بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The undesirability of Rasam and Betrothal ceremony in Isläm
Is Rasam (Engagement) correct according to Shariah?
One of my friend’s marriage talk happened two weeks ago, both family members from boy’s side and girl’s side sat together and had a formal talk and agreed for the same. Now they want to do Rasam, is it permissible?
When they had agreed and had a formal talk, why didn’t they carry out the marriage itself? What else is marriage other than mutual agreement and formal talk. The wedding-sermon is desirable, but it wouldn’t have been too difficult to arrange for.
After marriage, if there is some necessity, they have the option to postpone – by mutual agreement – sending the bride to the bridegroom.
However, if someone does do rasam/engagement, it constitutes a promise to marry. Talking to and seeing the bride shall remain prohibited for the boy. If either of the party so wills, they may go for another wedding alliance discarding the present one, even without informing the other party. They will earn sin for breaking the promise, however this other marriage will be valid.
As far as I know, rasam/mangni/betrothal involves some meaningless rituals like ring-wearing, etc. Un-Islämic traditions must be avoided at all costs. Usually, this happens only after both parties are in agreement regarding the alliance. At such a stage, nikäh (proposal and acceptance in front of two witnesses) should be the logical step, not un-Islämic rituals which needlessly delay the Sunnah of marriage.
Let us take our worthy predecessors as our role models, not the society. Let us not be of those who say, “We are bound by customs.”
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ وَإِلَى الرَّسُولِ قَالُوا حَسْبُنَا مَا وَجَدْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ (المائدة: 104)
When it is said to them, “Come to what Allah has sent down, and to the Messenger;” they say, “Sufficient for us is the path on which we have found our forefathers.” Is it so, even though their forefathers knew nothing, and had no guidance either? (Qurän 5:104)
There was a time when Macaulay’s sons (the school-educated youngsters) rebelled against their Saläh-observing and beard-honoring fathers. There was a time when Macaulay’s daughters revolted against their purdah-observing moms. They were stupid. They purchased everlasting suffering in return for stupid look-alikeness of their mercenary role models, the Satans of Bollywood and Hollywood. They were ignorant and were duped by the glittering hollow slogans of the Satans from west. The result: In a few decades, mosques went vacant, cinema-halls houseful; Alläh’s Prophet’s Sunnah of beard became a funny costume or sign of uncouthed barbarian, burqah a sign of repression.
BUT one thing is for sure. Macaulay’s children were not cowards.
Then, why are we, believers in Almighty Alläh, His valiant Prophet, and the Last Day of reckoning, such cowards?
I am including three articles below which I think is relevant to the question and useful for many of us:
1. Hazart Fätimah’s marriage: an ideal marriage procedure which all of us should try to replicate.
2. Poignant story of one of the less-known lions of Isläm Hazrat Julaibïb, and of his wife who rejected her parent’s decision regarding her marriage and bowed to Alläh’s Prophet’s decision.
3. Obedience to parents and its limitations: When is it prohibited, desirable, avoidable, or mandatory? The source is Hazrat Thänawï’s article at the end of Bahishtï Zewar.
Hazrat Fätimah’sرَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهَا marriage
(Sources: Sïratul Mustafä by Maulänä Idrïs Kandhlawï 2/166,
Sïratun Nabï by Shiblï Nu’mänï 1/211-212,
Islähur Rusüm by Maulänä Ashraf ‘Alï Thänawï 90-92,
Haläl o Haräm by Maulänä Khälid Saifulläh Rahmänï 276)
It was 2 AH, when first Hazrat Abü Bakr, and then Hazrat ‘Umar رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا requested the holy Prophet ﷺ for the blessing of marriage with Hazrat Fätimah, 15 ½ years old at the time. The Prophet said: “I am waiting for direction from Alläh.” The two elder companions then advised Hazrat ‘Alï also to give it a try.
