Crises in Marriage

Mawlana Abu Yahya

I need advise on the following concerning nikkah.
1) What is the Islamic Ruling on the Mendhi Ceremony?
2) Is it permissable to exchange gifts before the nikkah? (Eg. Boy's family giving of presents to the bride to be)
3) After nikkah & walimah, does the groom take his bride to his parent's house and bid farewell from there? (If they will be living on their own)

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Assalaamu alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "The Nikah with the most amount of barakah is the one with the least expenses".
We acknowledge your zeal and enthusiasm for enquiring about the Shari'ah ruling in such aspects of life, and we encourage you to keep up with your efforts. Hence, we wish to explain briefly a few facts related to Nikah (marriage) before we proceed with answering the questions posed in the query.

Unlike majority of the other religions and sects, Islam does not confine its teachings to the worshiping of the Divine Lord, but its teachings encompass all aspects of life, whether it is acts of ‘ibadah (virtuous deeds) like prayer, fasting, zakat and hajj or other aspects of life like business, politics, marriage, interpersonal relationships, cleanliness, etc. Consider the following Hadith of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):
بنى الإسلام على خمس شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله ، وإقام الصلاة ، وإيتاء الزكاة ، والحج ، وصوم رمضان. (رواه البخاري)
The foundation of Islam consists of five things. To witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammed (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is the Messenger of Allah; and to be steadfast in prayers; and to give out charity; and Hajj; and to fast in the month of Ramadhan. (Sahih al-Bukhari Vol.1 Pg.9/10 - Dar al-Fikr)
In the abovementioned Hadith, Islam is compared to a building. Basic beliefs and ‘ibadah are considered the foundation of the building whilst the other aspects of life form the actual building of Islam. Hence, as much as we exert our efforts to make the foundation strong, we should also portray the teachings of Islam in our weddings, businesses, interpersonal relationships, etc. for us to be called Muslims in the real sense. It was this Islam that had attracted the non-Muslims of the time of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the Sahabah (RA) and virtually compelled them to accept Islam. It is very sad that the Muslims of today have confined Islam to the basic beliefs and ‘ibadah alone, and adopted the ways of the west in the rest of their affairs. It is important for us to learn the teachings of Islam in all these affairs and conduct ourselves according to these teachings.

A few broad rules of Shari'ah
Before we point out the un-Islamic practices taking place in Muslim marriages, we wish to elaborate a few teachings of Islam in order to understand the severity of those practices.

Extravagance: Islam does not prohibit us from spending and consuming, but Islam forbids us from being extravagant. Allah Ta'ala mentions in the Holy Quran:
... وكلوا واشربوا ولا تسرفوا إنه لا يحب المسرفين
... Eat and drink and do not be extravagant. Surely, He does not like the extravagant.
(Verse: 7:31)
Under the commentary of the abovementioned Verse, Mufti Shafi Saheb (RA) explains that eating more than what is needed to remove hunger is not permissible. Similarly, eating so less that one is unable to fulfil his obligations, despite having the means, will also fall under the prohibition of israf (extravagance) mentioned in the Verse.
Hence, one should adopt moderation in his eating and drinking.
The implementation of moderation and abstinence from extravagance has also been emphasised in other Verses of the Holy quran.
إن المبذرين كانوا إخوان الشياطين وكان الشيطان لربه كفورا
Surely, squanderers (the extravagant) are brothers of satans, and the Satan is very ungrateful to his Lord. (Verse: 17:27)
والذين إذا أنفقوا لم يسرفوا ولم يقتروا وكان بين ذلك قواما
(The true servants of Allah are) those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor miserly, and it (i.e. their spending) is moderate in between (the two extremes). (Verse: 25:67)
Mufti Saheb (RA) further explains that this ruling of moderation is not restricted only to eating and drinking, but will apply in clothing, living standards and every other aspect of life. (Ma'arif al-Quran (English Translation) Vol.3 Pg.569/570)
Therefore, all unnecessary expences in a marriage will be regarded as extravagance and will fall under the prohibition mentioned above.

