Monday, November 13, 2006

One Upmanship

It’s the Monday before I get married and I’ve been meaning to write up something on my experiences with all the weddings I’ve had through summer and before. Now seems like a good time to do it because I’ve got an insider perspective to add to it as well.

One of the root evils, in my humble opinion, connected to the subject of weddings is ‘One upmanship.’ By one upmanship, I mean one person or party trying to upstage and outdo another party. Let me delve into some examples of what I mean by the term one upmanship.

The first example of one upmanship I witnessed was the mentality that ‘my wedding has to outdo the previous one,’ and so the location, size, length of time, food etc. has to be bigger, better and more expensive. So the next wedding might have a more expensive location, more guests invited and (by introduction of unnecessary events) last up to a week and beyond. By some mysterious (probably satanic) force the false belief has firmly embedded into the minds of Muslims that bigger and more expensive means a superior wedding to all weddings that have come to pass to date. How sad this frame of mind of ours is, for we have focused to please all but the Almighty Allah when it comes to these matters.

The second case is where the Walimah has to upstage the meal and events organised by the brides party. (In some cultures the brides party organise a meal and events immediately after the nikah has been conducted, whilst the grooms party organise and host the Walimah.) So if the brides party had four dishes for guests, then the grooms party have five plus dessert, the cutlery/ crockery used has to be more 'up market' and the level of service has to be impeccable.

The third case of one upmanship is where the number and type of cars hired/ used for the wedding have to competed against the other wedding party or against past weddings. Once a wedding I attended had 5 flashy hired cars! One should seriously look into the need and motives for such extravagance on the means of transport used to drive the groom/ bride and their family a 'few miles up the road.'

A final example, more common (but not exclusive) to females is competing in the clothes and dress worn, not by just the bride but all those attending the wedding aswell. And if, god forbid, two women perchance end up with the same dress, either on the same day or sometime later then the bogus belief that they have ‘lost face’ and reputation amongst people takes root in their heart. Even worse are those who recognise such instances and then embark on a verbal campaign of humiliating one of the two women.

In all fairness though, it (one upmanship) is not always the sole work of the bride/ groom or even their immediate family, but it may come about through application of pressure from other family members and others. Of course criticism thrashed out by ‘loose tongues’ at these events and opporunities before the wedding only add to the woe.

I’m sure you yourselves can think of many more examples of one upmanship but I feel the above will suffice to illustrate my point. What we need to do is realise that through the evil of one upmanship we also become guilty of the sin of pride (takabbur), because after all the aim of one upmanship is to consider yourself superior to others, through the wedding of either yourself, offspring or your family.

There are also many other points (eg Ghibah, freemixing) which can be addressed on the subject of weddings, but Alhumdulillah there is no shortage of literature and talks given by our Ulama and so I ask you refer to them rather than me discussing them here.

May Allah swt save us from this evil. I ask that you all pray for me, my wife to be and family, that Allah swt saves us from the above and that he puts great blessings and love in our marriage and between our families.


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