At first, Hazrat ‘Alï was hesitant and unsure. How could he send marriage-proposal, when he had no money at all? The only thing that he owned at that time was a sheep-skin, a frayed Yemeni sheet, and an armour. For marriage, one must have some money at least, to pay the dower and bear the domestic expenses. But then the Prophet ﷺ had always been generous towards him, granting him all his requests. Will he oblige this time too?
He somehow went to the Prophetﷺ and made the request. By this time, Alläh’s Prophetﷺ had received divine guidance on this matter which was in this young proposer’s favor, so he accepted the proposal. Hazrat ‘Alï was delighted beyond bounds, but then …
“Do you have anything to pay the Mahr?” asked the Prophet ﷺ.
“No,” replied Hazrat ‘Alï as he felt his heart sink.
“Where is the armour that you received as battle-award after Badr?”
“Oh, yes, I have it.”
“Well, then. Give the same to Fätimah as Mahr.”
Obviously, the armour meant for men wouldn’t be of much use to Fätimah. So, Hazrat ‘Alï sold it to Usmän رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا for 480 dirhams (~ ₹71,400) and presented the dirham coins to the holy Prophet ﷺ. Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ asked him to arrange for perfumes and garments with this money.
When the time for marriage came, the Prophet ﷺ asked Hazrat ‘Alï – who had till then been staying with the Prophet himself – to arrange for a home. So, ‘Alï رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ got a house on rent to spend his first post-wedding night with Hazrat Fätimah رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهَا.
Hazrat Anas, the blessed child attendant of the Prophetﷺ, was asked to call Abü Bakr, ‘Umar, Usmän, Talhah, Zubair, and some Ansärï companions رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُم. When they gathered, the Prophet ﷺ recited an eloquent wedding-sermon and conducted the formal proposal and acceptance.
The Prophet then asked his freed slave and foster-mother Hazrat Umme Aiman to accompany Fätimah to Hazrat ‘Alï’s house.
For their new home, Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ gifted the following items: a quilt, a leather cushion stuffed with some tree-bark, two hand-mills, a water-skin, and two earthen pitchers.
Hazrat Härithah bin Nu’män Al Ansärï owned several homes of which he had already gifted a few to the Prophet ﷺ. Hazrat Fätimah requested the Prophet to get a home from Hazrat Härithah once again, but the Prophet declined saying, “It feels embarrassing to ask him once again.”
Somehow, Hazrat Härithah got wind of this conversation. Rushing to the Prophet ﷺ at once, he said, “O Prophet! Myself and whatever I have, belong to you, fully and completely. By Alläh! I would be more pleased if you took my house than if you left it with me.” Hazrat Härithah then vacated one of his houses.
Once Hazrat Fätimah had shifted to the new house, the Prophet ﷺ made a visit. Standing on the door, he asked for permission to enter. Getting inside, he asked for a utensil full of water. He placed both his palms inside, and sprinkled some of the water on Hazrat ‘Alï’s chest and arms. He then called for Hazrat Fätimah who came staggering demurely. He sprinkled water on her too saying, “I have married you to the best man in my family.”
Later on, Hazrat ‘Alï arranged for Walïmah-feast. The menu was: barley, dates, and mashed bread.
Lessons in Hazrat Fätimah’s marriage
1. Hazrat ‘Alï himself went to the Prophet and made his proposal, alone and unaccompanied. Hazrat Thänawï رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْهِ writes: This shows that all the cumbersome formalities prevalent nowadays regarding engagement and betrothal are meaningless and against the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ. Verbal message and reply are sufficient.
2. Hazrat Thänawï further writes that Hazrat Fätimah was 15 ½ and ‘Alï 21 at the time. This indicates that there should not be much delay in marriage after the child has reached puberty. Also, the boy and girl should be of somewhat comparable age. Preferably, the boy should be a little older than the girl.