Imitating the disbelievers and transgressors: Islam prohibits us from following the ways and conducts of other religions and sects. Allah Ta'ala mentions in the Holy Quran:
ولا تركنوا إلى الذين ظلموا فتمسكم النار وما لكم من دون الله من أولياء ثم لا تنصرون
And do not incline towards the wrongdoers, lest the Fire should catch you, and you have no supporters other than Allah, then you should not be helped. (Verse: 11:13)
It has been mentioned by reliable commentators of the Holy Quran that those who follow and imitate the nonbelievers and transgressors in personal looks, fashion and ways of living will fall within the ambit of the warnings mentioned in the abovementioned Verse. (Ma'arif al-Quran (English Translation) Vol.4 Pg.678)
Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has prohibited us from following and imitating the ways of nonbelievers and transgressors:
عن ابن عمر قال قال رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وسلم)، "من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم". (رواه أبو داؤد)
It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "Whosoever imitates or follows a nation, will be regarded from amongst them".
Under the explanation of the abovementioned Hadith, it has been mentioned that whosoever imitates or replicates the clothing, etc. of the non-Mulims, or those Muslims who transgress the rules of Shari'ah, will also have a share in their sins. Similarly, whosoever imitates the pious from amongst the believers, will have a share in the rewards of those pious people. (Bazhl al-Majhood fi hal Sunan Abi Dawud Vol.12 Pg.59)
Moreover, the Jurists have explained that adopting practices that symbolise other religions and hold religious values could take one out of the fold of Islam. For example, wearing a Jewish hat, fastening a string around the body in pursuing the ways of Hindu priests, applying sindhoor upon the forehead, etc. are not permissible and could take one out of the fold of Islam.
يكفر بوضع قلنسوة المجوس على رأسه على الصحيح ... وبشد الزنار في وسطه ... وبخروجه إلى نيروز المجوس لموافقته معهم فيما يفعلون في ذلك اليوم
(Fatawa al-Hindiyyah Vol.2 Pg.)
(Fatawa Mahmoodiyah Vol.19 Pg.550)

Compulsion of what is not obligatory: The obligation of what is merely a preferable act is forbidden in Shari'ah. For example, it is preferable to read Quran and send the reward to the deceased, but people started gathering on stipulated dates (like the 3rd day after demise, 40th day, Thursdays, etc.) and regarded them obligatory; thus, Shari'ah prohibited such gatherings in spite of the gathering being for a virtuous act. If such is the ruling for virtuous acts, then the prohibition of the obligation of something that is not virtuous, and is merely a custom, will be more severe.
أن الإصرار على المندوب يبلغه إلى حد الكراهة فكيف إصرار البدعة التي لا أصل لها في الشرع.
(Al Si'ayah fi Kashf ma fi Sharh Wiqayah Vol.2 Pg.265)
Hence, all practices in marriages that people regard as compulsory or give it the importance of a compulsory act of Shari'ah, will be considered impermissible in Shari'ah.

Innovation in Deen: If a person carries out an action thinking that it is part of deen, whilst it is not part of deen, he will be sinful for his actions, as he has included in Islam what is not part of it.
عن عائشة قالت: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: " من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس فيه فهو رد ". (رواه البخاري)
It has been narrated on the authority of ‘Aishah (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "Whosoever innovates in Islam that which is not part of it, such an action is rejected and futile". (Sahih al-Bukhari Vol.3 Pg.222)

Actions done to show and please others: The ultimate objective of our lives in this world is to please Allah Ta'ala; hence, any action done to solely please the creation of Allah Ta'ala is disliked in Shari'ah. Consider the following:
وعن عبد الله بن عمرو أنه سمع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: " من سمع الناس بعمله سمع الله به أسامع خلقه وحقره وصغره ". (رواه البيهقي في " شعب الإيمان"
Mulla ‘Ali Qari (RA) explains the meaning of the abovementioned Hadith that if a person does actions to show and please other people, Allah Ta'ala will make his bad habits known to everyone, and will ridicule him in this world. (Mirqat al-Mafateeh Vol.10 Pg.64/65)
Moreover, Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) resembles such actions to ascribing partners to Allah Ta'ala and regards them as Shirk Kahfi (a lower form of ascribing partners to Allah Ta'ala).
وعن شداد بن أوس أنه بكى فقيل له : ما يبكيك ؟ قال : شيء سمعت من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول فذكرته فأبكاني سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : " أتخوف على أمتي الشرك والشهوة الخفية " قال : قلت يا رسول الله أتشرك أمتك من بعدك ؟ قال : " نعم أما إنهم لا يعبدون شمسا ولا قمرا ولا حجرا ولا وثنا ولكن يراؤون بأعمالهم . والشهوة الخفية أن يصبح أحدهم صائما فتعرض له شهوة من شهواته فيترك صومه " . (رواه البيهقي في " شعب الإيمان" )
It has been narrated on the authority of Shaddad bin Aus (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that he was weeping one day. Thus, someone asked him as to why he was weeping. Upon this, he remarked that it is something I heard Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying; the memory of which makes me weep. He mentions that he heard Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying, "I fear upon my ummah the lighter from of shirk and desire'. He says that upon this I asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), "will your ummah ascribe partners to Allah Ta'ala after you?" Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, "Yes; they will not worship the sun or the moon or stones or idols, but they will do actions to please others...
(Mishkat al-Masabeeh Pg.455/6)

