The marriage ceremony is a means to share the happiness of a marriage with friends and relatives. It also serves as a way to carry out the requirement of publicizing a marriage. In addition, it is also a fine thing to turn such an important institution into an opportunity for joy and entertainment, which are part of our nature.
However, we should remember that ceremonies that are too extravagant, which reach the point of financially devastating the families involved, are never approved by Islam. Islam is a religion that urges moderation even in taking water from a river when performing ablution. It encourages its followers to be frugal. Therefore even if the parties are rich, they should act in consideration of the poor and needy of their community. Turning marriage ceremonies into theatres of ostentation, like many of today’s rich families do, is a manifestation of madness and a proof that Islam is not properly internalized.
Marriage ceremonies should properly be performed with Islamic grace and refinement. They should stay away from every kind of lavishness. People should have modest ceremonies appropriate to their financial situations. But using the event as an opportunity to show off one’s financial status contradicts the object and the spirit of a marriage ceremony.
In particular, to launch such a blessed institution with unlawful acts and customs, such as drinking alcohol, leads people to error and ignorance. Only those marriage gatherings which observe the laws of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) are blessed places where prayers are accepted. Some types of entertainment are harmless, so long as the men and the women are not mixed. Women can entertain each other and men can do the same among themselves without committing any forbidden act.
Another significant issue is the importance of inviting poor, needy and homeless people to the walima, the marriage feast. This is expressed in the following hadith:
“The worst food is that of a wedding banquet to which only the rich are invited while the poor are not invited. And he who refuses an invitation (to a banquet) disobeys Allah and His Apostle.” (Bukhari, Nikah, 72; Muslim, Nikah, 107. See also Ibn Maja, Nikah, 25)
It should be remembered that the Muslim community receives divine assistance because of the prayers of the weak. Therefore destitute and needy people particularly need to be invited to the walima. On one occasion Moses (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed to Allah the Almighty and asked, “Dear Lord! Where should I look for You?”
Allah the Almighty responded, “Look for Me by the broken hearts.” (Abu Nu`aym, Hilya, II, 364)
The prayers of those who are destitute and have broken hearts are acceptable in the presence of Allah. This is why all Muslims should take care to merit their prayers, especially during those times when we begin an important undertaking like marriage.