Expensive Weddings
Islamic Customs and Etiquette
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I have a question regarding weddings and whether it is permissible to observe certain wedding customs. I am referring to the giving of gifts to the bridegroom’s family, his parents and other members of his family. It seems that in our culture, even those who are religious-minded, get caught up in this problem. They might not even want to do it, but feel they have to do it to be accepted socially. A lot of money is spent on these issues. This leads to the second part of my question: Is there a definable point at which spending for wedding gifts and clothes becomes excessive? The bride wears her bridal attire for a few hours on one day, and never wears the outfit again, and yet so much money is spent on it. Essentially, the question is regarding the line between Islam and culture/custom when it comes to weddings. To what extent can we observe marriage customs without disobeying the rules of Allah?


You have referred to a great social evil that plagues most Muslim societies. Weddings these days have become exorbitant functions. Needless money is spent in celebrating a lot of useless functions which have become an integral part of the actual occasion. The rich exhibit their wealth and opulence on such ceremonies. Every such occasion sends tremors among the deprived class of the society. These customs depict how wrong we Muslims are in setting our priorities, and how our values have changed. Material success, financial well being and pomposity have become our ultimate targets. Even the religious among us, as you have rightly pointed out, find it difficult to follow the spirit of Islam when it comes to social customs and traditions.

Islam discourages and disallows all activities in which money is needlessly spent. Since social functions in particular set trends, they should be as simple as possible. Wedding food, wedding gifts, wedding apparels, bridal dresses should all be within reasonable limits. If they remain in such limits, they add to the beauty of the occasion, and if they exceed their bounds, they become symbols of human greed and arrogance.

The best definable point of needless expenses and over spending in such ceremonies is a person’s own conscience. No one else is a better judge. An Islamic State, can also legislate in this regard and set a limit. However, all ‘large scale’ social evils, in my opinion should be tackled through educating people and changing their values. Laws are just preventive. They do not change people, they only stop them. When a society as a whole becomes sick, then the cure lies elsewhere; otherwise subterfuges and hoodwinking the law are the only consequences.

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