Dos and Donts of Wedding Celebrations

QThank you so much for sending clearly written scholarly articles. I have benefited from your writings a lot. Now I have a personal situation where I want your input. Although it is personal, but feel free to post it on Islamic Reflections for the benefit of other people like me.

I will be getting married soon and we are in the process of planning for the wedding. It is a very important milestone in our life. We want to do it in a memorable way, while at the same time we want to do it in an Islamic way so that this blissful occasion does not become a sinful event. Please help me with the answers to the following questions:
  1. How is a wedding performed and celebrated Islamically?
  2. I would like to get my nikah performed on the blessed day of Friday and in the Masjid, but my in-laws would prefer it to take place in the wedding hall, what is the Islamic ruling?
  3. How much is Sharee’ah Mahr and how and when should it be paid?
  4. Can we play Dholki and sing songs during the wedding weeks?
  5. Can we play music in the wedding ceremonies?
  6. How separate should be men and women in the wedding parties? Can they be in the same hall?
  7. What about Mehndi?

ABismillaahi walĥamdulillaahi waŝŝalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi

I am not a Mufti to answer questions such as these, but here are my brief comments representing my humble personal opinions.

1. How is a wedding performed and celebrated Islamically?

As a matter of principle, it should be remembered that a Muslim’s life revolves around Allaah and His remembrance, and is geared towards Aakhirah and celebrations of life-Hereafter instead of indulgence and celebrations of this world. The life and its events in this world are kept simple, brief, light, straightforward, less time-consuming and un-cumbersome. All of these principles are fully applicable to the matter of one’s wedding as well.

Wedding ceremony has only two parts: Nikaah ceremony and wedding feast (Waleemah).

Nikaah ceremony is a well-announced and publicized public ceremony consisting of entering into a marital contract (offer and acceptance), payment of /commitment to pay Mahr by the groom to the bride, and Khutbah (sermon) of Nikaah. Khutbah is the glorification, appreciation and praise of Allaah SWT and reminders for believers about their responsibilities to Allaah and to each other.

Waleemah is the wedding feast hosted by the groom where, in addition to friends and relatives, the poor members of the community are invited. To show the happiness and celebration of the event, the Prophet SAAWS has given the permission to play drum at the occasion and sing some good and clean songs (without other musical instruments). However, the mixing up of males and females must be avoided in all of these celebrations.

As you can see, it is a simple ceremony that lasts only part of a day. And the highlight of the ceremony is the Khutbah – remembrance of Allaah SWT.

Anything that is done in addition to what is mentioned above is not a source of blessings because it is wastage of time, money and resources, at the very best; and is violation of Islamic values and is sinful in most cases.

2. Should I get the Nikaah performed in the Masjid on Friday for blessings of the venue and the day?

As a general rule, unless specifically commanded otherwise by Allaah or His Messenger, the blessings in normal worldly activities of a Muslim do not lie in ‘when’ and ‘where’ the actions are performed but ‘how’ they are performed. If your wedding complies with the way an Islamic wedding is performed, it will be full of blessings of Allaah regardless of the day, time and place it is performed. If you perform your Nikaah on a Friday in the Masjid, but violate Islamic teachings in celebrating the wedding, the wedding will remain devoid of Allaah’s blessings.

3. How much is Sharee’ah Mahr and how and when should it be paid?

Sharee‘ah Mahr is the amount of wealth that reflects the financial status and living standards of the bride and groom. The best way is to pay it immediately at the wedding or as soon as possible after the wedding. When paid, it has to be in complete and independent control of the bride to invest or use as she likes. In addition to paying Mahr in the form of cash, jewellery, etc., the residents of North America should go one step further. The laws relating to marital properties in this part of the world usually requires that any wealth accumulated by the newly-wed family during their years as husband and wife should be equally distributed at the time of divorce, and subject to other rules, on death. To avoid the conflict with Islamic laws and to avoid the kind of problems that non-Muslims families face when such tragedies happen, the provisions of marital laws of the country should be included in the marital contact as additional part of Mahr. For example, it can be stipulated:
xx% of all savings, investments, assets or any other kind of wealth accumulated by the groom since the date of marriage will be given as deferred Mahr to the bride that will become immediately payable in case of divorce or the death of the groom, in addition to the unpaid amount of fixed Mahr agreed to be paid at the time of wedding.

For more discussion on this topic (please see Dower vs. Mahr).

4. Can we play Dhoalki and sing songs during the wedding weeks?

Playing of Dhoalki and singing of clean songs can be justified on the wedding day only, if mixing of the males and females is avoided properly.

5. Can we play music in the wedding ceremonies?

People can sing clean songs.

6. How separate should be men and women in the wedding parties? Can they be in the same hall?

Men and women should be separated by seating them on the two sides of the hall with some empty space between their sections.

There are some other related questions that arise: If men and women sit separately, where do the bride and groom sit? And how will it be possible to make movies and take photographs? How will people come and congratulate them and address to them in speeches?

The answer is that the bride sits among the women and groom sits among the men. Men greet and congratulate the groom and women greet and congratulate the bride. Pictures and movies should be avoided.

7. What about Menhdi?

Those who want to follow Islamic practices at their wedding should stay away such customs.

June 30, 2003
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