April is Arab-American Heritage Month and we wanted to discuss the highlights of an Arab wedding. The Arab World consists of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, so although there are some commonalities there are many differences (which are difficult to capture in one blog post).
Photo by Jay Weenig available under Creative Commons Attribution License
The Arab people are very diverse. Most are Muslims but there is a strong Christian presence in most Arab countries. Lebanon has the largest Christian population where the split is approximately 50/50 between Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths. Other variations include city weddings which incorporate more western traditions like cake cutting and tossing of the bouquet versus rural country weddings which are more traditional. Even allowing for the differences in faiths there are still a lot of commonalities between the two, whereas Christians will hold the wedding ceremony in a Church and Muslims in a Mosque.
We have covered in detail in other posts what takes place in a Muslim wedding. This includes the marriage proposal, engagement, henna, nikah, and walima. There are many cultural variations, but Islamically, only the nikah and walima are required.
Here are 7 things about an Arab wedding you should know:
- Marriage Proposal: This is usually done at a family level where the groom and his family will meet with the bride’s family to ask permission to marry their daughter. In the absence of a father the eldest male relative will be asked. After both the bride and the bride’s father agrees there will be light refreshments that will be served.
- Reading of the Fatiha: Fatiha is the opening short chapter of the Quran which Muslims recite not only in all prayers, but at any important event including weddings.
- Engagement: Also called Khetbah, ‘Katb Kitab’ or Khutbah is a simple wedding party where the bride and groom may be dressed in matching colors and they exchange rings. There is usually dinner and cutting of a cake involved as well. This does not have an Islamic significance.
- Henna party: The Arab version of a “bachelorette” party. Traditionally it has been an all female event where Henna is applied to the brides hands and feet. There is food, music and dancing.
- Marriage Contract: Nikah, Aqd Nikah, Aqd Qiran, Aqd Zawaj, Katb el-Kitab are all variations of the marriage contract. This is where an Imam or respected member of the community performs the marriage ceremony including filling out of the legal documents. The wedding must usually be done with the bride’s permission and being witnessed by two adult men, usually from the family. The husband must offer an agreed upon mahr which is a marriage gift to the bride. There is no set amount of what a mahr should be other than it be meaningful to the bride and affordable to the groom. It can be paid in cash, property, travel (eg Hajj, Umrah) or many other ways.
- The Zaffe: A procession that is accompanied to the beat of drums with a troop of dancers performing in anticipation of the couple’s entry. The Zaffe may include a cultural dance called “dabke” (dabkeh) where the groom and other members of the male party will dance and the audience participates with the clapping of hands. Although “dabke” is not a dance all Arabs do, the Zaffe usually consists of the bride and groom sharing a dance after the entrance with their family as well.
- Ululation: High pitched sounds like “lulululu” made by women to celebrate the wedding.
Of course, as in all weddings, Arab-Muslim weddings have delicious food and non-Alcoholic drinks. The festivities before, during, and after the wedding can last days. Honeymoons, too, have become a part of weddings especially in cities.
As there are many “Arab” countries, some of the above-mentioned traditions may only be practiced by some and not the others. The above-mentioned 7 are a general list of what to expect at an Arab-Muslim wedding.
Share your Arab-Muslim wedding traditions below!
If you’re not into project management or Tech, not to worry, Scrum isn’t a bad word. It’s the in-thing in Agile project management which is used in software development and from there has grown into marketing, manufacturing and yes weddings. Our purpose in this post isn’t to get hot and heavy into all the lingo. Agile is the general approach and Scrum is a specific and commonly used method of software development.
Photo by Jeremy Keith available under a Creative Commons Attribution-license
Where does Scrum make sense in any project? Usually when a project is new or novel, there are tight deadlines, and or some level of complexity. Doesn’t that sound like a wedding? Most people will hopefully only get married once, so it will be new and novel for them. There is a deadline, the wedding day. There are not enough days and weeks to get all the things on your wedding backlog (ie tasks) done. Although complexity may not match the Apollo mission, there are a lot of details to get right.
There are seven keys you need to identify to use Scrum for wedding planning
- Visioning Exercises: Imagine the Perfect Muslim Wedding planning experience
- Roadmap: These are all the features that will make your wedding perfect. The Product (your wedding) Backlog are all the major tasks that need to be done, find a venue, caterer, get a dress etc.
- Release Planning: Is the timeline to your wedding day and what needs to get done by when. Important tasks need to be prioritized, so you need to separate the must have’s from the nice-to-have’s.
