Wedding traditions vary by religion, region, practice and also changes with time. Islamic weddings are unique compared to other religions and are strictly followed on the guidelines laid out by the religions heads as per the Quran. Marriage is considered as a contract, between Allah and the couple. The various stages of the wedding ceremony which can be considered as parts of the contract are well defined and practiced stringently.
Proposal in Muslim Marriage
The proposal of a man to the woman for marriage is considered as proposal and is considered as respecting her dignity. This would be considered the first stage of the nikah, or the Islamic marriage.
Mahr – Offer to the bride
The groom should offer a gift of Mahr to the bride. It is important to consider the below aspect of Mahr in a Muslim marriage –
- It should be agreed by the two persons entering into the marriage, not their parents
- Mahr is the bride’s right, and the husband should be indebted
- Considered as a gift to the bride and not buying/pricing her
- Can be in cash, gold, gifts, education to bride
- Partly paid before or during nikah and the remaining after nikaah
Nikah – the act of marriage
The marriage ceremony is called Nikah. The groom or his representative shall read the Mahr proposed, in front of at least two witnesses. The bride and groom shall then repeat the word “Kabul” three times stating their free will to enter into the nikah. The couple and the witnesses then sign the marriage contract, legalizing the marriage as per the local religious and civil laws. The bride and groom are usually separated during the nikah and then a representative on behalf of bride is present. He is called the ‘wali. This is followed by the Valima, the marriage dinner, attended by the family and friends of the bride and groom.
Caucasian wedding – A pompous affair
Among all the Muslim weddings, the Caucasian weddings are raucous, flamboyant and prepared well in advance. Many guests are invited, in thousands, and typically two weddings are done, one at the bride’s home and other one at groom’s home. In Daghestan, it is customary to kidnap the bride.
The custom of kidnapping was popular in the marriages in Caucasus. If the groom is economically poorer or belong to lower class or caste, they engage in the practice of kidnapping the bride, with her permission though. This is done to lower the marriage costs. During modern times, this practice has become extinct. Marriages are fixed by the elders after searching for a partner of equal stature.
Age-old Daghestani marriage also has a betrothal ceremony before the nikah. The bride and groom can show their feelings to each other and prove their suitability to each other. The actual nikah is arranged after this ceremony. In original Caucasian style, the dinner table is served with traditional food and drinks. The couple is presented with gifts by the family members and friends. Each gift contains a message as to when it should be opened on like the day of first child’s birth, on first day of family life etc. The couple then goes to the groom’s house and is considered very precious and poignant moment.