Happily ever after

BY A M I N V A L L I A N I | 4/24/2015

WEDDINGS are important ceremonies. It is said that the first wedding was held in paradise when Hazrat Adam got married to Hazrat Bibi Hawwa. Thereafter, this rite came to earth along with Hazrat Adam and Hazrat Bibi Hawwa.

Allah says in the Holy Quran that it is `He who has created man from water, then He established relationships of lineage and marriage. ...` (25:54). Relationships in human societies are formed mainly by way of marriage. Therefore, individuals celebrate weddings in all societies. They consider marriage an event of special significance in their lives.

On this occasion, people decorate their homes and surroundings with colourful lights and arrange sumptuous meals. They invite their relatives to the celebrations.

Weddings in our society are a blend of Indian and Islamic traditions. The marriage ceremony is an occasion filled with fanfare, merriment and celebrations. It is also natural that every groom and bride look their very best. The immediate family members also dress for the occasion, adorning themselves with jewellery while the wedding guests enjoy a lavish spread. People want to make this occasion happy and memorable for the future, hence all the proceedings are photographed or filmed as a way to preserve the memories. Most weddings in our culture are no less than four to five-day affairs.

Over time this celebration has become a highly intricate exercise; sophisticated arrangements are required to be made in advance. It needs a lot of thinking, homework and extra money to organise the celebrations. Though it creates many economic opportunities for various segments of society as the parties spend lifelong savings on such an occasion, many people end up taking loans (often on high interest rates) to meet increasing wedding expenditures and thus entangle themselves in a cycle of debt.

As a society, we have our own taboos and societal faults to contend with regarding weddings. In some areas of Pakistan, wedding ceremonies are riddled with strange and queer rites such as firing into the air. These rites pose a high risk to life and can potentially turn a joyous occasion into a tragedy.

It is also true that due to extravagant weddings, the poorer segments of society suffer from an inferiority complex when they see their rich peers and relatives celebrate in such a manner. This creates a gulf in society and ill-will among the people.

It is, therefore, necessary to educate people about how to solemnise weddings without hassle and extravagance. Far more important is the avoidance of unnecessary rigmarole by keeping Islamic values in mind.

Marriage creates bonds between parties, promotes unity, love and gives a couple the legal permission to raise children. In other words, it is the beginning of a new family whose foundations are laid with the performance of various cultural and religious rites like rasm-i-hina, nikah and valima etc.

Weddings should be considered as occasions of realising mutual responsibilities.

Both the bride and groom should make a firm commitment to fulfill their future responsibilities through thick and thin. They should promise to understand each other, gain confidence, know each other`s nature, habits, temperament, likes, dislikes and sentiments etc.

The fundamental requirement of married life is cooperation; if the two parties are not open to cooperating with each other, the marriage cannot be successful.

In order to create long-lasting peace and harmony in a newly formed family, everything needs to be decided mutually. The couple should control their anger, accept their mistakes, and avoid lying, obduracy and invective in daily life. They should share household chores and respect their elders. They should cultivate mutual love and affection in their hearts, with a deep sense of social commitments.

Islamic history exemplifies the marriage of Hazrat Bibi Fatima, the daughter of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), with Hazrat Ali. It was characterised by Islamic values such as simplicity, taqwa, love, sacrifice, honour and respect for one`s seniors. The Prophet set an excellent example for the ummah by arranging this wedding. The Quran declares husband and wife as the `garments` of each other (2:187). Our physical dress covers our defects. Similarly, the family is a sanctuary of security, respect and love. It is a conduit for the transmission of values, culture and information to the next generation.

Strong families can make nations stronger.

Hence the government should think of starting a drive using various means of educating youth who are engaged or likely to be engaged in the nearfuture. It can also think of printing certain essential principles for a happily married life at the back of the nikahnama, which is filled on the occasion of the nikah ceremony. Every prospective bride and groom must read and understand the nikahnama along with the principles of a congenial married life before signing it.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.

Dawn Friday Special