RE: Four Muslim Canadians, Three Weddings and a Funeral--Opinion piece in The Toronto Star
- Good piece. Enjoyed it. Uzma.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tarek Fatah [mailto:tarekfatah@...]
> Sent: July 31, 2003 8:04 AM
> To: The Muslim Chronicle
> Subject: Four Muslim Canadians, Three Weddings and a Funeral--Opinion
> piece in The Toronto Star
> Jul. 31, 2003
> Three weddings and a funeral
> By Raheel Raza, Ariane Madhavi, Natasha Fatah and Atique Azad
> The Toronto Star
> At a Muslim wedding in Markham last week, about 350 guests faced an
> embarrassing situation. The self-proclaimed Imam (leader) who was invited
> by the hosts to say a few words got totally carried away and gave a long,
> offensive monologue.
> First, he publicly denounced non-Muslims for lacking family values. He
> then asked the groom thrice if he wanted to escape. Furthermore, he
> informed the bride, she doesn't have the right to step outside the house
> or give anything to her family without her husband's permission. He
> reinforced these "rules" by mentioning hellfire and brimstone.
> There was no talk of love, respect and consideration between the couple.
> The guests were stunned, the couple looked shocked and a few people stood
> up in protest but no one contradicted the speaker. Obviously they had no
> idea what to do.
> Upon inquiring how a balanced, educated family could allow someone to spew
> such vitriol, the hosts confessed that their agreement with the speaker
> had been for him to repeat the marriage sermon of Prophet Muhammad as done
> traditionally at Muslim weddings (which is short and simple, highlighting
> the sanctity and beauty of marriage). They had no clue that he would
> indulge in histrionics.
> Muslim marriages do not necessitate a sermon to be recited as part of the
> religious ceremony. The requirement is for Aqd which is solemnization of
> the contract through offering and acceptance with full and free consent of
> the parties concerned, two witnesses and a gift from the groom to the
> A respected community member may be invited to say a few words, which
> could range from relevant verses of the Qur'an to Sufi poetry . A public
> celebration to bless the union is considered to be Sunnah (practice of the
> Prophet) and this celebration can be as festive as the family wishes it to
> be. Weddings are not meant to be dark and dreary as some dysfunctional
> mullahs indicate, when they pose themselves as reformers, exhorting
> misogynist theories supported by useless traditions and ranting about
> "Western corruption."
> It seems that they have taken it upon themselves to use occasions like
> weddings and funerals, to endorse personal views. Recently at a funeral in
> Toronto, the Imam who was asked to pray for the soul of the departed
> blasted the Supreme Court of Canada for 30 minutes, on the issue of
> same-sex marriages! Wrong time, wrong place.
> However, misuse of power by religious leaders is not unique to the Muslim
> community. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a family has filed a lawsuit against
> their local Catholic church over a funeral mass in which the priest
> allegedly said their relative was a "lukewarm" Catholic and was going to
> hell. Religious exploitation seems to have taken the world by storm.
> At a second wedding in Toronto, the Imam lectured women about their
> marital duties, interpreted in the most conservative framework, with no
> mention that Prophet Mohammad's wife Khadija, a successful businesswoman,
> had sent a proposal of marriage to him. He then informed the guests that
> they shouldn't befriend Jews and Christians and proceeded to point out the
> faults of the "infidels" until the young bride burst into tears and told
> him that most of her friends present at the event were Jews and
> So much for joy.
> Our only hope as a thriving and contributing Canadian Muslim community
> lies in removing the power of those who distort the faith. Some young
> Muslims took the initiative of doing just that at a wedding last week.
> The bride and her brother organized the reception, informing the parents
> that their only contribution would be one of their credit cards. There was
> no sermon, and the occasion reflected the best of both worlds. The
> families of the bride and groom are quite traditional, so a simple
> religious ceremony had been performed earlier at a mosque with immediate
> family in attendance.
> Later, family and friends were invited to a mixed reception where hijab
> and henna mingled with halters and high heels to the strains of
> traditional music.
> Friends and families blessed the couple in an atmosphere filled with joy -
> finally a Muslim-Canadian wedding with some feeling.
> Raheel Raza, and Natasha Fatah hail from Pakistan; Atique Azad from
> Bangladesh; and Ariane Mahdavi from Iran. They are members of the Muslim
> Canadian Congress.