Islam, the world’s second largest religion after Christianity, was founded by the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century AD. It is still the leading faith in the Arab world, as well as in most of the Middle East. Islam is much more than a religion: it also supplies the guiding principles of political and social life.
In Islam, it is considered both a religious duty and a social necessity to get married. Thus there is a great emphasis on the religious and social dimensions of the ceremony, which usually lasts about one-and-a-half hours.
The ceremony is generally a well-attended affair, though to make it official, only two male witnesses are required. The wedding always retains a spirit of simplicity, in accordance with the tenets of Islam
Planning Muslim wedding
- 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 (Muharran).
- You can marry at any time of the day.
- There is no fixed notice period required before marriage, as, in Islam, there’s no registrar system.
Muslim wedding wear
Traditionally, the Asian Muslim bride wears sparkling, bright clothes, with lots of jewellery and flowers. This is in contrast to the Arab Muslim bride, who traditionally wears a white dress and veil, like her Christian counterpart. Her hands and feet are decorated with henna tattoos (Mehndi).
The groom wears a simple outfit, either traditional or a western-style suit - or a combination of the two.
On the big day
- The marriage ceremony itself is called the Nikah. The bride and groom are separated, either in different parts of the hall, or in different rooms. Guests are traditionally also separated by gender, although in Western cultures they may be mixed.
- The marriage party listens to a marriage sermon given by the Muslim officiating at the service. This serves to solemnise the marriage. There are no particular specifications so the marriage ceremony is very much up to the Qazi performing the ritual. Some recite the Fatihah (the first chapter of the Koran) and the blessing or durud.
- Traditionally, there is no service sheet, although, in recent years, texts have been supplied.
- The marriage documents (contract and certificate) are filed at the mosque and the local government. The ceremony ends with a prayer (Duoa) for the bride and groom, their families, and the Muslim community at large.
- You can throw confetti, but it is more traditional to shower the bride with coins, a ritual known as Savaqah.
- A marriage banquet, or Walima, follows the ceremony, served to the men and women separately. After the meal the couple are seated together for the first time, their heads covered by a dupatta and prayers are read.
The bride and groom spend the first night of married life at her house, in separate rooms. In the morning, the groom’s father will escort them to their new home and give the bride’s hand to her husband, asking him to protect his daughter. This farewell ritual is known as the rukhsat.