Setting “spendthrift”standards in Muslim Weddings – Invitation cards

Recently I found a invitation card at my grandma’s house. Well, it did not exactly look like a card. It was more like a sweet box. It was golden in color and weighed around 300 gms.

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Now, talking about the card from a physical perspective, it looked good. It was designed well. The experience it wanted to create by making the invitee to remove the hash, untie the knot, uncover different layers of cards, lifting the translucent sheet as if you are lifting the “ghungatof a newly wed bride –  all created the suspense, the awe and the experience that the families(of bride and groom) wanted the invitees to achieve. Good work guys.

BUT

There are a few questions I would like to ask

  1. What was the “main” intention of printing the card?
  2. What do you think about the money being spent on making the invitation cards?
  3. How do you expect the invitees to respond to the card?

The following is the articulation of my thoughts when I saw the card

  1. This is the manifestation of everything that Prophet Mohammed warned us against related to marriages – flaunting / boasting about the material wealth that Allah has given to you, being an spendthrift, wasting time-effort-money on something so minuscule as the invitation card.
  2. Talking about the history of invitation cards and how they came into existence – There was a time when marriages used to happen in small localities where everyone knew each other – marriages mostly happened at one of the homes of the bride or groom. But as cities grew, population increased – wedding halls got built. Now the marriages started to happen in wedding halls and there were more than 1 or 2 wedding halls in a city. So people had to be informed about which wedding hall, its address and the date. So historically speaking, the main intent of the card was to act as a reminder to the invitee about the wedding date and venue.
  3. But now it has become a medium of “placing yourself” in the minds of the target circle. Its very similar to how marketing works – placing the brands in the minds of the customer. It has become a medium to “show” how much power / influence you hold within the business circle. The grandeur of the card boasts about the material success you have achieved.  This is also a way to prove a point to your business rivals or competitors.
  4. Coincidently there were 3 weddings on the same day and I was able to see all the 3 cards at my grandma’s place. There was a clear indication of the power structure reflected through the invitation cards. The bigger card dominated the rest and was actually shouting “you better attend this wedding”
  5. I came to know that the card(shown in images) costs Rs.350 each and they had printed 1000 cards. The cost of invitation cards was bore by the bride’s side. Around Rs.3.5 lakhs was spent for invitation cards. Being from Bangalore, I can surely say that the whole expenditure of a middle class marriage costs pretty much the same (or even a bit lesser). Does spending 3.5 lakhs justifies the purpose of an invitation card?

Now, whats wrong if one is spending 3.5 lakhs for invitation cards? What if the person can afford it and he wants the best for his child. What’s the big deal about it?

The big deal is – he is setting a “STANDARD” – by standard I mean in the derogatory sense. By printing a card of Rs.350, he is telling the world “Listen up you lesser beings, I am gonna arrange a marriage of my daughter that you aint gonna forget”. Now a card of RS.350 becomes “NORMAL” in the muslim society. So the next person – who is most probably called for the wedding, who has almost the same status as the host, who also has a daughter of marriable age – gets compelled, influenced and forced in psychological sense to make his daughters card for more than Rs.350 or atleast Rs.350.

So this small act of making a card ignites a fission reaction in the society (which gets influenced so easily).

My intention was not to target a particular family, but to make you aware of the dangers due small innovations that we introduce in our marriages – which apparently seem so harmless and innocent

Dear brothers and sisters in Islam

Lets not forget – We don’t live for here, we live for hereafter.

We have to give account of each penny we spent. One of the first questions we ll be asked on the day of judgement will be “How did you spend your youth” and “how did you spend your wealth”. Better take an account of yourself before its taken by someone else.

Allah provides barakath and happiness in those marriages which have least expenditure

Marriages in Islam are so simple. Prophet Mohammed(PBUH) wanted them to be extremely simple and affordable. But we are making them more and more tougher because of our own foolishness.

Everything that we add on to our wedding becomes a “norm” in our society – hence we are adding more and more burden to the common man who cannot afford such “norms”. Hence he goes out of way – taking loans on interest – which is haram in Islam. We all will be responsible for the loan been taken by the common man. Because it is We who made these “norms”.

I would strongly suggest the parents , boys and girls who are about to get married to read Islamic books written on Nikah – eg. Kitabun Nikah. And try to understand the importance of simple Nikah and how can one bring barakah in his/her marriage

Lets not encourage such waste expenditure in our marriages. Lets pray to Allah to guide us and help us against all small and big wasteful expenses.

If you see a person being a spendthrift –

  • force him / her to stop wasting money  – Strongest form of Iman
  • OR request him and warn him about the consequences – Medium form of Iman
  • OR at least – have hatred in your heart when you see such wasteful expenditure being done –  but you cannot do anything about it – This is the weakest form of Iman

For guys – If your father-in-law is happy to spend a lot on your wedding and invitation cards. You cant be just ignorant about it. If you think “I am not the one who is wasting money”  – you are terribly mistaken. Since your name is being used in the card – as the groom. You inherently become a part of the system as well. Since your name is being used in the card, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to ask your father-in-law to stop wasting money.

