Lessons for Parents in the Nikah Sermon

nikah sermonLike other special occasions in Islam (Jummah and Eid), the Nikah ceremony too is marked by a Khutbah, in accordance with the practice of our beloved Prophet (sa).The Nikah sermon is an essential part of every Muslim wedding. However, unfortunately, women rarely get to hear it, and the men who do hear it seldom understand the meaning.

Whatever the Prophet (sa) did or said had a purpose behind it. The Khutbah of Nikah is not just a ritualistic repetition of a few words. This simple, concise, and yet profound sermon contains a message for all those who are involved in the making of a new family: the bride, the groom, and their respective parents and siblings.

Let us, as parents, ponder over and extract lessons pertaining to the marriage of our children.

From the Lips of Our Beloved (sa):

“Praise be to Allah (swt). We seek His help and His forgiveness, and rely on Him. We seek refuge with Allah (swt) from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah (swt) guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah (swt) leaves astray can be guided by no one. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah (swt), and I bear witness that Muhammad (sa) is His slave and Messenger.

O you who believe! Fear Allah (swt), as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah (swt). (Al-Imran 3:102)

O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah (swt), through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah (swt) is ever an All-Watcher over you. (An-Nisa 4:1)

O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah (swt) and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth.” (Al-Ahzab 33:70) (Nasai and Abu Dawood)

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A Fairytale Wedding: Boon or Bane?

lavish-weddingThe tweet of a foreigner, who was invited to a Pakistani wedding, read as follows: “I can’t believe it was a Muslim wedding. Everything about it was so non-Muslim!”

I was ashamed to have been shaken to reality by a non-Muslim. His words were harsh; but they were undoubtedly a big question to re-check our Iman. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. A few days ago, when I heard that my cousin was going to get married, I immediately fussed about how I had no decent dresses to wear, and did a quick mental calculation on how many dresses I needed for her pre and post wedding events. The disappointing part is that I am not the only odd one out here, or representing just a small pack of Muslims who have lost their identity. The majority of the population tends to go to any extreme and leaves no stone unturned in hosting a ‘fairytale wedding’- just like in the Prince Charming and Cinderella story. They do this not out of sheer self-happiness, but because they want to live up to the social standards and plan a better wedding than the ones they were a part of, because people will judge them on how well they could host an event.

Checklist for a successful wedding event

The wedding is assumed to be a successful one if it has a buffet dinner, music, dance floor, photography, large halls, mix gatherings and much more. Moreover, it’s not just a one day event either. Countless pre-event sessions take place that make you lose your sanity. Mehndi, Mayun, Dholki, bridal showers, hen party, stag party, Barat and Chauthi are just a few event sessions that gear up towards the main day. And it doesn’t end over here. The series of get-together that follows is endless, too.

If we study Islam and look into the teachings of Quran and Sunnah then we’ll find numerous Ahadeeth and verses that condemn the idea of making a wedding into an extravagant affair. The Prophet (sa) said: “The most blessed Nikah is the one in which least expenses are occurred.”

Simplicity is the best policy

Our Prophet (sa) implemented this during the wedding of her daughter Fatimah (ra). When the time came for Fatimah (ra) to go to Ali’s (ra) house after the Nikah, she was sent without any clamour, hue and cry, accompanied by Umm Ayman (ra). After the Isha Salah, the Prophet (sa) went to their house, took permission and entered. He asked for a basin of water, put his blessed hands into it and sprinkled it on both Ali (ra) and Fatimah (ra), and made Dua for them. The sovereign of both worlds gave his beloved daughter a silver bracelet, two Yemeni sheets, four mattresses, one blanket, one pillow, one cup, one hand-grinding mill, one bedstead, a small water skin and a leather pitcher. In this simple fashion, the wedding of the daughter of the leader of the worlds was solemnized. In following this Sunnah, a wedding becomes very simple and easy to fulfill. And it will surely ease our burden.

Allah (swt) states in the Holy Quran,

﴾وَيَأْكُلُونَ كَمَا تَأْكُلُ الْأَنْعَامُ﴿ “They eat like animals.”

This verse was for the Kuffar. It is a pity that the Muslims are now imitating the Kuffar in their eating habits and buffet style dinner in the weddings. Whereas the true benefactor of the Ummah announced it fourteen hundred years ago that we should not eat or drink, while standing.

Behind the scene of ‘the fairytale’

Following the Islamic junctions while marrying your daughters and sons won’t only satisfy your heart, but it’ll also purify your soul from all sorts of evils; to do better than others, to show-off your social standards and to attain praises from your friends and family about how grand your function was. We should realize that turning weddings into a festival is just a waste of money that pressurizes you to take loans and heavy debts. How will Allah (swt) put Barakah in the marriage, if you’ll start your new life with enormous debts on your shoulders to be paid in the near future? Will you be able to enjoy your new life to the full with the guilt and the constant reminder of a loan that needs to be returned? And most importantly, holding a grand and crowded affair becomes more of a hassle. How? The main reason being it’s hard to satisfy people because they’ll look for faults, even when you try your best to arrange a perfect event; and hence, it leads to unwanted fights and quarrels.

Pause and ponder

The rational approach that people don’t give any significance to is: what will you gain with all the compliments that people shower on you? Is it a key to ensure happiness of the bride and the groom in the long run? Or will it in any way be a source of salvation for your married daughter and son?

We all should realize that whatever we do should benefit us the most. And in the case of weddings, simplicity tops the most wanted list. It won’t just benefit us but will certainly be a wonderful approach for both the families that get united through the Nikah.

