Q. Nowadays Muslim marriage ceremonies include many practices that are common among non-Muslims (such as exchanging of rings which you discussed on the website). Can you give a break down of the things which are and are not permissible in a Muslim marriage ceremony, such as regards having a cake (and cutting it as a part of the program), “walking down the aisle” with the wali, bridesmaids, etc.?
A. It is extremely unfortunate to know that many of the practices adopted by today’s Muslims at their wedding ceremonies are those which are prevalent among non-muslims.
More unfortunate than this, is the fact that Muslims have become so accustomed to these non-Islamic practices that they consider these to be a part of the Muslim wedding ceremony.
From among those practices which are totally opposed to the teachings of Islam are:
1) The girl being seated in front of the entire gathering.
Islam does not allow this public display of one’s wife and in general, any female in front of a gathering which is filled with non-blood relative males. This is in total violation of the Quranic injunctions of purdah and privacy for women in Islam.
2) The walking of the bride ‘down the isle’.
With respect to this, there is absolutely no such teaching in Islam, and this practice is in direct conformity to the Christians. Along with this, there is the playing of music while the girl is walking and the companying of other minor girls in front of the bride. These are borrowed traditions from the Christians which the Muslims have unfortunately adopted in their Islamic marriages.
3) The exchange of rings.
This is another area of concern as it is another one of those Christian practices.
In Islam, there isn’t anything that is known as a ‘wedding ring’ which must be given to the bride or groom.
It is essential upon the boy to give his wife a ‘Mahr’ (dowry) which can be in cash, jewelry, or any other valuable asset. If he chooses to give her the Mahr as jewelery, then it can be in any form, a ring, necklace, handband etc. If he wishes to give her a ring as a gift which is not part of the Mahr, he can do so, however, it must not be understood that this ‘wedding ring ‘ is binding upon him.
Similarly, if the girl wants to give her intended husband a ring as a gift, she can do so, however, it must be understood that it is not binding upon her. Both can purchase rings as gifts for each other, however, they must not consider these to be ‘Wedding rings’ as they are viewed by the non-Muslims. They are simply gifts which can be exchanged and given to each other in their private chambers and not in the public domain in front of their non blood relatives. All these practices of reading duas, on the rings and then asking one party to place it on a specific finger first, and then the other party places it on a certain finger etc. etc. are all unIslamic practices which have found its presence in Islamic marriages through the efforts of the innovators and modern Muslims, who have no value for the true teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.
4) Drinking the Sharbat (sweet drink).
Among many Muslims (old and new), this is known to be a part of the Islamic wedding. However, unfortunately this has no evidence in Islam and hence, it is not part of the ‘Muslim wedding’. It is probably a tradition and practice of the early East Indians. Some try to justify this act by saying that it shows love for one another etc. etc. However, in reality it is not in accordance to the teachings of Islam. The Sunnah explains to a woman what she can do in front of others, and what she cannot do, and sipping from a glass, only to fulfill a custom where hundreds of ‘non blood relatives’ males are focused on the woman is not one which Islam will ever accept.
5) The wedding cake.
The custom of having a wedding cake also does not find its origin in Islam. It is another duplicated act of the Christians. Further to this is the issue of cutting it in front of the entire public and then placing piece of it in the mouth of each other. These are totally Un Islamic actions which now seem to be a part of many Muslim weddings.
Nowadays, even though some Muslims have moved away from the customary songs and music, they have fallen prey to Islamic songs with music. This is also prohibited in Islam even though the songs may be Islamic. All sorts of music and musical instruments are totally haram in Islam.
Islamic songs (Nasheeds) without music are permissible, and beating one side of the Tambourine is also permissible for females on the occasion of their Nikah. It is also seen that in some Muslim weddings, the groom is greeted with a bunch of drummers playing the tassa drums who welcome him at the bride’s residence. This is also totally haram (unlawful) in Islam.