- Sprint Planning. Decide what iterations you are going to work in, eg weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and what the outcome should be at the end of each sprint. For example book venue, get wedding dress designed ,fitted, etc. which basically takes your product backlog and breaks it down into more smaller manageable tasks which become your sprint backlog.
- Daily Scrum. This maybe a little too much for a wedding unless you’re doing a crash course in 30 days or whatever. Perhaps every week or whatever makes sense based on your timeline do a check-in. You communicate what you did, what you’re planning to do, and any obstacles you are facing.
- Sprint Review. In the software world, you show your working prototype and get feedback. For weddings you can show eg a blueprint, dress, fitted dress, whatever shows progress.
- Sprint Retrospective. You discuss how things went and what you would do better for the next sprint.
Here is a video which captures the above points nicely.
There are many distinct roles in Scrum planning, The most critical being the Scrum Master who is the facilitator that helps manage the flow of information. Others are the (development) team, product owner (which is kind of like the sponsor), stakeholders, and an Agile mentor (which would be like a Uncle or Aunt) you trust who has done it all before, the wise sage. Many of the roles, may get condensed to just you, your spouse and any key stakeholders.
We cover the details of wedding planning all over our blog. To help you get a kick start here is something to think about, the MVP (Minimal Viable Product). What must you have and what is nice to have?
MUST HAVES (MVP)
- All guests feel welcome and have a great time
- Space for xxx guests
- Nice ambience in venue
- Delicious Food
- Wedding cake
- Wedding Dress/Suit
- Stick within our budget
- Awesome Speeches
NICE TO HAVES
- Flowers on every table
- Other things we don’t have the money for
The purpose of using Agile and Scrum isn’t to force a square peg into a round hole, but take some aspects of it that may help in your wedding planning. Thoughts?
Guy Kawasaki shared a wonderful posting on Facebook, about Truthgraphs. They are very simple and funny graphs and we at Perfect Muslim Wedding took the idea and applied it to Muslim weddings and marriage. Hopefully you will see they resonate for most weddings and marriages independent of faith. We like to take a break from the glitz and glam of wedding planning and the overwhelming amount of tips and advice for the perfect wedding. Relax and enjoy a few funny graphs.
Health Advisory: if you do not have a sense of humor or belong to the “haram police” you should avoid reading this blog.
We would really like to know your thoughts on future posts like this. We think it’s important to change it up a bit, please comment below any suggestions! It would be greatly appreciated.
“Marriage (nikah) in Islam between husband and wife is a sacred, spiritual, and social contract that is mutually agreed upon by both parties.”
Photo by Jerome Taylor available under a Creative Commons Attribution License
Below are common terms used in Muslim weddings, we hope those of you who are new to Muslim weddings will find this helpful.
Allah: Arabic name for the one and only God.
Barat: Groom’s procession to the Brides home or city.
Dholki: A pre-wedding celebration for the bride, and women who are family and friends.
Fatiha: First chapter of the Quran. Also a ceremony where the wedding contract is signed and groom reads Fatiha.
Henna or Mehndi: Adornment dye with artistic designs used on palms and feet of bride.
Ibadah: Worship of God.
Istikhara: Prayer for guidance and decision making
Imam: Religious scholar and leader who can also perform marriage ceremony
Mahr: A gift or payment given by the groom to the bride which is mutually agreed upon and a part of the marriage contract.
Masjid or Mosque: House of worship, where the marriage ceremony may take place.
Nikah: Witnessing of the marriage contract.
Quran: Islamic revelation and holy book of Muslims revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Also spelled Koran.
Rukhsati: Farewell ritual in some south Asian cultures where the father of the bride hands over his daughter to his new son-in-law.
Shia: A denomination of Islam who accept Ali and his descendents as the inheritors and leaders after the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Sunni: The majority school of Islam that recognizes the four righteous caliphs as the inheritors and leaders after the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Sunnah: The example and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Walima: Reception from groom for family and friends after the marriage ceremony.
Waqil or Wali: Representatives of the bride, usually father or uncle or brother.
Zawaj: Arabic for pair or mate, used in the Quran.
This is the third and final part of the results from the 2015 Perfect Muslim Wedding and Marriages Survey. Once again there thank you to all who participated. We believe there is tremendous learning we can gain from each other. There are some wonderful gems in this survey. Read through them. Take one or two that resonate for you and implement them in your lives. Rinse and repeat. May Allah make everyone’s marriage a blessed one.
Photo by feriansyah availablable under a Creative Commons Attribution-license
What was the biggest challenge in the first few years of your marriage (or that of a friend or family member)?