Avoid the ‘sip and gossip’ session

Invite a few needy people and feed them, the Sunnah of Prophet (sa) will be achieved. Feed the Walima guests in your house, which will save the money of the hall booking and that money can be given to your daughter or son, who is marrying. Remember, if thousands of people will attend the wedding, they will have unending complaints. People tend to make mountains out of mole hills because they’re born to do that. They’ll gossip, no matter if the wedding is simple or grand. So stop worrying about your social position and focus on what Allah (swt) and Prophet (sa) taught us. What if, God forbid, the bride and the groom decide to part ways after their marriage? Won’t you regret your decision of emptying your savings for something that didn’t work out?

Last but not the least, the point we should ponder over is: how can people actually feel satisfied with a typical Desi wedding, which does not make Allah (swt) happy and robs all the involved of His blessings?

Intimacy After Engagement

intimacy

A group of six twenty-year-old girls is sitting huddled together on the campus cafeteria stairs. They are all listening intently to one of the girls, as she describes the scene at her parents’ drawing room the night before.

“I entered with the tray of drinks. I was so nervous! As I stood in front of him with the tray…”, she pauses for effect, holding out her hand, displaying the sparkling rock on her finger.

There is a ripple of excited giggles, as the other girls inch in closer.

“He looked up at me! As he stretched out his hand to take the drink, our eyes met for a few seconds…”

****

Most people wistfully look back at their twenties as a time of youthful exuberance, carefree leisure, nouveau ambition, and as the time when physical health and good looks are at their peak.

Still, I’d guess that very few adults miss the anxiety and social pressure related to the marriage proposal process that starts in the twenties, entailing (for most) months or even years of earnest prayers coupled with frantic searches to find their other half.

I can still recall the confusion, anxiety, and stress related to marriage proposals during my early twenties. Finding a suitable spouse nowadays is still not an easy matter for single young men and women.

Youthful Dreams of the Future

No one wants to end up alone in life. Whether one begins to desire marriage during their teens, twenties, or thirties, the dreams and fantasies of a happily-married future commence almost as soon as a young Muslim hits adulthood.

As university or college graduation approaches or passes by, many a young Muslim adult finds him/herself fantasizing about romance, love, and marriage. Their hormone-fueled desires reach a peak as they hit the two-decade mark, and notwithstanding their career-related ambitions, seeking a spouse to settle down in blissful matrimony is a goal that fast begins to dominate their list of priorities.

Destination Within Sight, Entrance Forbidden

Let’s just bypass the whole Rishta (proposal) process for the sake of this article, much as I am tempted to comment on it, and assume that after much anticipation, prayers, networking efforts, awkward drawing room ‘interviews’, innumerable phone calls/Skype sessions, or even a couple of desperation-fueled Umrahs, a young singleton finally gets engaged with their parents’ consent and approval and is very happy and at peace with the decision.

As if the test of spending years praying for and using all practical means to seek a righteous spouse wasn’t enough, the next trial now begins.

This trial is yet another test of patience for any engaged couple who fears Allah (swt) and wants to abide by His commands, laws, and prohibitions, regarding their mutual interactions (or lack thereof).

If an analogy were to make the matter clearer, just imagine placing a large dish full of delicious food in front of a person who has been starving, and ask them to refrain from eating it.

Imagine what that would feel like!

Parents and Families Causing Undue Delays

Depending on the level of religious practice in every family, the difficulty or ease of the engagement period varies.

The commonly witnessed trend is that the more freely a couple interacts with each other before the Nikah, the more difficult it is for them to wait for the marriage, and the more prone they are to misunderstandings in the interim.

Sadly, many engagements break because of misunderstandings during this extended period.

As for the parents of an engaged couple, most tend to completely forget the intensity and awkwardness of unsatisfied sexual desires during youth. They tend to focus primarily on the practicalities related to the wedding and preparations for the parties/functions.

Many parents also tend to give undue importance to the participation/presence of close and distant relatives at the wedding, which causes further delays in the engaged couple’s Nikah.

In short, the longer the engagement, the greater the difficulty for the engaged couple.

What Does the Shariah Say About Talking to a Fiancée?

Islam is very clear about the allowed level of communication, frankness, and social mingling between men and women who are non-Mahrams.

All in-person, verbal, and written interactions between non-Mahrams should be need-based and restricted to a minimum. They should be carried out in a business-like and dignified manner, sans joking, laughing, teasing, and flirting.

Before the Nikah, even if two singles are betrothed, they are still non-Mahrams for each other, and are hence required to refrain from interacting freely.

“Before the marriage contract is done, the fiancé does not have the right to speak words of affection to his fiancé or to hold her hand because he is still a “stranger” (non-Mahram) to her and is like any other non-Mahram man. No one should take this matter lightly.” (IslamQA)

The above excerpt is from a Shafi source. Below, is one from a Hanafi source:

“And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse.” (Al-Isra 17:32) “Shariah only gives a person permission to see a prospective spouse once. Any further contact after this initial sighting is impermissible, let alone keeping in touch by calling and texting each other.” (AskImam.org]

Engaged couples are, therefore, not allowed by Allah (swt) to go out on dates, talk on the phone, Skype/email each other without necessity, or send each other text messages.

Even meetings in the homes of their parents, with others present in the same room, are discouraged, if these will lead to freer interaction, gazing at each other or other forbidden actions.

