Last month, a Nikah (Muslim marriage) ceremony occurred at a mosque near Kozhikode. Kuttyadi native K.S. Umar’s daughter Bahja Dalil married Fahad Qasim. Bahja came with her relatives and was given a seat inside the mosque. The bride accepted Mahr (dower or payment for the marriage contract) on the stage.
Muslim women are not allowed inside mosques, and their marriages are an all-male affair. Trouble began as soon as news about the marriage inside the mosque trickled out. Radical Islamists came down heavily on the Parakkadav Mahal Jamaat Committee for allowing the lady to enter the Nikah ceremony inside the mosque.
In Kerala, Muslim brides do not get a chance to witness the customary Nikah ceremony. Women are not allowed entry into most mosques. After the ceremony, the groom arrives at the bride’s house. He then garlands his wife a gold necklace.
On the 30th of last month, the bride was allowed to perform the Nikah ceremony at the Juma Masjid. The Mahal Committee stated that it did not approve of how the bride was allowed to enter the Nikah and issued an official statement. Their response came after large sections of Muslim men criticized the marriage inside the mosque. In the interest of self-preservation, the Mahal Committee met the other day and issued the statement.
Earlier, the family asked the Mahal General Secretary for permission just before the Nikah. Allegedly, the secretary allowed it on his own and later admitted it was a ‘grave mistake’. He apologized for not taking the permission of other members or Islamic scholars. The Mahal committee explained that the secretary had confessed and that the photo session was organized in the mosque ‘illegally’.
A Mahal delegation will report directly to the head of the family that what has happened is a ‘grave mistake’. The bride’s family fell short in observing the customs that any believer is primarily obligated to observe. They expressed regret that the Muslim community faced great hardship due to the incident and admitted to carelessness and lack of vigilance.
Bahja, the ‘controversial bride’ who participated in the Nikah in the mosque, hit back at the fundamentalists. She said her critics should realize that the world is changing. The young woman said that attending her Nikah with her father and groom was the greatest blessing in her life. She questioned the rationale behind excluding her from her marriage and asked about Nikah’s meaning without her.
Both the bride and the groom are professionals from North Kerala. The young woman told her family that she did not want any dowry but wanted to participate in her own Nikah. Back then, the Mahal secretary consulted with the religious scholars and gave permission. Women are allowed to perform Friday prayers inside this mosque.
Bahja’s brother Fazil Shahjahan said that Islamic scriptures do not prohibit the bride’s presence in her Nikah. In gulf countries, ladies have attended their marriage since ancient times, he said, adding that the change in stance of the supposedly progressive mosque committee was surprising.
He added that the critics should realize that the world is changing. Many want to enjoy the benefits of living in the comfort of the civilized world. He stated that his family was not responsible for the incident.
Most Muslims in Kerala and the rest of Bharat still follow outdated misogynist rules, and gender equality among Muslims is almost non-existent in Kerala. Bahja’s marriage is an example. Incidentally, Muslim ladies were at the forefront of ‘agitations’ to allow women of menstruating age inside the Sabarimala temple.
Last heard, the Mahal Committee’s notice has created a lot of pressure, and some Islamists visited Bahja’s house and threatened the family.