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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Islam Vs Culture...at Weddings


Recently I watched a wedding video on the internet of a brother who got married, the brother is a presenter on TV and presents Islamic programmes as well as fund-raisers for Mosques and charities during Ramadhan. After watching the video I was deeply saddened because the wedding was so un-Islamic (against the sharia) but the brother comes across religious on TV. In our community he gained a lot of respect due to the work he does, he's well spoken and seems quite knowledgeable (due to quoting hadeeths and Quran quite often). I felt like he let the ummah down (I know I'm prob's over reacting) just from watching the video even though I don't personally know the guy, after watching his shows with family during Ramadhan we all kind of felt like he was part of the family (I don't know if that makes sense). So it sparked off this topic of weddings and where to draw the line between Islam and Culture.

Firstly I would like to give my opinion on this topic from a personal point of view, I will then give you some information (from the ulama) about Islamic vs culture at weddings (including prophetic hadeeths etc) to let you decide what kind of wedding you would like to have (for those that are unmarried). I also hope to get feedback of what your views are on this topic inshaAllah.

Before I start I would like to give my response to the 'it's their wedding let them do what they like, it's individual choice, keep out of it' sentiment by saying Islam is based on Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil. If we all just 'minded our own business' when people are doing things against the sharia then we would become very selfish individuals and conform to the Western 'Individualistic' ideals. This is not Islamic because you should love for your brother what you love for yourself and I wish all Muslim marriages success and full of blessings from Allah SWT for a marriage without the blessings are doomed from the start.

In my opinion I think we should look back to the prophets time for guidance on marriage. Marriage is supposed to be a religious ceremony where two people come together for the sake of Allah. The marriage ceremony should be celebrated because it is a joyous occasion but at the remembrance of Allah should be the centre of it. In the asian culture there are several events that take place before and after the nikkah which are not Islamic but more of a cultural tradition. I have no problem with the cultural traditions such as a henna party for the bride and her (female) relatives, a time where women get dressed up, enjoy each others company, apply henna to their hands (and feet) eat and just have a good time together, so long as nothing haraam goes on at the event (dancing to music).

I also think if you have a big family (as most Asians do) a big wedding is almost inevitable, I think it's a good thing to feed your family and friends and invite them to give their blessings as well. However I do not agree with having a mah-hoosive lavish wedding to show off to other people. Like what is the need for a chocolate fountain, Ice sculptures, horse drawn carriages, 10 limousines? Which have become quite popular in weddings recently. Just think of all the debt that people end up with after a wedding, yeah you enjoy it all for a couple of hours but then spend years trying to pay up for those couple of hours of 'fun' Imagine what could have been done with all that money? You could have a minimum cost wedding and spend the rest on a trip to Saudi Arabia for Hajj after. You could spend that money on travelling with your husband/wife after the wedding or even use it for your new life together (rent, bills, holidays, dining out etc). I guess not many people think that far ahead.

Do you want to know what one of the major factors for failed marriages is? Guess what, it's money or the lack of it rather, when you struggle to make ends meet that's when things get stressed, arguments become frequent and ultimately become too much to handle in some cases. Is this really how you want to start out your new life?

Another thing I will never understand at  A LOT of Asian weddings is it either not being segregated or it is segregated but men seem to wonder in and out of where the women are. Also at the end when the put the bride and groom up on stage for everyone to see them together while they exchange flower necklace things (you know what I'm talking about), feed each other cake and Indian sweets etc etc

This is a question to the brothers (and sisters but you gotta think of it differently to the way I'm writing it)
Why on earth would you want you wife (to be) who looks beautiful (even more so with the make up, clothes, jewellery etc) to look that beautiful and then be put on show for all the men that attend your wedding to gawk at? Like all this time she preserved that beauty for you, wouldn't you feel a little be jealous (the good jealous) that all these men are staring at her and taking pictures of her (same goes for having male photographers and camera men [news flash dude they have been staring at your wife ALL day! close up. in detail.] It's just really illogical on so many levels. Don't you agree?

An islamic wedding is full of blessings if celebrated in the right way.