Conclusion: Err on the Side of Caution 

The cases of engaged couples that I personally know of, who have transgressed the boundaries set by Islam in their interactions before Nikah, are so many that I cannot count. Almost all cases commence with ‘innocent’ phone calls encouraged by their parents. These calls lead to the desire to meet more often in person. When the latter happens, even inside the drawing rooms of parents’ homes, physical touching is not long to follow. All of these actions count as footsteps towards Zina (adultery).

I therefore urge all parents to not delay their wards’ Nikah once they have found the person to marry them off to, and to not give more importance to the nitty-gritty of elaborate wedding functions, overpriced dresses, jewellery, and guest lists than their child’s Akhirah.

Etiquettes of Celebrations – The Sunnah Way

ConfettiThe faces of the old and young – and indeed even the trees and birds around us – rejoice when they come to know about the happiness of the beloved Prophet (sa). His happiness is the happiness for those, who love him, and it is guidance for his followers. The Prophetic guidance teaches us the manners of how to be happy in the times of success and joy.

Allah (swt) did not create us to be robots. He created us with feelings, will, intellect and has granted us the liberty to choose and to act according to the situations. Now it is obligatory on a believer to adopt the Sunnah of Prophet (sa) in every sphere of his life, as acting upon Sunnah is also a worship of our Lord.

Let’s learn the etiquettes of celebrating joy and success as per Sunnah of the Prophet(sa) in different occasions of our lives.

Marriage – A Sacred Occasion

Out of all the occasions of celebration of joy and success, the marriage comes first on the list, as this is the occasion of our life in which we break the rules and commandments of Allah (swt) the most. Marriage (Nikah) is a solemn and sacred social contract between bride and groom. It is a major step in one’s life. Marriage is a matter of great responsibility which should not be taken lightly by any means. In Islam, a marriage ceremony is comprised of a Nikah (marriage contract) followed by a Walima (marriage feast) once the marriage is done.

The Prophet (sa) said: “The marriage, which is most greatly blessed, is the one which is the lightest in burden (expense). However, if people are well catered for, without extravagance and show, there is no problem with that either.” (Baihaqi)

Nowadays, our marriages follow such rituals and customs on which we tend to waste enormous amount of money and time that simply isn’t required. Nikah and Walima are both the Sunnahs of the Prophet Muhammad (sa), so we should try to commemorate these joyous occasions in the same way as he did to make them more valuable and blessful.

According to Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa), the Nikah can be held at the local asjid or at home whereas the Walima can be held anywhere.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The worst of the feasts are those marriage feasts to which the rich are invited and the poor are left out.” (Mishkat)

Anas  describes one of the Walimas hosted by the Prophet (sa): “The Prophet(sa) stayed for three days at a place between Khaibar and Madinah and there he consummated his marriage with Safiyya bint Huyay (rta). He invited the Muslims to a banquet which included neither meat nor bread. The Prophet (sa) ordered leather dining sheets to be spread. Dates, dried yogurt and butter were provided over it and that was the Walima (banquet) of the Prophet (sa).” (Bukhari)

There is nothing wrong with  an elaborate ceremony being  held in an elegant banquet hall and a full-course meal if you can afford. But its neither a criteria nor a requirement of a successful marriage. Moreover by doing so many people become the victim of debt due to spending extravagantly on this occasion which is of no use.

Although it’s not that easy to row your boat in the opposite direction to which the society is moving, but it’s worth going against the tides that are against the command of  Allah (swt) and the teachings of the Prophet (sa). We should try our utmost to follow the footsteps of Prophet (sa) rather than blindly following the pathetic, shameless acts of Jahiliyyah in our wedding ceremonies which lead to nothing but Fitnah and do not even guarantee  a successful marriage.

Eid – The Blessful Occasion

Islam is a very practical yet reasonable religion. After spending the whole month of Ramadan in worshipping Allah (swt), Muslims are blessed with the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr to celebrate this success with happiness and excitement. Similarly, Allah (swt) has blessed us with Eid- ul-Adha in the memory of the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (as).Therefore on these two occasions, the observance of the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (sa) doubles our celebration and joy.

The Sunnahs of Eids include:waking up early in the morning than usual, brushing of teeth with Miswak, taking a bath, dressing up in neat and clean clothes, using perfume and the performance of Eid Salah at the Eidgah. However it is a Sunnah to avoid eating dates or something sweet before Eid Salah of Eid-ul-Fitr , reciting aloud Takbeerat on the way to the place of prayer for Eid-ul-Adha and silently for Eid-ul-Fitr:

 “Allaahu Akbar Allaahu Akbar Laa ilaaha illallaahu Wallaahu Akbar walillaahil Hamd.”

Using of different routes to and from the place of Eid Salah and the offering of two Rakahs of Salat-ul-Eidain (which is Wajib) are the Sunnah of celebrating these joyous occasions.

Sport Success Celebration

Then there comes a celebration of success and joy during sports activities where we are especially required to follow the Sunnah of our Prophet (sa). Playing sports is permissible in Islam. There are some sports which are considered to be Sunnah sports such as archery, wrestling, swimming, running, horse riding, camel racing and competition. Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to watch these sports and also award those who won.

Regardless of age, everybody is engaged or interested in some kind of sport. Sport is defined as ‘physical activities in the form of games, races and competitions that aim to improve fitness.’

While playing sports and celebrating the success, one must keep the following things in mind; the foremost is not to indulge in sports to such an extent that you miss your Fard prayers or to take part in sports where you have to play sports with the opposite gender.

