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A Muslim Engagement Ceremony

Question and answer details
Friend
2014/01/04
As-salamu alaikum dear scholars. Thank you very much for all your work on this website. I am a recent convert to Islam and I should get engaged in three months, insha' Allah. I do not know much about how engagement is performed in Islam and I need information on the rules to follow for the engagement ceremony so that I do my best to bring Allah's blessing on my engagement and future marriage. I would like to know the general information and as well information on some details such as the followings: What should we do and what should we avoid doing in the ceremony? What should we say and avoid saying? Are there recommendations on how I should dress and present myself? I do not wear hijab but I dress modestly without make-up and I tie my hair. May I wear a little makeup, leave my hair loose, wear a pretty but decent covering dress? Are there recommendations about whom to invite? As well, it is possible that my non-Muslim parents refuse to come since they are against my conversion and will probably be angry that I plan to marry a Muslim man. Will my engagement be valid according to Islam if my parents do not come? Thank you.
Sahar El-Nadi
Answer

Salam dear sister,


Congratulations for your engagement and welcome to the fold of Islam.


Thank you for your trust in our service, and for being so conscious of doing the right thing as a good Muslim. May Allah always guide you to what pleases Him and grant you and your loved ones happiness.


How Islam Views Marriage


Marriage is an act of worship and obedience to Allah, Who commands the husband and wife to respect and love each other, to create a peaceful home, and to help each other in rearing good Muslim children to make a positive difference to the world.


It is also a lawful response to the basic instincts of intimacy within a detailed system of rights and duties. Muslims are instructed on how to channel these desires to live a tranquil, settled life. The Quran says what gives the meaning of:


{And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.} (Ar-Rum 30:21)


Many verses of the Quran discuss marriage, family relations, and domestic etiquette, so I encourage you to do some readings in preparation for your new life.


Engagement: A Promise of Marriage


It is important to clarify that engagement in Islam is just a promise of marriage. It does not entitle fiancés to any special rights over one another, other than publicly declaring serious interest in a life-long commitment to each other under Allah's law.


So Muslim fiancés should be conscious of that fact while dealing with each other during the engagement period, the same rules of decent conduct apply that they would normally follow while dealing with a member of the opposite sex who is a non-mahram. That is, your fiancé is not your lawful husband yet. That could change only after they have been formally declared husband and wife.


So while an engaged couple may freely discuss their values and ethics, plan for their future life together, and choose and prepare a home to live in after they are married, they should also be careful to avoid privacy together and the type of intimacy that is only allowed between married couples in Islam.


After all, an engagement is just a declaration of intention to get married, and only if and when both sides feel absolutely certain of that decision. It should be clear that an engagement — like any preliminary contract or letter of understanding — can be revoked at any point before the commitment of marriage, without any formal consequences to either side.


Muslims believe that they will never get anything that Allah had not destined for them; nor will they ever lose anything that was meant to be theirs. Therefore, if a man and woman were destined by Allah for each other, there will be plenty of time to express their feelings freely once they are married. If not, then obviously there is no need to create bitter memories and any deeds you would not want to face Allah with.


You say you do not wear hijab, so while you have the right to be happy and look beautiful on this special occasion, you are also expected to do that in a modest and conservative way, taking into consideration that the men around are non-mahram to you. May Allah guide you and support you to please Him as best you can.


Suggestions for the Ceremony


There are no specific rituals to follow when two Muslims are getting engaged, so the celebration details are left to the tradition of each community, as long as they do not contradict Islamic teachings by actions such as drinking alcohol, mixed dancing, offering prohibited foods, invoking other gods for happiness or luck, etc.


Here are some informal suggestions to help you plan. Feel free to improvise as you see fitting within Islamic guidelines:


You may like to invite a friend who has a good voice to recite some verses of the Quran at the start of your gathering. The verses could be on the beauty of marriage, and tranquility and affection Allah creates between husbands and wives.


You could also invite the imam of your local mosque or Islamic center to give a short speech on love and marriage guidelines in Islam.


Do not forget to invite your close friends and relatives as well, even if they are non-Muslims. Islam encourages us to be friendly and warm to everyone as long as they are kind and friendly to us. You can encourage them to write their wishes and advice for you in a special book you prepare for this occasion.


You and your fiancé could share with your guests the story of how you met and what made you choose each other for marriage.


It is up to you whether to wear engagement rings. Just make sure that the one for the man is not made of gold, as this is prohibited for men in Islam. You can also prepare a special meal or dessert to share with your guests as you accept their congratulations and good wishes.


Muslims have produced some cultural manifestations that are not essential parts of Islam. You can take them or leave them. It might help you to get to know these manifestations to help you adjust in your new life as a Muslim.


So after being engaged, you and your fiancé could spend useful and enjoyable halal lawful time together by sharing learning and knowledge to prepare for your future life, by reading books, attending courses, or listening to lectures together on the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives, rearing children in Islam, and on how to build a stable, happy relationship that also fulfils your duty to Allah.


You may like to compile a gift 'wish list' of useful educational material for your new life and pass it on to your friends who want to give you presents. They could also give you gift certificates to buy what you need. Many online Muslim product stores offer that service in Europe, the United States, and Canada.


Do Not Ignore Your Parents


A whisper in your ear, sister: It is very important for a Muslim woman to include her parents in her wedding plans, even if they are non-Muslim. Parents enjoy very high esteem in Islam, second only to Allah's, in return for all the pain and hardships they went through to protect and care for their children and give them a good life.


So, even if you anticipate resistance from your parents to the new life you chose for yourself, you are recommended to be patient and to try your best to win them over and to get their blessings for your marriage


Try all you can to get them to attend. It is a good opportunity to soften their hearts when they see how happy and content you are with the good man you chose for a husband.


Try to make them see that Islam did not take you away from them; instead, it has made you an even better daughter, and it has also won them a good son: your fiancé, whose religion commands him to be kind, respectful, and affectionate to your parents and to you.


Even if your parents do not come, do not blame yourself. Your engagement is valid. And you should continue to try to win them over.


I hope this answers your questions. We are praying for you to have a happy and blessed life as a Muslim.


Salam and please stay in touch.


Useful Links:


The Blessed Covenant of Love and Mercy


Distinguishing Culture From Religion Concerning Marriage

 

Marriage Is the Prophet's Sunnah

 

To Love or to Know, What Comes First?

 

Purity of Man-Woman Relationship

 

 Man and Woman: Before Marriage?

 

Women and Men in Islamic Marriage

 

Obedience Within Loving Marriages

 

How Should a Muslim Marriage and Reception Be?

 

The Relationship Between the Engaged Couple
 

Is Engagement Ring Permissible?

 

Engaged Couples Talking on the Phone

 

Engaged Couples Hanging Out Together



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