Saturday, April 3, 2010

Strive for simple, ‘barakah’ (blessed) wedding

In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessing and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

The parable of those who reject Faith
is as if one were to shout like a goat-herd,
to things that listen to nothing,
but calls and cries:
Deaf, dumb, and blind,
They are void of wisdom. (Baqarah 2:171)

DURING Sundays, I make it a point to spend as much time as possible at home; entertaining the needs of my wife and children. One hot afternoon, while resting on the sofa after lunch, my eyes caught a TV3 woman’s programme, Nona. The programme is one of my daughter's choices; I just 'tumpang sekaki' (joint in).

In one segment it showed footage of a glamorous Malay wedding. The reception was held at a top hotel. After showing the ‘bersanding’ (the bride and bridegroom sitting on a special dais) and cutting the wedding cake, the guests were seen leaving their seats and taking to the floor to dance. They did the ‘joget lambak’ (free style dancing), once a popular event during weddings in old time Malacca.

Nowadays it is hard to witness ‘joget lambak’ in kampung weddings, but surprisingly from the television footage, the rich and famous have the ‘joget lambak’ alive during their wedding receptions in big and exclusive hotels. Perhaps nobody criticised it while those at helms of religious authorities remain silent.

I have written several articles criticising ‘joget lambak’ and other events in Malay weddings that are against Islam such as holding the ‘bersanding’ event in the open where mixing of the opposite sexes is not controlled and the ‘majlis tepung tawar’ (sprinkling of special water), is derived from an un-Islamic culture.

The good news is that some events such as the ‘joget lambak’ have been abandoned from kampung weddings but why must the rich and famous be spared; they hold their functions in top hotels and could walk scot free whereas if the ‘kampung folks’ organize such events they are threatened including with a boycott by the ‘masjid’s officials such as the imam (the person who leads prayers).

Why can’t the religious department officials take action on those who are involved in organizing such functions in big hotels? Why the double standard in dealing with what is ‘halal’ (allowed) and ‘haram’ (forbidden) in Islam?

In Islam, what is allowed is for all people and what is forbidden as well upon all people. The obligations are upon everyone, and whoever deserves punishment gets it, regardless.

An example of such is when some of the Companions of the Prophet (Sahaba) talked to Osama bin Zaid, the favourite of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), to intervene for the sake of a well reputed woman from Quraish tribe who deserved punishment for stealing (that is cutting her hand), Osama bin Zaid talked to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him, pbuh), and the Prophet pbuh) got angry and said, "Those before you were distracted, that is because the renowned is untouched when he steals, and the poor is punished, verily if Fatimah daughter of Muhammad stole, I would have cut her hand."

Lavish weddings of the rich and famous set bad examples. It makes it hard for them, especially young men who have set their hearts on marriage. The ‘hantaran’ (normally a gift in the form of money) in Malay-Muslims marriages is rather massive, nowadays the minimum amount might be RM10,000. And for the rich and famous, it could be RM20,000, or even RM30,000.

So just imagine how a young man, who has just been working a year or so after graduating from university, can manage that amount. If he saves RM500 from his monthly pay of say RM1,500 (remember he has to spend on himself and paying various debts) it would take him a least five years to save RM30,000 to pay for his ‘hantaran’.

Then what about other wedding expenses such as for the ‘kenduri’ (feast)? So it is not surprising some young men prefer to ignore weddings, choosing celibacy for the rest of their lives. The word ‘wedding’ seems a taboo for some of them.

The expensive ‘hantaran’ and other requirements such as ‘persalinan’ (several types of wedding attire) and fest would place a huge burden upon the ‘pengantin’ (the newly wed couple). Perhaps years after their marriage, after their children have gone to high school, their loans would still not be settled.

The rich and famous can hold such grandiose functions, but what about the ordinary folks? If the bridegroom’s family demands a big ‘hantaran’ and expensive gifts, what would a simple young man do if he wanted to get married? How could he have RM20,000 or RM30,000 to pay for the ‘hantaran’?

In my opinion it is high time for our leaders to set good example when marrying off their children. They should do it in simple way so that society can take the cue. They should avoid extravaganza and wastage, what more holding events that contradict teaching of Islam such as ‘joget lambak’ and parading of various outfits by the bridegroom including in front of male guests and serving ‘haram’ drinks such as liquor and having concerts were male and female mix freely.

Our society too should be thrift in its spending, including when holding wedding receptions; what more in today’s challenging environment. Society ought to be reminded that money spend lavishly should be channelled to important aspects of life such as the education of children and broadening the Islamic knowledge of adults such as organizing classes in masjids.

From my experience attending a ‘majlis kahwin’ (wedding feast), only once did I come across an event that had male and female guests in separate sections. The sexes were welcome to different tents; female guests were guided by female family members while the males were looked upon by male guides.

In a few months time one of my brothers would be holding a wedding reception for his eldest daughter. Our family members had met on a few occasions, discussing about the coming marriage feast.

Nowadays it is expensive to hold such a feast. For example in readying food, if it managed by food contractors, the price for head could be RM8 (among the cheapest), and then inviting 1,500 guests would cost RM12,000. It is only for a day and how much money would be spent on other days when family members arrive from near and far.

Then what about the costs of renting tents, tables, chairs and so on? And what the decorations and preparing of the bed, cupboard and the ‘pelamin’ (dais) which was almost a compulsory item in weddings to the majority of Malays? Perhaps thousands and thousands of ringgits will have to be spent.

To my brother I had given him this advice: “You should know that you have to spend thousands of ringgit on this wedding. You and your wife would have sleepless nights thinking about it. A lot of time and energy you would have to spend. You have to send the invitation cards, visit relatives and so on.

“But all these hard efforts would not be rewarded by the Almighty Allah SWT if you fail to follow the way of Islam. In fact if we choose deeds that are forbidden in Islam, then we would be punished by Allah SWT. Not only we suffer from the hard work, we would also be punished in the HereAfter. All we want is a ‘barakah’ (blessed) wedding, not a glamorous one!”

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