Having a Wedding the Islamic way 

- Sh Omar SubedarJami'yyatul Ulama Canada (CCMT)

Weddings are very joyous and special occasions. They are moments when two people are now going to begin a new chapter in their lives by publicly accepting one another as their spouse. A ceremony is held so that people can join in on their happiness. Tremendous time and wealth is exerted in making the ceremony a success and various activities are planned and scheduled ranging from a having a sensational entry of the bridegroom and a dulcet entry of the bride, providing multiple dishes of food and desert, having a cake cutting ceremony and a photo shoot and wrapping up with dancing to some heart pounding music. At the end of it all the guests leave, talking about what a good time they had and the hosts pat themselves on their backs for doing a great job to impress them.

In the midst of all this excitement the very being who made this relationship materialize, i.e. Allah, is ignored and forgotten and is often left very displeased with the entire situation. This displeasure is not due to people wanting to have a good time but rather due to them exceeding his boundaries when having their enjoyment. Extravagance, playing music, having no segregation between men and women, sisters wearing revealing attire and incorporating non Islamic customs in the celebrations are some of the many things that normally take place in these gatherings that yield Allah’s anger.

Keeping Allah pleased is imperative in life and this can only be achieved by following the life and example of his beloved Prophet, Muhammad (saw). The Prophet (saw) got married on several occasions during his life. By studying the accounts of his weddings we can develop a true understanding on what an Islamic wedding ceremony is really supposed to be like.
 
One of the noble women the Prophet (saw) married was Ummu Habibah, the daughter of Abu Sufyan (ra). When the Muslims were being persecuted in Makkah, she fled the city with her husband Ubaidullah bin Jahsh to Abysinia along with other Muslims. There, unfortunately her husband became an apostate and turned to Christianity and a short time later he expired leaving his wife a widow. Ummu Habibah relates,
As soon as my waiting period finished the Najjashi’s messenger was on my door seeking permission to come in. With him was his slave girl named Abraha who used to take care of his clothes and oil. She entered and said, “The king would like to convey to you this message: “Allah’s Messenger (saw) has written to me that I marry you off to him”. Ummu Habibah responded, “May Allah give you glad tidings of goodness”. Abraha continued, “the king has also instructed you to depute some one to marry you off”. Subsequently Ummu Habibah sent a message to Khalid Bin Saeed Bin As and authorized him as her representative and gave Abraha two silver bangles, the ankle bracelets that were on her feet, and the silver rings that were on her toes out of joy over the good news she conveyed to her.

When evening approached the Najjashi summoned Jafer bin Abi Talib and all the Muslims that were present in his land. They all came and the Najjashi delivered the following sermon: All praise is for Allah the sovereign, the Pure, the Perfect, the Securer, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller. I bear witness there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is his slave and messenger, the very one who Isa, son of Maryam gave glad tidings of. Allah’s messenger wrote to me that I marry off Ummu Habibah, daughter of Abu Sufyan to him. I have responded to his call and I give her a dower of 400 dinars (on his behalf). He then poured the gold coins in front of the people. There after Khalid bin Saeed bin As stood and spoke, “All praise is for Allah I praise him and seek his aid and help. I testify: There is no deity except Allah and Muhammad is his slave and messenger. Allah sent him with the guidance and the true religion in order that it manifests over all the religions, even if the poly theists dislike it. I have responded the call of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and I officially marry Ummu Habibah daughter of Abu Sufyan off to him. May Allah bless His messenger.”

The gold coins were then handed over to Khalid bin Saeed, which he took (on behalf of Ummu Habiba) and then everyone intended to leave. The king then exclaimed “Remain seated, for it is the practice of all the Prophets that when they would marry, food would be fed.” He then called for some food which they ate and then dispersed. (At-Tabaqatul Kubra vol 8 p 293)

Subhanallah, the simplicity of the Prophet’s wedding ceremony in this narration is remarkable. Today if we Muslims were to conduct our weddings in this manner, many of us would not have to unnecessarily incur a debt of approximately $25,000 just for the sake of some pomp and show. We would also be saved from displeasing Allah in any shape or form.

