Shadi season is just around the corner, and many practicing Muslim families will be asking themselves whether or not they should fully separate their wedding parties with a partition or have it open with men and women either seated side to side or mixed.
I found a story written from www.themuslimhousewife.com about this issue with a personal story unlike any I had ever heard before. It also includes a cameo by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, and is posted in full here, followed by my thoughts.
Lessons From My Wedding
By The Muslim Housewife
As summer comes near so do the abundance of weddings! I thought it would be most appropriate to write a post about lessons I learned from my own wedding. I hope this post will be beneficial for those getting married this summer, and for those who will get married in the future.I will have to admit that writing this post means revisiting a really hard time in my life, but inshā'Allāh I think it will be beneficial to share my thoughts and experiences.
I had a typical Desi wedding. Bride and Groom center stage. Men on one side, women on the other. Nice decoration, good food. It was a day that my family and I prepared for so much, but only lasted a few mere hours. As most brides, I was center (literally) of attention that day. All decked out, dupatta on the head, adorned with jewelry and all fancied up. I was there, propped up on stage next to my newly wed for the world to see, men included. At the time it seemed like such a blissful moment.
Few months into my marriage I started experiencing out of the ordinary headaches, headaches that would not go away with any type of medication. I had always been a healthy girl with no health problems, the only thing that changed in my life was that fact that I was married. The headaches continued and seemed to come more often. I saw all types of doctors and had all types of tests, none of which could figure out what the problem was. I was perfectly healthy. Eventually doctors stamped my case as migraines. Let's just say I didn't buy it.
We thought the best thing to do would be to see a Sheikh. We went to someone very close to my husband, he had known this Sheikh for years before we got married. As we told the Sheikh the story, he diagnosed me as having hasad (jealously/envy). He said I most likely got hasad at the time of my wedding. When he said that, I thought back to my wedding day, my heart sunk to my stomach. That day did not seem as blissful anymore.
The Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, warned Muslims against envy when he said “Creeping upon you is the diseases of those people before you: envy and hatred. And hatred is the thing that shapes. I do not say it shapes the hair but it shapes the religion. By the One in whose Hand is my soul, you will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Certainly, let me inform you of that which may establish such things: spread the greetings and peace among yourselves.”
[Recorded by imām Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi]
To confirm that I did have hasad inflicted upon me we saw various Shuyūkh, including our dear Sh. Yasir Qadhi, who confirmed that I had hasad done on me. I went through years of unbearable physical pain, and all because of that one day that lasted a few hours. I ask Allāh SWT to forgive me for being ignorant at the time.
My dear sisters, there is a lesson to be learned from my situation. I have not shared a personal story with you all so you would know of a person who had gone through hasad. I want those soon to be brides to realize that it is ok to celebrate a joyous event such as your wedding, but remember it is also very important to abide by Islamic rules and regulations during these occasions. I speak to myself before others when I say, there is no reason to display a bride, center stage, especially in front of men. I feel the best thing to do at functions such as these is to have a full partition. And even then I believe the best thing to do is have the bride sit at the same level as her guests. Moreover, don't go overboard in anything you do that day, for Allāh forbids israaf (being extravagant).
Alhumdulilah I am cured, and subḥānAllāh have no more strange headaches. Allāh knows best as to why and how this happened to me. It may have been a lesson that I and others hearing my story would learn from. Remember sisters, it is important to be cautious at the time of your wedding. Pay special attention in making sure your wedding meets Islamic guidelines and also remember to recite Ayat ul Kursi, Surah Al Falaq, Surah An Nas, and Surah Ikhlas before you go to bed, or better yet after every ṣalāh. For indeed this is the ultimate protection.
I ask Allāh SWT, the ultimate protector, to keep us far, far away from hasad and seher. Āmīn.
The reason why this story was so striking to me was because it illustrated a reason to separate ones wedding beyond the normal ones we hear of, hasad.
Hasad, also known in Urdu as nazr, is a very serious ordeal. When a person is struck with it, it can be difficult to identify, deal with, or maybe even remove. Many of us are familiar with stories of hasad, and maybe can even recall personal instances from beck home of being affected by it.
In regards to a wedding party, hasad is not the sole reason to separate one's wedding and by doing so will not guarantee someone from all possible harm. Women in the women's section can still give hasad, and same applies over on the men's side. This story is meant to be an additional supporting reason for having a separated party for the primary reason, immodesty.
In our communities, going to weddings means dressing one's “shadi best.” Unfortunately, this means dressing unIslamically and immodestly, and when the wedding isn't separated, it opens up the door to improper mixing. Why should we allow it to happen more easily? Sure, we can't enforce hijab and feelings of modesty on any sole individual or prevent our friend's daughters from showing up in sleeveless shalwar kameezes, but we can certainly prevent much of the mixing that goes on when it comes time for us to host a wedding party.
Also, why are we so quick to display the bride to hundreds of guests without any qualms? In one walima party I went to, the groom's male cousin was chosen to give a speech in which he said, “I had always heard that your wife was pretty, but I never knew she was this beautiful.” Fathers, brothers, and husbands, we need to ask ourselves: Is this what we want for our communities' daughters?
In the end, one can argue that even if one were to separate their wedding party, illicit gazes and hasad can still occur in some nook or cranny of the event. But it's not an “all or nothing” type goal. It's about doing the best you can.
Weddings are a big ordeal for all of us, and we all want things to be just right. After all, it's “just one day.” If your family is not sure on whether to separate your party of not, perhaps it would be best to consider the reasons mentioned when making your decision for the big day. If it's “just one day,” then best we do that day right.
We ask Allāh (swt) to help us run our weddings in ways that please Him and not in ways that may harbor His displeasure.