A Sayyid finalizing the marriage contract between Mohammed and his bride to be Fatima. This is a ceremony held within a men-only gathering called the “Milcha” AKA the Quranic contract. Permission was first obtained from the bride-to-be by the Sayyid to act as her deputy, where she’d state the dowry amount and special conditions throughout the marriage if she has any. He would then announce this information at the Milcha and asks the groom if he accepts, eventually continuing with the ceremony. This symbolizes a spiritual bond under God between a man and a woman.
In Bahrain, a traditional marriage is usually initiated once an adult is considered to have reached maturity and can sustain a family with his living. As he expresses his intent to get married, immediate family members or sometimes even the extended family would ask their connection circles in order to look for a suitable bride. Information such as education level, job and family background are usually shared between the two. If they both approve of the initial details, a meeting is arranged. If the to-be couple both like each other, they will spend some time getting to know each other over the phone and even supervised meetings or dates. Once they are both comfortable, they immediately get engaged through the above ceremony.
As this is now considered the engagement period, it is usually not encouraged to last more than 2 years since the couple don’t officially consider themselves married. Rather, it is a period where they can freely and “Halal-wise” - Spiritually lawful, spend time together in order to get acquainted. They won’t be officially married from a societal point of view until they throw an actual wedding party and henceforth move in together. Of course these details are also flexible and differs from couple to couple depending on their personal preference, however it is generally practiced by most.
A generation before, many folks use to move in together immediately after the Milcha and hence would be considered officially married, this is in fact extremely rare these days as a period of engagement is preferred by most people.
Even though dating has become more common and acceptable through millennials by the introduction of western influences within our society, the traditional methods are still held in high regards among more conservative families, where the former is usually labelled as alien and religiously unlawful. While at the same time, some younger folks would infact consider the traditional approach if their lifestyle deems it difficult to meet a suitable partner.
No matter which process a person takes, it seems that there is never a guarantee whether or not one method results in creating a fairly happy marriage. The challenges of life and the tests of love does not discriminate and will always catch up to everyone whether they consider themselves to have taken a traditional route or not. It is as if the laws of nature is indifferent to what a person identifies as from the outer aspect. Therefore, might it be that any couple, no matter what path they take to start their relationship, need a different set of rules and rituals that may lead them to form a loving bond and a long-lasting partnership? Isn’t this the whole point of marriage after all?