Even the Prophet (saw)’s walimah (banquet) used to be conducted in a very simple fashion. Anas (ra) narrates: The Prophet (saw) stayed for three nights between Khaibar and Madinah and had (just gotten) married to Safiyya (ra). I invited the Muslims to his walimah and there was neither meat nor bread in the banquet. All that happened was that the Prophet (saw) ordered Bilal to spread leather eating mats on the ground on which dates, dried yogurt and butter were served.” (Bukhari 4213)

Feeding good food to guest according to ones capacity is not prohibited in Islam. However by keeping our ceremonies shariah compliant and simple we will attain immense blessings from Allah and be saved from a lot of stress and financial headaches. Aisha (ra) reports: The Prophet (saw) said, “Indeed the greatest wedding in terms of blessings is that wedding which has the easiest provisions”. (Baihaqi) 
May Allah guide us all. Ameen
How to have a wedding in the Islamic manner
-Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
With regard to having a wedding party in the Islamic manner, you have to keep away from the things which are forbidden in sharee’ah but which many people do not pay attention to during celebrations, such as the following: 
With regard to the woman: going to a male, non-mahram hairdresser to have her hair done; or adorning herself in ways that are haraam, such as thinning the eyebrows by plucking them, or wearing tattoos, or wearing hair extensions, or other kinds of haraam things, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the one who plucks eyebrows and the one who has that done, the one who adds hair extensions and the one who asks to have that done; imitating the kuffaar in their dress, because usually the wedding dress shows many of the woman's charms and her body, in such a way that the dress is very revealing - we seek refuge with Allaah – and also a great deal of money is wasted on the dress. 
Among the haraam actions that have to do with the man are: shaving his beard for the wedding night, which is done on the grounds that this makes him look more handsome, but this is something which is haraam according to sharee’ah; letting one's clothes hang below the ankle (isbaal). 

There follows a list of haraam things which both men and women should avoid in the wedding party: 

1- Mixing of men with women, and things that are involved in that, such as greeting and shaking hands with one another, and men and women dancing together, because all of that is haraam and is a very serious matter.

2- Taking pictures, whether men do that amongst themselves or women do that amongst themselves. 

3- Drinking alcohol or eating pork. 

4- Letting the husband come in to where the women are in order to take his wife (or the other way round in Asian weddings sometimes where the bride goes into the men's area).

5- Women wearing revealing, tight or short clothes amongst themselves, because this is haraam – so how about wearing such things in front of men? 

6- People should avoid spending extravagantly or going to extremes in showing off in wedding parties, because that may wipe out the blessing. 

7- The husband and wife exchanging rings and thus imitating the kuffaar, thinking that this will increase the husband’s love for his wife and vice versa.  

Finally, both partners should know that the more the teachings of Islam are followed in the wedding party, the more blessed their marriage will be, the more love and harmony there will be between them, and the less problems they will encounter in their married life. For if the married life is based from the outset on haraam things which go against the commands of Allaah, how can they expect the marriage to be successful after that? There have been many marriages in which there were things that went against the commands of Allaah, and they did not last. Fear Allaah with regard to this party and keep it free of things that are forbidden in Islam. May Allaah bless you both. We ask Allaah to give you and your husband strength. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad.
 
And Allaah knows best.
What about Culture and the element of fun or entertainment at a wedding?


Celebrating weddings is a celebration that is prescribed in sharee’ah, because it is a great blessing from Allaah, Who has enabled the couple to find a means of happiness and a way to achieve modesty and chastity. People have always expressed their joy for this blessing since ancient times and they still do so today, and that takes various forms and involves different customs in different societies and countries. 

The aim of Islamic sharee’ah is not to put pressure on people with regard to their customs or try to make them follow only one custom, rather studying sharee’ah will show that with regard to customs the matter is broad in scope and in principle customs are permissible, with some limits and guidelines. 

