As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 3


On Excessive Wasteful Spending on Frivolities like Weddings, Celebrations, etc

2. Excessive Wasteful Spending on Frivolities like Weddings, Celebrations, etc. This is again a huge financial burden suffered by all communities regardless of religion, financial position or geographic location. Whether it is the urban concrete jungles or serene villages, weddings are almost always a very expensive affair often plunging families into debt or painful financial bargains. According to Vijayendra Rao of the World Bank, '… families, who earn barely enough to survive spend vast amounts of money on celebrations. In the rural South Indian data, (from two different samples in Karnataka state) … a typical household spends approximately seven times its annual income on a daughter's marriage - on celebrating the wedding and on dowry transfers to the groom's family. Moreover, fifteen per cent of its expenditures, on average, are spent on celebrating village festivals. Poor households tend to find such large sums of money by going severely into debt at interest rates that range from 100-300 percent per year which leads to chronic indebtedness and, sometimes, bonded labor.' [Ref: Poverty and Public Celebrations in Rural India]

Ignorance of the teachings of Islam and sticking to innovative and un-Islamic traditions, causes many Muslim communities to suffer the harms of wasteful spending on weddings and celebrations. In Islam, marriage is meant to be simple and easy, and as long as a person can fulfill the basic requirements of supporting a family, he is encouraged to get married. What is prescribed is the walimah, a simple feast for family and friends, intended to make the consummation known and all expenses of it are borne by the groom. The social pundits have, unfortunately, associated weddings with all the pomp and show that a family can afford and more; and have placed the entire burden of spending on weddings on the bride's side. Often families are obliged to these exorbitant expenses at the expense of their future wellbeing. Even those who are financially well and can afford lavish weddings often spend their money for acts that are haraam (forbidden) or wasteful; and are, thus, guilty of two great crimes. (a) Ungratefulness towards Allah for squandering wealth (b) Setting an evil precedent and putting an extra burden on those who were unable to afford the same but are under-compulsion to meet such expenses for the sake of maintaining self dignity.

Next to weddings, another major arena of wasteful spending is spending on celebrations. Here again, Islam has prescribed just two eids which are simple affairs within the reach of most people. Allah's law makes the two Eids a celebration for the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. Eid al-Fitr is accompanied by the Zakaat al-Fitr, a charity given to the less fortunate so that they too may participate in the joys of Eid; and likewise Eid al-Adha is accompanied by the customary sharing of the sacrifice with others.

Those who did not suffice with the celebrations prescribed by Islam, have invented their own celebrations that are
(a) An excuse to commit acts of sins and shamefulness
(b) A waste of wealth, time and effort.
Those who, participate in these celebrations that essentially involve indulging in many haraam actions, should fear Allah and should save themselves from the punishments that has been ordained for the disobedient.

When celebrations are given a religious significance, then the evil of participation in them increases manifold. Such celebrations are evil innovations (bidah), like Mawlid (celebrating the Prophet’s birthday). Often such celebrations involve directing acts of worship to other than Allah and seeking help from other than Allah, which is major shirk. Needless to say, these celebrations too, are waste of wealth, but extravagance is most probably the least severe crime committed by those who participate in such despicable celebrations.

Did You Know?

Rs 70,000 crore - that's how much Indians spend on weddings in one year. TIMES NEWS NETWORK [SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2004 12:28:10 AM]

Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research. 'If earlier, Rs 2 lakh was spent on a marriage, now it has gone up to Rs 10 lakh. Parents are taking loans, selling property and sometimes indulging in corruption to meet these pressures.' TIMES NEWS NETWORK [SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2004 12:24:48 AM]

The Great(er) Indian Wedding: Bigger the better? GEETIKA SASAN BHANDARI [ THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2001 12:25:14 AM ]: CHANDIGARH: '… Unfortunately, consumerism is sweeping us in every way. A young retailer shows me a lehenga (a wedding dress) for Rs. 1 lakh (100,000) calling it 'reasonably priced'. 'You don't get a decent one for less than Rs. 48-50,000 these days,' he says casually.

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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