Marriage in the Middle East
There have been many types of marriage traditions in the Middle East and most of them are still around today. These are also all Islamic customs. Middle East traditions have some of the oldest marriage customs in the world. The two types of marriages are an arranged marriage and an open marriage. Most marriages in the Middle East are arranged marriages. The groom and the groom’s family pay for everything. The first thing one needs to do when planning an arranged marriage is to pick the bride or the groom. The next thing that has to happen is the marriage negotiations over the bride price and the dowry. Finally, for any type of marriage, the wedding celebrations have to be planned. There are five celebrations that take place. The choosing of the groom is usually done by the bride’s father. Many times the father picks his brother’s son so that the bride price and the marriage negotiations would not be so costly. This would be the bride’s cousin or the bint’amm. Cousin marriages are quite common in the Middle East, but they are not very common anywhere else. However, these marriages are often not possible. Sometimes if the father does not do the choosing of the groom, there is a friend or relative that does it, and they are known as the go-between. The only thing that really matters for whoever is choosing the bride, is that they choose a person of equal status. After the bride or groom is chosen there are a few details that need to be determined before the official marriage negotiations begin. This is also done by the go-between (“Arab Marriage” 2). The bride also has to approve the chosen groom; if she does not like him she has the choice not to marry him. The groom can have more than one wife. The Koran states that a man is allowed up to four wives (“Religion & Ritual” 349). The official legal age for when you can be married varies for men and women. For women the age is twelve and for men the age is fourteen. Usually these laws are ignored and children as young as seven can be married. It is unusual to be 16 and not married(“Arab Marriage” 5). When planning an arranged marriage, there needs to be marriage negotiations. It is custom for the family of the bride to be given some sort of compensation for the loss of their daughter. They do this because the father of the bride is losing some of his labor force. Another reason the family of the bride requires a dowry is because she is building up a “stranger’s” home. These marriage negotiations are usually also done by the go-between. Some of the money is paid immediately. After the dowry or bride price has been set, some of it is set aside for the bride in case the marriage does not work and then the bride will have some money after she is divorced. Usually the bride price is paid in money. When all negotiations are finished, there is a feast. In some areas in the Middle East the feast is a somewhat small occasion but in other areas the feast is a huge event (“Arab Marriage” 3-4). During all of the celebrations, the bride and the groom are wearing many different things. Usually the bride and the groom wear vibrant and elegant outfits on all the day before the wedding (“Marriage Traditions” 1). During the betrothal feast, after the dowry or bride price has been set, the bride is dressed in very fine garments and jewels (“Arab Marriage” 3). The bride also dresses like this for the signing of the marriage contract, which is called Mahar, and the engagement party. For most of these parties, the bride changes up to five times. For the Henna party the bride has tattoos on her hands and feet and the tattoos are applied using mehendi. The bride usually wears a green dress for this celebration. The green dress symbolizes holiness and fertility (“Marriage Traditions” 1). The next celebration is the wedding ceremony. The groom doesn’t wear specific garments like the bride but he is expected to wear white with a green sash that will...
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