"Engagements" are contrary to the Sunnah. A verbal proposal and answer is sufficient. To unnecessarily delay Nikah of both the boy and the girl after having reached the age of marriage is incorrect. (Note: But on the other hand, some parents pray day and night endlessly for a quick marriage to a good-looking, highly educated, well-off person who comes from a grand family of great repute...in the case of a groom, a groom with a high-flying job, etc. The minute we find such a groom or bride, we jump to grab him/her. But how many of us spend sleepless nights praying not for a speedy grand marriage but a marriage which is filled with love, happiness, blessings and piety?) There is nothing wrong in inviting one's close associates for the occasion of Nikah. However, no special pains should be taken in gathering the people from far off places. (Note: The money could instead be spent in charity, to gain the blessings of the poor.) It is appropriate that the bridegroom be a few years older than the bride. (Note: The Prophet's first marriage was to Khadija, who was 15 years older than him. She was a widower and he was a virgin. They were so happy together that he did not remarry until she passed away, even though polygamy was widely practised during that time - before the advent of Islam) If the father of the girl is an Áalim or pious and capable of performing Nikah, then he should himself solemnise the marriage. It is better to give the Mahr Faatimi and one should endeavour to do so. But if one does not have the means then there is nothing wrong in giving less. (Note: The dowry is an obligation upon the groom's family, not the bride's family!) It is totally un-Islamic for those, who do not possess the means, to incur debts in order to have grandiose weddings. (Note: On the contrary, weddings are arranged on such a grand basis that often parents cannot perform obligatory acts like Hajj for the next few years because they lack funds, which were spent on the weddings of their children) It is fallacy to think that one's respect will be lost if one does not hold an extravagant wedding and invite many people. What is our respect compared to that of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)? (Note: We spend thousands of dollars to impress people. We are sentimental - "I want my daughter/son to have the best." However, think about it this way...the people you impress will forget the wedding after a few weeks, your daughter/son's marital happiness may float on the extravagance of her/his wedding for a short while but ultimately, it will depend on just one thing: God. What is the use angering and disappointing God when it is His blessings, and nothing else - not even the grandest, most impressive wedding, that will ensure your children are happy? Ask yourself, are you getting your children married so you can show off and enjoy a grand wedding or because you want your children to experience happy, guided and blessed married lives?) The present day practice of the intermingling of sexes is an act of sin and totally against Shariáh. (Note: Teenagers and young adults, if prompted, will admit the level of flirting, 'checking out' and showing off that goes on during weddings, where everyone is dressed to put on a show, not to watch a wedding take place.) There is nothing such as engagement parties and Medhi parties in Islam. (Note: Another source attests that a simple gathering of women and girls to apply mehdi or henna on the bride is allowed) Great care must be taken as regards to Salaat on occasions of marriage by all - the bride, the bridegroom and all the participants. (Note: On the contrary, the bride misses her prayer because her make-up will be washed away if she performs ablution...guests who are also dressed up delay their prayers for similar reasons. The couple and guests should perform ablution before going to the wedding and should perform their prayers there. The organisers of the wedding should also make arrangments for guests to perform their prayers. How can we expect our marriages to be successful and blessed if we abandon the first pillar of Islam, in pursuit of the perfect wedding?) It is un-Islamic to display the bride on stage. (Note: If she adorns herself and dresses up, it should be for her own satisfaction, her family's happiness and for her husband - not for hundreds of male wedding guests that will come to have a look at her. The bride should not be treated like a trophy - all dolled up, sitting quietly on a stage for all to see, pretending to be reserved and shy (as is the custom and culture) - this is demeaning for she is a thinking individual - not something to decorate and show off.) The unnecessary expenses incurred by the bride's family in holding a feast has no basis in Shariáh. (Note: The Islamic tradition is for the bride's family to hold a simple nikah ceremony where the marriage contract is signed. The big feast should only take place as the walima, which is the obligation of the groom's family. Sadly, often low-income parents of young girls delay getting their daughters married because they feel pressed by society to throw a big feast.) For the engaged couple to meet at a public gathering where the boy holds the girl's hand and slips a ring on her finger is a violation of the Qurãnic law of Hijaab. (Note: It is rather funny - in most cultures, a man and woman get engaged and they spend time together like they are already married. But as soon as the nikah takes place, they are told to stay separate and maintain 'modesty'. In many cultures, the nikah takes place in the morning and the wedding reception at night or several weeks or even months, later. Strangely, the same couple who was engaged and mixing freely, is not allowed to mix freely between the nikah and the wedding reception thrown by the bride's family. It is as ridiculous as the Western concept of mixing freely before and after the engagement but as soon as the bride puts on her wedding dress, it's bad luck for the groom to see her! In Islam, the engagement is not a licence to mix freely - the nikah is. It is as good as getting married and the couple can do everything together and have the wedding reception and the walima later.) It is un-Islamic for the engaged couple to meet each other and also go out together. (Note: In this day and age, every other person around us could be a weirdo. We rarely become engaged to the children of families that we know very well so it is difficult to find out what kind of a person we are getting married to. Certain scholars attests that meeting, in the presence of Mahram men, and getting to know each other, within the rules set by the Quran is allowed.)
- Three things should be borne in mind when giving one's daughter gifts and presents at the time of Nikah: Presents should be given within one's means (it is not permissible to take loans, on interest for such presents); To give necessary items; A show should not be made of whatever is given. It is Sunnat for the bridegroom's family to make Walimah. In Walimah, whatever is easily available should be fed to the people and care should be taken that the is no extravagance, show and that no debts are incurred in the process. To delay Nikah after the engagement is un-Islamic.
- In aping Western and Hindu methods sheepishly, Muslims have adopted many customs which are un-Islamic and frowned upon. Some examples are: Displaying the bride on stage; Inviting guests for the wedding from far off places; Receiving guests in the hall; (Note: The Mosque is the center of life for true Muslims and weddings should be held there. According to the Tradition of the Prophet(S.A.W.) marriages performed in the House of Allah, immediately preceded and followed by prayers, will attract the maximum of Allah's Blessings. Obviously, people know very well that the mosque is no place for the unIslamic cultural practices they promote at their weddings and so make alternative arrangements.)
- The bride's people incurring unnecessary expenses by holding a feast which has no basis in Shariáh. We should remember that Walimah is the feast arranged by the bridegroom after the marriage is consummated. It is contrary to Sunnah (and the practice of some non-Muslim tribes in India) to wish, hope for or demand presents and gifts for the bridegroom, from the bride's people. We should always remember that our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) did not give Áli (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) anything except Duá. (Note: Unfortunately, the fathers of millions of daughters across the world, especially South Asia, incur debts and become poor and miserable because 'culture' pressurises them to give dowry to their future son-in-laws. Some girls are forced to remain single for years because they cannot afford the dowry - some commit suicide, as do their deperate fathers. In parts of South Asia, dowry-murders, among Hindu families, are commonplace whereby - a new bride is tortured or murdered by her in laws because her family did not give a large enough dowry. This is completely UnIslamic - the dowry or Mahr is to come from the groom to the bride, not the other way around.)