Marriages are made in heaven, but the wedding ceremony takes place on earth … and at times, besides the Mehr-e-Fatimi, there is nothing heavenly about it.
Many thousands of years ago, long before this earth was even created, when the pen of destiny was writing in the skies, the sweetest thing happened: the name of your sweetheart was placed next to yours. Special consideration was taken in this sacred union by the Almighty Himself. It was to be blessed with happiness and prosperity. But sadly on our part on earth, the way some of us conduct our wedding ceremonies nowadays, it seems that everyone but the Almighty, that loving Being responsible for our happiness, is relevant and needs to be obeyed and pleased.
Our ideas of having a modern un-Islamic and fancy wedding starts many years before we even find our better half. These crazy wedding fantasies are mostly obtained from romance novels, movies, sitcoms, fashion magazines and of course, the bad example set by others in our own family and community. We have all read about the simplicity of our Noble Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him) and how his daughters got married, but there is always a big BUT to it: “We know its sunnat to be simple, BUT we can’t exclude anyone from the invitation list.” “It’s our first daughter’s wedding and we know it has to be simple, BUT we can’t break her heart.” The best justification yet for abandoning the blessed Prophetic way is this: “Our neighbor got married last year and although they are only working class, they invited 1000 people. Must we now keep it simple and show they are richer than us? We are not cheapskates! Let’s show them and invite 2000 people.”
No one can plead ignorance as to how the ideal Islamic marriage is to be conducted nowadays, but somehow everyone seems to forget this when their daughter starts weeping or when the neighbors may comment how stingy one is for not making the sendoff of their child a most memorable one. We seem to be more worried of the opinion of people and our status inn society than the pleasure of the Almighty. For this disobedience, we are punished in various ways without even realizing it.
Let us now see what’s wrong with our wedding functions nowadays. Besides the mandatory Nikah ceremony which is usually held in the Masjid, and the Waleemah (nuptial feast), it must be known that nothing else is really prescribed in Islam. But Islam is only meant for the books nowadays, so many couples unofficially marry their sweethearts over facebook or by dating a few months or years before the official marriage ceremony. When they do decide to tie the knot, they call upon the friendly community Shaikh or Imam to solemnize their Nikah in a Masjid. Sometimes, a special Shaikh is flown in from overseas to add to the status of the marriage. At times, the blessed environment of the Masjid is left out and the Nikah is solemnized in the hall. The Shaikh or the Imam is only there to legalize the contract, and to make sure he turns a blind eye to all the wrong going on around him. The serious lecture on the rights of husband and wife in the Masjid is replaced by gags and giggles by a humorous MC in the hall, and the sacred atmosphere is very soon turned to one of merry-making and fun. Sometimes, the Imam is even used as a rubber stamp to sanction all the evil that takes place at these gatherings; and after the white envelope is safely tucked away in his pocket, he will even pose for a photoshoot!
Yes, we have taken our religion for granted. And this is why on the day when we are supposed to be pleasing the Almighty the most, we anger Him the most. We pay the price for this many years thereafter without even knowing it. Some marriages end in messy divorces a short while thereafter, some couples have endless financial, in-laws, addiction, extra-marital or family issues, whilst others go through so much depression and anxiety in their marriage that they wish they could turn the clock back and would’ve never married. Let’s not be foolish and destroy our future lives for one day of pleasure. Do it right so the rest of your life can go right.
There is no mehndi night, belly dancing night, meethu mauru (sweetmeat) night, or bachelor night. There are no lavish meals a week or two before the nikah ceremony, and late nights of gossiping and smoking. Yes, family and friends are welcome to visit and create an atmosphere of joy, but there is no elaborate occasion for this. In fact, the custom of delaying the wedding for many months after the proposal is also un-Islamic as Islam teaches us to marry as soon as a suitable partner is found. About a month is a reasonable time to prepare, not ten to twenty months! The more the marriage is delayed, the more attention the families will pay to shopping and planning a lavish wedding. It will also give more time for mischief makers to dig up the past of the future couple and start spreading rumors, which sometimes lead to the breakup of the couple or delaying it for several years.
The couple should separately attend marriage classes before their wedding, and register for various workshops offered in this regard. Authentic literature can also be studied so that the couple makes a mental adjustment of what is expected of them after the Nikah. For boys in particular, your ten fishing buddies will be replaced by one killer mermaid, so prepare for it. Also remember that the ring band given at the time of engagement is no license to see each other or go out together before the Nikah. There will be ample time for that afterwards.
Now comes the big day. Keep it simple. Our most noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us that the wedding in which the least amount of expenditure is incurred, will have the most blessings. He (peace be upon him) also told us that the function to which the poor is not invited, is cursed. So, let us compete in earning the pleasure of the Almighty, and not by competing with the Jone’s. Never take a loan for a wedding. Islam doesn’t place such a burden on one’s shoulder. There is simply no need to pitch up at the hall in a hot-air balloon or in your distant cousin’s yellow Ferrari. No need to walk down the aisle with a R40 000- gown which you will never wear thereafter, to the accompaniment of haraam music. There is no need for a five-course meal, photoshoots and making elaborate videos of the day for which half the people don’t end up paying. The function can be held in a humble tent or a Masjid or community hall – there is no need to hire out halls for as much as R50 000- per day when Muslims around the world are starving or fleeing for their lives from war-torn areas.
But extravagance is not the only issue at weddings. The show of outfits, intermingling of men and women and the mountains of makeup is even worse. Many guests dress up as if they are getting married on the day, and some women apply so much make-up that a skyscraper can be built on their face! For them, scarves are meant for the shoulders, not the heads! Some brides and grooms tend to be religious in their daily lives, but on the wedding day they throw caution to the wind. It’s also observed that some functions do have a partition to separate the ladies and the men, but as soon as the biryani is served, the floor crossing starts. This is called yo-yo partition – up down, up down! The competition peaks when the designer gifts, or kunchas, are displayed for all to see in the hall or in the bride’s home. Some gifts will have money made in the shape of trees, some will have expensive watches and exotic jewelry, some fruity perfumes and the latest outfits, whilst others will have grape juice in wine-shaped bottles and Swiss chocolates. It’s such shows of ostentation that invites burglars to break into one’s home on the wedding day.
The above are just a few of our crimes committed on the wedding day. Apart from these crimes, we have the bad habit of arriving late as per “Indian Time” (two hours late) or according to “Arab Time” (five hours late). Never mind the cook, the children and the elderly, as well as the sickly and diabetics are greatly inconvenienced by this. Those who need to travel a great distance to return home or those who do not want to miss their Fajr prayers are also pained. Let us take heed of these factors and change our ways.
For those who had a wedding reception in which some or all the above crimes were committed, there is a way out. Repent sincerely to the Almighty; as expiation, make sure that the same mistakes are not committed when you get your children married one day. Take it upon yourself to advise family and friends to keep their weddings simple. Read the life story of the Queen of Paradise, Sayyidah Fatima az-Zahra and the Pure Wives of the Prophet, and try to emulate their example of simplicity and piety. Above all, break the cycle by setting a good example.
Finally, remember that weddings last only a day, but a marriage lasts a lifetime. Let’s put the same effort daily in our marriages as we put on our wedding day, and our lives will become heaven on earth – Ameen.