- For me personally, it was living so far away from my parents. Also, trying to fit into a new family and in-laws is difficult because it’s not something you’re used to.
- Getting to know each other’s little habits, such as squeezing out the toothpaste, cleanliness, moods when hungry, tired or stressed etc.
- Giving up single life, such as hanging out with friends.
- I have only been married for two months. Among friends and family members, communication seems to be a big challenge.
- I used to go to work and my wife used to stay home, she was lonely the first year.
- Know each other closely, and which buttons not to push!
- Learning how to cope with in-laws who are critical and judgmental.
- Learning to live with another person, realizing that your spouse is not perfect and you are not perfect, but love each other for who you are. I wish we could all work on self-growth and self-understanding before we get married.
- Learning when to keep quiet and not continue in the fight or complaining.
- Learning where to compromise and where to stand your ground.
- Living together and sharing a bathroom.
- My ex was unprepared for sharing his life and was very self-centered and negative.
- My friend was having a hard time being accepted by the guy’s mom because she did not choose her.
- Not doing pre-marital counseling or rushing into marriage.
- Not knowing your role or not agreeing on roles.
- When you marry someone from abroad then navigating immigration laws is stressful.
- Young couple, not financially stable.
What have you taught your spouse, or learned from them (or observed)?
- Compromise and understanding are essential characteristics, but these of course are subjective. To me, understanding means completely listening to the other person you may disagree with (without talking and interrupting), empathizing with them, and responding in a way where you explain that you hear and understand what they are saying, but that your position is different, and WHY. Basically painting a picture for that person to understand your perception since that person can’t read our mind (even though we want them to so bad sometimes).
- Everything is not what you expect. Expect differences. I learned from my spouse they were from a very different upbringing and that I needed to understand that point of view as well as they needed to understand where I came from better. Though both Muslim, our family upbringing was very different.
- Happy wife = happy life (Editor’s comment, nice formula).
- How to be more affectionate and less shy when at home. Being Muslim we weren’t culturally accustomed to being around our halal partner.
- How to communicate how easily people are influenced by their family even if they are wrong, there can be a bias. The importance of establishing and maintaining healthy, respectful boundaries with others.
- I have learned patience and respecting others in all situations. I used to be very hot-headed and would get angry or impatient easily. I’ve learned from my husband that remaining calm and collected in situations is better in the long run.
- I have learned that hope is stronger than fear.
- I learned the difference between what is really important to him, but of lesser importance to me, and vice versa, so we learned how to compromise.
- I taught my husband to communicate his feelings and he taught me to share them/the issue with the best intention and in the best words, time and place.
- I think I probably learned more from my spouse over the past almost 30 years than he has learned from me. I learned about being patient and understanding, I learned about how to truly care about someone else, I learned how to love without being perfect. I learned a lot about letting go and not holding on to anger and grudges and hurt feelings.
- I’ve learned a lot from my wife, and consider myself blessed to be married to such a mature, responsible individual. Before marriage, I used to consider myself ready and mature, but luckily my wife knocked some sense into me. (Editor: High Five’s brother)
- I’ve learned to be more giving to those in need.
- I’ve learned to expect nothing and to depend on me and only me.
- I’ve learned what a wonderful cook my husband is.
- I’ve taught him to be more open minded, and he’s taught me to really depend on Allah for everything. (That is the formula)
- Share.. Be transparent with finances
- Taught her to drive car, she taught me to dress appropriately for an occasion.
- That certain things don’t matter in life and that we have to give up certain things and take turn in making sacrifices if we want our relationship to work.
- That you can take on bad habits and you can take a leadership role no matter what the other person is doing it’s a choice.
- The importance of communication. What a relationship needs to survive – e.g. unity, sincere wanting to be together, efforts toward the relationship, spending time together, respecting what is important to each other outside of the relationship (e.g. volunteer work), etc. Respectful boundaries with in-laws.
- To accommodate the lifestyle of each other, and to ensure that it is in compliance with social and community values.
- Unconsciously and slowly, we have adopted a lot of each other’s basic habits.
What makes your (or someone you admire) marriage tick?
- Allah comes first. Always. Makes everything else fall into place.
- Believing in the marriage wholeheartedly. Knowing that we all make mistakes and we are not perfect and everyone has up and downs but learning to forgive quickly and moving on. Don’t let one issue or event or some hurt feeling get in the way of the larger picture-your love for each other. Most importantly, true belief in Allah and self-growth, self-evaluation and self-understanding will help you learn your weaknesses and once you know yourself better and help yourself become a better person (along with your spouse doing the same thing) you will help each other in all aspects of life. Like true partners, you will help and complement each other, Inshallah.
