A Traditional Muslim wedding
When the couple decides to get married, the groom-to-be asks his father / guardian (wali) to approach his prospective father in law. If they (the father-in-law and bride to be) agree to the man’s hand in marriage, they are now officially engaged. At the second meeting, a date and time is agreed upon for the wedding ceremony to take place. Muslim weddings are conducted as per Islamic traditions.
The Mahr or Dowrie
The couple would discuss the “Mahr”. The Mahr must be agreed upon by the marrying partners themselves and not by their parents. The Mahr is the Brides right, to which her husband remains indebted. Importantly, it is a free gift and not her price. The Mahr may be cash, kind or non-material (such as training or teaching ). It can be paid up front or can be in the form of a promise to pay upon demand; decided prior to the solemnization of marriage. However, it is much recommended to pay it before or at the time of Nikah itself. The “Mahr” / dowrie is only given to the bride on the wedding day. It is handed to her by the Imam or by her father.
The Nikah or Nuptials
Once the bride-to-be has accepted the offer of marriage, she then meets with the Imam of the mosque, whichever one she decides upon, and asks his permission to perform the Nikah and permission to use the mosque facilities.
The actual ceremony is called the “Nikah”. It is usually a simple ceremony and includes reciting a verse or verses from the Holy Quraan. The bride is presented by her father or appointed guardian or another male member of her family. The Imam, who is authorized to officiate the ceremony, will deliver a short sermon. According to Shariah (Islamic canonical law based on the teachings of the Quraan ), the wife-to-be says, ‘An Kah’tunafsakaa’ lalmah’rilma’loom’, “I have given away myself in Nikah to you, on the agreed Mahr.”
Immediately the groom replies, ‘QabiltunNikaha’, “I have accepted the Nikah.” If the marrying partners are not able to recite the formula in Arabic then the appointed Imam will officiate this. With these pronouncements, they become husband and wife. The ceremony ends off with a Duah which is a prayer of blessing.
Once the ceremony is complete the bridegroom now sees his bride for the first time as a bridal couple and the guests are there to congratulate the couple.
The Wedding Attire
On the wedding day the bride wears a “Medora” or head-dress so that her hair is covered, a beautiful wedding gown and has the best make up available. She sees her guests after the ceremony in her first wedding dress. Usually in Islamic weddings the bride has two wedding dresses, one for the ceremony and another for the reception. The wedding dresses are more westernised these days but it is compulsory for the bride’s body to be covered.
After the ceremony the bride changes into her second wedding dress and prepares for the groom’s reception which is usually a lunch for his relatives. Photos are then taken to record the couples special day and once done, the bridal group gets ready for the second reception which is a supper given by the bride’s family.
As the evening comes to a close, the bride is taken to her new home by her in laws or “khujadi’s”/ Hadjjis which are elderly ladies from the groom’s family which have completed their pilgrimage, known as Haj. This however is a tradition and is not compulsory.