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Christian vs. Muslim Marriages Comparison and Contrast Essay

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Updated: Aug 31st, 2021

Marriage is a lawfully recognized relationship between a man and a woman who have made a legal agreement to live together. A wedding is a civil or religious ceremony conducted in the presence of the family and friends of the bride and groom, to celebrate the beginning of their marriage. In contrast with many cultures and religions, the actual act of marriage , begins during the wedding ceremony (Wikipedia.org) which is conducted in two stages: the first part involving the formal exchange of marriage vows in a religious house, and the second part involving celebration of the event . In both cases, a wedding is a dignified, somber and sacred contract between a man and a woman.

The first part of a Muslim and Christian wedding – exchange of marriage vows – has many similarities. Both are contained in an act of worship {‘Ibadah’ for Muslims and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony’ for Christians} that is conducted in a religious house .

A religious official formally asks the couple if they willingly consent to the marriage . When the couple accepts their vows, wedding rings are exchanged between them.

The religious official then announces the marriage to the assembled people in a speech , during which he talks about the past lives of the bride and groom, and their new responsibilities as man and wife. The religious official then makes a special address to God {‘prayer’ for Christians and ‘dua’ for Muslims} for the well being and happiness of the married couple, their families and the religious community {‘congregation’ for Christians and ‘ummah’ for Muslims} in general.

The first part of the wedding ceremony concludes with the signing of the marriage contract (Muslims call it ‘nikaahnama’). The bride and groom sign the contract, which is then signed by two adult and sane witnesses. The marriage contract is then kept as an official record in the religious house , as well as registered with the local government authorities (Goamatrimonials.com).

The first part of the wedding ceremony of Christians and Muslims is different in some ways. The first difference concerns the marriage contract. Unlike Christians, the Muslim bride and groom have the choice to accept the usual terms and conditions of the marriage contract or require them to be amended (Goamatrimonials.com). It is not mandatory for the Muslim bride to be present when the contract is prepared.

She is permitted to give a verbal power of attorney to an older male relative to agree on her behalf on the clauses of the marriage contract, including the amount of the marriage-gift that should be paid to her. Muslims consider the mahr clause as mandatory because the Holy Quran says: “Give the women their mahr as a free gift” . Mahr is looked upon as a symbol of the groom’s dedication.

It may take the form of cash, moveable or immovable assets. It may be paid during the wedding ceremony or later. It is also allowed to be paid in parts: one during the wedding ceremony and other/s later; such deferred mahr has to be paid to the wife even if her husband dies or divorces her (Goamatrimonials.com). In a reverse-case scenario, the Christian bride gives marriage-gifts to the groom. However, nearly all countries including European nations and the U.S have banned this system (Wikipedia.org).

Christians instead consider the wedding ring sufficient commitment on the part of the couple to look after each other until their vow ‘death do us part.’ The second difference is the attire worn by the bride and groom. A Christian bride wears a pure white wedding gown, while a Muslim bride favors a cherry red gown. A Christian groom prefers the tuxedo , while a Muslim groom wears a white silk brocade suit and a turban (Wikipedia.org).

The third difference is that Christian weddings take place with pomp and grandeur. The best man, bridesmaid/s, flower girl/s and page boy/s form part of the wedding entourage. The bride walks to the altar on her father’s arm to the strains of a special wedding tune. After the ceremony the newly wedded couple walks down the aisle arm-in-arm while the organ plays ‘The Wedding March’ (Goamatrimonials.com).

The second part of the wedding ceremony of Muslims and Christians is similar in one way: both are conducted in a reception venue . Family members, relatives and friends of the bride and groom are invited to the celebration.

This second part of the wedding ceremony is different in many ways. First of all, Muslims consider it their duty (Goamatrimonials.com) to have a simple, low-key wedding banquet . No alcohol is served in keeping with the Muslim law that forbids the use of alcohol. Christians celebrate their weddings with light -hearted festivity marked with dancing, started off by the couple’s ‘bridal waltz’ (Wikipedia.org), eating and drinking. Alcoholic drinks are provided in abundance.

Before departing with her new husband in their wedding car, the bride tosses her bouquet over her shoulder to a group of unmarried women – it is thought that whoever catches it will be the next one to get married (Wikipedia.org). The second difference is that the expenses of the reception are paid by the Christian bride’s family {Wikipedia.org); in Asia and other parts of the world the expenses are shared equally by the families of the bride and groom, while in case of Muslims in general, the groom’s family is expected to shoulder the entire reception cost. The third difference concerns gifts.

In case of Muslims, gifts are exchanged between the families of the bride and groom as a symbol of welcome into their respective families (Worldweddingtraditions.com). Guests are not required to bring gifts to the reception. Guests of Christian weddings usually give gifts to the couple during the reception. However in countries like the U.S. and Canada, gifts are given before the wedding – a gift-giving party called the ‘bridal shower’ is given by the bridesmaid/s for the bride before her wedding, where guests bring gifts for the home of the bride and groom (Wikipedia.org).

References used

  • “Muslim Wedding Traditions.” Worldweddingtraditions.com. 2004. Web.
  • ” Wikipedia.org. 2008. Web.
  • “Wedding Rituals.” Goamatrimony.com. (N.d). Web.
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IvyPanda. "Christian vs. Muslim Marriages Comparison and Contrast." August 31, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/christian-vs-muslim-marriages-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Christian vs. Muslim Marriages Comparison and Contrast." August 31, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/christian-vs-muslim-marriages-comparison/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Christian vs. Muslim Marriages Comparison and Contrast'. 31 August.

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