Suggestions for Muslim marriages in a Da’wa context

by Abdal Hakim Murad, Dean Cambridge Muslim College

1. Notes for imams

In the new multicultural Britain we find that imams and other celebrants are increasingly being asked to provide marriage ceremonies which can make a good impression on non-Muslim friends and relatives. Planning their marriages, young Muslims often feel that the modern Arab, Turkish or Indian nikah traditions may
leave non-Muslims feeling that Islam leaves something to be desired. A da’wa opportunity is thus missed, as some guests may never again in their lives experience a Muslim event. So here is a form which I sometimes use and which helps non-Muslims (and some young Muslims) overcome their prejudices, by providing a Sharia compliant but also beautiful form of nikah.

First, some general suggestions. Ask the families if music can be avoided during the reception – it is usually too loud, never helps the atmosphere and is often genuinely annoying. But during the ceremony, if you have good singers available, then it is a good idea to include one or two songs, perhaps between the readings. The Ra’iyyat al-hamd included in the Hamdiyya is excellent, and has a simple tune that guests can join in. It is often sung at weddings in Morocco. Other songs in the Hamdiyya may also be suitable. At all costs, avoid cheesy ‘nasheeds’ with awkward and mawkish lyrics!

I have included some English-language poems which have been used in nikah celebrations, but these are only suggestions. Modern Muslim poetry by Abdul Hayy Moore, Paul Sutherland, Abdalhamid Evans, Joel Hayward, and other literary bridge builders, is likely to appeal to mixed audiences, although the choice is up to you. It is good to ask the bride and groom beforehand if they have any favourites, and to designate family members or friends to read them out. Make sure they practice beforehand! If one side of the family has strong linguistic ties with a non-English speaking country then try to include a suitable poem in that language, so that they feel included and respected…(Continue reading)