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By Aysha Sezer
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
I had my wedding ceremony in June 2008. My recollection of the wedding day itself, like many brides I would presume, is that it was over very quickly. Greeting the guests, listening to the khutbah, queezing in a few spoonfulls of food, and thats pretty much it! The build up to the ‘big day’ however, etched in my memory, consisted of planning, planning, and more planning, coupled with anxiety, stress and the pressure to please everyone. Whilst everyone hopes for, and plans at least one wedding in their lives, how many of us truly seek to please our Creator, இறைவன், and indeed utilize this opportunity to invite to the way of submission and surrender to our Lord?
Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wassallam said : “Those who are present should convey (my message) to those who are not”. [Al-Bukhaari]
நினைவில் கொள்ளுங்கள்! Da’wah has great rewards. The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wassallam said: “Whoever guides someone towards good, will receive the reward of the one who acts upon it.” [முஸ்லிம்]
It may not have crossed our minds, but a wedding is in fact an excellent opportunity for da’wah. Not only is the guest list in the hundreds, but it is generally composed of a variety of people including categories of non-Muslims and not-so-observant Muslims. Whilst we plan to implement this most important practise of the Prophet Muhammad (சமாதானம் உன்னோடு இருப்பதாக) of getting married, we can hit two birds with one stone and spread the teachings of Islam through our example and words, and thereby earn further the pleasure and reward of Allah (swt). What follows is a collection of a few ideas on how this noble aim can be implemented; if you’re already married, I recommend reading and sharing these ideas with any prospective bride or groom you are acquainted with, or picking and mixing from relevant ideas to apply to virtually any event!
1. Plan according to the Qur’an and Sunnah
This is probably the single most important factor in determining, not only the blessings of the marriage itself, but its da’wah potential. The more the teachings of Islam are followed in the wedding party, avoiding the likes of extravagant spending, serving of alcohol, and free-mixing of the sexes, the more the pleasure of Allah will be attained insAllah, and the more blessed will commence the union of the husband and wife. மேலும், because of the seeming decline in weddings planned entirely according to the sharee’ah and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), the more extra-ordinary your party is likely to be, the more attention and intrigue generated on the part of the guests, and the more questions raised. The simplicity and beauty of Islam has always drawn people to the religion; it saddens me that many of us, நான் உட்பட, have lost touch with this essence of our religion.
2. Invite non-Muslim guests and pre-arrange seating
Whether it be your work colleagues, neighbours or other acquaintance, try to include non-Muslims in your guest list. It might also be a good idea to pre-determine seating in your event, so that non-Muslims are not isolated and are made to feel part of the celebration. If they are seated next to knowledgeable Muslims, then this would give them an additional chance to ask questions and engage with the unfamiliar practices. மேலும், if these Muslims were told prior to the event that they would be seated next to non-Muslims and a request were made for them to actively converse with the guests, then this could be even more effective. In essence therefore, depending on your depth of planning, non-Muslims can be made to feel not just welcome, but can leave the wedding party with new insight into Islamic belief and practices.
3. Islamic table decor
Whilst wedding table decor serves the purpose of beautifying the venue, we can also adapt certain pieces or incorporate that which is of extra benefit to the guests. For example, for my own wedding party, I prepared small table place cards, hand-written with selected lines of hadith and, if my memory serves me, even some verses from the Holy Qur’an. A few were placed on every table and guests not only had the opportunity to read this during the wedding itself, but were taking them away. This is an easy method to implement, cost-effective and hopefully leaves a lasting impression – where the guests have taken away and displayed the cards at home.
Using your imagination, I am sure you can come up with many other methods of using table decor as a da’wah tool!
4. Islamic khutbah
A brief, but well-planned and delivered Islamic reminder also serves as an excellent direct da’wah method. I feel it is vital to pick a good speaker and pre-arrange the topics to be discussed, as this will allow more direct targeting of the message and serve to capture the audience. எதிர்பாராதவிதமாக, many a time I have been dissappointed with the quality of the speech and speaker, thus my emphasis of this point.
Topics to be discussed could range from the typical purposes of marriage, to the religious reasons behind the structure of the wedding party i.e. the separation of sexes, absence of alcohol etc. in an attempt to address some of the questions undoubtedly raised in the minds of the guests. Ideally the recurrent message binding the speech together will be our belief in One, All-knowing and All-wise God, for Whose pleasure we have gathered to perform the wedding ceremony, and in Whose obedience we avoid the unlawful e.g. intimate relations outside of marriage, free-mixing of the sexes, drinking of alcohol etc. A clear distinction should be made between cultural and religious practices, so as to effectively fulfill the intention of da’wah.
5. The prayer
Prayer is pivotal in the life of a Muslim, and like all our days, we should try to plan our wedding party around the prayer times, being careful not to become negligent in this regard. InsAllah the importance we afford to the prayer on the wedding day itself will be duly rewarded with further blessings for our wedded life together.
If there is an opportunity to pray in a mass congregation, this would also be of great benefit, as well as excellent da’wah. If the wedding ceremony is held in a masjid, or there is a masjid nearby, then ideally congregational prayers can be performed at its best, with maximal reward (for men). In this case, non-Muslims can also be made to witness the congregation, by being invited along to watch the prayers.
Women can also hold a congregation amongst themselves, so that they may attain the virtue and reward of praying in congregation. The greater the numbers and importance attached to the prayer, எ.கா. through the provision of a specified prayer space (in view of all female guests), the greater the da’wah impact insAllah; we hope this will also serve as an encouragement for not-so-observant Muslims to fulfill their obligation.
As with all acts, we must bear in mind that our prayer is solely for the pleasure of Allah (swt), and we must be clear to differentiate in our intention any benefits derived as regards da’wah or whatever else as not the reason for our prayer, but we only hope through the mercy of Allah (swt) that our actions will also serve as a reminder and good example for the whole of humanity.
6. Minimise food waste
The significance of food wastage Islamically is well-known. I was, however quite taken aback recently when a Muslim lady in attendance at my brothers wedding, tearfully commented: “this is the first Muslim wedding I’ve been to where food hasn’t been wasted”. The comment was made as uneaten food was being gathered on one table, as we were trying to decide what to do with it all. It had’nt occured to me before this time, that even this seemingly small aspect of a wedding party can be a means of da’wah, as we strive to spread good advice with our actions.
இதனால், it would be useful if the prospective bride and groom could make pre-arrangements as to the delivery of leftover food to appropriate sources of need e.g. friends/family, homeless shelters or some even to animal homes (less humanly-edible pieces of food ideally).
7. Islamic gifts/favours
It is customary in many weddings, as a token of appreciation, to give the guests a small favour or gift at the close of the celebration. This is usually something edible, encased in pretty packaging with a souvenioural message. I have rarely seen this utilised maximally however, by way of Islamic messages or Islamic gifts. For example, why not include translated ayat from the Qur’an or verses of hadith (a bit like the table place cards?) which guests can take away? Or if you can afford it, pocket-size translated Qur’ans or Islamic booklets detailing marriage in Islam or other appropriate topic. Some of these can be very cheaply obtained, or at no cost, from da’wah organisations or you can try Islamic bookshops.
In conclusion, with a little bit of extra planning, it is possible to make your wedding experience more wholesome and educational for your guests, as well as greatly increase the personal benefit and reward derived in calling to Allah (swt). Even if just one, or a few of the preceding ideas are implemented, the impact, as discussed, can potentially be great. I look forward to your comments, and any other ideas you can think of!
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