If you've been invited to your first Muslim wedding, you may be wondering what would be an appropriate gift to give. Wedding gifts at traditional Muslim weddings are actually not much different from those given at weddings of other religions. With a bit of consideration, however, you can give a gift that the couple would likely consider both appropriate and extremely thoughtful.
In an Islamic marriage, the groom is obliged to give the bride a wedding gift, called a "mahr." This gift is meant to show his appreciation for her, and is a token of sincerity and warmth on his behalf. Often, if the bride wishes, the mahr is merely a symbol. In many cultures, however, the groom gives substantial amounts of money, land or jewellery to the bride. According to Islamic legal tradition, the mahr becomes the property of the wife, not to be encroached upon by anyone. Muslims proudly consider this to be one of the many ways that Islam improved the status of women, since in pre-Islamic Arabia and much of Europe until the modern age, women were not allowed to independently own property or wealth.
In many traditional Muslim weddings, gifts are influenced more by culture than religion. In South Asian and Arab weddings, guests and family commonly give the bride jewellery and clothes. In Asian and African Muslim cultures, wedding gifts are often accompanied by traditional sweets.
Islamic artwork is one of the most popular and often much appreciated traditional wedding gifts. Islamic artwork generally features Arabic calligraphy of the name of God, the name of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad or Qur'anic verses. Islamic calligraphy is found on tapestries, paintings, vases and other household items.
Many Islamic cultures have a deep appreciation for poetry, especially religious poetry reflecting on one's connection with God or the beauty of God's blessings.
Many traditional Muslim couples would be touched in receiving a book reflecting their beliefs. A coffee table book about Islamic art, architecture, history, inventions or cultures make thoughtful gifts.
What not to give
While the gifts for even the most traditional wedding gifts are often extremely similar to those given at other weddings, it is good to keep some things in mind when planning one's present. Muslims do not gift or serve alcohol, so wine would not be an appropriate gift. In addition, both men and women are expected to dress modestly, so tight or revealing clothes may not be used. Finally, traditional Muslim couples often praise qualities of shyness and modesty, so risque wedding cards may not be the most fitting for the occasion.