3. The Prophet ﷺ invited some noble companions to the wedding. From this we learn that it is ok if we invite neighbors and close relations for the ceremony. This will ensure that relevant people are well-aware of the marriage. But there is no need to make complicated planning and extravagant arrangements for the purpose.
4. Can the Prophet’s gifts to Hazrat Fatima رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهَا qualify as the dowry prevalent in our times?
Maulänä Khälid Saifulläh Rahmänï writes that the Prophet ﷺ was not only Hazrat Fätimah’s father but also Hazrat ‘Alï’s guardian and supervisor. The Prophet himself had looked after Hazrat ‘Alï all these years. Now, Hazrat ‘Alï neither owned a house nor the necessary domestic commodities. Therefore, as the guardian of both the spouses, the Prophet ﷺ made arrangement for commodities necessary to make a new house livable.
That the gifts were not our prevalent dowry is also supported by the fact that the Prophet had three other daughters too, but there is no evidence that the Prophet gifted anything to any of them on the occasion of wedding. If the Prophet gave dowry only to Hazrat Fätimah, it would be injustice to other daughters which is just unimaginable for the high rank of the noble Prophet who made the exhortation, “Be just to your children.” (Bukhärï 2587)
Obedience to Alläh and His Prophet has higher priority than obedience to parents
Parents’ obedience is related only to serving them, comforting them, talking politely to them, gifting to them, etc. When parents command to oppose the Islämic Sharï’ah, the laws of Alläh and His Prophet ﷺ; the Sharï’ah rulings take precedence. We find an example in Hazrat Julaibïb’s story below.
Julaibïb and the wise girl
(Source: Tafsïr Ibn Kathïr 6/422,
Al Istï’äb fï Ma’rifatil As-häb by Abü ‘Umar An Namirï Al Qurtubï 1/272,
Ma’äriful Qurän English by Muftï Muhammad Shafï’ Uthmani 7/158-159)
A short young man with misshapen face, Julaibïb was not someone people would enjoy looking at. He well-remembered how he had been hated and disliked in the days of Ignorance. His presence itself meant offence to many.
Then, Isläm came. There was a remarkable change in attitude. People now valued him for his faith, for loyalty to Alläh and His Prophet ﷺ that he professed. United by belief in Alläh and the Hereafter, the Muslims treated him like brother, ate with him and talked to him. It felt so refreshing.
“Why don’t you marry, Julaibïb?” the noble Prophet ﷺ asked him one day.
“What … marry … did you say to me?” Julaibïb was taken aback at this suggestion. He knew people had changed for the good. But marriage, come on …. Which girl in her right mind would like to spend her life with me, pass her days looking at my — as they used to say — hideous and ugly face. The very memory of those dark days of Kufr was painful. “I don’t think so, Alläh’s Prophet. I mean, who will go for someone like … me. If there were one man unsalable in the marriage market, it would be me.”
“But in Alläh’s court, you are not unsalable. You are not worthless. In fact, invaluable are you, Julaibïb,” said the Prophet ﷺ.
To an Ansärï girl’s father, Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ made the proposal for Julaibïb. The father stood expressionless for a while, then said, “Let me talk to her mother, my wife.”
“No, never. How come?” the girl’s mother was livid. “We had rejected proposals from these many fair and rich people. And Alläh’s prophet ﷺ could not find anybody except Julaibïb. Is he his son?” And in a tone of finality, she declared, “We will never let Julaibïb marry our daughter.”
Behind the curtains, the girl was listening. She knew Julaibïb, and that he was not the most pleasing to look at. She knew Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ too, in whose obedience lay the success in this world and the Hereafter. She also knew that Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ cared more for every Believer, than the person himself. The wishes of her parents, or mother at least, and that of the noble Prophet, the mercy to the entire Mankind, were at odds. It was not easy to decide.
“Hey, … you are going to turn down Alläh’s Prophet’s proposal, are you?”
