Today it is tragic to see that Muslim weddings in our city seem to be devoid of any commitment to Islam. They have instead become famous for ostentation, vulgar display of wealth and wasteful expenditure. That too when we as a community are among the most economically backward and deprived of all people. To see the wealthy among us displaying such a colossal lack of concern for the deprived, by spending lakhs and crores on weddings while poor Muslims suffer untold miseries is something that is designed to attract the anger of Allahﷻ.
According to the statistics for 2014-15, Hyderabadi Muslims spent Rs. 4000 crores on catering and hall rental for weddings. The actual amount spent will be far higher as we all can guess. How will we answer Allahﷻwhen we meet Him as we surely must? Meanwhile our divorce and separation rate is three times that of any other community in the country. So obviously our spending is not bringing us any happiness. I am not saying that divorces are only because of spending. They are also the result of the almost total lack of upbringing of our children, the total lack of Akhlaaq, the very little connection with Allahﷻ and His Deen. Our insane spending in marriages is an indicator of a much deeper malaise which is destroying our community.
Rum 30: 21. And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may find tranquility in them, and He has put between you, love and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.
Marriage in Islam is an act of worship because if it is done according to the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ it is something that Allahﷻ will reward us for. The key is to ensure that we do it in accordance with the Sunnah.
Abdullah ibn Mas’udtreported that Rasoolullahﷺ said to us: O young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford it should fast for fasting is a means of controlling sexual desire. [Tirmidhi]
In this Hadith and in several others, it is clear that marriage is the responsibility of the man who must make arrangements to contract it according to his means. It is not the responsibility of the girl’s parents to worry about her marriage or to incur any expenses in this connection. This is the cardinal difference between the Islamic way and that of others, where the woman and her parents are freed of this responsibility.
Abu Hurairah (R) narrated from Rasoolullahﷺ who said: “A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Seek the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” [Bukhari & Muslim]
It is clear from this Hadith that though you may look for the other three things in a spouse, what you should choose her/him for is religious commitment over and above anything else.
It is the rich who set the trend. And it is thanks to them that middle class and poor Muslim parents are pressured to spend more than they can afford for the weddings of their children. As a result, one of the biggest problems in Muslim society is that of indebtedness – inability to pay back interest bearing loans. Even more tragic is the fact that in most cases it is women who pressure their men folk to spend money on all kinds of customs and practices which have nothing to do with Islam.
The only purpose is to ‘impress’ others with the degree of Jahaalat that one can achieve and the constant refrain is, ‘What will people say?’ Allahﷻ called ostentation and ostentatious spenders the brothers of Shaytaan.
(Garland for the bridegroom being brought in by a crane in a Hyderabadi wedding)
Isra 17: 27 Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayateen and the Shaytaan is ever ungrateful to his Rabb.
Add to this the evil of dowry which we have adopted with the result that men have no shame in demanding it and parents of the bride are forced to cough up the ransom for their daughter. We have all kinds of shameless ways of asking for it. Dowry is Haraam. Asking for it is either begging or extortion and makes you a Bhikari (beggar) or a highway robber. I ask the parents of brides, ‘Why do you want to marry your daughter to a beggar or bandit? Then there are demands on the bride’s family for ‘fat’ weddings with all kinds of unislamic customs like Manja, Sanchak, Mehndi, Sangeet, Dholak and the pressure on the bride’s family to host a dinner on the day of the Nikah.
All these customs are against Islam, add to the expense and make the wedding a source of great suffering for the bride’s family. In addition, all these customs are against Islam and sinful to say the least.
Compare this to the Islamic way: The man or his family send his proposal to the bride’s family. The man and bride meet face to face and decide if they want to marry. The amount of Mehar is decided among them which the man has to pay. The Nikah takes place in the masjid. Then the man hosts a Walima (meal in celebration of his wedding) on the same or next day. The bride’s family incurs no expense at all. The man incurs whatever expense he wishes as the Walima is his responsibility. And all this happens simply, with dignity and in accordance with the Law of Allahﷻ and the Sunnah of His Messengerﷺ. Such a marriage is blessed and its results can only be good.
We believe the time has come for all people with a conscience to raise their voice against these evil practices. Whether or not you are religious, it is our duty to refuse to support these social evils.
For this it is essential that we do three things:
1. When we have a wedding in our family ensure that it is strictly according to the Islamic way which I have described above. In that alone there is Khair, the blessing of Allahﷻ and the honor of the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ.
2. When you are invited to a wedding, ask about what is happening there. If there is any unislamic custom, don’t go. Tell them clearly that you will not attend because the wedding is not according to Islam. Don’t make an excuse. Say clearly that you are against unislamic weddings as you are a Muslim and so will not attend.
3. It is especially important that Ulama and opinion leaders don’t attend because their attendance becomes a proof for people that what they are doing is correct. When Ulama don’t attend and tell people why they are not attending, people stop to think and InshaAllah this can bring about change. One argument in support of Ulama attending unislamic weddings that I heard takes the cake. Someone said, ‘If we don’t attend people will do even worse and they will dance naked.’ Not my words but the words that I was told.
4. My submission is that this argument goes directly against the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Allahﷻ said about supporting good and not supporting evil:
Ma’aida 5: 2 Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.
