Arabic Wedding Traditions: A Beautiful Way to Marry

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There are 22 countries in North Africa and the Middle East that make the Arab world. While most Arabic weddings are similar, there are certain differences which would be impossible to cover in a single blog post. A lot of people get married every day, and we can discuss the most popular Arabic wedding traditions which take place in almost all the Arab countries.

Whether the Arabians get married in their home countries or in any other part of the world, they make sure to follow all their customs and traditions. Arabs stay true to their roots and follow all the traditional ceremonies. The weddings may even last several days with multiple lavish parties for the guests to attend. Family and friends in huge numbers make their presence count at the wedding and dress formally as per the occasion.

Arabian Wedding Traditions: Key Concepts

Arabic wedding traditions are not simple, and there’s a lot happening from the families agreeing to marry off their children to the big wedding day. In the Arabian culture, the family members matter a lot, thus, it is essential to keep them together for all the festivities of the wedding. Each ceremony has a distinct value and brings together the two families to strengthen their bonds.

While there are a number of variations in the celebrations, only the Nikah and the Walima are required Islamically. We explain the very basic rituals and traditions of Arabic weddings and rituals below so that you get to know the fun and excitement the Arabs share during this time.

Traditional Arabic Marriage Proposal

This is the first step in the wedding where the groom’s family along with the groom himself visit the house of the bride. The two families formally introduce each other and the groom’s elders ask permission from the bride’s father for their son to marry the latter’s daughter. If the bride’s father is absent due to any reason, the eldest male relative takes his place. After the agreement to the proposal from both sides, light refreshments are served.

Reading the Fatiha

Fatiha is the opening chapter of the Muslims’ Holy Book “The Quran”. They recite it in all their prayers and this chapter is also an integral part of all the important events.

Wedding Traditions: the Engagement

The engagement is also called the “katb el kitab” and is conducted by a priest. Usually, it is a simple ceremony where the bride and groom are dressed in matching colors and exchange rings. After the ritual, there is cake cutting involved which is then followed by a dinner. This is one of those Arab wedding traditions that does not have any significance in Islam.

Traditional Arabic Henna Party

This is more or less the Arab version of the bachelorette party. All the female members of both the families apply henna on the hands of the bride. Firstly, the women from the groom’s side gather at the groom’s family residence where they knead dough in bowls to create henna. These bowls are adorned with colors and flowers and presented in a very traditional manner to the bride’s family. This henna is then applied on the bride’s hands and after her, the application is done on the hands of other female family members.

Radwa

This function takes place simultaneously with the henna night and all the males from both sides gather together. Although it takes place in the bride’s house, the hosts are the males from the groom’s side. They make sure that the bride’s family is satisfied with everything and there are no last minute issues before the wedding takes place. After everything goes perfectly, the eldest male from the groom’s family congratulates other family members for the happy occasion.

Nikah/Wedding Ceremony

Out of all the Arab wedding traditions, this is the most integral one. This is a marriage contract which officially binds the two people as husband and wife. The ritual is performed by the Imam (priest, in simple words) who also fills out all the legal documents involved. The wedding is to be done with the permission of the bride and the groom with two adult men, usually from the family, being witness to it.

The groom is supposed to offer a mahr to the bride as a wedding gift. There is no fixed amount of mahr but it should be something which is acceptable to the bride and affordable for the groom. It can be cash, jewelry, travel (umrah, hajj) or any other thing which is agreeable from both sides.

After the wedding ceremony, there is a lunch or dinner hosted by the bride’s family. It is not necessary to do so because Islam doesn’t project it. However, some of the families do so because of the pressure from the society and the orthodox Arabic weddings traditions. By the end of the dinner, the bride officially leaves the house of her ancestors and moves to live with the groom (with or without his family).

Walima/Wedding Party

This is the actual extravagant function in the entire Muslim wedding traditions. Muslim Arabs book halls in the most expensive hotels to throw a wedding party for their friends and family. Those families who cannot afford such lavish functions can just host a dinner for close friends and family, according to their financial condition.

It is customary to book two different halls – one for the males and the other for the females. No male is allowed in the women’s sections in order to ensure their privacy and modesty. Usually, the females are dressed in abayas or niqaabs during their day-to-day activities. This is their time to dress to their best abilities and show off their beauty. They wear the most expensive designer dresses and get their hair done by the most famous stylists. No cameras or cell phones are allowed inside the hall where the women will take off their abayas and dance to celebrate the occasion.

On the other hand, an unpretentious ceremony will have only the close friends and family members who will enjoy a meal together. They will exchange some good time and memorable conversations. Islamically, it is advisable to feed the poor of the community along with relatives in an attempt to contribute towards the well-being of the society.

The Arabic wedding traditions, culture, and rituals have their basis in the religion. They differ amongst the countries and as per the social status of the families, however, the functions are more or less the same. The festivities last for a long time, and the entire family and all the friends are involved.