The Muslim is recommended to follow the customs of his people and he is forbidden to go against them, so long as they do not go against the rulings of sharee’ah or cause any hardship or embarrassment to people. The scholars ruled that it is recommended to be similar to the people in their customs by analogy with the ruling that it is recommended to be similar to them in dress. There is a hadeeth concerning that which forbids being different from people in dress so that one becomes known among people for the way he dresses. It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever wears a garment of fame and vanity, Allaah will clothe him in a garment of humiliation on the Day of Resurrection.”  
[Narrated by Ibn Majaah (3606); classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Majaah]

Fame and vanity in clothing means wearing something that is extraordinarily expensive or extraordinarily ragged. The salaf disliked both kinds of standing out: wearing expensive clothing or wearing ragged clothing. 
It says something similar in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa by Ibn Taymiyah (22/138)

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Sharh al-Mumti’ (6/115)
We must highlight this point, that  going along with customs so long as they are not haraam is the Sunnah, because going against customs is a kind of vanity, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade the dress of fame and vanity, so that which goes against customs is also forbidden.

Hence we advise you to hold a wedding celebration and we ask Allaah to bless it. You should do it in accordance with the custom and tradition of people in your country, and you should not try to cast off all of their customs. All that you have to do is reject and avoid those customs that are haraam, such as using music – apart from the daff – and mixing between men and women. 

There are many more things that are permissible – praise be to Allaah – than those that are haraam. Singing that is not accompanied by music, making food, bringing people together, wearing adornments are all things that are permitted by sharee’ah, so use whatever of those things you think is appropriate and that people like and ask Allaah to guide you in all of that. 

And Allaah knows best.

In Islam there are 2 parts to a wedding, the Nikkah (signing of the contract) and the Walima (wedding feast) hosted by the groom and his family. In most Asian weddings the wedding & walima take place on the same day, this is usually to save money, however if the wedding isn't so lavish and is just close family and friends, the Walima could easily take place a couple of days later to feed other relatives and guests.

Obligation of the Walima

The husband must sponsor a feast after the consummation of the marriage. This is based on the order of the Prophet to 'Abur-Rahman ibn 'Auf to do so, and on the hadith narrated by Buraida ibn At-Haseeb, who said: "When 'Ali sought the hand of Faatimah (the Prophet's daughter) in marraige, he said that the Prophet said: "A wedding (and in another version "a bridegroom") must have a feast." The narrator said: "Sa'ad said: '(a feast) of a sheep.' Someone else said: 'Of such and such a quantity of corn." [Ahmad and at-Tabaraani: Its isnaad is acceptable as al-Haafiz Ibn Hajr says in Fathul-Baaree: 9/188]

Sunnah of the Walima

The following should be observed with regard to the wedding banquet:

First: It should be held ('aqb - Fathul Baaree: 9/242-244) three days after the first wedding night, since this is the tradition of the Prophet which has reached us. On the authority of Anas who said: "The Prophet entered upon his wife and sent me to invite some men for food." [al-Bukhaaree and al-Baihaqi]. 

Also on the authority of Anas, he said: "The Prophet married Safiya, and her freedom was her dowry. He gave the feast for three days." [Abu Ya'laa and others: Hasan].

Second: One should invite the righteous to his banquet whether they be rich or poor. The Prophet said: "Do not be the friend of any except believers, and have only the pious eat your food." [Abu Dawood, at-Tirmidhee and others: Saheeh].

Third: If one is able, he should have a feast of one or more sheep. Based on the following hadith, Anas said: "Abdur-Rahmaan came to al-Madeenah, and the Prophet assigned Sa'ad ibn Ar-Rabee' al-Ansaariy as his brother. Sa'ad took him to his house, called for food, and they both ate. The Sa'ad said: "O my brother, I am the wealthiest of the people of al-Madeenah (in another version: "... of the Ansaar"), so look to half of my property and take it (in another version: "... and I will divide my garden in half"). Also, I have two wives (and you, my brother in Allaah, have no wife), so look to which of mine pleases you more, so I can divorce her for you. Then upon the completion of the prescribed waiting period, you may marry her." 'Abdur-Rahmaan said: "No, by Allaah, may Allah bless you in your family and your property. Show me the way to the market-place."And so they showed him the way to the market-place and he went there. He bought and he sold and he made a profit. In the evening , he came back to the people of his house with some dried milk for cooking and some ghee. After that some time elapsed, until he appeared one day with traces of saffron on his garments. The Prophet said to him: "What is this?" He said: "O Messenger of Allaah, I have married a woman among the Ansaar." The Prophet answered: "What did you give her for her dowry?" He answered: "The weight of five dirhams in gold." Then, the Prophet said: "May Allaah bless you, give a feast if only with one sheep." 'Abdur-Rahmaan said: "I have seen myself in such a state that if I were to lift a stone, I would expect to find some gold or silver under it." Anas said: "I saw after his death that each of his wives inherited one hundred thousand Dinars." [Al-Bukhaaree, an-Nasaa'ee and others].

