Assalamu ‘Alaikum Warahmat Allah Wabarakatuh,
Finding the right person to marry is a joyous and happy occassion for most people. Approaching the other family, or being approached by them, discussions, istikharah, and then that final ”YES.” Days, weeks or even months of deliberating (should I, shouldn’t I) are forgotten in an instant and the whole worlds attention turns towards the WEDDING! Every lady, her mother, aunties, cousins, neighbours – even the local ladies at the Mosque that you hardly even know – begin visualising outfits and decorations and invitees and…. well, the ands just don’t stop coming! Looking on, the groom and men pause to take a deep sign and wish the marriage could be done already.
This really is a happy time, building up to what everyone wants to be an even happier occasion. And you know what? It absolutely should be? Marriage is a happy time and everyone should be happy – very happy. The question which arises is about how can everyone stay happy without allowing that joy to override their Islamic duties? First and foremost, the couple and their families are about to be bonded together in a new and unique way. So before imaging all of the shops in the world that you want to visit, hit your prayer mat and offer a couple of nafls to thank Almighty Allah for bringing about this happiness in your heart, for Almighty Allah to allow you to enjoy this happiness in only that way which will be pleasing to Him, and that you and your future husband / wife and their respective families are all happy together. Follow up those prayers with many more during the nights leading up to the wedding and never stop. Start to invest in your marriage by putting some spiritual blessings in the heavenly bank before you are even married.
And then, go and enjoy yourselves and have a wedding that will be one of the highlights of your lives!
Now, the greater and more important purpose of this post. Below are a number of extracts from Friday Sermons in which our beloved Hudur (ayyadahu Allah ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-‘aziz) offers guidance on various aspects of marriage and the ceremony(ies). I hope to put together a similar post detailing what has similarly been said about the post-marriage phase. The extracts are well worth reading, particularly if you are looking to get married or the parent of someone who is. Each extract is linked at the end to the Al Islam Sermon and so you can listen to the audio / video. Lastly, those familiar with Al Islam will know that they produce summaries of the Sermons which contain a mixture of verbatim quotes and summarised paragraphs. Keep that in mind and if in any doubt, go to Al Islam and watch the video. In addition to the extracts, I have added a whole bunch of videos at the bottom which discuss this subject. Let me know if you know any other good sources and I will add them.
Jazak Allah and I hope it is helpful
Friday Sermon Extracts
Which works are good and which not good? For instance, in life there are happy occasions as well as sad occasions. What are our limitations to celebrate happy occasions and what are our limits to commemorate sad occasions? Influenced by the world, Muslims have included bad innovations and idle practices to their happy occasions as well as sad occasions. Ahmadis need to reflect that whatever they do is within the limitations. One happy occasion is that of marriage. It is an obligation. When the Companions suggested spending their lives solely in worship of God, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) told them that virtue is in following his practice and his practice was to marry as well as worship God. In the sub-continental culture some practices have found way in marriage celebrations which have nothing to do with the teaching of Islam. So much money is spent on marriage celebrations that in places where these rituals are followed people have assumed that these are among the obligations of marriage. For example, there is the Mehndi (Hina) ceremony. It is given the same significance as the wedding day. Invitation cards are printed, stages are prepared and series of parties continue for many days prior to the wedding. Each day a new stage/dais is set up, the lavish meals are discussed and reviewed. This ritual has also grabbed hold of those who do not have the means to afford it and as a result they have to endure debt.
Non-Ahmadis have been following these rituals but now some Ahmadi households are also practising some of these idle matters. Huzur said he had recently drawn attention that we should desist from extravagance and lavish dinners at the Mehndi ceremony. On the day [of the earlier sermon] a family from London were holding a Mehndi reception. Upon listening to Huzur’s sermon, they cancelled the reception and instead invited a few friends of the bride to dinner. They sent the food which was prepared for the reception to a function that was being held at Baitul Futuh. Such are the Ahmadis who act immediately upon being reminded and also write in letters of apology. However, Huzur said, he has received some complaints from Pakistan and also from Rabwah. Some people are getting involved in these rituals a little too much. Rabwah is a small town, so everything is noted quite quickly there. Therefore, Huzur said, he was saying it openly that these idle rituals and ceremonies should not be followed and should be brought to an end.
Explaining the futility of wasteful expenses on such occasions through the august writings of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) Huzur remarked that in Pakistan on one hand there is an upheaval about lack of electric power, everyone mentions it and there is also regular electrical load-shedding. On the other hand, some households are extremely extravagant in displaying outlandish lights at marriage ceremonies. Not only do they incur loss to the nation, they are also being sinful. Therefore, Ahmadis in Pakistan should take care that there is no overspending and in Rabwah particularly this matter should be paid attention to. It is the responsibility of Sadr Amoomi (head of all the saadran of Rabwah) to keep in view that there is no unnecessary spending and ostentation at marriages.