If there is extra budget, ask the families of the bride / groom to spend that amount in marriage of a poor family. This will give them respect in this world and innumerable rewards in hereafter.

Fawaz

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About syedfawaz2002

I am Syed Fawaz Ahmed. I am currently pursuing post graduation in New Media Design at National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Engineer by profession, Artist at heart. I have done my Engineering in Information Science in M.S.Ramaiah Institute of Technology You can reach me at syedfawaz2002@gmail.com
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4 Responses to Setting “spendthrift”standards in Muslim Weddings – Invitation cards

  1. Ayesha Tabassum says:

    I completely agree with you Fawaz. It’s a pity that our bretheren are being misled by the fancy eyewash of this world. By indulging in extravagances like these they are making life difficult for other Muslims — poor, middle class and upper middle class. It is definitely not an Islamic culture, it’s all to do with the kind of frivolous society that we live in. It’s up to us, how we live and set an example.

  2. Afsar says:

    What Comment ?

  3. Ziddarth says:

    My first reaction on seeing such an ostentatious invitation card would’ve been something similar to yours. But on further deliberation I realized something different.
    If someone lives ostentatiously and because of that some people in society are pressured to raise their living standards then I don’t think the blame lies on this garish person rather I think the blame lies squarely on the people who think they have to raise their standards. Nobody is forcing anyone here. Only when you start raising standards do you join the rat race. But I do realize how difficult it is to stay unaffected when you’re amidst people who sometime behave as though their sole purpose is to outdo their neighbors.
    Also who is to say what is over the top and what is acceptable. What if this person had to struggle through life? What if his daughter is the most important person to him and that he wants her to be happy no matter how much that card costs? Would it be right for someone who doesn’t understand his situation to step in and suggest that his display of wealth is uncalled for? I believe the best way to promote one’s beliefs is to not only preach but to follow it ourselves and let others decide for themselves and hope that they realize in the end that it never was a race. Sadly I know that there will always be people who flaunt, more so in our poor country.
    My humble thoughts. Keep well my friend.
    .:SM:.

    • Siddarth,
      Thanks for your well thought comment.

      I am happy that you deliberately thought about the article. Let me share my thoughts with regard to your reply.

      Humans are not islands, they are connected. These intermingling connections form the society. Society has its own rules and boundaries. No one knows who makes them but everyone follows them. No matter how rational one might claim to be. He / She lives by these invisible rules. Now to say that a person lives ostentatiously just because he wants to… is hard to believe. Would he live the same way if he was the only person living on this planet? Its man’s intrinsic nature to try to be superior than rest. However his limited intellect cannot possibly comprehend the level of all the beings in the world. So he satisfies his urge by trying to be better among his peers within his physical proximity. How can we assume that the person was not himself influenced when he decided to make the card? He did not just wake up in the morning and visualized the design of the card. Mostly he wanted a card that was fanciest of all the cards that he has seen till now. So you see his decision of making the card was not his. It was based on others who made fancy cards and he just wanted to raise the standard.

      About raising standards, Who doesn’t want to raise his standards? Who doesn’t want to move to a better paying job? Who doesn’t want to get into a better college? I see no harm in raising standards. But being unconscious about your actions is what I am against.

      Nobody forces us to do anything. Yet we all end up in engineering or medical. Why do we become engineers? Nobody is forcing you here, but the number of CAT applicants and IIT-JEE applicants go on increasing. The numbers of IIT-JEE coaching classes go on increasing in Kota, Rajasthan. Right from 8th standard a boy or girl is being asked to work hard so that he or she can crack the IIT-JEE. 5-6 years of prime youth is used for entering a into a IIT. I have seen students who take up any course in IIT, even If they are not interested in the course. Just to be in a IIT because it’s just IIT what they have thought about all their life.

      No Human can make a completely rational decision – even if he tries, he cannot possibly decide to have a cup of coffee for himself. Most of the time, we play safe. We take the safer path – the path that the society has termed “safe”.

      An interesting comment you made about who is to say what is acceptable? How do we set the metrics for it? Our conscience must be the guide to our decisions. And assuming that the person had to struggle all his life to be in a position that he is in – is the invitation card a medium to convey the same? Does the card now justify its purpose?. As a daughter’s father he would be more concerned about her happiness post-marriage than before-marriage. Since the card is printed before marriage – the daughter’s happiness in this case would mean that she would feel “Special”. So being special is a comparative phenomenon. This too is measured by the grandeur of cards of her peers.

      Man does not own his property, life and children. It is given to him by Allah. He should be thankful for it. But man is short sighted, he just sees this life. Not the hereafter. That’s why most of the prophets of Allah were shepherds. They guided the mankind.

      As I said, I have nothing against the man who ordered the card, I just pointed to the reaction it generates among its receivers. Truly, practice is the best way to preach. But the point was to make readers aware of the dynamics that are involved in such acts.

      Your humble friend.
      Fawaz

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