The Heavenly Marriage: Etiquettes to Follow on the Wedding Night

This Thaqlain Guide is created from Sheikh Nuru Mohammed’s lecture at SAAJ Nairobi (linked here) and is dedicated in memory of Shabbir Hussain Homayee.

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Marriage is Half of Deen

A major part of people’s life revolves around marital relations. Marriage secures and sets aright several aspects of a person’s life. Therefore, it is no wonder that in the narrations from the Prophet (s), getting married is referred to as completing one-half of faith.

رسولُ اللهِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ): إذا تَزَوَّجَ العَبدُ فقدِ استَكمَلَ نِصفَ الدينِ ، فَلْيَتَّقِ اللّه‏َ في النِّصفِ الباقي.

When a believer gets married, he has completed half of his faith, so let him be careful of his duty to Allah in the remaining half.

Concept of Marriage by Prophet Ibrahim

The Quran mentions the prayer of Prophet Ibrahim, which can teach us a lot about the philosophy of marriage in Islam. In a few words, it gives away the ideal purpose of marriage:

وَالَّذينَ يَقولونَ رَبَّنا هَب لَنا مِن أَزواجِنا وَذُرِّيّاتِنا قُرَّةَ أَعيُنٍ وَاجعَلنا لِلمُتَّقينَ إِمامًا

“And those who say, ‘Our Lord! grant us comfort in our spouses and descendants, and make us imams of the God wary.’”
[Quran 25:74]

Prophet Ibrahim is not just asking for wives who are a cause of comfort; he asks for a family that can lead and has exemplary virtues. Prophet Ibrahim’s prayer is an example for all believers. A believer is not satisfied by just being a Muslim but strives to become the best at it. Thus it is crucial to keep this goal in mind when approaching marriage.

Wedding: The Stepping Stone of a blessed Marriage

The groundwork for a strong marriage lies in selecting a virtuous spouse. But once that’s done, the next big step is the big day itself. Or the night.

What should the bride and groom and their families do to ensure that a wedding is blessed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? How to plan a wedding so that it becomes the foundation of a strong believing family? What etiquettes should be followed? The answer lies in the teachings of Ahlulbayt.

The Pre-Wedding Reception

Based on the narrations of Ahlulbayt, it is recommended to have a small ceremony a couple of days before the wedding night. Family, friends, and close relatives should be invited to it. It can be equated to the “Mehndi” or the “Bridal Shower” in some cultures. But the way Islam wants people to hold these events is very different to how they’re actually celebrated.

The pre-wedding ceremony in Islam is all about gathering and praising the Lord Almighty. It’s an occasion to pray collectively for the success of the upcoming marriage and to say words of advice to the bride and groom.

Unlawful acts that have become a norm to wedding celebrations, such as music, dance, and mixed gathering, weaken the bridge of marriage even before it is built.

Islam sees marriage as a sacred bond, as a form of worship. It allows people to rejoice and be merry, but it doesn’t allow forgetting Allah while this sacred knot gets tied. In fact, the whole point of holding a pre-wedding reception should be the remembrance of Allah.

When to Have the Wedding: Day or Night?

It is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet to have the wedding at night. The nighttime is more peaceful and tranquil, which is why Islam highly encourages conducting the marriage at night.

Various narrations hint towards the significance of the night in bringing peace to the body and mind. Islam allows and encourages night vigils for three reasons: For learning and reciting the Quran, for seeking knowledge, and for consummating the marriage.

But though it is recommended to have the wedding at night, the guests should be served during the daytime, according to Hadith. Doing so saves time and ensures that the guests leave before the night arrives and the newly married couple can begin their new journey.

The Concept of Bridesmaids

When the bride leaves for the groom’s house, ladies of the family should escort her. These women should be close members of the family.

It is highly recommended that they recite Zikr and praises of Allah the whole time they accompany the bride. Lady Fatima was similarly escorted by Umm Ayman, Lady Asma, and other ladies of her family.

Once they had brought Lady Fatima to Imam Ali’s house, the Prophet asked these ladies to leave the house. And that is another etiquette for the bridesmaids to learn: Not to linger after the bride is safely home.

How Should the Groom Welcome the Bride?

As the bride comes home, her husband should be there already, standing by the door to welcome her. Not only that, but he should try his best to make her feel welcomed by following a set of etiquettes given by the Ahlulbayt alaihimus salaam.

1. Remove the bride’s shoes: The husband should uncover his wife’s feet by removing any socks or shoes. According to Imam Ali, it’s a difficult moment in the bride’s life as she bids farewell to her past life and previous home. Giving her respect beyond the norm helps her and soothes her.