According to Sunnah, the sportsman is not even allowed to wear such clothes which do not cover the body parts that are obligatory to cover. During the celebration of victory and joy, it is not permissible to use foul language, slandering and bad behaviour against the opponents. Furthermore, it is against the Sunnah of Prophet (sa) to play sports in areas where you become the cause of suffering for others such as roads and crowded streets.

Gratitude is Sunnah

In short, it is the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) to be humble and thankful to Allah (swt) when one gets His Blessings in the form of success or joy rather being rude, boastful and arrogant. Whenever the Prophet Muhammad (sa) was happy, for example, after coming back from a battle or on the occasions of Eids, marriage or any other occasion of happiness; he always used to offer Nafil to thank Almighty Allah (swt) and also included the poor and needy in his happiness by giving charity or Sadaqah.

Don’t Give up Too Soon – Advice for Newly Weds

advice for newly weds

She has been sitting for hours, browsing bridal wear and makeup. It has to be the most perfect wedding from catering to dresses, from bridal shower to the actual wedding day, all according to the liking of her mother-in-law, whose appreciation and compliments she seeks. After all, she doesn’t believe in the typical in-law relationships.

The Nikah is only a few weeks away. She is excited about starting a family of her own. She glances at the photo frame on her night stand: her baby picture together with parents. They have always been at her side, excusing her reckless behaviour, encouraging her on her achievements and standing by her each time she stumbled. A tear trickles down her cheeks. Nothing can exceed her parents’ love for her.

*********

It has been a month since her marriage. Henna traces and the facial glow are gone. Honeymoon seems like ages ago. The excitement and fervour of starting a new life have vanished. What went wrong?

She feels unwanted. Her husband, the man with whom she dreamed endless conversations, countless romantic dinners, mutual values and eternal bliss, is the total opposite of what she expected.  Where did love, respect and kindness go?

She needs a break and requests to be dropped her at her parents’ place. Her husband gives a cold nod and grabs the car keys. What? He is not even going to stop her? Is it over already?

*********

She is back at her parents’. She needs peace for thinking it through. The thought of divorce has crossed her mind several times. In the lounge, her parents are praising their son-in-law, for he has allowed their daughter to spend a few nights with them.

She has not thought of what she will tell after the few nights pass. Maybe they will ask her themselves. Maybe he is missing her already and will come back to pick her. She picks up her phone for any missed call or text from him – there’s none.

Her phone does ring, but it’s her old school friend Sara, who is on a visit to Pakistan. They arrange to meet up for lunch.

*********

Sara recognizes her the moment she steps into the restaurant. After formal hugs, Sara shakes her: “Hey! What’s the matter? Why don’t I see the usual newly-wedded glow on your face? It has been only a month since your wedding.

She gazes at her friend blankly. Look at her! She’s beaming with joy even after five years of marriage, while I’ve already realized my wedding was a big mistake.

Sara now softens her tone: “Is something bothering you? Is the new routine overwhelming? I know. I have been married for five years, and every day brings a new surprise for me.”

“Ummm… it’s that… it’s… I don’t know,” she struggles to express herself.

Sara gently rests her palm over Anum’s hand: “When I was getting married, I was so excited about moving abroad and starting a new life. But you know what? Once we had done sight-seeing, dined at the finest restaurants, and shopped till we dropped, it seemed there’s nothing exhilarating in our lives anymore. Yes, I was expecting, and Yasir would routinely take me for appointments, but his frequent phone calls from work decreased. I felt he is not the person that I married. I felt unwanted, dejected and unloved. Thoughts of divorce constantly occupied my mind. I was unable to find my way; then, I did the only thing that I knew.”

Anum corrects her posture and sits upright. What? Did she go for a divorce?

“I woke up for Tahajjhud, laid my prayer mat and stood up in prayer. I cried my heart out to Allah (swt) – my only Wali. Out of self-respect, I didn’t want to share it with anyone. I didn’t want a divorce, but I also didn’t want to live in the same house like a stranger. I wanted a small happy family that went to bed with forgiveness, gentle kisses and sweet lullabies. Even though I didn’t see any visible signs of improvement, I kept praying. And you know what happened?”

“What?” Anum asks.

“After praying,” Sara continues, “I felt very relaxed, as if my worries had been taken care of. Then, one morning, Yasir came down to the breakfast table with his old chirpy, energetic self. He warmly came to me and whispered that my tea was the best in the world. I couldn’t believe my ears! Not only that – after breakfast, Yasir requested me to pack some extra muffins for his lunch, for he liked to show off to his colleagues his wife’s baking skills. From that day onwards, our relationship started to improve. He helped me with the house chores, went on walks with me and had all the time in the world for talking to me.”

“Really? Was prayer that effective?” Anum asked, unbelievingly.

“Yes, Anum. Patience and prayer are the essential ingredients of maintaining your sanity when the entire world is collapsing. You’re a dear friend, Anum. Right now, I want you to go home and get on your prayer mat. Trust me, I’ve been there. Don’t give up so soon.”

Anum gives a faint, sceptical smile: How can it be? Just a prayer and everything is fixed? I don’t think Sara understands me well.

***********

Anum wakes up in the middle of the night well before the Fajr. She is about to go back to sleep, when she realizes that this is the best time for Tahajjhud – that’s what she does. Sitting on the mat, Anum cries, beseeching Allah (swt) to save her home. She begs for forgiveness and seeks guidance.