- Envisioning your spouse to not only be your protector and lover, but your best friend. The one who you go to when you feel vulnerable, when you need to feel safe. This person understands your ins and outs, and accepts you knowing all of it. Embrace it and give the same in return. This equal exchange of love is what I feel makes a marriage “tick.”
- Going away on “mini vacations”.
- Laundry (no explanation required)
- Making oath to myself that what ever happens I will never end this marriage. Meaning you will do everything in your power to keep this marriage. in other words I will make all kind of sacrifice to keep marriage. I believe you would need this few times during your marriage or at least once.
- Open communication, kindness, humility, patience, understanding, commitment to a married lifestyle (instead of living like roommates), loving each other for the sake of Allah, desire to please Allah, taking marital responsibilities very seriously, making efforts toward each other daily, being affectionate with each other, learning about the other, being apart of each other’s lives. Being interdependent (not completely dependent on each other or independent of each other, but rather of combination of the two). Two separate bank accounts. Spending some time apart, not all time spent together. Making time for each other. Common goals, common interests. Disagreements that are respectful with no yelling, name calling, put-downs, criticizing each other’s character. Being kind to each other’s family. Sharing household and childcare responsibilities. Making warm gestures toward each other. Being best friends. Being able to lean on each other and emotionally support each other. Having fun together and being able to laugh together. Equality may not always be possible, but striving for equity can be. Following the extensive research by Dr. John Gottman on what makes marriage work – “The 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work.”
- Patience on her part (Hmmm, says something about you?)
- Seeking help from Allah
- We both realize it is a work in progress and we try to be there for each other no matter what.
- We work together. No relationship is made or broken by one person. It takes two to make it, and two to break it. Each person has to contribute equally.
- When we are angry we do not discuss the matter. Later when we are cool we discuss. We ignore each others’ shortcomings and learn to work around them. As time passes our standards and habits begin to synch with each other. Apart from sticking with each other nothing really matters in the long run. We are both different people from the ones we married. We have grown older together as a couple there is no I or you between us now after 18 years.
To get future updates please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to the RSS feed on the site.
This is the second part of the results from the 2015 Perfect Muslim Wedding and Marriages Survey. In the first part of the survey we shared answers for questions 1 to 3. In part two we are sharing results for questions 4 to 6.
Photo courtesy of Xyra’s Photography
What were ways you/they saved money on the wedding?
- Asking for donations. One guest brings food, another brings cups, etc.
- At my wedding we invited a small group, found a beautiful restaurant with waterfalls and flamingos and kept it simple.
- Can you save money on a wedding? (Editor: Yes you can).
- Coupon…Sunday venue.
- Cutting down on some of the extra stuff – chocolate fountains, DJs and choosing a non-popular day for the venue location.
- Flowers and cake from Safeway; dress from China; cheapest menu offering.
- Free college meeting room. Food was supplied by the community. No decorations, no gifts. Simple white pant suit for bride.
- Getting cake from Safeway or having a fake cake where only the first tier was real cake.
- Getting friends bibliography and video. (Not a good idea, unless the friend has an actual business in video and photography), printed our own wedding cards, and got a friend to do my make-up.
- Had wedding at mosque, saved money, had wedding in Ramadan saved money.
- I came from simpler time and chose a simpler wedding, made my own wedding dress and cake and sweets and held the wedding at my parent’s house with limited guests. Unfortunately Muslims like other groups have not been immune to materialistic way of life for the most part.
- I had a friend do my henna, my family pitched in to make DIY centerpieces.
- I made my own dress, we had a small party (we were new in town) in our apartment and we prepared the food.
- I made my own wedding outfit and had it on the beach, it was free!
- In the union of marriage that was most memorable for me, the bride and groom decided to save their money for planning a nice getaway, in addition to giving whatever was left for charity. Rather than waste it on the glitz of the “weddings” that usually take place.
What do you think caused the most stress during wedding planning (that you later realized didn’t matter)?
- Everything! Explanation: when in the middle of planning, people take everything too seriously and in reality none of it matters in the long run! Just make sure food is good and the functions are somewhat organized.
- Focusing on small details and taking anger/frustration out at people who were there to help.
- I’ve been involved in at least 5 wedding plans. The beginning and very end are the most brutal. A majority (if not all) of the brides are on a budget, and responsibilities mostly lie on other family members to arrange and plan. So the preparation is horrendous because there is no central location to get ALL the items, and the very end (clean up and put away) is the most tiresome because of the need for it to be done right away. The duration of the celebration of course is the best and most enjoyable time, which then makes us go into considering “it was all worth it”… sort of.