Un-Islamic practices in a marriage
In the light of the abovementioned principles and the other teachings of Islam, let us examine a few practices generally found in Muslim marriages and the Islamic rulings regarding them.

Engagement Ceremony: Engagement is a mere promise to marry. Engagement ceremonies are a custom of the non-Muslims; hence, they will fall under that ruling of imitating the non-believers.
If one regards them as part of deen, then he will be also sinful for innovation in deen.
Even after the parties have agreed upon the engagement, a small feast is held in which stipulated persons are invited. They regard this to be compulsory and think that an engagement will not be done without this custom. This will fall under the prohibition of compulsion of what is not obligatory.
Grand feasts are held for the engagement ceremony and lot of money is spent in that which is not necessary; hence, it will be regarded as extravagance which is prohibited in Shari'ah.
Gifts are received by the girl's party from the boy. If the girl's party demands such gifts, it will be regarded as bribery. Even if they do not demand the gifts, but it is a part of the custom to receive such gifts, the same ruling will apply. However, if no such custom prevails, then it will not be regarded as bribery.
أخذ أهل المرأة شيئا عند التسليم فللزوج أن يسترده لأنه رشوة .
قوله عند التسليم أي بأن أبى أن يسلمها أخوها أو نحوه حتى يأخذ شيئا ، وكذا لو أبى أن يزوجها فللزوج الاسترداد قائما أو هالكا لأنه رشوة بزازية .
(Rad al-Muhtar Vol.3 Pg.156)
(Fatawa Mahmoodiyah Vol.11 Pg.186)

Premarital relationships: Delaying of Nikah is discouraged in Islam; hence, Nikah should be held as quickly as possible after the engagement.
عن أبي هريرة قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم إذا خطب إليكم من ترضون دينه وخلقه فزوجوه إلا تفعلوا تكن فتنة في الأرض وفساد عريض (رواه الترمذي)
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "when you receive a proposal from a person who is pious and has good habits, then get your daughters married to them. If you do not do so, it will result in the spreading of evil and corruption". (Jami' al-Tirmizhi Vol.1 Pg.207)
It has become a habit in some cultures to prolong the Nikah after the engagement; thus, the boy and the girl start meeting each other, or talking to each other on the phone, or chatting online. All of these are not permissible, as an engagement is only a promise to marry and the boy and girl still remain non-mahram (strangers) to each other. (Apke Masail aur Unka Hal Vol.5 Pg.34)
Gifts are exchanged between the two parties before Nikah. The exchanging of such gifts (especially on the day of Eid, birthday, when one party is travelling overseas, etc.) is regarded compulsory. This is compulsion of what is not obligatory which is prohibited in Shari'ah, as explained above; hence, will not be permissible.
Moreover, If these gifts are received by the girl's party from the boy, they will be regarded as bribery as explained above.

Travelling overseas for wedding shopping: It has become a trend in many cultures to travel overseas to purchase goods for the wedding. A feeble excuse is made that the latest fashion in clothing is not available in the country. In the process, thousands of dollars are spent for plane tickets, accommodation, etc. This is pure extravagance and cannot be tolerated in Shari'ah.

Wedding cards: Thousands are spent in the printing of wedding cards with the latest designs and best quality. This will be considered extravagance and will not be permissible according to Shari'ah. If there is a real need to print wedding cards so as to inform people of the wedding, it will be permissible to do so, on condition that the wedding cards are simple and moderate. However, it has been noticed that many a time a guest is invited personally or over the phone and thereafter a card is also sent to him. This will not be regarded as permissible as it is apparent that there was no need for the card.

