Wedding is the biggest and essential custom of life and every culture has therefore developed elaborate traditions to deliver authenticity to it. The significance of wedding is explained from the fundamental fact that a man and woman is permitted to live for life as a couple and behave as one social entity for all purposes. The marital bliss and affinities mark the fervour of this custom! Authenticity is of course demanded and this is derived from the religious scriptures that are held pious by the individual cultures of the world. Muslim wedding are distinct in that a universal process has been laid by the authentic scriptures of Islam and this process is practiced unchanged throughout the world. The nikaah is agreed by the bride and groom before the presence of kazi, wali and witnesses that are integral to the occasion. Let’s find their significance in solemnizing the Muslim marriage.
Nikah is actually a proposal made by the groom side to the bride through proper channel. This proposal cannot be served directly by the groom to the bride; both of who remain anonymously separated till the nikaah is actually done and announced formally. It must be stated that while nikaah constitutes the actual Muslim wedding, the practice of engagement is still prevalent through the Muslim cultures and this actually marks the offering of the wedding proposal and its acceptance also. However, the formal proposal is made publicly before the guests and guardians at the time of nikaah itself. In fact, this proposal getting accepted by the bride in front of all marks the nikaah. This is the basic philosophy of nikaah which in itself is a fairly simple process taking only minutes! This also makes Muslim weddings as some of the most simple and solemn types.
The role of wali
As the nikaah is initiated, the role of wali and witness emerge significant. Wali is the legal (male) guardian of the bride and he could be her father, uncle or her brother. Wali’s duty is to assure about the goodness of characteristics, capacities and character of the proposer groom. This assurance has been already made at the time of engagement but wali’s presence on behalf of the bride brings in a formal authenticity throughout the process of nikaah.
The witnesses at nikaah
The role and significance of witness is also central. There need to be at least two witnesses for the nikaah and their signatures are mandatory at the nikaahnama. This authenticates the nikaah ceremony because the witnesses in principle make their assurance about the adherences to the norms in the best spirits.
Mahr is the integral component of the nikaah process and its definition is best expressed as it being the right of every bride! Mahr has to be offered as a mark of gift to the bride by the groom and it could be currency, gold or any other thing which is agreed. Both the bride’s and groom’s parties agree to the mahr as it is proposed. Mahr, in principle needs to be paid at nikaah itself but as a practice is delayed for life as the couple moves forward to touch the milestones together as husband and wife. In case of divorce by the husband, the entire mahr needs to be first paid to seek relief from the obligations of a husband! This is the converse part of mahr.