Muslim (Sahih) Marriage Rituals & Traditions

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Did you know that in India the newspapers dedicate over ten pages every Sunday to Matrimonials (marriage columns)?

Bride wanted for 29 year old tall, handsome, renowned scientist, looking for fair (skin), beautiful, intelligent, obedient, well-educated, cultured vegetarian family with traditional values and is trained in classical music. Apply with horoscope.

Does this sound like a personal ad you would consider placing in the newspaper?

Nikah, which refers to the act of marriage in Muslim tradition, is a very sacred and important contract between a man and woman.  A religious ceremony is not necessary in order for a couple to be legally married. However, there are some requirements that one should meet in order to marry.  In the Muslim tradition, the family plays a significant role in the marriage.  Most Muslim marriages in India are handled by the parents.  Often parents register their son or daughter in a marriage bureau or hire a marriage broker to find a suitable match.  Then they are given names and addresses of possible matches from a list.  If the parents are interested in a certain partner for their child, they begin to correspond with the other family in order to ascertain more information.  In some instances the girl's father may hire a go-between to help find his daughter a suitable boy.  For example, a farmer may hire the village barber who will travel and get news of available men.    

It is very important to really get to know the family in which you are interested because India has such a strict caste system.
Therefore, it is crucial to examine the background of the family and match up the virtues each person possesses based on their horoscope.  If both partners have several virtues in common and their horoscopes match up, then this would make for a successful marriage.  If in fact the family has found a suitable candidate for their son or daughter, the families will visit each other and interview one another.  

Since India is a patriarchal society, the girl and her family are expected to visit the man's house.  If the male candidate is interested he will write to the woman's family to express his approval.  As a result, if the girl and her family approve of the man they will respond by either accepting or rejecting the man's proposal. The families later determine all the details of the wedding.  If there are many disagreements at this point, it could lead to a termination of the wedding plans. Parents almost always arrange the marriages in India.  However, sometimes if their child is involved in a romantic relationship based on love than the parents may oblige the child's wishes.  This rarely happens, but is most likely to occur in large cities since young people are more independent, educated, and they may work. In the rare instances in which a marriage is for love, it is normally settled by the man and woman on their own, without the consent of their parents.

(Picture of a family all together at a wedding. Notice their dress and that they are not wearing shoes.  You will see the women wearing traditional saris but many of the men dress in Western-style attire.)


What are the ingredients of a Muslim marriage?