, “Ahh, you have changed your mind.”

I said, “No, no, wait.” I went into my purse and took out my cell phone and called Ahmed in Cairo .

I said, “Ahmed, I want you to hear something.”

He said, “What is that?”

I said, “Here, listen.”

So Rashida said, “Ash Hado An La Ilaha IlaAllahwa Ash hado anna Mohammadan Rasollah,” and I repeated after her word for word.

I started to cry and heard Ahmed crying on the mobile and looked at Rashida and she was crying, Masha’Allah. So then I left Rashida and went home, took my ghusl (special shower). I am sure I did it wrong but Allah knew my niyyah (intention).

So then three days after, I came off the plane. I didn’t tell Ahmed that I wore the hijab.

I walked past him just a little to see if he would know me.

He didn’t, so I walk back and said, “Excuse me, are you waiting for someone?”

He looked at me and just kept saying, “SubhanAllah”, maybe four or five times. I thought he was going to have a coma. I told his friends to watch him until I came past the people to make sure he wouldn’t fall.

Then we were off to get married.

So that is basically my story of coming to Islam. It was so hard for me in the beginning, but now I am so happy and thankful to Allah for guiding me to the straight path.

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Market Day on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan Border, and a Tajik Wedding

By Christine and Jelt from their blog

http://christineandjelte.blogspot.com/2010/11/cross-border-markets-and-our-first.html

Cross Border Markets and our First Tajik Wedding

Local children at a wedding in Tajikistan

Local children at a wedding in Tajikistan

It’s Friday afternoon, 4:30 pm and a colleague mentions, by-the-way, that Monday is a holiday as Constitution day falls on Saturday, 6th November. A long week-end with places to go and things to see!! To hell with a two week pile of unwashed clothes! Here in Khorog, every Saturday morning there is a cross-border market, which is the closest we can get to actually visiting Afghanistan.

View from Tajikistan border to Afghanistan

View from the bridge in our village towards Afghanistan.

At 10 am Jelte, Rod and I hail a ‘cab’ and for the price of just one Somoni each (the equivalent of 30c or 20p) we share a ‘golf cart’ – commonly known as a Chinese van – with 4 other passengers to take us to the site of the cross-border market. When we arrive, things are just beginning to come alive.

Standing out in the crowd at the Tajikistan border market

Standing out in the crowd at the Tajikistan border market.

We wander around the few stalls of fruits and clothes and odds and ends. Jelte and Rod sit down to breakfast of ‘choi’ and bread with Halva. Christine is too busy watching one of the stall owners cook ‘pilav’ on an open fire.

A food vendor at the border market prepares pilav broth

A food vendor at the market prepares the pilav: rice, meat, broth, carrots and onions on an open fire.

Within half an hour the market-place is teeming with vendors and shoppers; Afghanis and Tajiks and the odd smattering of foreigners (apparently in the city of Khorog – pop: 30,000, there are a grand total of 20 odd ‘expats’).

Also present, but not in any way threatening, are Tajik police, busy taking photos of themselves and each other. We suspect they are there to keep an eye on the Afghani merchants, who, by the way, look distinctly different from their Tajik neighbours. Beautiful, strong faces and distinctly different clothes, many barefoot on their ‘stalls’ which are just pieces of canvas or cloth laid out on the ground with their wares displayed. The Afghanis are the ones who sell the exotic spices and used American boots.

Afghani spice vendor sets up shop at the market.

Afghani spice vendor sets up shop at the market.

So, our American friends, you know where your tax money goes!! Funny thing; Tajik food is not a culinary delight so we look across the border to be supplied with turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, screw-pine (bet you’ve never heard of that), ginger root, pepper corns and a host of other totally unrecognizable spices and ground minerals.

Afghani spice vendor drives a hard bargain as critical onlookers stand by

Afghani spice vendor drives a hard bargain as critical onlookers stand by.