An hour later, Amma comes to check on her. She kisses Anum, when she finds her reciting the Quran: “Is there anything you would like to talk to me about, Anum? I hope Yasir is kind to you, and your in-laws treat you nicely.”

“Of course, Amma, what made you ask that?” Anum asks politely.

“I don’t see you hopping around the house and fighting with your sisters. I want to be sure that my daughter is fine,” Ama explains herself.

“Could be that your daughter has grown up and become wise?” Anum replies with a smile.

Amma looks at Anum silently, trying to believe her. She asks Anum, what she would like to have for breakfast. Anum hugs her mom and says: “Let me make breakfast for you, guys, today.” As she walks towards kitchen, Anum wonders, where did this sudden burst of positivity come from?

***********

It’s been three days of regular Tahajjhud and the five daily prayers. Still no word from Yasir. The prayer isn’t helping… Anum is exasperated. She asks herself: “Why can’t I call Yasir? Most men, I have heard, lack communication skills.” She dials the number. Yasir picks up immediately, and asks how she has been. Anum is surprised by this unanticipated warmth and love. They speak for a while, and then Yasir says he is coming in the evening to pick Anum up. He misses her.

************

Anum greets her in-laws with respect and love, reminding herself she should neither be judgemental nor impatient. She inquires about their health and well-being.

Once in the bedroom, Yasir and Anum go through the events of the past few weeks. They admit their mistakes and pledge to communicate with each other openly. They have promised they will live as each other’s clothing that adorns as well as hides each other’s flaws. They will not discuss their private matters with anyone, for help truly comes from Allah (swt) only.

As they turn off the lights, Yasir asks: “But Anum… How did you decide to come back? What made you call me?”

“Prayer and patience,” Anum replies confidently, “…and I would love, if we could both start offering Tahajjhud together as a couple.”

Muslim Weddings

Vol 4-Issue 3 Muslim WeddingsAllah (swt) sent Prophet Muhammad (sa) as a role model for showing us the practical implementation of the Quranic Ayahs. The importance of this role model is stressed in Surah An-Nisa (4:80): “He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), has indeed obeyed Allah.”

Knowing the emphasis Allah (swt) places on the Sunnah, it is highly unfortunate how far people are from following the Prophet’s (sa) path. We have compartmentalized Islam in our lives and restricted its implementation to the praying mat and the Masjid. Our Deen is an amalgamation of the spiritual, mental, emotional as well as social aspects of a person – it is a complete way of life.

Marriage is one of the most important events in a person’s life. Surah Ar-Rum (30:21) states that it is Allah (swt), Who puts affection and mercy between a man and his wife. Hence, it is one of Allah’s (swt) innumerable Barakahs that He has made Nikah a source of peace and comfort for us. However, we fail to recognize the direct relation existing between His promise of Barakah and His command to follow the Sunnah in all walks of life. Prophet’s (sa) Seerah shows that he got married several times during his lifetime; hence, Nikah is his Sunnah. If we want Allah (swt) to put His Barakah in this relationship, is it not binding upon us to celebrate this event by following the Prophet’s (sa) footsteps entirely? Unfortunately, many of us do not even know how a Nikah is performed as per Sunnah. In this article, Insha’Allah, we will compare the wedding ceremonies that take place in our society today with our Prophet’s (sa) prescribed way of Nikah.

Always remember – keep it simple. “The marriage, which produces the most blessings, is that which involves least burden.” (Tirmidhi) Unfortunately, by adopting numerous non-Muslims customs, we have made Nikah the most complicated of affairs! Planning for the wedding starts months before the due date.

Regarding extravagance, Allah (swt) says: “Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils).” (Al-Isra 17:27) Israaf (extravagance) creates envy – the working staff of the house sees such wastefulness around them, while their own children do not get even two proper meals in a day!

Indian films promote the idea of lavish weddings, and Muslims, being followers of culture instead of the Sunnah, trace their footsteps blindly! Multinationals cash in on this trend by endorsing popular songs and TV serials with wedding backgrounds. Gangs of designers and wedding planners further orchestrate this event and make it the ‘business of a wedding’ rather than the ‘solemnization of a Nikah’! The wedding extravaganza held in Karachi (November, 2005) was a proof of this. Apparently, looking like a non-Muslim is a far more appealing concept than upholding the dignity and honour that comes with the Muslim dress!

What’s the harm in adopting a few of non-Muslim rituals? The danger of emulating non-Muslims can be understood from Surah Al-Imran (3:149): “If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from Faith) as losers.”

It is important to understand that every ritual has an underlying Aqeeda (dogma). We celebrate the Peela Joura in the Mayoon with great fervor, not realizing what it means. In the Mushrik Mudahib (idol worshippers), yellow is considered to be a good omen – one that wards off evil spirits and keeps the bride safe from harm. The custom of seven Sohaganain (married women) performing a ritual with sweet and turmeric stems from the belief that this ritual will ensure that the bride would remain a Sohagan (married) for the next seven times she is reincarnated! Can a Muslims believe in reincarnation? Do the beliefs that a particular colour or someone’s marital status bring luck and ward off evil match our Aqeeda of Tauheed? Are we not associating partners with Allah (swt) in terms of putting our trust in places other than Him?

Joota Chuppaee, or finger holding of the groom, is an equally disturbing ritual that goes against the teachings of Islam! A Mehndi is no short of a dance party. Taking a look at such functions, one immediately understands the Hikmah behind Allah’s (swt) commandments regarding segregated functions and limited interaction of the two genders! If the harmful effects of such occasions are pointed out, people immediately take refuge in the famous Hadeeth: “Deeds depend upon intention.” (Bukhari) Interestingly enough, the Hadeeth that “singing produces hypocrisy in the hearts” (Abu Dawood) is neither remembered nor quoted!

