Marriage in Islam
Rites of Passage
In Islam, parents will often choose partners for their children, however their children are not forced to marry. In some countries, arranged marriages are forced and they are commonplace. They do not consider marriage to be about romance, because they believe that love will grow out of it. Most arranged marriages are successful, but there can often be great pressure from the respective families as marriage is considered to be the joining of two families, not just two people.
In some Muslim countries, men are allowed to marry up to four women. The purpose of this is to give security to women, but all wives must be treated equally.
A dowry or "mahr" must be paid by the husband to the wife before the marriage. In certain cases that lead to divorce, the wife has the right to keep the money when they separate.
The Wedding Ceremony
The wedding ceremony is usually quite simple and can either take place in the home or at the mosque. The bride and groom remain separate at the ceremony and it is sometimes possible for the bride not to attend. The ceremony must be performed in the presence of witnesses and it is usually led by the imam. He will read some verses from the Qur'an and lead some prayers. He will also guide the couple as the exchange vows. A contract or "nikah" must be drawn up and signed and it gives the husband and wife their responsibilities. Finally, a "Walimah" or party is held after the ceremony, where friends and family are invited and a feast takes place where presents are exchanged.