On the way back we stopped at the regular ‘bozor’ and stocked up on the usual Tajik staples, dried fruit, dried nuts, lentils, rice, beans, and cheese and bread for the next day’s hike. The local cheese here is the North American equivalent of cheez whizz which I had never tasted until arriving here in Khorog.

Since we arrived, with the exception of just one day of rain, each day has been much like the previous – blue, blue skies, with bright sunshine. The valley traps the heat and by mid-day it’s in the high 60s. Beautiful! And perfect for hiking. Sunday, we are off to Bogev, a neighbouring valley just 15 km away, which has been recommended by expat ‘Bo’ an avid mountaineer and climber.

Gassing up the good old Lada for the trip to Bogev

Gassing up the goo.d old Lada for the trip to Bogev.

The culmination of the climb is an ancient Zoroastrian fire temple, probably @ 2,800m above sea level. The climb was steep and more challenging than we thought. So Christine chickened and hung out on a convenient ledge while Rod and Jelte scaled further to the top of the mountain. Their reward was sighting a couple of grey foxes and incredible views. After our lunch of bread, cheez whizz , dried apricots and pears we made our way down into the valley, to a little village and stumbled upon a wedding party.

Next in line to be a bride?

Next in line to be a bride?

The Tajik hospitality is legendary and after introductions to the family of the bride we found ourselves in a traditional Pamiri House, celebrating our first wedding, surrounded by friends and family who were preparing for the evening’s celebrations. In spite of this, they took time to spread a feast for us and provided us with live entertainment to which we all danced and celebrated.

Hold your hands up high for the bride and groom....

Hold your hands up high for the bride and groom….

We can’t say we were not warned about the proliferation of Tajik weddings. Our co-volunteer, Jeremy, who we met in Dushanbe, said he clocked up 72 wedding attendances in 18 months of living in this country.

So far, every outing has been full of wonderful surprises, especially the Tajiks. We have never felt so safe and welcome in a foreign country; and we don’t even speak any of the languages … yet.

There’s more to the long weekend but, we’ll leave that to our next blog, when, we suppose, we should write something about our work…..

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Islamic Marriage Khutbah (Wedding Speech)

An Egyptian open air wedding

Women celebrating at an Egyptian open air wedding

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:

Wedding Khutbah

“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.

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Tanzania Muslim Wedding, and Beautiful Nature Photos

Traditional Muslim wedding celebration in Zanzibar

At a traditional Muslim wedding celebration in Zanzibar, thumping music, ululating women, and spirited shouts fill the air. Nearly all of Zanzibar's and much of Tanzania’s coastal inhabitants adhere to Islam, while inland populations follow Christianity, Hinduism, and indigenous faiths.

Tanzania is an East African nation one of the oldest inhabited places on earth. Today it has a population of about 45 million, of which Muslims are about 35%. The official languages are Swahili and English. It’s an incredibly beautiful country, with the stunning Mount Kilimanjaro, rain forest, desert plains, and an abundance of wildlife. Dar es Salaam (“Home of Peace” in Arabic) is the largest city and is the commercial center, though it is not the political capital.

The African population of Tanzania consists of over 120 ethnic groups. There are large groups that are descended from Arabs, Indians, and Pakistanis, and there are also small European and Chinese communities. The people of Tanzania pride themselves on their diversity and their ability to live together in peace.

Here are some photos of this beautiful nation and its wonderful people:

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Egyptian Wedding and Other Cairo Photos

An Egyptian open air wedding

Women celebrating at an Egyptian open air wedding

This lovely collection of Cairo photos was posted on Flickr by RvDario, a world traveler and photographer.