2. Wash the bride’s feet: The husband should wash his wife’s feet with water. It is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. This humble act by the husband instils confidence and a sense of belonging in the new bride who’s just left her home.

3. Sprinkle the water around the house: The same water should be sprinkled in every corner of the room. According to Imam Ali, doing so brings seventy kinds of blessings and protects against seventy kinds of miseries.

4. Talk to the bride: The husband should sit down and look at her. He should ask her about her religious obligations. Such as how many Salats she owes and how many other obligations are upon her shoulders. Whether she’s offered her Maghribain or not. Many couples forget prayers on their wedding night, which is a grave mistake. This new beginning shouldn’t be deprived of Allah’s blessing.

5. Pray together: Once the couple has offered their obligatory prayers, they should offer 2-units of salah and make dua after it. The husband should lead, and the wife should follow him. According to a Hadith of the Holy Prophet, every dua made on this night by the bride and groom is accepted by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

6. Supplicate: There are numerous supplications from Ahlulbayt recommended for the couple to recite together. One narration from the Messenger of Allah recommends the husband to put his hand on her wife’s forehead and recite the following duas:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ خَيْرَهَا وَخَيْرَ مَا جَبَلْتَهَا عَلَيْهِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّهَا وَمِنْ شَرِّ مَا جَبَلْتَهَا عَلَيْهِ

O Allah, I ask You for the goodness of her and the goodness of what you built her upon, and I seek refuge in You from her evil and the evil of what you built her upon.

[Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith No. 2160]

Another narration from Imam al-Baqir suggests to praise Allah and send salutations to Prophet and his family and then recite the following:

 اللهم ارزقني إلفها وودها ورضاها بي وارضني بها واجمع بيننا بأحسن اجتماع وأيسر ائتلاف فإنك تحب الحلال وتكره الحرام

O Allah, bless me with her companionship, love, and acceptance, and make me pleasing to her. Bring us together in the best union and grant us a joyful alliance, for You love what is permissible and detest what is forbidden.

[Al-Kafi, Vol. 5, Pg. 500]

Then Imam said, “Know that Alf (love/unity) is from Allah and Fark (division) is from Shaytaan as he dislikes what Allah has made permissible.”

Lastly, there is a narration from Imam Sadiq (alaihis salaam) to recite the following on the wedding night:

اللهم بأمانتك أخذتها وبكلماتك استحللتها فإن قضيت لي منها ولدا فاجعله مباركا تقيا من شيعة آل محمد صلى الله عليه وآله ولا تجعل للشيطان فيه شركا ولا نصيبا

O Allah, I have taken her as a trust from You, and I have made her lawful by Your words. If You decree for me offspring from her, make them blessed, righteous, and from the followers of the family of Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). Do not allow any share of partnership for Satan in them, and grant him no portion in them.

[Al-Kafi, Vol. 5, Pg. 502]

A wedding that’s perfected in this fashion is a cause of comfort, joy and contentment. Making a marriage work is no easy feat, but invoking Allah and asking Him for His mercy does the magic.

When the husband and wife bring Allah between them on the first night of their new life, they define the path they’ll be treading for the rest of their lives.

The Role of Parents and In-Laws

Both before and after the marriage, the bride and groom’s parents should talk to their children and advise them. They should teach them about the importance of being sincere and being content with what one has. They should encourage them to respect their new family as they respect their own.

Even though Lady Fatima is an example for all the ladies of the universe, the Holy Prophet advised her all the same at the time of her marriage. Therefore, all parents should make it a point to say words of wisdom to their sons and daughters to help them cope better in their future life.

Jafar al-Tayyar’s Advice to His Daughter

Prophet’s uncle, Jafar al-Tayyar, also advised his daughter and books of Islamic history captured this advice. He gave her a few tips that are as useful and relevant today as they were in the past.

Every individual should follow these three pieces of advice concerning their spouse:

  1. Do not be too possessive because jealousy destroys peace in a relationship.
  2. Do not be judgmental because unnecessary criticism weakens a person’s morals.
  3. Dress to impress because presentation matters.

Final Thoughts

The wedding night is one of the most important nights in the life of an individual. This is also a very blessed night for everyone involved. The husband and wife and their respective families should understand its symbolic power and significance.

Serious thought must go into making the event a success—in the eyes of Allah. Society must also realise that a wedding is not just any other celebratory event, it is much more than that.

If one is to follow the aim set out by Prophet Ibrahim in his prayer, one realises that, in this age, pleasing the Imam of Our Time and raising a family that would support him in his cause should be the main aim of an ideal marriage.

May Allah hasten the reappearance of the Imam of Our Time.

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