Islamic marriages are an extremely sacred and time-honoured tradition. Those who are a part of the Islamic faith and who decide to get married have several traditional steps that must be strictly followed. According to the Koran, a man and woman must undergo several marriage procedures, including a Muslim engagement; Nikah, or the actual marriage ceremony; Dukhlah, or the public sending of a married couple; and Walimah, or an official lunch or dinner that declares the marriage.
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According to Koran, a Muslim engagement should be concealed, leaving the celebration until the actual marriage ceremony. The belief that engagements should be concealed stems from the words of the Prophet, who taught that blessings that Allah bestows should not be shown openly in fear that the recipient will be envied for them. In modern Islamic marriages, to conceal an engagement means to not announce it to the public. Families may have engagement parties, although there should be no mixing of men and women and no musical instruments played, apart from a daff, which is a large hand drum.
The Nikah is the traditional ceremony in which the Islamic man and woman become married. The Nikah is usually short and is conducted by an imam, an Islamic leader who is often the head of the community or mosque. To legalise the Islamic marriage, at least two witnesses need to be present during the Nikah. The bride also needs to have a guardian present, called a Wali. The groom presents the bride with a marriage gift, or mahr, during the ceremony. The imam will also read Quranic verses in a sermon called the Khutbah.
The Dukhlah is the public announcing of a marriage. After it, the couple can live together as husband and wife and can have intimate relations. The Dukhlah is often called the Rukhsati in Indo-Pakistan regions.The public sending off of a wife and husband to be married is a necessary procedure, according to tradition. In fact, many will not considered a marriage valid until the Dukhlah has been performed. While the ceremony is different in various Islamic families, the Dukhlah will often be performed only hours after the Nikah. In other families, the Dukhlah will be performed weeks or months later, as the couple might be finishing their studies or the family wants to have a large party beforehand.
The Walimah is the last traditional procedure to take place in an Islamic wedding. The Walimah is a special feast given by the groom's family to celebrate the declaration of marriage. The Walimah can take place at either lunch or dinner. The final ceremony is used as a formal announcement to the families of the husband and wife that the marriage has officially taken place. The Walimah can take place before or at the same time as the Dukhlah.
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