There is nothing wrong with celebrating happiness. Various Ahadeeth can be found, where Prophet (sa) allowed young girls to play tambourines and sing songs to celebrate. (Bukhari) However, no Hadeeth mentions girls and boys of all ages expressing their happiness by beating drums, blowing trumpets and dancing all night together!

Another nuisance is that of Jehaiz (dowry). Also here we fail to take a look at the concept behind this custom. It is a well known fact that in all Mushrik Mudhahib (idol worshippers) the value of a female is very low. In pre-Islamic days, daughters were buried alive and were considered a sign of misfortune. Jehaiz stems from the same concept. The value of the girl is so low that her parents have to bribe the groom to marry her! In Islam, however, it is the responsibility of the groom to provide to his wife all the things that we expect the girl’s parents to supply her with.

The more the Jehaiz, the more the Izzat (respect)? Wrong again! We are actually devaluing the girl even further. Our Deen does not permit to put any burden on the bride’s family. We quote the Seerah of our Prophet (sa) and say that he also gave Fatima (rta) Jehaiz (dowry). What most of us don’t know is that the Prophet (sa) bought the things for Fatima (rta) from Ali’s (rta) Mahr money, as Ali (rta) didn’t have a father, and Prophet (sa) was also his guardian. Agreed – parents can give to their daughter gifts for her personal use, for example, clothes, jewellery, make-up, etc. But personal belongings in no way include bedroom furniture, kitchen appliances, car or a sofa set for the drawing room! We see parents going bankrupt. Even today baby girls are buried alive, because their parents fear the time of their marriage!

 

What’s the harm in giving to our daughters what we want, if we can afford it? The harms are plenty. We must realize that the affording class is the trendsetter for the ones below. By giving Jehaiz we are fortifying an un-Islamic custom, the disadvantages and repercussions of which are far reaching. Besides we also demean our own daughter’s value and lure her husband to be and his family into greedy enticements.

Prophet’s (sa) Seerah tells us that getting married is the easiest of affairs. The steps involved are only three!

Step 1: Solemnize the Nikah in a Masjid

“Make this marriage publicly known, solemnize it in the mosques, and play tambourines in honour of it.” (At-Tirmidhi)

There are no such occasions as Barat or Rukhsati in Islam. Nikah should be held in the Masjid, after which the groom should seek the permission of the bride’s father to take the bride home. The bride’s family does not have to host a wedding banquet in honour of the Nikah at all! The wedding party is the groom’s responsibility and is done in the form of a Valima.

Also Baraath stems from the Mushrik Aqeeda (idol worshipper’s belief). In the old days, it was common for the bride to be from one village and the groom from another. The groom and his family knew that on the way back from the Rukhsati, they would also have a lot of Jehaiz to carry. Since, there was no concept of cars or armed guards for protection, the family collected their relatives to make sure that they could protect the Jehaiz from robbers on the way back. Hence, the concept of Baraath emerged that Muslims choose to follow blindly! People argue: “What’s the harm?” Is it not enough harm that it’s not a Sunnah of our Prophet (sa) but a part of the Mushrik Aqeeda?

Step 2: Give the Bride her Mahr (Jointure Money)

Mahr is given by the groom to his bride as a gift. Several Ahadeeth stress the importance of Mahr. The Prophet (sa) once said to a man: “The Mahr that you paid was for having sexual relations with her lawfully.” (Bukhari) Hence, Mahr differentiates Zina from Nikah!

Unfortunately, we have attached several fallacies to the concept. Men generally confuse Mahr with alimony, i.e., the money given by the husband to his wife after divorce! Mahr has nothing to do with divorce. It needs to be paid at the time of the Nikah to make the relations between a man and his wife Halaal.

The bride’s parents think that Mahr is the value the groom puts on their daughter. Hence, the higher the better! They fail to understand that Mahr is not open to negotiation. It’s not a transaction but a gift the amount of which should be decided by the husband on the basis of what he can afford, not what his father can afford.

Step 3: Announce the Nikah with a Valima Banquet

At the time of some Companion’s marriage, the Prophet (sa) said: “Give a wedding banquet, even if with one sheep.” (Bukhari)

The Valima, hence, holds great significance in Islam. Several Ahadeeth show that the only wedding banquet held in a marriage is the one hosted by the groom himself. (Bukhari)

Alhumdulillah, Nikah, if carried out as per Sunnah, is very simple and easy. It only takes Nikah, Mahr and Valima banquet to complete the entire procedure! It is our culture that makes the whole marriage affair so much more complicated!

Dear Haadia

What is the difference between a Nikah and an engagement? What kind of a relationship may I have with my husband after Nikah but prior to my Rukhsati? Please, elaborate.

Answer: Dear sister, Islam recommends that a couple wishing to marry see each other and talk in the presence of the woman’s Mahrams. The Prophet (sa) told his companion Al-Mughirah Ibn Shubah (rta) to see the woman he wanted to marry, so that they may approve each other. (At-Tirmidhi) Engagement is merely the confirmation of a couple’s intention to marry. Thus, the couple is still non-Mahram to each other and may not interact freely, though they may meet when necessary for discussing things relevant to the wedding arrangements and future plans, but that too in the presence of the woman’s Mahrams.

