Every time I picture a marriage ceremony, I think of fancily dressed people holed up in a fancy banquet hall, listening to a speaker as he rambles on, and on, and on, as the catering personnel run around to get the food ready.
While there’s nothing terribly wrong with any of the above, is it really needed?
In Islam, the institution of marriage is a sacred one, yet a simple one.
It is sacred because it is an act of worship and it’s simple because our role model, the Prophet (SAW), always kept it simple.
Marriage is a major step in one’s life. It’s a matter of great responsibility that should by no mean be taken lightly. However, it shouldn’t be complicated to the point if one doesn’t have enough cash to hold an elaborate ceremony with hundreds of guests, one can’t get married.
Quite simply, a marriage in Islam is solemnized by a nikah (marriage contract) and a waleemah (marriage feast) that follows once the marriage has been consummated.
The nikah constitutes of a proposal from one party (eejab) and acceptance from another (qubool) in the presence of witnesses. The walimah is simply a dinner to celebrate the marriage, since marriage is, after all, a joyous occasion.
The nikah can be held at the local masjid or at home, while the walimah can be anywhere: one’s apartment, backyard, or basement, the local masjid, a park, a restaurant, a community center, or anywhere else.
As well, on the occasions of nikah and walimah, long speeches and an elaborate program are not required. Remember, simple is beautiful!
Nowadays, we seem to have been so caught up in rituals and customs that we tend to waste enormous amounts of money and time on things that simply aren’t needed. Nikah and walimah are both sunnahs (traditions) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), so doesn’t it make sense to try to commemorate these occasions in the same fashion as he did?
Anas (RA) describes one of the walimahs hosted by the Prophet (SAW):
“The Prophet stayed for three days at a place between Khaibar and Medina, and there he consummated his marriage with Safiyya bint Huyay (RA). I invited the Muslims to a banquet which included neither meat nor bread. The Prophet (SAW) ordered for the leather dining sheets to be spread, and then dates, dried yogurt and butter were provided over it, and that was the Walima (banquet) of the Prophet (SAW).” (Reported by Bukhari)
In another report, Anas (RA) says that the Prophet (SAW) “gave a wedding banquet with Hais (a sort of sweet dish made from butter, cheese and dates).” (Reported by Bukhari)
There is nothing wrong with having an elaborate ceremony in a fancy banquet hall and full-course meal prepared by a caterer, but the fact of the matter is that neither of these are requirements for a successful marriage ceremony. If one wishes to hold the ceremony in a banquet hall with a full-course meal, that’s perfectly fine, but it shouldn’t be taken as a requirement.
I’m sure many of us loan large sums of money just so we can host fancy receptions for our weddings. Or even if we spend extravagant amounts of our own money, it’s sad because there are so many better uses for our hard-earned money. After all, the amount of money spent on the ceremony has no positive effect on the life of the couple.
The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said:
“The marriage which is most greatly blessed is the one which is the lightest in burden [expense]. However, if people are well catered for, without extravagance and show, there is no problem with that either.” (Reported by Bayhaqi)
For sure, marriage an occasion to celebrate, but why waste enormous amounts of money on a celebration? It’s definitely not how our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) celebrated. In fact, wasting Allah’s bounties is something Allah has warned us against:
“But waste not by excess: for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Quran, 6:141)
It can be difficult to swim against the tide of fancy and extravagant marriages, but surely, it’s worth swimming against the tides that go against Allah’s command and the example set by the Prophet (SAW).
Let’s save all that money and keep it for better uses. That money is sure to be in demand once the honeymoon is over and the actual daily routine sets in.
If we do that with the right intention, we’ll end up saving money and at the same time, we’ll be adding to our good-deed account as well.
After all, who can’t use some extra cash, some extra good deeds, and a greatly blessed marriage (since the most greatly blessed marriage is the one that lightest in expense)?