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Islamic wedding customs

Muslim marriage and Islamic wedding customs are traditions and practices that relate to wedding ceremonies and marriage rituals prevailing within the Muslim world. Although Islamic marriage customs and relations vary depending on the country of origin and government regulations, both Muslim men and women from around the world are guided by Islamic laws and practices specified in the Quran.

According to the teachings of the Quran, a married Muslim couple is equated with clothing. Within this context, both husband and wife are each other’s protector and comforter, just as real garments “show and conceal” the body of human beings. Thus, they are meant “for one another”. The Quran continues to discuss the matter of marriage and states, “And among His Signs is this, that he created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts]…”. Marriages within the Muslim community are incredibly important. The purpose of marriage in Islamic culture is to preserve the religion through the creation of a family. The family is meant to be “productive and constructive, helping and encouraging one another to be good and righteous, and competing with one another in good works”.

With the Muslim religion crossing so many different cultures, countries, and ethnicities, Muslim wedding traditions vary greatly depending on the family traditions of the bride and groom. Before being a part of a Muslim wedding, whether you’re attending as a guest, working as a wedding vendor, or participating as a family member, take a moment to understand the timeline and the nuances of the wedding.

Many Muslim weddings in America mix in elements of traditional western weddings like first looks, first dances, and other traditions; while some Muslim families choose to only hold the traditional ceremonies and adhere to the time-honored practices of their home country.

Here are a few things you might see at a Muslim Wedding:

Nikah (or Nikaah)

The Nikah is defined as marriage; marriage contract; matrimony, or wedlock. It is an Islamic Marriage Ceremony. So if, for example, you see this on a wedding timeline, think of this as the actual wedding ceremony. The Nikah is when the physical marriage contract is signed, and it usually includes and involves the bride and groom, their parents or designated witnesses, and an officiant. During the ceremony, the officiant, often an Imam or other community leader, typically delivers a valuable message and recites parts of the Quran.

Mahr (Otherwise known as Meher)

The Mahr is similar to a Dowry, except that it is a required gift given by the groom directly to the bride during a Muslim Wedding. While the Mahr is often money, many families choose to use other items or symbols such as a ring, other precious jewelry, or property. The Mahr is often specified in the actual marriage contract signed during the Nikah.

Muslim/Islamic Ceremony Locations

Muslim wedding ceremonies are often held at regular/common wedding venues such as hotels. However, they can also be held at local Mosques. If you are attending a wedding at a Mosque (or Masjid), find out and follow any of the rules they may have such as adhering to a dress code,  separate seating/sections for men and women, and more.

Valimas (Walimas) or Muslim Wedding Receptions

Muslim wedding receptions, in America often include many familiar wedding reception traditions like the cake cutting, first dance, speeches, parent dances, and more. Most Muslim wedding receptions will be “dry,” meaning that no alcohol is served at the cocktail hour or the reception.

Tips for Attending a Muslim Wedding

Dress Conservatively – Whether the wedding is at a Mosque or a hotel, the Muslim wedding ceremony is a religious, traditional ritual. Generally, try to keep your arms and legs covered. During the ceremony (particularly in the Masjid/Mosque), women may be asked to cover their heads as well. When in doubt, check with the bride and groom, their family, or the wedding coordinator for advice.

Remember – No Alcohol – Muslim wedding receptions are filled with joy, emotion, and dancing. However, remember that they will most likely not serve alcohol. Whether or not this is in line with your beliefs, it’s important to respect the culture and the families.

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