#334: Grand Engagement Ceremony

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it permissible in Islam to hold a grand engagement ceremony?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Getting engaged means tying an agreement to be husband and wife (getting married). Proposing means asking the hand of a woman to be one’s wife, asking in marriage, getting down on one knee. For example, a man said: “The young wealthy man has come to propose to you.” [1]

It can be understood that an engagement is a sign of agreement by both parties in a framework to build a marriage consisting of a husband and wife.

The purpose of an engagement in Islam is to get to know the character and attributes of a partner before marriage. It helps in strengthening the love and relationship as well as preparing oneself before marriage. In a hadith, Rasullullah PBUH said to his companion who wanted to get engaged:

انْظُرْ إِلَيْهَا فَإِنَّهُ أَحْرَى أَنْ يُؤْدَمَ بَيْنَكُمَا

“Look at her, for indeed that is more likely to make things better between the two of you.” [2]

Likewise, in a hadith narrated from Sahal bin Sa’d RA, he said:


أَنَّ امْرَأَةً جَاءَتْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَتْ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ جِئْتُ لأَهَبَ لَكَ نَفْسِى فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَصَعَّدَ النَّظَرَ إِلَيْهَا وَصَوَّبَهُ ثُمَّ طَأْطَأَ رَأْسَهُ

 “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! I have come to you to offer myself to you.” He raised his eyes and looked at her and then lowered his head.” [3]

I offer myself to you means offering the Prophet PBUH to marry her without dowry or marry her with an appropriate man.

The next hadith is from Abu Hurairah RA, he said:


كُنْتُ عِنْدَ النَّبِىِّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَأَتَاهُ رَجُلٌ فَأَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّهُ تَزَوَّجَ امْرَأَةً مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- أَنَظَرْتَ إِلَيْهَا. قَالَ لاَ. قَالَ فَاذْهَبْ فَانْظُرْ إِلَيْهَا فَإِنَّ فِى أَعْيُنِ الأَنْصَارِ شَيْئًا

“I was in the company of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) when there came a man and informed him that he had contracted to marry a woman of the Ansar. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Did you cast a glance at her? He said: No. He said: Go and cast a glance at her, for there is something in the eyes of the Ansar.” [4]

In a hadith narrated from Abu Humayd al-Sa’di RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:


إِذَا خَطَبَ أَحَدُكُمْ امْرَأَةً فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَنْ يَنْظُرَ إِلَيْهَا إِذَا كَانَ إِنَّمَا يَنْظُرُ إِلَيْهَا لِخِطْبَتِهِ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ لَا تَعْلَمُ

“When one of you wanted to propose to a woman, it isn’t an offence to first look at her, if the purpose of looking at her is to propose even when it is unknown to the woman.” [5]

A woman also reserves the right to look at the man she’ll marry so that she’ll not regret it after her marriage. The reason is a woman is also attracted to a man, just like a man is attracted to a woman. [6]

According to the above question, the ruling of holding a grand engagement ceremony is discouraged and it contradicts syarak that instructed for an engagement to be kept a secret. This is as stated in a hadith narrated from Ummu Salamah R.Anha where Rasullullah PBUH said:

أَظْهِرُوا النكاحَ وأَخْفُوا الخِطْبةَ

“Broadcast (make apparent) of a marriage and hide an engagement.” [7]

Furthermore, it could lead to being wasteful if it is held in extravagance. What is important and prioritized is the blessing and supplication in every matter. This is the priority to be achieved. If it is just a huge feast with the intention of showing off, then it isn’t beneficial.

Likewise, we suggest that a person is engaged only for a short period of several weeks or a month or two. The reason is the original purpose is marriage and to avoid any form and doors that could lead to sin.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] See https://prpm.dbp.gov.my/Cari1?keyword=bertunang

[2] Narrated by al-Tirmizi (1087)

[3] Narrated by al-Bukhari (4833)

[4] Narrated by Muslim (3550)

[5] Narrated by Ahmad (23602)

[6] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 2/529

[7] Narrated by al-Baihaqi in al-Sunan al-Saghir )2592). Imam al-Suyuti in al-Jami’ al-Saghir (1122) stated this hadith is dhaif.

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