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Muslim Wedding Traditions in Iran

Painting of traditional Iranian wedding

Teahouse painting of traditional Iranian wedding – work of Abbas Boloukifar

Reprinted from HilalPlaza.com

Although the majority of the population of Iran subscribe to Islam and it is located in the Middle East, the people of Iran can trace their ancestry back to ancient Persian lines. Persian, rather than Arabic, is the dominant language, and many of the customs retain elements of Persian Zoroastrianism. Although the sacred parts of the wedding ceremony, such as the reading of religious passages, are now conducted in the traditional Muslim way (with readings from the Quran as well as blessings such as the Kitbah), there are many aspects that still reflect ancient Iranian heritage.

Expensive weddings and mass weddings

Weddings in Iran are very expensive affairs; and there are more weddings in the countryside than there are in rural areas, even though those living in cities tend to have more economic security.

Iranian weddings are meant to be very public celebrations, taking place in front of as many people as possible. Bride prices are perhaps higher in Iran than in any other Muslim country; they are so high in fact that to many, they are almost prohibitive. The cost for a bride includes not only gifts for her and her family, but also the entire cost of the reception, which as mentioned is typically very large and very long.

Iranian Muslim wedding

In order to offset these costs, many Iranian couples are no longer having the traditional large ceremony, instead electing the Muslim equivalent of eloping (the marriage is still blessed by the imam, but there is no contract. This is usually very hard on the bride, who must bear the wrath of her parents). Another way in which Iranians are offsetting the cost of nuptials is by getting married in a ceremony involving two, three, or more other couples. This way, the costs are shared by all.

Ceremony

Both ceremony and reception take place at the house of the bride’s parents. The ceremony is started when the guests begin arriving.

The Persian ceremony includes the ceremony itself (Aghd) and the reception of three to seven days (Jashn-e Aroosi). There is a very elaborate floor spread set up for Aghd, including several kinds of food and decorations (Sofreh-ye Aghd), all with a significance of their own. The spread is set up so that faces east towards the light:

• Spread.The elaborate cloth placed underneath the set up on the floor is passed down from mother to daughter. It is made of expensive cashmere, satin, or silk, and is embroidered.

• A tray of herbs and spices. There are seven different elements on this tray, each with a different color. The herbs and the colors are said to ward off evil spirits.

• Mirrors and candles. A mirror is placed in front of where the couple will sit, with two candles on either side. This arrangement again symbolizes light, and the candles unity. The bride sits down veiled but then removes the veil, and so the first thing a groom sees at the table is a reflection of his bride.

Decorated eggs at Iranian wedding

tokhmé morgh

• Fertility symbols. Several types of nuts in shells as well as eggs are placed on the spread to symbolize the wishes of a fertile union. This is called the tokhmé morgh. The eggs are often often beaded or painted gold. Also,  nuts such as almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts are painted gold.

• The Quran. A copy of the Quran is opened to the middle and placed in the center of the spread. A prayer rug and prayer kit is also placed on the center of the spread.

• Coins and various sweets. A bowl of coins is used to bring wealth, and there are several sweet pastries that represent the sweetness of the new life and also to share with guests.

During the ceremony, the bride and groom often have the sugar from special sugar cones shaved off by guests and onto their heads. This is thought to bring good fortune, as well as representing a wish that their new life will be filled with joy (sweetness). The bride will keep these cones as souvenirs and for good luck.

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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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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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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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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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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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