With about 1.6 billion Muslims across the globe from all different countries and backgrounds, their customs are obviously going to be a unique fusion of religion and culture – making the traditions all the more exciting!
There are countless Islamic traditions, but if you’re heading to an Islamic wedding in the near future, here are the five customs you’re bound to see in person!
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A Fatiha is a blessing for the new couple. This custom involves the reading of the first verse of the Quran in the presence of the new couple with their immediate family and sometimes extended relatives. The purpose is to allow the couple to visit each other’s houses and interact with each other’s families under God’s will. The Fatiha is an intimate affair that lasts a few hours. You’ll be pleased to know that if you’re ever invited to one of these, you’re in for a baklava and knafeh overload! Tea and coffee is also given (forced!) to wash it all down.
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2. Nikah or Katb El-Kitab
It’s safe to say that without this ceremony, the marriage technically does not exist! The Nikah, in Pakistani/Indian culture or Katb El-Kitab in the Middle East, is the Islamic marriage ceremony that is of utmost spiritual importance. The couple sit in the presence of a Muslim cleric along with two witnesses for both groom and bride. Verses from the Quran are read on the vital obligations for their marriage. Think of it like a “for sickness or for health, for better or for poor” type of exchange. A Dua (prayer) is recited and both parties are required to agree to the marriage. The family then read Surat Al-Fatiha to bless the marriage. Finally, the couple sign the binding contract which ensures their marriage is both civilly and religiously legal.
Depending on the couple, this event might be an intimate one or an elaborate affair with extended family and friends. Of course, yummy sweets and the Islamic staple food, dates are given out to treat the guests and wish the new couple the best.
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The Walima is the second part of a traditional Muslim wedding. The traditional wedding banquet includes relatives, friends and neighbours and is usually hosted by the groom’s family at a hall, reception or house. The Walima is to wish the newlyweds a prosperous life. It can be a bit of a culture shock when you go to your first Walima, as it’s a colourful, loud feast of the senses, with cultural food, dancing, music and festivity.
The Walima is practised in a variety of cultures. In Pakistan, it’s the bride’s responsibility to organise and pay for the Walima; while, in Arab and Afghani cultures, the groom’s family are required to organise the reception.
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“And give women their Mahr as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result.” (Surah an-Nisaa’, 4:4)
Grooms get your money up! The Mahr is a form of dowry that is offered to the bride’s family during the ceremony. It’s usually monetary, but doesn’t have to be. It’s a symbolism of the groom’s commitment, love and what he has to offer in life.
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5. The ‘Picking Up of the Bride’
This custom is very popular in Middle Eastern weddings. Because there’s no church and the ceremony has usually been done in advance, the bride anxiously waits for her prince charming to arrive and pick her up before heading off for the location shots. The groom comes with an entourage of sport cars, motorbikes and luxury vehicles, while traditional Arabic drummers wait on the street for the grande arrival. This is followed by dancing, celebratory clapping and loud drums that make it impossible to stand still, even if you tried. The stakes are high and we can’t imagine what goes in the reception. It’s truly epic!
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