At a Muslim wedding in
Markham last week, about 350 guests faced an embarrassing situation. The
self-proclaimed Imam (leader) who was invited by the hosts to say a few
words got totally carried away and gave a long, offensive monologue.
First, he publicly
denounced non-Muslims for lacking family values. He then asked the groom
thrice if he wanted to escape. Furthermore, he informed the bride, she
doesn't have the right to step outside the house or give anything to her
family without her husband's permission. He reinforced these
"rules" by mentioning hellfire and brimstone.
There was no talk of
love, respect and consideration between the couple. The guests were
stunned, the couple looked shocked and a few people stood up in protest
but no one contradicted the speaker. Obviously they had no idea what to
Upon inquiring how a
balanced, educated family could allow someone to spew such vitriol, the
hosts confessed that their agreement with the speaker had been for him
to repeat the marriage sermon of Prophet Muhammad as done traditionally
at Muslim weddings (which is short and simple, highlighting the sanctity
and beauty of marriage). They had no clue that he would indulge in
Muslim marriages do not
necessitate a sermon to be recited as part of the religious ceremony.
The requirement is for Aqd which is solemnization of the contract
through offering and acceptance with full and free consent of the
parties concerned, two witnesses and a gift from the groom to the bride.
A respected community
member may be invited to say a few words, which could range from
relevant verses of the Qur'an to Sufi poetry . A public celebration to
bless the union is considered to be Sunnah (practice of the Prophet) and
this celebration can be as festive as the family wishes it to be.
Weddings are not meant to be dark and dreary as some dysfunctional
mullahs indicate, when they pose themselves as reformers, exhorting
misogynist theories supported by useless traditions and ranting about
It seems that they have taken it upon themselves to use occasions like
weddings and funerals, to endorse personal views. Recently at a funeral
in Toronto, the Imam who was asked to pray for the soul of the departed
blasted the Supreme Court of Canada for 30 minutes, on the issue of
same-sex marriages! Wrong time, wrong place.
However, misuse of power
by religious leaders is not unique to the Muslim community. In Santa Fe,
New Mexico, a family has filed a lawsuit against their local Catholic
church over a funeral
mass in which the priest allegedly said their
relative was a "lukewarm" Catholic and was going to hell.
Religious exploitation seems to have taken the world by storm.
At a second wedding in
Toronto, the Imam lectured women about their marital duties, interpreted
in the most conservative framework, with no mention that Prophet
Mohammad's wife Khadija, a successful businesswoman, had sent a proposal
of marriage to him. He then informed the guests that they shouldn't
befriend Jews and Christians and proceeded to point out the faults of
the "infidels" until the young bride burst into tears and told
him that most of her friends present at the event were Jews and
So much for joy.
Our only hope as a
thriving and contributing Canadian Muslim community lies in removing the
power of those who distort the faith. Some young Muslims took the
initiative of doing just that at a wedding last week.
The bride and her brother
organized the reception, informing the parents that their only
contribution would be one of their credit cards. There was no sermon,
and the occasion reflected the best of both worlds. The families of the
bride and groom are quite traditional, so a simple religious ceremony
had been performed earlier at a mosque with immediate family in
Later, family and friends
were invited to a mixed reception where hijab and henna mingled with
halters and high heels to the strains of traditional music.
Friends and families
blessed the couple in an atmosphere filled with joy - finally a
Muslim-Canadian wedding with some feeling..