Traditional Malay Weddings – The Wedding Contract ceremony (Akad Nikah)
Religious solemnisation of the marriage takes place on the wedding eve. It is an important event, which can take place in a mosque, the Department of Islamic Affairs, or the Bride’s home.
Traditionally, it is held by the Kadi, a religious official of the Syariat (Shariat) Court. Now, the Tok Kadi is a religious man, who performs the solemnisation ceremony. Prior to the actual solemnisation, the Tok Kadi will usually give a short talk about the virtues and blessings of the marriage, and to remind the Bride and Groom, their respective duties and responsibilities.
The final part of the ceremony takes place with the Tok Kadi, the Groom, and Wali (representation of the Bride seeking marriage, a guardian or usually the Bride’s father), and two male witnesses.
The Tok Kadi will hold the right hand of the Groom with his own right hand, and asks the groom :
“Do you, [Groom’s Full Name], accept the marriage of [Bride’s Full Name] with mas kahwin of [Marriage Gold or token- which is usually a small amount of money] ?”
The Groom is expected to reply in a loud and clear manner :
“I accept the marriage of [Bride’s Full Name] with mas kahwin of [Marriage gold, amount of money] .”
A small sum of money (Mas Kahwin or Mahar, which means Marriage Gold) seals the wedding contract after the wedding is accepted.
The Tok Kadi will then ask the two male witnesses for their confirmation if the acceptance is loud and clear. Once it is confirmed, he pronounces the Akad as Sah (valid) and the Bride and Groom are married.
The groom then reads out loud a special clause in the marriage contract that stipulates that if he fails to provide financial support or fails to go home to his wife for a period of four months (six months in certain regions) or if he causes physical injury on her, she has the right to go to any Islamic court and ask for a divorce.
Traditionally, the Bride would wait in a room and only come out to sign the marriage certificate.
Recently, the Bride can be present while the ceremony takes place. But the basic setup remains the same — the Tok Tadi, the bridegroom, the wali, as well as two male witnesses in attendance. She would seat on a special pillow on the carpeted floor. The Tok Kadi first asks the Bride’s confirmation if she agrees to her father marrying her off to the Groom. Only then does the actual marriage ceremony take place.
This is followed by a prayer, the Groom then puts a ring on his Bride’s finger. After that, the Groom will be allowed to touch the Bride’s hands as it is now rightful and legal for the man to touch the woman who has become his wife.
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