Muslim wedding rituals and practices

Traditional Muslim weddings are always events of a lifetime, with every friend and distant relative attending, lavish costumes often adorned with gold or silver jewellery, and precise Islamic religious rituals to be followed. However, each culture tends to evolve its own ways of celebrating.

The only requirement for Muslim weddings is the signing of a marriage contract. Marriage traditions differ depending on culture, Islamic sect, and observance of gender separation rules. Most marriages are not held in mosques, and men and women remain separate during the ceremony and reception.

Some families hold also the henna night which is very similar to a bachelorette party. The bride’s female friends and relatives join her in celebrating, which includes food, drinks, and a lot of dancing. A woman draws henna, a temporary form of skin decoration using henna, on the bride and guests’ skin — usually the palms and feet, where the henna colour will be darkest because the skin contains higher levels of keratin there

The marriage contract includes a meher – which is a dowry given by the groom to the bride. There are two parts to the meher: a prompt due before the marriage is consummated and a deferred amount given to the bride throughout her life. Today, many couples use the ring as the prompt because the groom presents it during the ceremony. The deferred amount can be a small sum — a formality — or an actual gift of money, land, jewellery. The gift belongs to the bride to use as she pleases, unless the marriage breaks up before consummation. The meher is considered the bride’s security and guarantee of freedom within the marriage.

The marriage contract is signed in a ceremony, in which the groom proposes to the bride in front of at least two witnesses, stating the details of the meher. The bride, or her representative who usually is her father or brother or a male next of kin, and groom demonstrate their free will by repeating the word qabul (“I accept,” in Arabic) three times. Then the couple and two male witnesses sign the contract, making the marriage legal according to civil and religious law. The marriage contract is signed by the groom and bride or a person representing her, usually her father or brother, and two witnesses. The contract is signed in front of a  Qhadhi or Maadoun and officialised by him

The officiant may add an additional religious ceremony following the marriage ceremony, which usually includes a recitation of the Fatihah — the first chapter of the Quran — and durud (blessings). Most Muslim couples do not recite vows; rather, they listen as their officiant speaks about the meaning of marriage and their responsibilities to each other and to Allah. However, some Muslim brides and grooms do say vows, such as this common recitation:

Bride: “I, (bride’s name) offer you myself in marriage in accordance with the instructions of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. I pledge, in honesty and with sincerity, to be for you an obedient and faithful wife.”

Groom: “I pledge, in honesty and sincerity, to be for you a faithful and helpful husband.”

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