Lighting up the house: Many parents take pleasure in decorating and lighting the house with colorful bulbs. This is a waste of money and electricity. There is no doubt in regarding this as extravagance, as there is no real need for this lighting as is done only to show other people, which is also prohibited.

Ceremonies before and after marriage: The ceremonies of marriage start a week or two before marriage, and close relatives are invited every day to these ceremonies. Ceremonies are also held a few days after the walimah, wherein the groom and close relatives are invited by the bride's parents. A ceremony is also held on the day of Nikah. Special menus are prepared for each day, and large sums of money are spent in these feasts. Besides the other prohibited acts which take place in these ceremonies (some of which have bee elaborated below), there is no real need for these ceremonies. Inviting all relatives for a meal of walimah would suffice. Hence, the prohibition of extravagance will apply in this case. Moreover, although entertaining guests itself is something encouraged in Shari'ah, these ceremonies are regarded as compulsory and held merely to please other people, the prohibitions of which have been elaborated above. The ceremony of Nikah is considered as part of deen by some. This is incorrect and the person with such beliefs will be sinful.

Negligence in salah: Most of the ceremonies last till late at night, resulting in the forfeiting of Fajr salah. The people of the house are so engrossed in the preparations for all these ceremonies and entertaining their guests that they tend to forget salah, or delay it from its mustahab time. Resulting in negligence of salah itself is enough to render these ceremonies impermissible.

Music and photography: Loud music is played in the background in most of the abovementioned ceremonies and even on the day of walimah. Special photographers are called on the day of Nikah and walimah to video the whole ceremony and take pictures of the bride and the whole family. The male photographer is allowed to enter in the midst of all women and is also ordered to take pictures of the bride in different postures. The impermissibility of such practices needs no elaboration. However, it is very sad that these practices are still prevalent in spite of people being aware of their impermissibility and harms. Some houses have realised the harms of calling photographers, but photography still prevails through the medium of personal cameras and phones with cameras. They are only hiding their sins from people by not calling photographers, but they do not realise that Allah Ta'ala is watching them violating His commandments. Moreover, the fitnah does not stop here, but CDs and albums of theses pictures and videos are made, and those relatives who are non-mahram (with whom nikah is permissible) are given copies of these CDs. In some occasions videos and pictures of ladies functions are taken, wherein ladies who exercise strict purdah are present. Their pictures are taken without their knowledge and viewed by non-mahrams with whom they were exercising strict purdah. The act that is even more shameful is that parents show these videos and pictures to their young sons for them to choose their future wife. Even if these acts were not prohibited in Shari'ah, the modesty and bashfulness of a person with moderate thinking should stop him from such actions.

Intermingling of sexes: The prohibition of intermingling of sexes is not something alien to Muslims. However, due to affiliation with other religions and sects, they fail to understand that close relatives like cousins and sisters-in-law are also non-mahram, and purdah is obligatory with them too; and they freely mix with these relatives, especially in the ceremonies before Nikah. They make simple excuses like we grew up together, without taking into consideration that they are openly violating a command of Allah Ta'ala mentioned in the Holy Quran. The consequences of such violation of the commandments of Allah can be very detrimental, and could lead to kufr in cases where a person clearly refuses to accept such a law and regards it permissible.

Dandiya Raas: Dandiya Raas is a type of a dance wherein the dancers hold two sticks and energetically whirl and move their feet and arms in a complicated, choreographed manner to the tune of the music with various rhythms. Its impermissibility is obvious due to the involvement of music and the intermingling of sexes. Besides being affiliated with impermissible acts, the dance itself originates from the Hindu culture. Origins of Raas are traced back to the teachings of Hinduism, wherein they mention that their "Lord Krishna" used to perform Raas Lila. The sticks used in Dandiya Raas are said to represent the swords of Durga (one of the Hindu goddesses), and Dandiya Raas is performed by Hindus at Navaratri (Hindu festival) and in Durga's honour. We have already made mention above that adopting practices that symbolise other religions and hold religious values could take one out of the fold of Islam. Hence, the severity of the matter cannot be ignored.
To be concluded