She didn’t know, but somehow she had found the courage to speak just as her father had gone out of the door. Father was going to inform the holy Prophet ﷺ of unacceptability of the proposal.
“Have you forgotten what Alläh has said,” she continued,
“وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ. (الأحزاب: ٣٦)
“Once Alläh and His Prophet have settled a matter, there is no choice left for a believing man or woman in that matter. (Qurän 33:36)
“If Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ has chosen him for us, I have no objection. I am willing. I submit myself to his decision. Let the marriage take place.”
For once, the mother looked shocked, so did the father who had just returned inside. Perhaps, the sudden, unexpected boldness of the modest and bashful girl had awakened them too to their senses. They too had realized the Prophet’s bounties in holding them off the Hell-fire when they had been speeding towards it with their Kufr, and the sacrifices he had to make in the process. How could he be an ill-wisher for anyone? It looked like a long time had passed, for when mother spoke, there was no trace of anger in her voice. Father too seemed to have realized the error.
“Oh, yes, you are right, my daughter.” Mother looked solemn. Father nodded, and then left again, but this time to inform the Prophet ﷺ of acceptance of his proposal.
“Alläh’s Prophet, if you so wish, we agree to the proposal,” the girl’s father was saying.
“Yes, I do.” When Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ was informed of the girl’s reaction, he was impressed by her wisdom, at her love and respect for Alläh and His Prophet. “Alläh! Shower her with all the good things in this life and the Hereafter! Alläh! Never let her live a life of misery!”
The Prophet then carried out the marriage.
Julaibïb was a part of this military expedition led by the holy Prophet ﷺ. With Alläh’s help, the Muslims were victorious against the evil Käfirs. But not without the cost of precious lives of some mujähids.
“Who all are missing?” After the battle was over, Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ asked the Sahäbah around him. Many of them were injured, all were exhausted, but none was dead, at least.
So and so, A and B, X and Y. The noble companions named some people who had come with them, but had left them now to enjoy the bliss and bounties Alläh had in store for them.
“Anyone else? Think, think. Who else is not here?” the Prophet ﷺ repeated looking all around him.
Some more names came up.
“But I don’t see Julaibïb. Where is he? Go and search for him.”
Easy to be forgotten, Julaibïb had lived a life lonelier than others. He had no parents in Madïnah, no brothers, no sisters. But here he was on the ground, not alone though, this time at least. Julaibïb was in a fairly large company of seven, all of them strangers however.
Many of the searchers wondered at this lion of Isläm who had killed these many before drinking the glass of martyrdom at the hands of these fallen seven’s co-fighters.
The Prophet ﷺ now stood at the place, looking at the valiant face of Julaibïb. Companions could see the Prophet struggling to hold his tears. “He killed seven before they killed him, did he? He is mine, I am his. He killed seven. He is my family, I am his family. …”
As they dug his grave, Alläh’s Prophet held him supporting his body with his hands. As his soul flew carefree, enjoying the delights of the lovely lush gardens of Paradise, his body back in this world had the honor of Alläh’s last Prophet’s touch and support; the same prophet, to have a glance at whom, all the prophets had come out from their graves; the very prophet, to get the honor of following whom, Alläh’s word and miracle, Hazrat ‘Isä will return from atop the skies.
Carried in the most sacred of all biers and cots, Alläh’s Prophet’s blessed arms, he had now been placed inside his grave
Back at Madïnah, the wise girl lived a highly prosperous life. No husband-less woman among the Ansärs of Madïnah had a higher monthly budget. Alläh’s Prophet’s ﷺ supplication was bearing fruits.
(Source: Bahishti Zewar (11 parts) by Maulänä Ashraf ‘Alï Thänawï; pages: 749-754)
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَنْ تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ. (النساء: ٥٨)
Surely, Alläh commands you to deliver trusts to those entitled to them, and that, when you judge between people, judge with justice. (Qurän 4:58)
The verse tells us that we must honor the compulsory rights of the rightful. From “judge with justice”, we learn that when we honor the right of one person, we must not deprive another of his due.