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A Kerala Muslim Wedding

A view of a Muslim wedding in Kerala, India, from somewhere near the inner family circle – but not quite inside…

Bride at a Muslim wedding in Kerala, India

The bride and friends at a Muslim wedding in Kerala, India

Barnaby Haszard Morris
December 18, 2010

The Hindu and Christian weddings I wrote about earlier were the ceremonies of the more ubiquitous and integrated faiths of Kerala. If a visitor stays here for any length of time longer than a month, he or she will invariably be invited to a Hindu and/or a Christian marriage by some open and welcoming new friend, such is the ease of meeting and befriending members of both faiths. Kerala’s Muslims, on the other hand, live their lives largely behind closed doors – as a group they are both ostracised and withdrawn, generally living in segregated communities. Grand old mosques dot the landscape and announce their presence five times a day over a loudspeaker, but in public, their faithful tend to keep a dignified and impenetrable silence.

Map of Kerala India

Kerala is a state along the south western coast of India

I am fortunate that my good friend Shibu, who works in the tourist trade on Varkala’s cliff, is Muslim, and has invited me into his life in every manner possible, including the marriage of his youngest sister last year.

In contrast to the Hindu and Christian weddings I have been to, where I was merely an observer, this time I was invited to be an active part of proceedings. Shibu’s family is not wealthy, so the function was to be held at his home in a small village near Varkala; this meant a full night’s work for almost everyone. A couple of cousins joined the catering team and made a massive batch of parathas, the bride-to-be (in her sparkling wedding sari) sat cross-legged and made flower garlands of all colours, and Em and I helped the older kids decorate a bedroom for the new couple. We spent hours taping paper streamers and bright plastic decorations to the walls.

All this was done with an overriding calmness and lack of fuss, even by Shibu as he flitted from station to station checking on progress and performing all unfilled tasks. This carried through to the next day, when I was asked to join the men of the family as they travelled to the groom’s house and formally invited them to come for the ceremony. Before that, however, came an important prayer to remind everyone that we owe all of this to Allah and hope that he will bless the occasion. A priest led our select group, sitting in a rough circle on plastic chairs in Shibu’s yard, his voice deep and barely above a whisper. As he gently intoned his words of praise, the other men quietly responded with ‘Insh’Allah’ and other phrases where appropriate. These were a few moments of near stillness and utter peace; all sounds in the neighbourhood seemed to cease.

We left, and 45 minutes later we arrived at the groom’s house to formally invite him. An economy of words were spoken on either side; everyone seemed to know their lines by heart. After a quick cup of pink water, we 12 piled back into our minivan, and the groom’s extended family clambered aboard four full-size, brightly coloured buses bearing slogans like ‘Total Travel Solutions’ and ‘Executive Coach’. Another 45 minutes and we’d arrived back at Shibu’s, where half of us were dropped and the other half – Shibu and a few seniors – headed to the nearby mosque to meet with the groom and his respected elders to carry out the marriage proper. Neither the congregation nor the bride were present, which I suppose makes the Muslim wedding the shortest of all I’ve been to from an observer’s point of view.

Varkala Beach in Kerala

Varkala Beach. Kerala state is known for its beaches, backwater rivers and lagoons, Ayurvedic treatments, high literacy rate, and cultural diversity.

With both sides of the congregation together at Shibu’s, we milled about under a huge tarp drinking water and exchanging a few words, while the children played (mostly) nicely. As with the Hindu and Christian ceremonies, the women of the congregation wore saris of all colours and designs, while the men stuck to plain pastel dress shirts and starched white mundus. The colour that was so prevalent at the weddings of those other two faiths wasn’t the same here; it was in the trees that surrounded us in the open air. Looking at some of the elderly women sitting patiently, it struck me that perhaps the colour of this particular wedding lay not in the here and now, but in the pasts of their weathered faces.

A short while later the couple arrived, the bride having first gotten married in absentia then met her husband for the first time on the street round the corner. They walked slowly and silently past us, looking very young and uncertain, but a flicker of a smile crossed the bride’s lips as she glanced at her friends and family watching her pass. The couple were seated next to each other at a specially decorated table and served a helping of parathas and beef. As the rest of us moved to sit at the other tables, a chatter started up and grew into a happy, noisy ambience: the calm and dignified air lifted. At last, it was time to eat, to talk, to laugh and to celebrate.

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