The Role of Mukaddiah on the Wedding Night! By Farook Aman, Ottawa , Canada
Generally, some local customs, habits and social beliefs, etc, are hard to die. This paper will shed some light, specifically about the complex process of arranged marriages that took, and still take place to this day, in various countries worldwide. Indeed, it may change from one country to another. However, the basic tone or ingredients may remain the same.
It should be noted that I should furnish adequate back ground information to bring about the necessary material of such arranged marriages prior to providing information on the role of Mukaddiah on the wedding night.
In the early 1900 and perhaps earlier, there were few institutions available to integrate boys and girls together. This is relative to the place in which I was born; British Aden Colony. Female and male schools were segregated and this was widely accepted and people were content with. In addition, what was perceived to be good potential wives would invariably mean, girls did not attend school? Indeed if they did, as in certain communities in the Middle East, primary schooling would suffice since house work was far more significant to grasp in order for a girl to get married.
Arranged marriages were carefully trailed and respected. Girls waited best their luck and chances at home. Parents were shielding and protective as to whom their girl would associate with; family good name took precedent over all matters. Boys on the other hand, might have had more freedom although parental dominance were valued, cherished and never challenged. Boys attended schools and often graduated from high school or lower level and instantly searched for jobs. Others dropped out earlier to pursue vocational work / training. The key was to earn income which the father of the house would add to the pot of the family revenues to exhibit family prosperity. The young man would receive a monthly pocket allowance enough to get by for the month. The rest of the earnings would be saved for the boy’s wedding budget. He would ask the father for extra funds, only when necessary to attend special events. Time to report back at home after the event was adhered to, vital and respected.
In many instances, boys would be considered for marriage at the age of 16+. This would otherwise bar the boy from indulging on the wrong path, and consequently would probably have no chance to succeed in getting a good family girl as a bride. Girls of 14+ ages were also considered as worthy for marriage. It was perceived that younger girls were fertile to produce off springs- perhaps more male than female. This was a matter of significance to the grandparents to maintain a continued healthy family tree!
The wheel of considering a prospective bride goes in motion. Free of charge social lady consultants were deployed to attend weddings and various segregated social gatherings / events which were strictly for females. Sufficient information would be gathered on the prospective bride(s) and the respective families which would be provided to the boy’s family. Further screening would take place with the neighbourhood elders and the status-wise for the proper and honourable selection of the prospective bride.
The following step would be to make arrangement to visit the mother of the prospective bride(s). The boy’s mother, along with one or two lady elders, would show up (uninvited) and ask for the hand of the girl, to which the mother of the girl would gracefully respond that she would tell the father of the girl. The father would in turn ask elders and good friends to check into the family of the boy and the boy as well. The boy’s family will have to qualify as reputable and worthy to be associated with. The boy must have good name in the community and a job earning enough monthly income to sustain him and his would be wife. He must not be believed or ever seen to be drinking even a drop of alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Being regular to the local masjid (mosque) would be eyed as a big plus. In addition, he must have good-family-boys as close friends. Badly alleged close friends would hinder the marriage project at hand. When all essential elements are fulfilled and satisfied by the family of the girl, the affirmative answer would be communicated to the boy’s family. At that time, it was widely accepted to have the boy get married and remain with his bride at the same residence of his family. It was thought that the bride would be trained and funnelled on how best she could run a home of her own. That would not necessarily mean that the boy would move out of his family residence any sooner!
The sphere would role to the next step of arranging for the wedding festivities. The common understanding (with some variations) would be that the boy and his family would cover the cost to host the men’s side of the celebration (which would often take place on the street in front of the groom’s residence), add perhaps the cost of the bride’s primary wedding dress (either make use of a second hand wedding dress worn before by a relative/ family friend or a handmade dress by an unprofessional friend of the family or a relative). There will also be a couple of suitcases for the luggage of clothing, make ups, perfumes, etc. Usually, unless otherwise financially incapable, the family of the girl would cover the cost of the bedroom furniture and drapes. Similarly and simultaneously an agreed upon advanced and late dowry would be given and promised to pay (in the event of divorce) to the bride’s family plus adding jewellery as gift and goodwill gesture.