Affirming an ‘engagement’ does not require a feast or an assembly for announcing it. It is enough for the couple’s families to spread the news by mouth.

Also, no man may propose to an engaged woman, unless her first fiancé withdraws his proposal of marriage or gives him permission. The Prophet (sa) said: “A man must not propose to his brother’s fiancée, unless he withdraws or gives him permission.” (Al-Bukhari) Annulling an engagement does not require any formal gathering or announcement, and the man and the woman may consider a new proposal, once the prior proposal is withdrawn.

The Nikah, on the other hand, is the wedding contract, which is based on the mutual consent of the bride and the bridegroom. It is attended by Qadi (state appointed Muslim judge) or Mazoon (a responsible person officiating the marriage ceremony), the bridegroom and the Wali (guardians) of the bride, as well as at least two adult and sane witnesses. The Nikah is a verbal agreement, and in most countries, it consists of a legal document as well, which is signed by the groom, the bride, her guardian and some witnesses. It is then concluded by a Khutbah (sermon).

Prophet Muhammad (sa) made it his tradition (Sunnah) to have a marriage sermon delivered in an assembly when solemnizing a marriage. The sermon invites the bride and the groom as well as the participating guests in the assembly to a life of piety, mutual love, kindness and social responsibility.

Any agreements or conditions regarding the Mehr (the gift the groom must give the bride), their married life, their rights on each other, taking additional wives etc. must be agreed on by the couple before the Nikah and stated in the actual Nikah document prior to signing it.

Once the Nikah has been preformed, the couple becomes husband and wife and Mahram to each other, which entitles them to rights Allah (swt) has ordained for spouses. The bridegroom must then arrange a Walimah (wedding feast) for a formal announcement of his betrothal.

For annulling a marriage contract, the husband has to declare that he is divorcing his wife or the wife has to request a Khula – either situation may require stipulated Iddah (waiting period), depending on whether the marriage was consummated or not. Only after the waiting period is completed, the woman may receive new proposals.

Hence, engagement simply affirms the intention of marriage and does not create an actual bond between a man and a woman, whereas the Nikah is the marriage itself, which creates the bond of husband and wife.
Many families prefer to delay the Rukhsati of the bride (the formal handing over of the bride to her husband after the Nikah) because of financial reasons or for giving the groom time to make arrangements for setting up a home. During this period, parents may impose certain rules on how much time the couple may spend together and under what conditions. Sheikh Munajjid points out that since the Rukhsati and consequently the Walimah may be a while after the Nikah, some parents worry that the couple may have a change of heart or there may be a reason for embarrassment, if the wife would become pregnant before Rukhsati. In such case, it is better to follow the advice of parents about limiting time spent alone. Alternately, parents should avoid undue delays of Rukhsati.

We pray for our Muslim Ummah to uphold the beautiful institution of Marriage as prescribed for us by Allah (swt). Ameen.

Intimate Issues

Vol 3-Issue 2 Intimate isuuesAllah (swt) created sexuality not just for procreation but as a means to attain physical and emotional fulfillment. Sexuality must be expressed and sexual well-being must be an integral part of healthy human development. Islam, being a comprehensive way of life, guides us with the Quran and the Sunnah in this important area of our lives. Let us look at:

  • Expression of sexuality;
  • Perceptions about our bodies;
  • Sexual health education.

In Islam, sexuality is a part of our identity as human beings. Allah (swt) has distinguished us from animals by giving us reason and will – we can control behaviour that in other species is governed solely by instinct.

Although sexual relations can result in reproduction, which ensures the survival of the human race, our capacity for self-control allows us to regulate this behaviour. Also, the fact that human beings are the only creatures engaging in sexual relations beyond the physical capacity for reproduction is what sets us apart from all other species.

Concept of Marriage

The Prophet (sa) said: “Marriage is my tradition. He, who rejects my tradition, is not of me.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam encourages marriage as a socially responsible way for sexual expression and as a shield from casual relationships. The disastrous effects of non-committal intimacy on the health and emotional well-being of individuals, families, and society as a whole can be seen not just in the West but across the spectrum of the Muslim Ummah. Marriage provides space for safe intimacy “that will keep one free from diseases, infections, and dysfunctions.”

The marriage of a man and a woman is not just a financial and legal living arrangement. The goal is to create tenderness between two individuals and satisfy the basic human need for companionship, intimacy, physical and emotional fulfillment.

Allah (swt) says: “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)

“They are your garments, and you are their garments.” (Al-Baqara 2:187)

The Prophet (sa) himself, while not divulging all aspects of his own intimate life, was known for his nature of a loving husband, who was sensitive and physically demonstrative. In several Hadeeths, he speaks about the importance of foreplay and speaking in loving terms during intimacy moments. One Hadeeth advises husbands to let their wife achieve fulfillment of her desires first. Sexual dissatisfaction is considered legitimate grounds for divorce on the part of either wife or husband.

Intimacy Outside of Marriage

Allah (swt) says: “And let those, who find not the financial means for marriage, to keep themselves chaste, until Allah (swt) enriches them of His Bounty.” (An-Nur 24:33)

Extra- and pre-marital intimacy is not allowed in Islam. Allah (swt) does not simply forbid or allow behaviour whimsically – He does so considering our best interests: guiding us away from potentially destructive behaviour towards a path that allows us to achieve our utmost potential.

