Although Muslim wedding ceremonies vary widely, there are common Islamic beliefs and laws about marriage across cultures. Scholars derive Islamic law from their interpretations of the Quran, which followers believe is the word of Allah, or God; and the Hadith, which are the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Believers also rely upon the advice and their local imam, who is the leader of the mosque.
View of Marriage
In Islamic culture, followers view marriage as a social contract, rather than as a sacrament between soul mates, as in Western culture. Muslims are encouraged to get married by religious and legal standards. If law allows polygyny, a man can take up to four wives simultaneously; a woman, however, can have only one husband. Both men and women are required to treat each other with respect and kindness, and men are not permitted to take more than one wife if they cannot treat all their wives with love, respect and fairness.
Arranged marriages are still common for many Muslims, according to the website BBC Religions. Although divorce is permissible, it is not ideal and the goal of the parents arranging the marriage is to choose couples who are compatible in terms of piety and who will be able to live together harmoniously forever. Parents cannot trick, coerce or threaten a couple into getting married. Although it isn't always possible, it's encouraged for the couple to meet before the marriage under the supervision of a guardian.
A Muslim man must give his bride a dowry, or “mahr,” at the time of the marriage so she can have her own property. Although she frequently spends this money on her husband and children, she is not required to do so and can spend her money on whatever she wishes. The man is required to support his wife; the woman is not required to contribute to the household income, even if she has a job.
Under Muslim law, a marriage ceremony consists of the signing of a contract rather than an imam performing a ritual. Couples don't have to be present at their marriage ceremony as long as at least two witnesses are present. While the imam is usually present and performs the ceremony, his presence isn't required. During the ceremony, there is a Quran reading, and, if both parties are attending, partners exchange vows in front of witnesses for both the husband and wife.
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Brenda Scottsdale is a licensed psychologist, a six sigma master black belt and a certified aerobics instructor. She has been writing professionally for more than 15 years in scientific journals, including the "Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior" and various websites.