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Wedding celebrated with Qira't competition

Chitral-- In a break from the normal where singing and dancing are essential part of weddings, A qirat (Quranic recitations) and Hamd o Naat ( poetic expression of praise of God and the Prophet ) was held at at Shogram village some 45 KM from north of Chitral town. The occasion was wedding ceremony of Hafiz Qari Naseeruddin Mahmood qualified from Darululoom Islamia Lahore. Naib Mohtamim of Darul Uloom Dr. Ahmad Mian Thanvi was chief guest the ceremony while the ceremony was presided over by Maulana Qazi Muhammad Anis a teacher of that Darululoom.  Dr. Ahmad Thanvi said that marriage is not only a social agreement but is an important part of Islamic elements and we should celebrate it according to Islamic principles. He said that usually we arranging music programs during marriage ceremony but this is first initiative to celebrate marriage according to Islamic education and arranged a Qirat and Naat competition.
He said Muslims must adopt Islamic principles on the occasion of happiness and grief.

An other ceremony of Qirat competition was held at Mori village. Dr. Ahmad Mian Thanvi was chief gust and Akhunzada Rahmatullah was presiding over the ceremony. Those who participated in Qirat competition were Qari Naseerulla, Qari Muhammad Malik, Wiqat Ahmad, Saeedur Rehman, Shujar Rehman, Khurshid Ahmad, Abdul Ghani, Maqsood Ahmad, Suhail Ahmad, Noorul Basar and Qari M. Yaseen etc. A large number of Muslims were present on the occasion of this ceremony. --(GH Farooqi, 25 July 10)

Comment -1

I was pleased to read about the wedding that was celebrated with the praise of Allah SWT and the Holy Prophet (SAW). I hope this wedding is a trendsetter. It will InshaAllah be a source of blessing for both the families. Here in Islamabad, I attended a wedding ceremony of a religious family who had invited elderly ladies to share experiences of their marital lives and give advices to the bride about tolerance, patience and moral values, which unfortunately, are gradually disappearing from our culture  It is just another idea I wanted to share, as it may be of use to the readers. Best wishes to the newly married couple. -- Zeenat Khan, Islamabad,.26 July 10.


Comment -2

This is with reference to subject news story.   It is very difficult to endorse such development as we don’t have adequate proof for the subject in Islamic history.

In societies every body is free to celebrate his affair as per his likes, priorities and after all his requirements but does not enjoy rights to justify putting it as a trendsetter. Every household has its own culture and carries its formalities according to it. No data can be presented from any quarter of our religious history where the whole process of wedding solemnized under recitation of verses from the holy Quran. Even our prophet (PBUH) allowed some kind of music on his own wedding. Islam already exists in Islamic way of wedding as engagement and Nikah are concluded with verses from Quran. The music is just to add to the joy  the couple and both families feel providing the people an opportunity to get together.

I would take exception to any notion that there is slight repugnance in Chitrali music to our religion. Our musical programs conducted separately on gender basis giving no way for vulgarity, nudity or any other misfortune. Females rarely join the program participated by the males. No female has so for danced before males. Yes the unwanted behavior recently being allied with our cultural ceremonies can be debated and possibly controlled. I am not going to declare the Shogram development the harbinger of Talibanization but requesting all and sundry to stick to their individual/ family/ ancestral customs and not to undermine and negate our culture which, though may not be purely orthodox Islamic but surely is not un-Islamic as well.

Sadly speaking, I must disclose my discontent that Shogram has so far been threatened. The beautiful small hamlet is the birth place of a musical legend; Siar. If Shogram loses the music on the events like wedding, the future of music in the entire valley would go downhill --Ejaz Ahmed, Islamabad. 26 July 10.


Comment -3

With respect to the comment made about my feedback regarding the Qir'aat competition, I have nowhere in my remarks stated anything against musical celebrations at weddings. I am well aware that the Prophet (SAW) has allowed singing at wedding ceremonies, with what etiquettes and limitations is another debate altogether.


What I meant to say was that even having activities such as qir'aat competitions is no harm. It would only be wrong if this activity were made a religious compulsion, for in that case it would become a 'bid'ah'.But just for a change from the regular wedding on goings, I don't feel there is anything wrong with it. I did not mean to offend anyone with my review.