Three stages would take place. First the official announced engagement to ward off other interested parties to ask for the hand of the bride, the Imam’s execution and documentation of the Islamic wedding in front of countless witnesses would be the second stage and the third stage would be the wedding night celebrations. These stages were preferred to have been arranged separately and at different dates. These would be carefully deliberated and decided between the groom’s and bride’s parents. In the centre of it all, the concerned couple may or may not know the details of such discussions.
The wedding celebration events would take place at two locations; one for the men outside the groom’s residence where chairs for the guests would be set and a humble looking make-shift stage for the groom and company to sit facing the guests. On the other hand, the celebration for the women would usually take place inside the bride’s family residence or another location. Since there were no phones for swift communications, a messenger would be sent to the bride’s family in order to advise that the groom, along with the men entourage were proceeding, by foot, to the bride’s residence / location. This would be consistent with marriages in the same neighbourhood. Otherwise, if the distant is much longer, buses were provided to drive the guests to the bride’s wedding event. On the way back, the groom would be chauffeur-driven with his bride back to his residence. Normally, a vehicle owned by a well-to-do-individual would be offered to drive the wedding couple as a symbol of goodwill and genuine friendship.
At the bride’s location, only the groom with his very close family members would be allowed to enter to view the bride for the first time. The groom would sit on a chair next to the bride facing all women guests who would customarily cover their respective heads and faces, (for there is a stranger in the house!) The groom would see the bride for the first time. He would sip cold milk, as a perceived notion of white and blissful future a head, otherwise juice or soft drink would suffice. Memorable pictures would be snapped with the bride, all taking place under the investigative and curious eyes and the low volume enigmatic observations and witty whispers of the lady guests looking on.
An old lady singer and loud wedding drums would have been playing all along until the groom is finally ushered, along with his bride, to walk to the waiting vehicle to be driven back to his residence. The volume of the drums became louder and louder as the wedding couple approached the exit of the location and into the waiting car to proceed to the groom’s residence. All guests, with the exception of very few, would have departed. More pictures would be taken at the groom’s residence and then the groom and his bride would advance to their everlasting happy nest (bedroom).
This is where the role of Mukaddiah comes. A lady would be waiting in the bedroom, usually under the wedding bed. Mukaddiah would be assigned to the (holy) task of providing practical, safe and proper guidance for the groom’s and his bride’s first ever bedroom experience. She would also vouch for the virginity of the bride the next morning when a white cloth with blood stain would be displayed to the proud adults’ family members. Jaw to jaw smiles would flash as the family’s proud faces would shine throughout the residence with or without teeth! One simple concept to highlight would be that the role of Mukaddiah was seen as educational. She was strictly bound by her code of secrecy. She maintained it as her code of Professional conduct / behaviour. Should she break it by revealing the slightest information, she would have lost the trust of others and thus the additional potential income she would have earned. It is said that the beds must have been high enough for her to stay underneath with some comfort. Her instructions must have been given almost entirely in the dark, unless there was a pressing necessity which would necessitate her to come out from under the bed. It is recounted that the consummation process was entirely in the dark while following the step by step voice instruction received from under the bed by Mukaddiah.
It is all fascinating material to hear or read about now, obviously due to the huge historical significance to article on. Nowadays, perhaps other information, illicit pictures /videos have replaced the role of this lady, while reserved families would insist on the importance of elder wise guidance on both sides of the fence.
Yes, we may wonder how life has indeed transformed and the integration of males and females revolutionized customs and habits worldwide over the decades. However, it is taken that those days had higher rates of successful marriages than what we witness and experience today. Certainly, Mukaddiah has no role to play anymore nor would the new generations ever know about. Perhaps too, Islamic fatwah would have disbanded the role of Mukaddiah in the wedding night bedroom of a newly married couple, since sounds are heard and private parts might surely be exposed to Mukaddiah, should an emergency ensue. Apparently, prior to the important routine use of Mukaddiah, newly married couples had no proper guidance on how to spend the first night of the wedding together. Reports were rampant that young bride’s agonized shocks while others ached uncontrolled bleeding and life threatening experience at that first night. Hence the introduction of the then thriving role of Mukaddiah!
It should be noted that not all or most weddings employed the role of Mukaddiah. Perhaps in most countries, family astute information and proper guidance were enough to reduce the risk of threatening the bride’s life on her wedding night.
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