Most people have heard about strict Islamic laws and rules, but what about Muslim weddings? Are they really different from any other wedding traditions around the world? We’ve prepared quite a few interesting and even unexpected Islamic marriage traditions. Did you know that a Muslim wedding can be held without the bride present? Or that any practicing Muslim can officiate a marriage ceremony? Read along and you’ll find a lot of curious info about Islamic wedding traditions.
Among the Muslim people, arranged marriages happen even these days. Some parents want to find a suitable partner for their children and actively participate in choosing the husband or wife for their daughters and sons. But officially, it is forbidden to force a person into marrying someone. The bride and groom both have to willingly agree to the marriage.
Divorces sometimes happen, they’re not forbidden today. But, of course, they’re looked upon with disapproval.
Wedding without the bride present
It happens sometimes that a Muslim wedding isn’t consummated right away. For example, the bride is too young and newlyweds wait a few years before starting a physical relationship or the couple can’t live together after the marriage but want or need to make the said marriage official. Or for some other reasons. Anyway, it is possible to wed the man and woman, sign the papers and arrange the religious ceremony, but the wedding will be consummated after some time. Such weddings can be held even without the bride present (though, her consent is important). In this case, a relative of the bride comes to the ceremony and acts on her behalf. He signs the papers and celebrates with the groom’s family. It seems a bit weird for a Western person, but in the Islamic culture, it’s possible.
No specific wedding officiant
Of course, wedding traditions in various Islamic countries differ. But still, traditionally, there is no specific clergy who must be invited to wed people. There are marriage officiants called “madhun”, “qadi”, or “qazi” who preside over a wedding held in a mosque. But basically, any practicing Muslim can officiate a marriage ceremony, which is convenient, if you ask me.
Mahr – financial issue in wedding contract
In a Muslim wedding contract, there always is a clause regarding money. The groom undertakes an obligation to provide for his wife. Originally, before the marriage was consummated, a groom had to give to his bride a certain sum of money called “mahr” specified in their wedding contract (which was concluded by the couple’s parents). And then, he was obliged to financially provide for her during her life, as women didn’t work and fully depended on their husbands. Today, some Islam rules modernize a little, so the mahr is often paid in the form of an engagement ring. Plus the groom gives costly wedding gifts to his bride just before the wedding or on the wedding day.
Men and women celebrate separately
At Muslim weddings, the guests are often divided according to their gender. During the wedding ceremony, men and women sit separately. Western wedding guests are divided into two groups – the groom’s side and the bride’s side, the Muslims do the same but with genders. Also, Muslim wedding receptions are often held in two different rooms or a wedding hall is divided by a partition of some kind so that men and women celebrated separately. By the way, thanks to this, Muslim women are able to dance and have fun freely because they don’t have to hide their excitement and body from strange men. Otherwise, everyone would just sit at their tables, eat, and act restrained. Even if the reception is held in one hall, there can be different tables for men and women.
Wedding vows are not an obligatory part of an Islamic wedding. But if they are said, the meaning is different for the bride and the groom. While the bride promises to be an obedient and faithful wife, the groom promises to be a faithful and helpful husband. Even here, the dominance of a male is apparent.
Walima – wedding feast without alcohol
After the wedding contract is signed, the guests celebrate the wedding by a feast called a “walima”. It can last for several days. But during the celebration, no alcohol is served, as spirits are forbidden by the Muslim religion. So, toasts are said with non-alcoholic drinks. No champagne even is allowed.
Noisy wedding procession
After the actual wedding, the couple leaves the venue in a fancy car with the wedding guests following them in their vehicles. Everybody plays loud music in their cars and honk to let the people around them know that this is a wedding procession and this couple has just got married.