The Muslim Wedding Ceremony – Nikah
The state of marriage is considered as the ideal way for Muslims to live, making the wedding day one of the most important in the life of a Muslim.
In Islam, marriages are viewed as social contracts that outline the rights and obligations of both the bride and the groom. The success of the marriage requires mutual respect of each other as well as the conditions agreed upon in the Islamic wedding contract, which is known as the nikah namah.
Muslim wedding celebrations can vary greatly between different cultures, however the ceremonies themselves follow a simple yet meaningful format.
Many grooms are unaware of the importance of the mahr, which is a mandatory gift promised to the bride by the groom. It is the groom’s responsibility to ask the bride what she would like beforehand and she possesses the right to ask for anything (not necessarily money) within his financial means. Typically, the bride and groom’s families will agree on the mahr but you as a groom must ensure that the bride is happy with what has been decided before the wedding day.
The Muslim wedding ceremony is known as a nikah. On the wedding day, the bride and groom are seated in different rooms accompanied by close friends and family. A nikha namah is presented containing the conditions of the marriage as well as the agreed mahr. The main point of the nikah is to receive the bride and groom’s consent to the marriage. An imam or any male knowledgeable in Islam is qualified to carry out this ceremony, which involves proposing the wedding match to both parties and announcing their acceptance.
The marriage contract itself is read out in Arabic and you may not even see it until the actual wedding day, but remember that you are signing a life-changing contractual agreement that binds you under Islamic law. You are promising to provide a stable living environment for your future wife and you agree to a relationship of mutual love, mercy and kindness (muwaddah, sukun, rahmah) with her.
Once the marriage contract has been signed, the Imam will solemnise the marriage by reciting the fatihah. This is the first chapter of the Quran. The recital is followed by various duruds or blessings to signify the end of the nikah ceremony.
The couple is now permitted to sit together and this denotes a more light hearted part of the wedding day. The bride is ceremoniously showered with coins as she leaves the venue, which is known as savaqah.
All Muslim marriages must be declared publicly and this requirement is usually met by holding a banquet for the announcement of the marriage. How the walimah is carried out varies culturally but it is common for the bride and groom to be presented enthroned on a stage to be seen by the guests. In most families the walimah is a celebratory function involving eating and dancing, though traditionally the men and women are served separately.
Once the meal is over, the bride and groom sit together with a dupatta (cloth) held over both their heads. A prayer is said for the happy couple after which guests will come to offer their blessings and gifts.
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