Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Want to Dance with You

Assalamu Alaikum!

Howz it going folks, howz the other end of the world doing? As requested, here's a reminder of my Beirut Blog address:

And now, let the Quest continue! ;)

A few days ago I attended a family wedding near Jounieh outside Beirut. Yes, I’m sitting at our table, holding my little camcorder filming all the luxury around me – food, band, mc, dancers, art show, candles in bohemian crystals, ten layered cake, silk dresses, diamond rings, silk flowers and all the rest of it. The “too much-ness” of it all must have put a bizarre look on my face, in any case a man somehow approaches me and says: “ I want to dance with you”.

As if his words triggered something in me, I found myself pausing then retreating into my memories-- not all of them, just the ones about suitors and weddings.

One of the things we discuss with a suitor especially as we approach the nikkah is the question of the wedding and how we want it to happen.

Let me admit: Even though I’ve attended weddings most of my life, and had sort of pointless talks with suitors about the wedding, simply because I didn’t know what I wanted, only now I know what I want in mine – or “don’t want”. O boy. Be better than this. Don’t wait this long.

Sisters, I’m afraid this is addressed mostly to you. To brothers as well, but she is the princess of the night and he’ll try to make her happy. So, again, ladies, know what you want. The earlier the better.

Here are a few tips that come to mind:

Mixed or Separate

For those who know that the question of mixed or separate wedding is not an issue, and that they’ll have a separate-gender one all the way (or vice versa) then go thank Allah (swt) because you’ve been spared a huge headache.

For the rest, ask yourself: Do you imagine that in your wedding you’ll have to find a happy medium between having it mixed or separate? Do you imagine that your parents or his will request a mixed one, while you both want a separate one? Find out if you fit this category. That’s a huge step.

Mixing it Up

Do you imagine that you’ll “halalify” your mixed wedding? If yes, grab a piece of paper and pen, and write down your definition or description of what makes a mixed wedding acceptable for your (and his) Islamic values.

When you’re done, put that paper away in your drawer, then go downstairs and in a conversation over cookies and some warm tea, ask your family how they imagine your wedding to be like. Take notes in your head, and see if that halalified wedding can in reality be contained within the boundaries you’ve given it. In other words, can you manage to keep it halal and satisfy your family’s expectations at the same time?

External Family Obligations

Define “family”. Write down every name. Yes, each and every name of the family member who you want to attend your wedding/walimah. Now, on a piece of paper, divide the page in two columns – name one “differences” and the other “similarities”. Write down what you imagine are the similarities in Islamic values shared by the list of family members. Then, write down the differences. When you’re done, ask yourself how these similarities and differences may complicate things when all the family gets together to “help” prepare your wedding.


Was it Bob Marley who said: “ No woman no cry”. Maybe he said that after his wedding. Single ladies, the big question – how much poorer will the groom get after the wedding? And his daddy, and uncles and your daddy and uncles and the rest of the income-making souls in both families.

If your family and/or his can afford it, good news. You’ll get the big night with shine and glory and everyone goes home happy. But if you’re less fortunate and it’s the groom who’ll single handedly pay for the big day, now is a good time my sister to get rid of the fairy tale wedding you’ve imagined for yourself.

Not because it’s wrong to think of a fairy tale wedding or to have one. You are the best. You deserve the best my sister. But think with me: define a ‘perfect wedding’. Is it crystals, gold, lights, luxury, limos and jaguars parked outside?

Are “things” the tools for your happiness that night, or is it your heart and what makes it happy? Remember all the weddings you’ve attended, and write down the things that made your heart dance in joy when you saw them at the wedding.

A sincere Dua given, a tear from a mother, a speech delivered by a best friend, a Qur’an recitation segment, an azan heard before you walk in with him—the best thing I’ve seen was at a sisters-only wedding ceremony and an extremely shy girl who never never never never never never dances at any sisters wedding, not even at that of her own biological sister, got up and said, “you all know I don’t dance, but I’m going to try tonight just for you Ayesha”. There were some serious tears of joy in Ayesha’s eyes for sure. In mine too  And I know Ayesha will never forget that special moment in her wedding.

Therefore, write your descriptions down and see for yourself what makes for a “perfect wedding”. Don’t hold back anything and don’t be afraid of being wrong. It’s better to be wrong on paper than in real life when the big day comes.

Step Up

Last but not least, you can have the best plan for your wedding day, and know exactly what you want together in agreement with your groom, but if you don’t have what it takes to make it happen – it’s all useless.

In other words, you’ll probably make a few people in your family not so happy when you announce your own wedding plans that may be different from what they want for you. It’s a very sensitive line to walk and I’ve seen many unhappy brides who had to give in to what their families wanted. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not asking you to rebel and revolt and hurt your family. In the end, they care.

But the point is you might have to be prepared for some tough negotiations, a few tears and some heated discussions. Don’t be afraid of this. And remember that Allah (swt) will ease the difficult. You might be surprised how their hearts change quickly as if magically, all with the blessing of Allah (swt).

Alright folks. That’s all she wrote, don’t forget your istikharah of course, and I’ll write you more as I attend more weddings!

And of course I said a big whopper “NO” to the guy who asked to dance with me. But I’m happy he asked. All these reflections wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t :)


Tauqeer said...

lol nice!

Tauqeer said...

Lol nice, for a moment I actually thought you did :O...

Hopefully if all agreed, will InshAllah have segregated gender wedding...only when i will... lol

American Muslima Writer said...

SubhanAllah! the over the top wedding of Lebanon are un real! I did not have a wedding at all.

Not only we couldnt' afford it but we didnt' want the headache!

You made very good points I really hope people see them!
I'm headed over to you Beirut Blog now!

ibnsha said...

yeh its hard, hmm, this is when u think how muslims should networked before facebook(i.e if men js went to communal paryers alot/droooves of muslims wuda known each other tiiiiiiiiime back. nice blog, sis.

Anonymous said...

Um, how do segregated consensual weddings work?

I've heard of a consensual wedding that had the bridge and groom exchange vows over a telegraph connection, but she was with both her male and female family and friends and he was with hers. I've also heard of segregated forced weddings that had the groom exchange vows with the bride's father.

Do segregated consensual ones have the bride and groom exchange vows over a telecommunications link (instead of exchanging vows in person because that would be mixed) with their female family and friends with the bride and their male friends and family with the groom.