Also on the authority of Anas he said: "I never saw the Prophet sponsor such a wedding feast as the one he gave for Zainab. He slaughtered a sheep and fed everyone meat and bread until they ate no more." [Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim and others].

Islam world

Summary:

  • By all means have a celebration on your wedding day, after all it is a joyous occasion but remember why you are getting married (i.e. for the sake of Allah).
  • Islam doesn't stop you from cultural traditions and customs so long as it doesn't contradict Islam. In fact Islam prohibits people going against their customs.  
  • Don't have a wedding to show off to other people, it will not get you far in this life or the Akhira. 
  • Have fun but be careful not to get too carried away and displease Allah on your wedding day, because a marriage without the blessings from Allah will not have a bright future.
Finally I wish all the people married, looking to get married or un-married all the best for the future in terms of marriage inshaAllah . I hope that Allah grants you all righteous spouses and you have a blessed life together. May your marriages be full of love for the sake of Allah and may you find peace and happiness in your marriage.

I leave you with some things from the Quran:

"And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect." (Qur'an 30:21)

In the Qur'an, the marriage relationship is described as one with "tranquility," "love" and "mercy." Elsewhere in the Qur'an, husband and wife are described as "garments" for each other (2:187). Garments offer protection, comfort, modesty, and warmth. Above all, the Qur'an describes that the best garment is the "garment of God-consciousness" (7:26)

- Huda, about.com

Please check out Islam QA for more questions and answers (from sheikhs) about Islam and various other issues.

6 comments:

  1. THis is a good reminder.

    Its wedding season, and being one who plans to get married in the future, inshaAllah, its a very important topic to think about. I don't want to compromise my faith just for one day, and I would love for my guest and I to enjoy ourselves with some 'halaal' fun. My sisters and I are always brainstorming ideas of things to do during weddings and bridal parties that stay within the bounds of Islam.

    May Allah give us the hidaya to have weddings in an Islamic manner and without earning us His displeasure. Ameen :)

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  2. Ameen.

    Do share what things you come up with in your brainstorms, would be good to know what 'halaal' things people do at weddings so that people can find alternatives for the not so halaal things that happen at weddings iA (=

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  3. This was a great topic and article you wrote. You are absolutely right it is surprising the most religious have the most unreligious weddings.

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  4. I know the brother you are talking about... All my family felt the same way too. Jazakillah khair for sharing

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  5. Salaam, there is no way my family would allow me to have a segregated wedding. My mum said she wouldn't attend my wedding If I don't have any music playing on the day. I wear the hijab but the women in my family don't. It would've been nice to have my hair out for once, including my friends who observe the hijab at my wedding but I don't think I'll be able to if my wedding isn't segregated. My mum doesn't like the fact that I wear the hijab so I know that I will get a lot of pressure nearing the wedding and the functions leading up to the wedding to take it off. Will I still be accountable for that? I mean, It's so difficult, I end up crying and losing my temper not knowing what to do. And my mother's reaction to that is that I am ungrateful because I don't take their advice and end up upsetting her. I've tried to explain that this is not the Islamic way but she shruggs it off and often makes fun of certain customs, for i.e. segregated weddings etc...

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  6. As salaamu alaykom

    Lovely post indeed and a great reminder of things that we have to be mindful of in preparation for a wedding.

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