I have nowhere declared the Chitrali culture as an unislamic one. I too am an admirer of our cultural heritage and am proud of the distinctive ethnic traditional history that we have.I wrote a letter to Chitral news titled 'Urbanization vs. Ethnicity'  afew days back, in which I shared the fears I had about Chitral losing its ethnology and originality in the whirlpool of changing trends. I hope my point of view is clear now.--Zeenat Khan, Islamabad, 27 July 10


Comment -4
Having read the report by GH Farooqi on the subject and subsequent comments by different writers thereon, I felt an urge to pen down a few points so that an average reader is not carried away by the impassioned outpourings of our ulama (religious scholars) who, somehow, try to Islamize every event taking place in our society. It has almost become a fashion now-a-days to start an event, be it even a musical event, with recitation and Hamd-o-Naa’t without realizing that by doing so we are committing an act of sacrilege unwittingly.

Marriage is a social contract between two individuals of opposite sex practiced in every religion. It is generally consummated in two stages. In Islam, first it is duly solemnized with the recitation of some relevant Quranic verses and formalized by religious procedures approved by the Sunna practiced throughout the ages. At this stage, presence of a religious scholar or in common parlance, a moulvi becomes necessary as he is the man who knows how to solemnize the marriage as per the dictates of Islam. Recitation from the Holy Quran on this occasion is very much understandable. As for the second stage of marriage, it is celebrated with full festivity and gaiety. Creating an atmosphere wearing a somber mood at this stage is generally taken as unwelcoming. At this stage every hilarious activity including singing and dancing is seen as a desirable act provided it is observed within the bounds prescribed by Islam and our cultural values.

The learned reporter has quoted Dr. Ahmad Mian Thanvi as saying that this is the first initiative to celebrate marriage according to Islamic principles. May I request the learned Dr. who was the chief guest of the subject event to enlighten us by quoting a few incidents from Islamic history where the Holy Prophet (SAW) made the marriage ceremony a purely spiritual event and prohibited hilarious activities including singing and dancing. Of course, as I have mentioned earlier, the event should be celebrated while observing the norms of decency, morality, civility and modesty. May I also remind respected Dr. Thanvi that in Islam any kind of innovation pertaining to religious matters is strictly forbidden. It may be pertinent to mention here that when the Holy Prophet (SAW) entered Madina on migration from Makka he was received on the beat of drum (duff) with children singing and dancing.

There are appropriate occasions where recitation of the Holy Quran and Hamd-o-Naa’t may be held to sanctify the event. But on festive occasions like marriage, holding Qira’t and Hamd-o-Naa’t competitions may seem out of tune thereby compromising the sanctity of the Quranic verses.

Islam has clearly laid down parameters for each activity and has urged the believers to operate while remaining within those parameters. Today, our ulama (religious scholars) put the label of profanity on every activity that in their view is un-Islamic. Our clergymen declare every that activity to be un-Islamic which does not suit their temperament; and to support their contention they find refuge in the Holy Quran and Sunna by quoting such verses from the Holy Quran and ahadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet) which don’t have any direct or even indirect relevance with the issue under consideration. What we need to do is to understand the essence and spirit of Islamic commandments, which by virtue of their universality and ubiquity cater to the needs arising out of the changing situations. We need to see the background, context and set of circumstances under which a particular command was made operative. Furthermore, we should not forget that in Islam the door of ijtihad (intellectual exertion) is always open providing a space for interpretation while seeking basic guidance from the Holy Quran, Sunna and ijma (consensus opinion of ulama) to deal with novel issues. History of Islam is replete with glorious examples of ijtihad and one often quoted incident is that of Hazrat Muadh Ibn Jabl whom the Holy Prophet had appointed as judge of Yaman. Before leaving for Yaman the Holy Prophet asked him how he would decide the new issues coming up before him if he does not find clear and explicit guidance in the Holy Quran and ahadith? Hazrat Muadh’s reply was that in such an eventuality he would seek guidance from ijma (consensus opinion of ulama) and analogy (qias) and in case he does not find any solution there either, he will exercise his own reason and interpret the matter as per his own understanding. On hearing this, the Holy Prophet is reported to have felt extremely pleased and gave his approval.