Rasoolullahﷺ said: Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (R) said: I heard Rasoolullahﷺ say, “Whoever sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]
Please see this Ayah and Hadith and tell me where is the permission to participate in a gathering where the laws of Allahﷻ and the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ is being broken and remain silent and benefit from the meeting? The only justification, especially for Ulama to go to unislamic weddings would be to stop whatever is happening there which is unislamic. Needless to say, that would create an even bigger Fitna. And so the only choice they have is to boycott such events and tell people why they are boycotting them. If not, they will become the proof that people will use to commit Haraam and they will be answerable before Allahﷻfor that.
There are two stages that a person goes through in life – the wedding and the funeral. That is why in Hindi and Urdu – we have the same word with a slight difference, for the traditional vehicle of the bride which symbolizes the moving from one state to another – doli and dola.
I ask you, will you accept a funeral with a band and dancing before the Namaz-e-Janaza? Why then do you accept a wedding with bands, dancing, free mixing of men and women, ostentation and vulgar display – all against Islam?
All social change starts with one person – me. So take this decision that you will not attend a wedding which is not in accordance with Islam. Tell others about it. And stick to it. Don’t go even if it is the wedding of your closest relative. And if anyone talks about family ties, please tell him/her that our ties with Allahﷻ and Rasoolullahﷺtake precedence over all other ties. Allahﷻeven ordered us to disobey parents if they order us to disobey Him. So where is the question of doing thing to anger Allahﷻto please anyone else?
Islam seeks to make Nikah easy and Zina (fornication) difficult. We have turned this on its head and then we wonder why there is so much corruption in society.
Abu Hurayrah (R) said: Rasoolullahﷺ said: “If someone whose religious commitment and attitude pleases you proposes marriage, then marry [your female relative under your charge] to him. If you do not do that, there will be tribulation in the land and much corruption.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah, Sahih by Albani).
Hazrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) reports that Rasoolullahﷺ said: “The Nikah with the most Baraka is that Nikah wherein the least expense was incurred.” (Musnad Ahmad)
The primary responsibility to ensure that no unnecessary expenses are incurred and that nothing is done which is against Islam is that of the bride and groom. NOT OF THE PARENTS. If you don’t think you are old enough to stand up for your Islamic duties, then you are not old enough to get married. Obedience to parents or anyone else comes AFTER obedience to Allahﷻ and Rasoolullahﷺ. Neither your parents nor anyone else is going to come into your graves with you. You will be there alone and you will answer why you allowed unnecessary expenses and unlawful practices to be done in your marriages. How do you expect Baraka in your married life, the help of Allahﷻ, good children, happy relationships and prosperity and safety when you did everything possible to anger Allahﷻ during your marriage? Get real people. Stop fooling yourself. You are not fooling anyone else. So please grow up or remain unmarried. It is as clear as that.
Narrated Anas bin Malik (R): Rasoolullahﷺ saw the trace of yellow on ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf (R) Rasoolullahﷺ asked him: What is this? He replied: Ya Rasoolullahﷺ I have married a woman. He asked: How much Mahr did you give her? He said: A nawat weight of gold. He said: Hold a Walima, even if only with a sheep. (Sunan Abu Dawud; Sahih, Albani)
This shows that when he got married not only did he not host a meal inviting his friends on the day of the Nikah but he did not even invite Rasoolullahﷺand Rasoolullahﷺ didn’t know that he had got married until the next day. This is not an indication of lack of Adab. It is an indication that the Nikah is to be a simple ceremony without any party after it.
Rasoolullahﷺ told him to give a Walima which he did. That shows that the Walima is the responsibility of the groom and not the bride or her family.
Finally, please remember that if we, especially the wealthy among us, don’t change our ways, then we will invite the Adhaab of Allahﷻ. It is in this connection that Allahﷻ warned us and told us that we are the architects of our own destruction. He said:
Ra’ad 13: 11 Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).
And He warned the wealthy among us, especially and said:
Isra 17: 16. And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allah and be righteous) to those among them who are given the good things of this life. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction.
Allahﷻ promised to punish those who insist on disobeying Him. Allahﷻ’s orders are for our benefit. When we obey Him we create a beautiful society that is beneficial to everyone. If we disobey Him, we harm ourselves in this life and attract His anger and punishment. Allahﷻ said:
An’am 6: 44 So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened to them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them to punishment, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regret and sorrow.
Please remember that you are the most important person in the world and all change begins with you. So first of all if you took a dowry, calculate it in today’s money and return it to your wife. Let her give it to her family or keep it. It was Haraam for you to take it and so return it. Do this for all the material stuff you took also. Calculate the value in today’s terms and return it. Then make Tawba for whatever you did or allowed to happen in your marriage that was against the orders of Allahﷻ and the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ. Free Tawba is not accepted. You have to compensate people for your oppression before you seek forgiveness of Allahﷻ. So please do this. And do it immediately. And it you feel reluctant about it, then remember that when you meet Allahﷻ this compensation will be extracted from you and that will be far more expensive. I don’t wish that on you under any circumstances. Thank Allahﷻ that He kept you alive and gave you an opportunity to make Tawba. Don’t squander that. Make Tawba and return what you took.
Remember that you will not be asked, ‘What happened?’ You will be asked, ‘What did you do?’
So don’t allow what is not in your control to prevent you from doing what is in your control.