Alī radhiyallāhu ‘anhu, who was 21 at the time, says: “It occurred to me that I should go and make a formal proposal, but then I thought, ‘How could this be accomplished, for I possess nothing.’ At last, encouraged by the Prophet’s kindness, I went to him and expressed my intention to marry Fātimah radhiyallāhu ‘anhā. The Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam was extremely pleased and asked, Ali! Do you possess anything to give her in mahr?’ I replied, ‘Apart from a horse and an armour I possess nothing.’
The Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam said, ‘A soldier must, of course, have his horse. Go and sell away your armour.”’ So, Alī radhiyallāhu ‘anhu went and sold his armour to ‘Uthmān radhiyallāhu ‘anhu for 480 Dirham and presented it to Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam. Bilāl radhiyallāhu ‘anhu was ordered by the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam to bring some perfume and a few other things and Anas radhiyallāhu ‘anhu was sent to call Abū Bakr, ‘Uthmān, Talhah and Zubayr with some companions from the Anṣāry.
When these men arrived and had taken their seats, the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam recited the khutbah (sermon) of nikāh and gave Fātimah radhiyallāhu ‘anhā in marriage to Alī radhiyallāhu ‘anhu. He announced, ‘Bear you all witness that I have given my daughter Fātimah in marriage to ‘Alī for 400 mithqāl of silver and ‘Alī has accepted.’ He then raised his head and made du‘ā saying, ‘O Allāh, create love and harmony between these two. Bless them and bestow upon them good children.’ After the nikāh, dates were distributed.
When the time came for Fātimah radhiyallāha ‘anhā to go to ‘Ali’s radhiyallāhu ‘anhu house, she was sent without any clamour, hue and cry, accompanied by Umm Ayman radhiyallāhu ‘anhā. After the ‘Ishā Ṣalāh, the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam went to their house, took permission and entered. He asked for a basin of water, put his blessed hands into it and sprinkled it on both Alī and Fātimah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum and made du‘ā for them. The sovereign of both worlds gave his beloved daughter a silver bracelet, two Yemeni sheets, four mattresses, one blanket, one pillow, one cup, one hand-grinding mill, one bedstead, a small water skin and a leather pitcher.
In this simple fashion, the wedding of the daughter of the leader of both the worlds was solemnized. In following this sunnah method, a wedding becomes very simple and easy to fulfil.
Some Points Derived from the Above Mentioned Marriage:
1. The many customs as regards engagement are contrary to sunnah. In fact, many are against the Sharī‘ah and are regarded sins. A verbal proposal and answer is sufficient.
2. To unnecessarily delay nikāh of both the boy and the girl after having reached the age of marriage is incorrect.
3. There is nothing wrong in inviting one’s close associates for the occasion of nikāḥ. However, no special pains should be taken in gathering the people from far off places.
4. It is appropriate that the bridegroom be a few years older than the bride.
5. If the father of the girl is an ‘ālim or pious and capable of performing nikāḥ, then he should himself solemnize the marriage.
6. It is better to give the Mahr Fātimī and one should endeavour to do so. But if one does not have the means then there is nothing wrong in giving less.
7. It is totally un-Islamic for those, who do not possess the means, to incur debts in order to have grandiose weddings.
8. It is fallacy to think that one’s respect will be lost if one does not hold an extravagant wedding and invite many people. What is our respect compared to that of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam?
9. The present day practice of the intermingling of sexes is an act of sin and totally against Sharī‘ah.
10. There is nothing such as engagement parties and mendhi parties in Islam.
11. Great care must be taken as regards to ṣalāh on occasions of marriage by all – the bride, the bridegroom and all the participants.
12. It is un-Islamic to display the bride on stage.
13. The unnecessary expenses incurred by the bride’s family in holding a feast has no basis in Sharī‘ah.
14. For the engaged couple to meet at a public gathering where the boy holds the girl’s hand and slips a ring on her finger is a violation of the Qur’ānic law of ḥijāb.
15. It is un-Islamic for the engaged couple to meet each other and also go out together.
16. Three things should be borne in mind when giving one’s daughter gifts and presents at the time of nikāḥ:
i) Presents should be given within one’s means (it is not permissible to take loans, on interest, for such presents);
ii) To give necessary items;
iii) A show should not be made of whatever is given.
17. It is Sunnah for the bridegroom’s family to make walīmah.
NOTE: In walīmah, whatever is easily available should be fed to the people and care should be taken that there is no extravagance, show and that no debts are incurred in the process.
18. To delay nikāḥ after the engagement is un-Islamic. Some Customs
In following modern day trends, we have adopted many customs that are un-Islamic and contrary to the sunnah.
Some examples are:
i Displaying the bride on stage;
ii Inviting guests for the wedding from far-off places;
iii Receiving guests in the hall;
iv The bride’s people incurring unnecessary expenses by holding a feast which has no basis in Sharī‘ah. We should remember that walīmah is the feast arranged by the bridegroom after the marriage is consummated;
v It is contrary to sunnah (and the practice of some non-Muslim tribes in India) to wish, hope for or demand presents and gifts for the bridegroom, from the bride’s people. We should always remember that our Rasūls did not give ‘Alī radhiyallāhu ‘anhu anything except du‘ā.