It is also seen that at many of the Muslim marriages, someone is called to say something on behalf of the boy and the same is done for the girl. In these short speeches, many things are said which is just a matter of praising the bride or groom, or is fabricated. This has no place in Islamic traditions and it has never been a part of an Islamic marriage.
These are only a few of the unIslamic practices that are to be found in many Muslim marriages today. There are more haram things which take place at Muslim weddings, and it is sad to see what goes on at these places. At certain Muslim weddings, you will find open consumption of intoxicants, indecent dressing by women, modern day music, open dancing between males and females, etc. etc. just to name a few. It is really a sad state to know that Muslims have become antagonists to the religion they boastfully claim to follow. To some Muslims, Islam has no meaning and value, and to others, it is to be practiced conveniently.
Marriage is indeed a happy occasion, in fact it is the happiest moment in the lives of the bride and the groom. Islam is not opposed to celebrating this happiness, nor is it against expressing one’s joy, it is in full favor of these. However, everything can be achieved in the way that has been prescribed by the law giver, Allah, who Has created us and Has also created the emotions of joy and happiness. Whenever He wishes He can change joy into sorrow and can also change happiness into sadness.
True happiness can only come about when one does an action in obedience to Allah. All other forms of happiness that emanate out of disobedience to Allah take a person to the pits of sadness and sufferings. As such, in celebrating one’s marriage, a Muslim is required to always do that which is right. Sharing a drink is certainly permissible for a husband and a wife, however this should be done in privacy and not in public.
In a similar manner, they can both put on rings on the hands of each other, this is permissible. However, it is not to be done publicly in front of everyone. Likewise, feeding each other a piece of cake or cutting it together, can be done in privacy where you do not have strangers or non blood relative males. Doing it in public is not permissible. Islam has given a very high status and rank to a woman, but it has, at the same time, emphasized upon her that privacy is her garb which she cannot remove. She is therefore not allowed to make a public display of herself at any time or any place. This is totally sinful for her. It is for this reason, the Shariah has given the authority to her wali to contract her marriage, and she is not called publicly to answer questions in front of the entire gathering.
The above mentioned points are based on what takes place in our country, other places may have different customs which may also be unIslamic and sinful. Hence, Muslims are always required to find out what are those permissible activities that are allowed in their marriage at any given place.
As a guide, one can follow the under mentioned steps to ensure that the marriage is truly an Islamic one.
1) First of all, it is preferable to do one’s Nikah on a Friday to achieve maximum blessings. It is also commendable to do it in the masjid to get more rewards. After one is married, it is an emphasized Sunnah to have a waleema (wedding feast) after the Marriage is consummated.
Taking the above into consideration, we advise many of our young Muslims to do their Nikah on a Friday at the Mosque, and then have a waleema on the Sunday where all the family members and friends can attend. The Nikah can take place after the Juma Salaah or after the Asr Salaah. At this time, no special preparations are required.
2) The essential requirements of the Nikah is the Ijab and Qubool, that is the offer (proposal) and acceptance which is done in front of two male Muslim witnesses, and the Mahr (dowry) which the husband must give to his wife.
In order to avoid the girl from coming in front of those gathered to answer any question, the father or legal guardian is appointed to convey or accept the proposal of the boy.
As such, when the Nikah is about to take place, the father or legal guardian will be asked whether his daughter has consented to marry so and so son of so and so with the fixed Mahr.
The father may also be asked whether his daughter has accepted to be married to so and so, the son of so and so, with the fixed Mahr as proposed by the boy.
If he answers in the affirmative, the boy would then be asked whether he has accepted the marriage of this girl or whether he has accepted the girl to be his lawful wife and if he has agreed to pay her the Mahr which he has promised. This must take place in front of two witnesses.
Once this is done, the Nikah is finished and the Khutba (Sermon) shall be read.
With the Khutba, the true and original Muslim marriage is now completed. After this they will look into hosting a waleema where the girl should be on the women’s side and the boy would be on the men’s side at the place where the reception is held.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan