Love and Marriage

By Laine Solomon, Shaina Carroll, Zach Fink, and Chris Dolan

In the Muslim faith, the process required before a man and a woman marry is much different than that which exists in America. There are much stricter rules about what is allowed and what isn't. There are specific ceremonial rituals that must occurs at the marriage ceremony before the marriage can be official.

muslim_wedding_hands.jpgIn the Muslim faith, is dating allowed? Why/ why not?

Dating, as the word is typically used today, is not allowed in the Muslim faith. The Islamic religion does not permit pre-marital relationships. It is believed that men and women are created only for the purpose of developing a family. Only permanent relationships are allowed, Islam forbids all "temporary" relationships. Islam also forbids all physical relationships before marriage. It is believed that all Muslims must be "clean" when they marry. The Quran states that being involved in physical relationships before marriage will prevent an individual from being pure and seeking god. Couples are not allowed to be in a closed room together or go out together. Couples must be chaperoned by a third person because the Prophet Muhammad said " Not one of you should meet a woman alone unless she is accompanied by a relative". He also said "Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan (Shaytan) is the third among them". "Lawful to you in marriage are chaste women from the believers and chaste women from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before your time, when you have given their due Mahr (bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), desiring chastity (i.e. taking them in legal wedlock) not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girlfriends. ... "- Al-Ma'idah 5:5.


Why is sexual intercourse outside of marriage forbidden in Islam?

Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is forbidden because it is meant to bare safety to the general public. Dr. Hassan Hathout says, "'Sexual intercourse out of marriage is forbidden in Islam because Islam stands for justice between women and men'" (134). Outside of marriage, it is considered a corruption against women, as any negative misbehavior of such a person are forever carried on.


What are the dating customs/rituals?

In some circumstances, Islams consider marriage as a family bonding between a man and his spouse based on true love. A man may choose a bride of their own without the help of their parents or a match maker. The only thing necessary to do is that they have to get the girl to fancy them and afterwards they will cut a lock of their hair or put a sheet over them to claim that this girl is going to be the man's spouse. When a man gives up hope in finding a spouse he makes a prmosque.jpgayer to Allah to help him find the right person. Meanwhile, if a women is not married either, she might pray as well for hope of a man asking to be "dating" with her. However, once the spouse is found and claimed there is no dating or communication with the new newlyweds before they commit to one another in a serious way as well as no physical contact before marriage. Sometimes instead of dating, a Muslim and Muslimah meet in a pre-set place, often a room in the Mosque, with a third person with them couple in the room, for strict Muslims. The couple will enter a discussion in which a marriage contract will have an affect as well as asking questions of importance regarding their marriage. Once the discussion is over with and all is well, processes within each family are made to decide if they want to be together or to part their different ways. Sometimes, you find a young groom or bride being forced to be in a marriage in which they do not want to take part in but the Islamic ways of dating have given freedom of choice to the couple proceeding on becoming "engaged". Islam as a whole feels that this type of courtship of freedom of marriage helps strengthen the marriage because of family involvement and guidance in an important decision such as this. It helps the couple come to an agreement bu choice not just by romantic notes but on how compatible the couple is. Recently, Muslims have come up with better ways of dating, however the dating style differs depending on which group of Muslims one belongs to.
  • Halal dating is practiced by the first group.
  • The "Eid Muslims", the second group, practice faith only on holidays and are illegally dating "practitioners" who do not go near physical relationships.
  • The third group that people know of are the Free Birds. They are fully Haram and are comfortable with premarital sex and monogamous relationships.
The way that Muslims date is mainly copying the Halal dating style, where the couples are introduced to one another by close friends or relatives. Each person must then recognize that they are committed to marriage with one another. They begin to think of one another as a life partner who in the future will recieve a marriage license. However their dating mostly involves talking on the phone or chatting online, and may sometimes lead to actual dates. Once they begin to get familiar with one another, the couple is entering a marriage under the Islamic law by a marriage contract being signed. This Islamic law is called the Nikah, is represents being together and permits them to spend more time together. This is discussed further below.



What are some customs and traditions when a boy and girl wish to marry?


In order for a couple to get married there are a few basic things that are needed. First of all, the bride and the groom must mutually agree to the marriage. If both do not agree, then the marriage is unofficial. Both bride and groom are allowed to make certain conditions and terms and make them a part of the marriage contract. The Islam marriage contract is revocable.
One of the first thingmendhi.jpgs that is necessary is a Mahr, or a gift from the groom to the bride. The Mahr is a very important part of the marriage contract. The Mahr is known as a token of commitment and may be paid in property, movable objects, or money. The mahr can be given to the bride on the day of the marriage or after. It can also be given over a prolonged period of time. The side of the bride expresses consent to enter the marriage, and the side of the groom agrees to accept the r espon sibility of marriage.

Primary Requirements
1) Agreement on both sides
2) Two adult and sane witnesses present
3) Mahr given
If theses primary requirements are fulfilled, the only thing that needs to happen for the marriage to be official is the actual wedding.




What are the traditions and customs that occur at the wedding ceremony?

Weddings in the Muslim faith are celebrated on a grand scale. Most Muslim families follow the traditional wedding ceremony, which is broken down into three main parts: The pre- wedding, the actual wedding, and the post-wedding celebration. Each of the three celebrations have their own significance.
The main pre-wedding celebration is called the Mehndi Ceremony. This event is held a few days before the wedding or on the eve of the wedding. It is usually held at the bride’s house. The Mehndi ceremony is mainly a female function where female family and friends come together. Turmeric paste is applied by the guests to the bride to bring out the glow in her complexion. While the relative applies the mehndi to the bride’s face, she sings and dances to traditional tunes. This is a very important part of the pre-wedding ceremony and gives it a festive touch. According to Muslim custom, the bride should not leave the house after the Mehndi Ceremony until the day of the wedding. Like the Mehndi Ceremony, the main day wedding celebration is held at the bride’s house or a common location. On this day the groom arrives at the venue with his family and friends (known as “Welcoming the Baraat”). The Baraati (Groom) has a drink of sherbet with the brother of the bride. The sister of the bride plays pranks on the guests. The actual wedding is called Nikaah. In the presence of close family and friends is the maulvi, or priest, who conducts the wedding ceremonies. In orthodox families men and women are often seated separately. The fathers of the groom and bride (called the Walis) play a big role in the Nikaah ceremony. After the priest reads verses from the Quran, and the bride and groom complete the proposal and acceptance, the Nikaah ceremony is officially over. In order for the marriage to be legal, mutual consent from the bride and groom is necessary. Money given from the family of the groom to the family of the bride on the day of the wedding is called the Mehar. The official marriage document is called the Nikaahnaama. In order for it to be legal, the bride, groom, both fathers, and the priest must sign it. Even though the wedding is over, the festivities don’t stop there. The Valimah, or reception, is hosted by the family of the groom after the Nikaah Ceremony. It is a fun time for both of the families and it brings them closer. In the Valimah, people meet friends and relatives of both families. In this ceremony the two families create a new bond and relation. Dinner is organized for the guests after the wedding. The newly married couple will then sit together for the first time. The Quran is placed between the couple. The couple is only allowed to look at each other through mirrors.
Post wedding ceremonies are a very important and emotional part of the day. In these ceremonies, the family of the bride says goodbye to her. Her dad gives the bride the hand of her husband, and the bride's father tells the husband to take care of her.

mehndi-ceremony.jpg

<<< Traditional Mehndi Song


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What is the responsibility of each party? Each family?
In Muslim weddings there are many responsibilities of different people in each family. In a regular Christian or American wedding the bride’s father walks her down the aisle and besides a couple more things; that is the only responsibility of a family member. The Muslim weddings are broken up in many parts, and each part focuses on a different family members. A day or two before the wedding, the bride's family has the responsibility of hosting the Mendhi ceremony. This is the ritual where all of the females in the brides family apply turmeric paste to the bride, to make her complexion stand out and make her look beautiful for the upcoming occasion. During the ritual of the Istikhara, when the bride’s father accepts the offer of marriage, it is the responsibility of the groom's mother and her female friends or relatives to go over to the bride’s house and greet her with sweets.The bride’s family then has the responsibility of entertaining the guests with refreshments. Once the groom's mother meets the bride she performs the ritual of Imam-Zamin; which is when the grooms mother ties a silver or gold coin rapped around a silken cloth,a Imam-Zamin, around the brides right arm. In the traditionally ritual of Mangni both families send fruits and vegetables to each other. During the Sanchaq tradition, the groom's family has the responsibility of sending the bride jewelry and expensive clothes to wear at the wedding ceremony. The actual wedding ceremony is called Nikah. The bride and her family have the responsibility of hosting the wedding. Before the ceremony the brother in law, or other member of the bride's family if the brother in law is not present, ties a Sehra (flower veil) to the grooms forehead.

How does this relate to the text?
This topic relates to the book in many ways. After Amir and Baba have been in America for a few months and begin going to the flee market, Baba introduces Amir to General Taheri. Amir meets Soraya, the General's daughter, and he begins to fall in love with her. One day, while Amir is visiting Soraya at the flea market the General arrives unexpectedly and gets upset with Amir. "'You know, bachem, I have grown rather fond or you. You are a decent boy, I really believe that, but--' he sighed and waved a hand '--even decent boys need reminding sometimes. So it's my duty to remind you that you are among peers in this flea market'" (152). He got mad because in the Muslim faith, men and women are not allowed to meet without a third person present. Finally, Amir decides that he wants to marry Soraya. "'I want you to go khastegari. I want you to ask General Taheri for his daughter's hand'" (161), Amir asks Baba. Although most of the wedding rituals were skipped; the Istikhara was done by Baba proposing the offer of marriage between Amir and Soraya to the General. "According to tradition, Soraya's family would have thrown the engagement party, the Shirini-khori--or 'Eating of the Sweets' ceremony. Then an engagement period would have followed which would have lasted a few months. Then the wedding, which would be paid for by Baba" (169). However, Amir and Soraya decide to forgo the engagement period because no one knew if Baba would live long enough for this to occur. "Soraya and I never went out alone together while preparations for the wedding proceeded--since we weren't married yet, hadn't even had a Shirini-khori, it was considered improper. The Koran states that "Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan (Shaytan) is the third among them". Therefore, Amir and Soraya, like all other Muslims, were not permitted to be out alone before they were married. Finally, the wedding arrives. Baba pays for it, spending nearly all his life savings and rents a large banquet hall. He also buys Amir a suit for the nikkah or swearing ceremony. Then the nika actually occurs, "We were seated around a table, Soraya and I dressed in green--the color of Islam, but also the olor of spring and new beginnings. [...] Soraya and I looked down, solemnly respectful casting only sideway glances at each other. The mullah questioned the witnesses and read from the Koran. We said our oaths. Signed the certificates" (170). As described above, Amir and Soraya have a traditional nikkah ceremony. Then they have a reception to celebrate and finally, "We did Ayena Masshaf, where they gave us mirror and threw a veil over our heads, so we'd be alone to gaze at each other's reflection" (171). Now, after all of this, Amir and Soraya are permitted to be together and look at each because they have gone through the entire wedding ceremony.
Amir and Soraya's wedding ceremony and dating rituals demonstrated the connection between the topic, Love and Marriage, and the text. Throughout the story, Khaled Hosseini describes the Muslim wedding as it traditionally occurs.
In order to understand Khaled Hosseini's work, The Kite Runner, one must understand the traditions and customs that occur when a man and woman wish to get married.
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Hasan, Asma Gull. American Muslims. London: Burns & Oates, 2002.
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