Huzur said it is with the grace of God that Ahmadis are not involved in bad rituals at sad occasions which non-Ahmadis follow and more than often which are a burden on families. If, influenced by society, one kind of bad rituals are followed, then there is a possibility that the other kind will also set in. This is why Ahmadis should reflect on the favour on them that they are in the Community of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and only follow the true teaching of Islam. In Islam marriage is an obligation and a wedding reception may be held if it can be afforded. Meal can be served at the reception although it is not essential that all the guests are served a meal. If the wedding party is travelling from a long distance, then maybe just they can be served a meal. However, if the law of the land does not permit serving a meal then it should be avoided. At one time serving a meal at weddings was legislated against in Pakistan. Huzur said he was not aware of the exact current restrictions but some restrictions still apply. The authentic commandment in Islam is that of holding a reception for Walima, that too in accordance to one’s means. God has told us the objective of our creation and any good work that is done to please God becomes [a form of] worship.
(Source: Hadrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba), Friday Khutbah, January 15th 2010)
Huzuraba said that followers of all the religions of the world, people of different cultures and regions have their own customs for marriages. Islam, the perfect religion acknowledges that marriage is an occasion for happiness and has made allowances for this. According to a tradition Hadhrat Ayeshara once prepared a bride for an Ansari (native of Medina) when the Holy Prophetsaw asked her why had she not organised for songs to be sung as the Ansaris have a liking for that; at another time he said the Nikah should be announced in a good manner and the tambourine played. However, Islam has not left us totally free either and only allows for decent songs to be sung at the occasion. Once the Holy Prophetsaw recited a few lines himself by way of coaching and said this is how it should be sung.
Huzuraba said some people assume that marriage is an occasion for happiness so it’s a licence for singing any old indecent songs etc. Huzuraba said although with the grace of Allah the Ahmadi society is free from this impropriety, the tendency of this is on the increase especially among people of the Indian sub-continent on such a vast scale that it can have its effect on the Ahmadi families as well. Huzuraba said he does receive the occasional complaint as well.
Huzuraba explained that singing and dancing is a part of the religion of people of the Hindu faith, while some Muslims copy them blindly and end up looking absurd. He warned those who arrange dances at the pre-wedding gatherings and also perhaps once the bride is received at the groom’s house. Huzuraba said this is wholly inappropriate and can never be allowed. As regards disciplinary action for such activities Huzuraba said it is said that so and so was a rich man therefore no action was taken against his family while a poor person is definitely disciplined. Huzuraba said this is negative conjecture for what is an occasional inattentiveness. He said he would take definite action against any activities that put the Islamic values in such disrepute.
Huzuraba mentioned that sometimes at weddings, after certain guests have departed, raucous and coarse behaviour ensues. Huzuraba singled out people of the Indian sub-continent and asked them to reform themselves in these matters; he instructed the administrative system of the Community as well as the auxiliary organisations to keep a particular eye on this and to report any incidents.
Huzuraba said the coming days and weeks are ‘wedding season’ and needed special watch.
Huzuraba explained that the Ahmadi tradition of recitation of the Holy Qur’an followed by devotional poetic verses sung at the time of a send-off ceremony of a bride as wholly appropriate. Huzuraba said in addition to the devotional verses regular decent songs can also be sung in accordance with the tradition of the Holy Prophetsaw. However, Huzuraba said it is not a necessity and should be followed only where certain cultures and ethnicities have a tradition for the same.
Huzuraba said the marriage ceremony has absolute relevance to religion and that Islam teaches to give preference to a marriage proposal on basis of faith. In the sermon for Nikah the Holy Prophetsaw has drawn repeated attention to taqwa.
Huzuraba said neither did the Holy Prophetsaw like those who spent all time in worship and fasting and did not pay the dues of their nafs (self) or the dues of their family nor did he like those who made matches based on beauty and wealth or those who spent all their time and attention on their families. On hearing of someone not wishing to get married and spend his life in worship and fasting he remarked in astonishment that he worshipped, fasted, paid the dues of people and was also married; he said one who turns away from his Sunnah is not from him.
Huzuraba said therein is a warning for those who say marriage is only an occasion for cheerfulness.
Huzuraba observed that some people tend to follow bad marriage customs imitating others; some do it for pretensions and thus ruin their own piety. Huzuraba said if so and so followed these dire customs they will be held accountable for that while each individual should be aware that they will be responsible for their own act. If others were not disciplined by the system of the Community, it is not necessary that the next person will evade it too.
Huzuraba said if you have any information in this regard it should be reported to the system of the Community so that there may be reformation.
Huzuraba said some bad customs pertaining to marriage, although useless and absurd do not constitute shirk; rather they are a burden and a nuisance. For example the giving of dowry to the bride by her family, the elaborate wedding feast etc. Huzuraba said we should be grateful that we belong to a religion that has liberated us from the shackles of negative customs as the verse recited at the onset explains.
