Outside Cultural Event
Muslim Wedding Delight
My outside cultural event took place February 14th 2015. What was just another Valentine's Day to some turned out to be one of the most joyous and enlightening evenings I've ever experienced. My dear friend Abeedah or "BeBe" for short wed her longtime boyfriend Emran. I have known and loved BeBe since my sophomore year of high school. Her background is similar to mine in that we were both raised military style. She is of mixed ethnicity having a Middle Eastern Muslim father and a mother of Panamanian and African descent. We connected over all our past experiences growing up on various military bases. I was thrilled to hear from her that Emran had finally popped the question. There were originally some barriers and hurdles with their families because Emran is 100% middle Eastern Muslim and comes from a very traditional background. Abeedah's dad was raised the same way but has not kept with all the traditions as he married someone who his parents did not approve of. It seems that time has made a big difference in the way everyone feels. The families are pleased about the union.
The wedding was a traditional Muslim wedding with hints of modern and contemporary style. The wedding took place at the Harold Washington library where they met almost eight years ago. One of the things that I learned about that was different from any other American traditional wedding I have attended was the Meher. This is a formal statement specifying the monetary amount the groom will give to the bride. It has two parts the prompt and the deferred sum to be given over time. A first I felt this was nothing more than another name for a prenuptial agreement but after speaking with BeBe afterwards she advised me that this was just a formality and more so a grand gesture to the bride from the groom symbolizing that though she's marrying him; she still possesses her own freedom within the marriage. This all was done as part of the ceremony called the Nikah. This is where the bride and groom and two witnesses read the terms and details of the Meher and then the bride and groom repeat I accept 3 times in the native tongue and sign their marriage certificate. Next they shared a strawberry which to me is like sharing a piece of cake after cutting it at most traditional American weddings.
One other thing that I learned that men and women are seated separate from one another for the actual wedding. It is traditional in Muslim weddings is that the bride and groom are kept separate from each other the entire ceremony until the Walima (reception). They're faces are covered by a beautiful cloth called a Dupatta and prayers are recited over the couple before they are unveiled to the guests and each other as they sit together for the first time as man and wife. The foods were both traditional Muslim Islamic cuisine and there were vegan options also. The food though hard to remember by name were surprisingly delicious. I never knew that there were so many dietary restrictions in Muslim culture outside of not eating pork.
My understanding of the Muslim culture has been forever changed. Many preconceived notions lingered in the back of my mind prior to getting to know Abeedah well. Once we became good friends most of them were quickly