Nowadays, there are many people who neglect the clear commands of Alläh and His Prophet ﷺ regarding the rights of parents, bringing upon themselves Alläh’s wrath. On the other hand, there are some uninformed pious people, who go to the other extreme, neglecting the rights of wives, children, and others, in order to meet parents’ unjustifiable demands.
There are also people who manage to give others their due while honoring parents’ obligatory rights, but suffer great hardships meeting their demands where obedience is only desirable (Mustahab). They feel every command from parents is compulsory, and as a result, they are overwhelmed, giving the Satan a chance to misguide them: “Some rulings of Sharï’ah are too harsh to follow.” In the process, they commit injustice to their own selves when Alläh’s Prophet ﷺ has said:
وَلِنَفْسِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا (البخاري: ١٩٦٨)
Your soul has a right on you. (Bukhärï 1968)
Reading the details below you will be able to know when to obey parents and when not to. You will also learn what are the occasions when obeying parents is merely desirable, not compulsory. Hence, if you find yourself capable, obey; you will get reward from Alläh. If you find it difficult, disobey; it’s not a sin.
The word “parents” used below refers to both or either of them.
When obedience to parents is prohibited
1. If parents forbid doing something that is compulsory by Alläh’s and His Prophet’s teachings, then obeying them is not allowed.
(a) If the man is so poor that spending on parents would cause hardships to wives and children, then spending upon parents is not allowed.
(b) Wives have a right to demand from their husband a house or room separate from his parents’. If the parents do not allow him, he should give the wives their due rights, disobeying his parents.
(c) If parents prevent a person from going for mandatory Haj, or compulsory ‘Umrah, or from going to madrasah or with Tablïgï Jamä’ah to learn the basics of Isläm which is mandatory upon every Muslim, then disobeying the parents will be compulsory.
2. If parents command the offspring to do something which is impermissible in the Sharï’ah, then too obeying them is prohibited.
(a) If parents ask the boy to do an unlawful job like employment in bank, then it is compulsory to disobey them.
(b) If parents ask the boy to engage in some un-Islämic act, ritual or Bid’ah (innovation in Dïn), then it is compulsory to disobey them. Example: Taking dowry, grave-worship, watching movies, etc.
When disobedience is desirable
1. If parents ask the offspring to do an act which is permissible or desirable (Mustahab) in the Sharï’ah, but he feels that this will cause him hardship, then disobedience is preferable.
a. If the parents ask the boy to divorce his wife without a justifiable cause in the eyes of the Sharï’ah, then disobedience is preferable.
b. If the parents ask the boy to hand over to them his entire earning, then also obedience is not compulsory. If they compel him, they will be sinners. If they take from his money without his permission more than their basic needs, then it will be a loan due to the son. The son has a right to demand repayment of this loan from his parents. If they refuse to pay, then they will have to pay in the Hereafter.
When obedience is desirable, but not compulsory (disobedience is not a sin)
1. If parents ask the offspring to do an act which is permissible or desirable (Mustahab) in the Sharï’ah, and this would cause hardship neither to him nor to his parents, then obedience is preferable and highly rewardable, and disobedience is permissible.
Example: Parents ask for some small amount of money to gift to their relations.
When obedience is compulsory
1. If parents ask the offspring to do an act which is permissible or desirable (Mustahab) in the Sharï’ah, and obeying them will not lead to any hardship for him whereas disobeying them will cause hardship to him or the parents, then obedience is compulsory.
1. Parents prohibit the boy from migrating to another city for a higher-paying job when he is unable to provide them with sufficient expenses, and arrange for a servant in case they are old and infirm.
2. Parents prohibit the boy from going to a war-zone for the sake of higher-salary. This will cause hardship to him, and put his life in danger, so obeying them is compulsory.