Huzuraba said people of the Indian subcontinent believed in the Promised Messiahas before anyone else, therefore theirs is the greatest of all responsibility not to let such customs find a foothold amongst our Community. Huzuraba stressed that if they persisted with the customs that are a burden then other nations/people have a right to continue to follow their unfavourable customs; customs that are a blemish on faith.
Huzuraba said we should all follow one culture and that is the culture of Ahmadiyyat.
Huzuraba related Ahadith, expounding the stark and simple way the Holy Prophetsaw arranged the wedding of his beloved daughter and thus set an excellent model of simplicity. Huzuraba said he did not expect people to follow the stark pattern to the letter. However, to needlessly burden oneself with loans in order to keep up appearances was out of order as well.
Huzuraba remarked that some people who are assisted via Maryum Shadi Fund make undue demands. They should not bring themselves under the futile burden of social constraints from which the Holy Prophetsaw liberated us. Huzuraba urged that in this respect the 6th condition of Bai’at should be of particular heed to every Ahmadi.
Huzuraba also stressed to the well-off among the Community to always remember the disadvantaged in particular at the time of the wedding of their off spring.
Next Huzuraba expounded the issue of Dower (Haq Mehr). He said in cases where a marriage is unsuccessful, at times the male side creates hindrances in payment of dower and the system of the Community always takes disciplinary action against this. Huzuraba said the dower should always be fixed realistically and not for pretensions, as it often is. Before marriage it is an effort of the girl’s side to bind the man by wanting a large dower while in situations where marriages fail the male side dismiss the issue and this creates a very unpleasant situation.
The Promise Messiahas said that dower should be fixed with mutual agreement and should be in line with the situation at the time. As regards payment of dower and having it excused etc Huzuraba said the Promised Messiahas said that it is only excused if one places it (the sum of money) on the palm of one’s wife and she then excuses it; otherwise it is payable by all means, that it is a ‘loan’ . Huzuraba said sometimes people living in the West maintain that in divorce cases because the laws of the land here cater for the woman adequately maybe payment of the dower is not that essential. On the contrary, Huzuraba said it has nothing to do with the law of the land, it is payable.
Huzuraba explained that these days the expenditure of the wedding feast has grown exorbitant; Huzuraba counselled against unnecessary excess and said that if one is prosperous who ought to aid the disadvantaged in their marriages instead of spending too lavishly on the wedding feast.
Huzuraba commented that families living in the West go back to Rabwah to hold weddings and sometimes they do not promote the local caterers etc from Rabwah and aim for outside arrangements. This was fine, Huzuraba said, it was one’s choice. However, he stressed this should never be done with an inferiority complex about the local services. He said the local businesses should be sponsored. He also addressed the businesses of Rabwah and asked them to establish excellent standards of services they offer.
Huzuraba prayed that may Allah enable all to be free from all harmful innovations and negative customs; that we follow the commandments of Allah, the Sunnah of the Holy Prophetsaw and be those who give precedence to faith over worldly matters; this principle, Huzuraba said encompasses all good.
(Source: Hadrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba), Friday Sermon, November 25th 2005)
Huzuraba commented on the practice of employing male servers during the weddings to serve food saying that they are young. However, they are of such an age where they come under the instruction of purdah. Parents should take great care that they should not provide such opportunities for strangers to come in contact with their daughters and other young girls. The arrangements should be such that male servers should serve in the men’s area and female servers should serve in the ladies area…
Huzuraba said that according to Hazrat Musleh Maudra, dancing is forbidden by the Holy Quran because it causes the spread of shamelessness. Some people say that if women dance among other women then what is the harm in that. Huzuraba said that when the Holy Quran says that it leads to the spread of shamelessness then it is so and every Ahmadi should pay heed to this instruction. If the Jama’at authorities receive a report of dancing at any Ahmadi wedding then this should be investigated and action should be taken against the culprits. As far as singing is concerned, singing of poems and sober songs is permitted.
(Source: Hadrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba), Friday Sermon, January 30th 2004)
The fifth characteristic of the servants of the Gracious God is that they are not spendthrifts. They are not wasteful regarding their own wealth or that of the community. An example of personal extravagance that seems to be on the increase is lavish spending on weddings. This is mostly done in imitation. Receptions are held for the wedding, the Walima and now also for the mehndi ceremony. Separate cards are printed for the mehndi and a reception is held. Huzur said if mehndi must be celebrated, friends of the bride should gather to have some fun. A new tradition seems to be that the groom’s family also holds a pre-wedding reception in the name of festivities. This is wrong and is a harmful innovation. Some families although well-versed in religious matters also indulge in this. Those who do not partake of these matters – and one should always assume in good light that they shun them due to piety – are branded miserly. Some families travel to Pakistan for weddings and they overspend on jewellery and receptions. The money spent on these matters can be of so much use to the disadvantaged, can be used to support orphans and can be spent on many other good causes which can make one a servant of the Gracious God.
(Source: Hadrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba), Friday Sermon, September 25th 2009)
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