Allah (swt) says: “Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and courteous (to His slaves), All-Aware (of everything).” (Al-Mulk 67:14)

Modesty and Perceptions about our Bodies

The Prophet (sa) said: “Haya and Iman are two companions that go together. If one of them is lifted, the other is also lifted.” (Hakim)

Islamic perspective on sexuality, body image, and self-awareness is based on the concept of Haya, which loosely translates to modesty. Haya is usually misunderstood and regarded as a one-dimensional concept meaning shyness or bashfulness. Media rhetoric has further narrowed the vision of Muslims and non-Muslims alike into believing that Haya is a sign of backwardness or lack of confidence. When the popular slogan is, “if you have it – flaunt it,” it is inconceivable that a person would choose to be modest.

Haya is actually an inner spiritual protective device that makes a person avoid transgression and behaviour that may lead to it.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Every religion has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty (Haya).” (Abu Dawood)

And: “From the words of the previous prophets that people still find are: ‘If you feel no Haya, then do as you wish.'” (Bukhari)

Pertaining to sexuality, the manifestation of Haya is an attitude that reflects a Muslim identity – men and women, who are confident about their bodies but choose to exercise control over their sexuality in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah.

Islam encourages men and women to dress and behave modestly, in order to minimize unwarranted display of sexuality. This is not just for curbing extra-marital relations or suppressing women’s sexuality. The Chaddar and Chahardiwaree concept of women’s repression is totally alien to Islam.

Display of sexuality has a deep impact on the way we perceive our bodies and our sense of self. An excerpt from an article by a 17-year-old high school student from Toronto, Canada, eloquently illustrates a contemporary Islamic interpretation of modesty in dress and self image.

“The concept of the Hijab, contrary to popular opinion, is actually one of the most fundamental aspects of female empowerment. When I cover myself, I make it virtually impossible for people to judge me according to the way I look. Compare this to life in today’s society — we are constantly sizing one another up on the basis of our clothing, jewellery, hair, and makeup. What kind of depth can there be in a world like this?
Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation upon this Earth. But it is the vessel of an intelligent mind and a strong spirit. It is not for the beholder to leer at or to use in advertisements. It is a myth that women in today’s society are liberated. What kind of freedom can there be, when a woman cannot walk down the street without every aspect of her physical self being checked out?
When I wear Hijab, I feel safe from all of this. I am first and foremost a human being, equal to any man, and not vulnerable because of my sexuality.”

Sexual Identity and Homosexuality

Dostoevsky said: “Without God, everything is possible.”

Human beings are capable of many forms of sexual expression, orientation, and identification. However, to date, no researcher has claimed that genes can determine sexual orientation. At best, researchers believe that there may be a genetic component. Sexuality, like every other behaviour, is undoubtedly influenced by both biological and societal factors.

The potential for behaviour, such as homosexuality, does not mean that its practice is acceptable in the eyes of Allah (swt). We also have the potential for deviant and violent sexual behaviours, such as pedophilia and rape. However, responsible human beings do not act upon all their dormant impulses.

The argument that consenting adults can do what they please is contrary to the very essence of Islam. Submission to the will of Allah (swt) is what it means to be a Muslim. Even consenting adults need Allah’s (swt) consent in all matters. Homosexuality and other forms of sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage are prohibited in Islam.

The story of Prophet Lot (as) in the Quran categorically condemns homosexuality.

So when Our Commandment came, We turned (the towns of Sodom in Palestine) upside down, and rained on them stones of baked clay, in a well-arranged manner one after another; marked from your Lord; and they are not ever far from the Zalimun (polytheists, evil-doers).” (Hud 11:82-83)

Masturbation

This method of self-gratification does not correspond with the ethos of Islamic teachings.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And those, who guard their chastity except from their wives or (the slaves) their right hand possesses – for then, they are free from blame; but whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.” (Al-Mu’minun 23:5-7)

A Hadeeth indicates that those, who seek sexual gratification from other than their legal partners, are transgressing set limits. Scholars interpret that this refers not only to adultery but also to masturbation. Another Hadeeth reads: “We were with the Prophet (sa), while we were young, and had no wealth whatsoever. The Prophet (sa) said: ‘O assembly of youths; whoever among you possesses the physical and financial resources to marry should do so, because it helps him guard his modesty, and whoever is unable to marry should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.'” (Muslim)

If masturbation was permissible, the Prophet (sa) would have named this as a remedy.

Sexual Health Education

In Islam, education about sexual health is not just recommended but mandatory.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Say: are those who know equal to those who know not?” (Az-Zumar 39:9)

In reading Hadeeths, one is impressed about the Prophet (sa)’s ability to discuss all issues, including those dealing with intimate matters. He was not embarrassed by such inquiries but strove to guide the Muslims who asked.

Umme Sulaim asked the Prophet (sa): “Oh Messenger of Allah (swt), Allah (swt) does not shy away from the truth. Does a woman have to make Ghusl (bath), if she has a wet dream?” The Prophet (sa) stated: “Yes, if she sees liquid.” (Bukhari)

The concept of Taharat is so comprehensive in Islam that its equivalent is not found in any other religion or culture. It loosely translates to physical and spiritual cleanliness. We cannot achieve the state of Taharat without understanding our body, its physical functions, and changes that occur at different stages of maturity. Issues relating to our psychological and emotional development alongside the physical changes are equally important to understand.

It is the responsibility of parents to prepare and educate their children about all aspects of their lives, including the intimate matters. Other responsible adults in a child’s, pre-teen’s or teenager’s life can also be involved in this learning process. Educators must keep in mind the Islamic position on issues relating to sexuality and provide age appropriate information to children at their discretion.