Love is the foundation of any relationship and the mortar of trust, honesty, communication and respect. Whenever we think about marriage, the first thing that comes to our mind is the long-lasting relationship. Also, for everyone, marriage is one of the most important decisions in their life. Thus, when people decide to get married, they think of having a lovely family, dedicating their life together, and raising their children together. The circle of humankind is like that only. Therefore marriage is for man and a woman to share a spiritual and physical journey, a journey which they will continue together, to create a pious and safe environment to raise their children and protect and develop them to enable them to become good humans. Marriage increases sustenance, love, respect, caring, selflessness and forgiving factors between husband and wife. The couple will also gain good rewards while having children, upbringing them in a better and affordable way. Marriage is an important institution also in the religion of Islam. Humans have been created as social creatures, requiring interactions with each other in order to survive. Harmoniously coexisting in love and mercy amongst men and women were created to complement one another in companionship. The Holy Prophet (SAW) has said: “When a man has married, he has completed one half of his religion”. He (SAW) has further said: “Marriage is my Sunnah, those who do not follow my Sunnah are not from me”. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said that marriage will help to lower the gaze and guard one’s modesty.” (Al-Bukhari)
“The Prophet (SAW) stayed for three days at a place between Khaibar and Medina, and there he consummated his marriage with Safiyya bint Huyay (R.A). Prophet (SAW) 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) ” (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. (Bukhari). Prophet (SAW) Said, “And give the relative his right, and also the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully”. Allah has warned us: “But waste not by excess: for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Quran, 6:141). 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. We have made marriage special ceremony, no doubt marriage in one’s life is a momentous moment and one of the happiest of one’s life and there is nothing wrong to invite people and serve meal but it’s not complusory in Islam and not Sunnah. And if one adopts simplicity then one can arrange things as per his budget, but the fact is that neither of these are requirements for a successful marriage ceremony and nothing to do with Nikah. Nevertheless, we notice that many parents loan large sums of money just to host fancy receptions and arrange other unnecessary expenses on 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. The wrong adopted customs of societies have made it difficult for others. The solution is to make Nikah simple and uncomplicated then it will not be a burden, rather it will release one from a burden.
In our society, generally speaking, we tend to put far too many conditions and requirements that are not essentials from an Islamic perspective in a marriage. Sadly these days a lot of marriages are breaking up and ending in divorce. This is why we should all desire to live in a society that is free from such bad practices and our homes should be dwellings that are a demonstration of heaven on earth. The only way that anyone can survive in this materialistic society, a society which is engulfing the world, is to ensure that simplicity remains firmly rooted in our hearts. Simplicity is key to a successful and healthy life. It doesn’t mean that you are poor, neither it depicts you are needy nor it diminish the significance of marriage. Weddings are no more a mere union of individuals and a private affair. They’ve rather become a symbol of wealth exhibition and showiness. The wastage of food, expensive wazwan and dry-fruit boxes and over-the-top lightening in the luxurious marriage halls has indeed taken the form of a social obligation. Personal invitations have been swapped by costly invitation cards. Water has been substituted by innumerable artificial drinks. Similarly traditions, folksongs and dances have been replaced by DJs, loudspeakers and other lavish musical instruments. Exchange of jewellery and expensive gifts like electronic goods, jewelry, copper-ware and even cash etc in order to satisfy the whims of the society, thereby taking a form of the practice of dowry, though indirectly and unintentionally. It is noteworthy to mention that while Islam makes Mehr mandatory for a valid marriage, there is no place for dowry or exchanges. Even in local weddings, the number of dishes is above a dozen, and when it comes to feast for the groom (Mahraz-saal), it goes much above that, with added number of dishes and a huge variety. Royal and grand preparations are made for the Baarat/Mahraaz-saal, whether it is the set-up or the delicacies and their variety. But people have forgotten that it is in the first place a societal construct. From ring ceremonies to the theme-based posh destination weddings, everything is hyped. The social media fantasy, considering the Instagram and Facebook reels which go viral in an instant, has added fuel to the hype, as the new trends and customs get highlighted through the photography, make-up and wedding-planning industries. These unnecessary customs thus gain popularity and get normalized among the masses. The lavish, extravagant trends and rituals might constitute a dream wedding for many, but one needs to analyze the repercussions that they unleash. Firstly, it has resulted in class and status divide in the society, with often the elites having exuberant weddings and sumptuous feasts, much to the awe of everyone and hence, becoming the talk of the town for a very long period. On the other hand, those who do not or cannot stand to such expectations in the society are deemed misfits and downtrodden, looked down upon, thereby fostering class divide. Secondly, these big fat weddings are putting an immense pressure on the middle class and poor families, thereby rendering them helpless and putting their economies on a ventilator. Thirdly, the unnecessary trends and rituals nowadays are one of the main reasons behind late marriages in the valley. Financial constraints of a family are in no way a hurdle to marriages since they can be carried out in a simple manner as well. The earlier Kashmiri wedding culture which was relatively simple yet elegant, has largely been diluted due to the existing modern rituals and customs which are defined by their extravagance. Marriage promotes physical and mental health with a better way of living. It is a way of social security, and it creates affective social and economic conditions for effective parenting. It also creates social capital yielding to a larger society. It is the beginning—the beginning of the family—and is a life-long commitment. Marriages are indeed made in heaven, and solemnized on earth, but let’s make sure that we solemnize them in a beautiful manner, in a moderate way – neither extravagantly not miserly.
(The author is a freelancer and frequently writes for this newspaper. The views, opinions, facts, assumptions, presumptions and conclusions expressed in this article are those of the author but aren’t necessarily in accord with the views of “Kashmir Horizon”.)