- Large guest list, elaborate decoration, catering many many dishes, paying for photography and video. Spending too much on the brides and grooms’ dresses, having many parties.
- Pleasing everyone and inviting all with kids.
- Stuff that in the end no one cares about.
- The bride taking most of the wedding planning burden onto her own shoulders instead of sharing it with her husband, family, or wedding planner.
- The cake! We ended up throwing away a lot of cake because our caterer didn’t serve them on time and once they served them they used small and thin portions.
- The craziness, music and who should dance. And also, being to economical as to not invite too many people, I ended up with 25 less people who didn’t make it. So, wither be 100% that everyone you invited has RSVP’d or invite a few extra, because a few will not show up.
- Wanting things to be perfect instead of good enough.
- Wasting time, energy, and money selecting the perfect invitation, decorations, center pieces, entertainment, etc. The most stress was caused by people not working together, everyone trying to do their own thing, and respectful boundaries not being maintained amongst the families. This set the stage for what the marriage turned out to be as well as relationships with in-laws and in the end, this mattered more than anything!
- When the bride over stresses about her dress/how she will look. They always look beautiful.
- Who to invite/not to invite!
Based on your experiences what advice would you give a couple planning their wedding?
- This is a one time affair – don’t spend money trying to outdo others. Have it in a place where all your guests have a place to sit, have sufficient food, and pick the colors you like to decorate the place. Be sure to plan to walk around and greet everyone who came.
- Be simple, forgo this materialistic life and enjoy the moment and cherish the memories. Instead of worrying about stuff, connect with the guests and enjoy your time with your spouse-to-be and family. Lots of true laughter.
- Discuss things with the families instead of just the couple deciding on things. Also, choose a time where most of the family can attend.
- Don’t go into debt over one night of memories. Have a simple wedding and put the money you saved in something that matters like a down payment on a real home.
- Don’t worry it will all work out regardless of all the minor things that aren’t perfect. Your wedding will still be perfect and memorable to you. Even the things that don’t go perfectly will likely end up as a happy or funny memory. “Remember how stressed I was about learning how to tie on a bow tie…it still ended up crooked in half the pictures..haha”
- Enjoy it and don’t go overboard. Make sure you never get stressed enough to snap at your family that day it’ll ruin your memories.
- Even if things don’t turn out EXACTLY how you wanted, still enjoy your big day because at the end those things won’t matter, you feeling happy will and don’t let anything ruin that.
- First choose the right spouse. Then spend just enough to make it special and not enough to ruin the rest of your life because it’s a marriage, not a wedding that is important.
- Focus on welcoming your guests and ensuring all your closed ones are a part of your most memorable moment of your life.
- Invite 10 percent more than you think will attend because people will bail on the day of.
- It is important to involve your parents and respect their wishes but at the same time do what is true to you and your future spouse as it is your day you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
- Keep your guest list small to only your family and closest friends because paying per head adds up very quickly, pick a more intimate venue.
- Make sure you are getting married for the right reasons. Make sure expectations of each other and a life together are discussed, agreed upon, and committed to. Communicate to each other what is and is not important to have/not have for the wedding, including the type of wedding, budget, who is involved in the planning, decision-making, etc. Plan the wedding program together. Decide on what would be appropriate speeches, etc, select carefully those who will be making speeches, and speak to them about what you would like and would not like. Speak with the Imam who will be conducting the wedding and discuss what will be happening, what you can expect, what you want to see, etc and come to an agreement that is reasonable and satisfying. The couple should seriously consider pre-marital counseling.
- Take it easy and start planning well in advance. Whatever happens will be nice either way. At the end of the day its not the beautiful hall you should care about. It’s the marriage of you and your spouse-the love of your life- that matters the most. Always try and think practical and know that it’s only a matter of one night and then all your stress is over..so enjoy it instead of stressing.
- Take plenty of time to plan, But also be open to ideas from n with sides this way there won’t be the feeling that the wedding is just a one person event. Don’t cheapen out on videography, photography and makeup artist.
- The wedding should represent Allah ‘s blessing for people that respect and love each others.
- to be modest in their expectations of what a wedding should look like, not to compare their celebration with what “others” have done, and to critically think about what an actual “wedding” should be worth to them. After all, it’s ONE day. And perhaps the $10,000-$100,000 could more preferably be invested in their future rather this very one day.
- Try not to stress too much. Everything does NOT need to be perfect. Everyone just has to have a very good time 🙂
If you want to make sure you get the remaining updates please email us at email@example.com or sub