In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) has urged the believers to exercise their reason, ponder over the teachings of the Holy Quran and reach an understanding. But the most unfortunate thing with we Muslims today is that we never bother to study and understand religion. We have very conveniently assigned it to a moulvi and absolved ourselves of the responsibility. We have accepted him as the final authority to interpret the Quranic commandments and have no option but to surrender before what he says.

The unique distinction of Islam is that its teachings and commandments conform to human reason and are in absolute concordance with human nature. But unfortunately, some of our religious scholars, at times, behave like a peremptory ecclesiastic ever ready to pronounce a religious edict (fatwa) of infidelity even on a minor lapse. We need to change this mindset and look at the issues with rationality and appreciate that Islam is not a religion in a traditional sense; it is not a religion of rituals only; it is a Deen which encompasses every aspect of human life thereby earning the title of “a complete code of life.” --Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan COMSATS University, Abbottabad, 30 July 10.


Comment -5

Excellent  analytic comment by Col Ikram Ullah  Khan,. The write-up backed by solid references and research rightly stresses the need for Ijtihad and Ijma on many contemporary issues. The desire of some religious scholars to blindly follow their point of view despite having divergent views available from other religious scholars on the same subject, creates confusion in the minds of the innocent seekers of the true path of our beloved religion Islam. Sadaqat Ali, Chitral, 30 Jul 10.


Comment -6

Ref. the news about Mubarik Mehfil of Husn-e-Qiraat held in Mori village, I am surprised to see the comments of Col. Ikram Ullah & Ijaz Ahmed. As a Muslim how can we imagine to criticize the mehfil Qiraat and give preference to singing & dancing over such a holy mehfil. I don’t understand what is the problem posed to other people if a person starts his family life with the recitation of holy Quran as long as he dosen’t force any one to forcibly obey the same. is it not a democratic right of a person to celebrate his marriage according to his own choice instead of following the cultural music show?  besides everyone knows the fact that how many people come to music shows without using drugs (tara, drochogh, charse etc.)? . As a Chitrali we like traditional music upto some level but it does not mean that anyone can give preference to music on his religious belief.. Hameed Ullah (Booni), Gulberg-Lahore,31 July10.


Comment -7

This is with reference to GH Faruqi’s report on the unique wedding ritual. In the subsequent comments, Col. (r) Ikramullah Khan has quoted appropriate and relevant references from Islamic teachings to educate the readers. I would like to endorse the views of the learned Col sahib. This is very unfortunate that we some times try to divert the teachings of Islam according to our own wishes which is not fair. If some one celebrates his marriage with Qiraat mehfil, it is good but it does not mean that it is the only Islamic way of wedding. My friend Farooqi did not mention the amount of Meher fixed at the marriage. He did not mention the food and clothes etc.  Islam is complete code of life. it is not restricted to a few rituals.--Dr Inayatullah Faizi, Chitral, 09 Aug 10.


Comment -8

Ref the news about qiraat competition during a wedding ceremony, there have been several subsequent comments both opposing and encouraging the act. Some of us have said that singing and dancing have been allowed by the Prophet SAW, in other words calling it sunnah, because islamicaly whatever the prophet has done himself or has allowed in his life is a sunnah. I believe that we should be very careful while talking about Hadith and sunnah because it is a great responsibility. When prophet Muhammad SAW entered madinah, the little girls who welcomed him were only singing, not dancing. The lyrics of the song 'tala al badru Alaina' meaning 'the moon has risen over us' were simple and decent words praising the prophet, almost like a naat or  nasheed. The songs that were sung by girls on weddings during the peophet's time were usually about wars or war heroes, as we know from ahadeeth. There were no inappropriate lyrics about the mercilesness of a loved one, or praising a namehram's beauty. According to my knowledge, there used to be no dances neither by males, nor by females. The only musical instrument used was the duff. The point I am trying to make is that if we feel so offended by someone's personal choice of holding a qiraat competition on a wedding, calling it unislamic, can anyone  on the other hand, guide me about the Islamic happenings  at the usual wedding celebrations that we have. .As we all know that Islam is a way of life, therefore, shouldn't everything we do, be it eating, drinking, working in a daily routine or celebrating a wedding be according to the Quran and sunnah?  If holding a qiraat competition is not justified islamicaly then neither are the other happenings on weddings these days.  --Zeenat Khan, Islamabad,13 Aug 10).


