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The purpose of wedding ceremonies

by mohamad azhar hashim

It is the season for nuptials, and a good time to think about the reason for both the event and the marriage itself.

IN conjunction with the long year-end school holidays, December is mainly the month of weddings galore. It is a momentous occasion not only for the brides and bridegrooms, but also their respective families and friends, who witness the solemnisation of the couple as husband and wife, and then participate in the subsequent celebrations.

Judging by the scale of the weddings conducted in our society, some seem to hardly mind splurging to make the once-in-a-lifetime affair memorable in every sense.

Be it the clothing, reception, guest list, venue, and entertainment amongst others, everything is done to make the event the best possible regardless of one’s status.

Nevertheless, how much one squanders on a wedding ceremony is a personal matter. In Islam, what is more important is that the function is practically to make known “to the world” – relatives and acquaintances from near and far, and even spread out to the community – the holy matrimony between a man and a woman.

Given the Islamic limitations of behaviour imposed on the unmarried, such a function is necessary to dispel any untoward speculation that may be directed towards the nature of the couple’s relationship should they be seen.

A distinctive feature of the contemporary wedding invitation card is a Quranic verse: “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily, in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (Quran, 30: 21)

Even though the practice is merely customary rather than religious, the verse offers a wonderful message, worth understanding and appreciating, on the purpose of marriage.

In essence, marriage is a union between a man and woman, who live together in peace and tranquillity. Beyond this, it is one of the ways to enable the couple to attain God’s Grace and Mercy which are translated by virtue of the mutual love and affection of the husband and wife for each other.

Thereafter, contact between them will bring into existence children, and from here, a new generation of family will develop, as expressed by the Divine: “O Humans, revere your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person, created of like nature its mate, and from this scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah through Whom you claim your mutual rights…” (Quran, 4:1). Thus, from a family that society will emerge leading to the creation of human civilisation.

Such a “system” that enables civilisation to procreate one generation to another does not come by chance, but rather a deliberate creation of the Almighty.

Starting with the natural needs of man to find fulfilment with a woman, and vice versa, both will find calm and satisfaction, which will bond each other.

Such is the wise arrangement that God has created for the survival of the human species and to maintain the existence of human civilisation on the planet.

In addition, out of His Infinite Love and Mercy does he bestow the same feelings in the human heart to elevate the status of the human race high above that of animals and other species.

Indeed, both feelings of love and mercy are the same desire that binds men and women in making their home together. Out of this desire are families brought up, and it renders the human being with social life as naturally required.

Hence, the importance of marriage in laying the foundation of the family institution.

Even though it is a relatively small unit, its function is crucial for a nation and human civilisation. Ideally, in a family institution, human beings live in congregations, in which husbands, wives, their children and other members pray, dine, and do all activities together.

The head of the family will not only lead, but also practice consultation (shura) in every interaction involving its members. Hence, the home is made complete and this may even be likened to heaven.

Despite this completeness, God repeats in the Quran that a human being will always be tried and tested as part of the process to elevate his status before Him. As such, we will be at fault if we think that “tranquillity”, “love” and “mercy” are totally our rights and will be perpetuated forever.

There will come a time when “tension”, “stress” and “anger” creep into the human heart and compromise all noble desires. As a result, when “love and mercy” are missing, the family head will tend to make unilateral decisions or apply a regimented leadership style.

This is possibly when domestic abuse begins, and perhaps later, leads to the breakdown of the family institution. Should such a tragedy strike, the society by extension, as well as the civilisation, will be at stake. Nonetheless, God Most Compassionate and Merciful provides human beings with the tools by which they can uphold the state of “tranquillity”, “love” and “mercy” even in the most difficult of situations.

Obviously, that one decisive factor that enables love and relationships to flourish for life and beyond – the hereafter – is the total faith in Him alone, rather than in other fellow beings or creations.

Indeed, humans by nature need attention, help, support, and thus, desire for partners to share their weaknesses and strengths, as well as joys and sorrows. God in His Ever Perfect Wisdom, does not just create man and woman for each other, but makes His creation in such a way both live and love in wonderful harmony and a perfect complement for each other.

Thus, as a matter of tradition, weddings in our society may be a grandiose occasion, but let’s not argue about it – status and affordability will determine.

Most importantly, as long as there are wedding ceremonies, they prove that men and women are united for the purpose of founding a family institution, and contributing to the continuous existence of the human civilisation.

So, for all the brides and grooms-to-be, may you have a peaceful and tranquil life ever after.

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