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Is the walimah banquet necessary or the rukhsati banquet?

The Holy Prophet sas said:

Give a walimah [wedding banquet] even if with one sheep.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 34, Hadith 2; Sahih Muslim, Book 16, Hadith 94)

The Promised Messiah as said:

The shari‘ah has only given this command that the one who marries should have a walimah after the nikah, meaning that he have food prepared and served for a few friends.

(Fatawa Hadrat Masih Mau‘ud, p. 165)

Islam has commanded that we should hold a walimah banquet, it has nowhere taught that we should hold a rukhsati banquet. The purpose of inviting people to a walimah is to invite them to a meal. The purpose of inviting people to a rukhsati is not to invite them to a meal, rather it is to join in prayer for the couple at the time of the rukhsati. To make the rukhsati into a formal banquet is an innovation that takes the pure and simple teachings of Islam on celebrating marriages and adds burdensome cultural obligations onto it. However, if a person only invites guests to prayer and then gives his guests a meal out of his personal hospitality and as something secondary, then it is not an innovation. This same approach to intentions applies to many practices that are fine when done voluntarily, but become harmful when they are made into social obligations. Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra explained:

As far as I have reflected, for the family of the girl to hold a banquet is a harmful matter. However, if the family of the girl feeds their guests without a specific invitation to a meal, then this action is not an innovation at all. If it is said that a person who does not feed his guests has done wrong, thenthis is certainly an innovation. Similarly, if it is said that a person who does not give jahaiz does wrong and that he should certainly give jahaiz, then he is also among those who spread innovation. However, if a person gives the girl something out of his happiness, or if he invites his guests to a meal, then this can not be called an innovation at all. The Promised Messiah as himself gave money to have gifts ordered from Amritsar for his guests at the marriage of Mubarakah Begum. Whoever does this thinking that it is necessary, he is an innovator. However, a person who is hospitable to his guests out of his natural sensitivities, it cannot be called an innovation.

(Farmudate Musleh Mau’ud, p. 226)

If the meal is only secondary and the real intention of the rukhsati is prayer, then it is not objectionable because it does not become a practice in society and a burden on people. But when the banquet becomes the purpose, there it becomes an innovation on how the Holy Prophet sas taught that marriages should be celebrated. Explaining this line, Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra explained:

The reality is that the girl’s side gather some of their friends to join in the prayer and happiness, and in the invitation they simply write that, “Our daughter is getting married and we would like you to join in this function and take part in the prayer,” or similar words. Since the family and friends of the groom’s side are there, some food is presented in their honor and the invited guests take part in it. To present guests with a light breakfast  is not wrong. The Promised Messiah as would also present milk and similar things on such occasions. However, to depict such a function as a formal invitation to tea is establishing an innovation—the refutation of which I consider necessary. 

(Farmudate Musleh Mau‘ud, p. 225).

When we invite guests to a rukhsati, our intention should be according to the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet sas and the example of the Promised Messiah as. After that, if we give our guests a meal as part of our hospitality to them for having gathered for the prayer we invited them to, there is no harm in it.

Updated on March 2, 2019

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