Comment -9

First, let me wish Hafiz Qari Naseeruddin Mahmood and his bride a happy and long lasting prosperous marriage. It is indeed a happy occasion, full of hope to build a family and also a moment to be of little or no concern about the challenges that lay ahead as life together begins to unfold. In reaction to GH Frooqi’s report, a lively exchange of ideas regarding marriage celebration indicates an increasing social vibrancy in the Chitrali society. It is not my intention here either to agree or disagree with any particular point of view. My objective is rather to pose certain questions and reflect on them in the context of the entire debate. While enjoying reading through the diverging and converging opinions expressed by a number of enthusiastic contributors to the discussion, I had to ask myself these questions. Is wedding a social event or a religious event? Is it a celebratory event or an event of solemnity? Are there common standards as to what should a wedding ceremony involve?

If marriage treated as a religious event, it will require a number of things. It has to have the approval of a religious authority for its making and dissolution. Participants in its commemoration will be restricted to those who have same beliefs or interpretation of the shared beliefs. All others, neighbours or acquaintances will be excluded unless they belong to the same religious group. Even if they are invited as special guests, their participation will be mere attendance without involvement. In other words, wedding, in this scenario, is not different from any other religious rituals which are open only to the faith community concerned.

If wedding is considered a social event, it will have totally different set of formalities. It is not dependent on the approval of a religious authority for its legitimacy or dissolution. Its legal formalities can be finalized traditionally by performing Nikah which is a legal consent, verbal or written, between bride and groom or the same can be done in a civil court. By virtue of being a happy social occasion, neighbours, friends and relatives regardless of their beliefs or interpretation participate in the ceremony and share happiness with the wedding couple and the families concerned. Since it is a social event, it is open to every individual big or small male or female to be part of the celebration; it can’t be a moment of celebration for some at the exclusion of others. As a social event, its entertaining activities have to be of cultural nature rather than ritual form in order for everyone to participate. It is here the dichotomy becomes apparent whether the entertaining activities at wedding should be cultural or ritual in expression. Naturally, cultural items are inclusive while ritual items are limited to one homogenous group.

The second question: is wedding an event of celebration or solemnity? Let us consider it a social event first. In social event, people are relaxed, casual and in entertaining spirit – laughing, joking and in funny mood. There is a bit of chaos in the sense that children running around in excitement, youths have their own corners and women their own silos to have fun and elderly people engrossed in conversation and so on. Music, dance and other cultural elements add to this celebration without making anyone feel misplaced. But if wedding is treated as a solemn occasion, it creates a totally different ambience. People have to be formal, both in dressing and demeanour. They should sit in an orderly manner, children should be disciplined and formality and seriousness should prevail in every way. All activities should reflect solemnity of the occasion. This leads us to the third question.

Are there common standards? Wedding can be as simple as the couple going to a civil court or invite a Nikah reciter to a place to seal the marriage contract and go home and live happily thereafter. It can be as extravagant as one’s imagination can go. In the first case, the couple may have a pressing reason to meet the bare minimum of marriage requirement. In the second case, the extremity is in the form of ostentation and reckless waste of money. In case of large majority of people, what is important is to have a modest wedding ceremony where happiness can be shared with relatives, friends and neighbours. In other words, there is no one set of wedding celebration standards that are applicable across the population. It is also a matter of personal choice of the wedding couple as to how they want to celebrate. However, one must keep in mind that life is like a bridge which is supported by two ends, weakening or forsaking either of them will result in its collapse. These two supporting ends are world (dunya) and faith (din), both are important and to be lived and enjoyed. Put it differently, culture and religion are two sides of one coin; they are together yet distinct from each other in expression. --Dr. Mir Baiz Khan, Toronto, Canada, 16 Aug 10.


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