A Guide to a Muslim Wedding Ceremony
Muslim weddings are lavish celebrations steeped in history and tradition. While the specific customs vary across countries, cultures, and Islamic sects, there are certain cultural and religious rituals that remain the same. Here we will guide you through everything you need to know about a Muslim wedding ceremony.
- How is a Muslim Wedding Affected by Coronavirus?
- Who Officiates a Muslim Wedding Ceremony?
- How Do I Set a Date for a Muslim Wedding Ceremony?
- Where is a Muslim Wedding Ceremony Held?
- How Long is a Muslim Wedding Ceremony?
- Do Men and Women Have to be Seperate at a Muslim Wedding Ceremony?
- What Happens before a Muslim Wedding Ceremony?
- What Happens During a Muslim Wedding Ceremony?
- What Happens After a Muslim Wedding Ceremony?
Currently, in the UK, both wedding ceremonies and receptions have limited numbers depending on where you live. Wedding ceremonies and receptions in England are currently limited to 15 people. There will, inevitably, be a number of elements that will be challenging for a Muslim wedding while social distancing measures are in place. Couples are having to face changes to the venue, catering and guest lists as those having large celebrations will need to limit their plans if they want their wedding to go ahead. You may choose to postpone your wedding until a time when you can celebrate fully. On the other hand, you could go ahead with a smaller, legal ceremony now, then have a full celebration when it is safe to do so.
If you choose to go ahead with your wedding, government guidelines currently state that where Muslim marriage rituals or ceremonies are being undertaken under the legal provisions for a wedding reception, these ceremonies also must not exceed 15 people in England, and should adhere to all social distancing and other safety measures provided in this guidance. Those taking part in the ritual or ceremony do not need to remain seated at tables for this, but should be seated for any other aspects of a reception. If a faith or belief marriage ritual or ceremony is taking place as a wedding reception, it should take place within a reasonable timeframe alongside the legal solemnisation of the marriage.
Since Islam sanctions no official clergy, any Muslim who understands Islamic tradition can officiate a wedding. If you are having your wedding in a mosque, many have marriage officers, called qazi or madhun, who can oversee the marriage.
The Muslim calendar works on a lunar cycle, so there are no fixed days for weddings. However, it is forbidden to marry on the two days of Eid, which occur after the feast of Ramadan, and the Day of Pilgrimage. It is also impossible to marry on the Day of Ashura, which falls on either the 9th or 10th day of the Islamic first month.
A Muslim wedding can take place anywhere and not just in a Mosque (though this is the preferred choice). So, you have a lot of scope for your venue.
A Muslim wedding ceremony usually lasting no longer than twenty minutes. However, Muslim wedding celebrations can go all night long!
Gender separation is a normal part of many Muslim traditions, including Muslim wedding traditions. Not every Muslim couple will choose to separate the genders at their wedding, but more traditional ceremonies will keep men and women apart. During the reception, men and women may celebrate in different rooms, be divided by a partition or simply sit at different tables. In some cases, non-Muslim guests may be seated with opposite genders.
What is Toble?
The Tolbe is a pre-wedding ceremony where the groom formally asks the bride’s parents for her hand in marriage. If the families give their blessing, a short prayer from the Holy Quran called “Surah Fatiha” is recited by everyone present. This is followed by a presentation of tea, coffee, or cordial and sweets that both families enjoy together.
What is Katb Al-kitaab?
Katb Al-kitaab is essentially a marriage ceremony. During the ceremony, the sheikh lays out the terms of the marriage and a contract is signed by both parties.
What is Meher?
The marriage contract includes a meher—a formal statement specifying the monetary amount the groom will give the bride. There are two parts to the meher: a prompt due before the marriage is consummated and a deferred amount given to the bride throughout her life.
Today, many couples use the ring as the prompt because the groom presents it during the ceremony. The deferred amount can be a small sum—a formality—or an actual gift of money, land, jewelry or even an education. The gift belongs to the bride to use as she pleases, unless the marriage breaks up before consummation. The meher is considered the bride’s security and guarantee of freedom within the marriage. It symbolizes love, respect, and courtesy towards the woman.
What is Nikah?
The marriage contract is signed in a nikah ceremony, in which the groom proposes to the bride in front of at least two witnesses, stating the details of the meher. The bride and groom demonstrate their free will by repeating the word qabul (“I accept,” in Arabic) three times. Then the couple and two male witnesses sign the contract, making the marriage legal according to civil and religious law.
What are the Vows and Blessings?
The officiant may add an additional religious ceremony following the nikah, which usually includes a recitation of the Fatihah—the first chapter of the Quran—and durud (blessings). Most Muslim couples do not recite vows; rather, they listen as their officiant speaks about the meaning of marriage and their responsibilities to each other and Allah.
What is Savaqah?
Savaqah is the last part of a Muslim wedding ceremony. As the couple recesses from the ceremony, the bride is showered with coins in celebration.
What is Zaffe?
The zaffe is the newlywed couple’s grand entrance to their reception. It typically starts with the bride’s father walking his daughter to her groom. It is then followed by a troupe of drummers that play traditional, upbeat Arabic music. During the zaffe, rings are changed from the right hand to the left hand.
What is Dabke?
At the reception, a popular folk dance called dabke is often performed by professional dancers and then the wedding guests. Guests will dance shoulder to shoulder in a circle with each other.
What is the Cake Cutting?
The cutting of the cake is a wedding tradition found in most cultures, but here things are kicked up a notch. Muslim couples cut their multi-tiered wedding cake with a large sword passed down to the groom from his family for his wedding day.
What is Walima?
After the wedding contract is signed, it’s time for Walima, the wedding feast. This may feature traditional symbols of fertility and plenty such as fish, chicken, rice and candy-covered almonds.
What is Barmet Al-aroos?
This tradition is the final farewell to the newlywed couple before they depart their wedding venue in a flashy and highly decorated vehicle. Friends and family of the couple follow them back to their home or hotel in a parade of their own cars, playing loud music and honking all the way to announce to the world that the couple in front of them just got married
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