In Egypt, traditional Islamic practices are still observed very strictly. This means that there is no such thing as dating and as a rule, couples to be married will have had no interaction before they get married.
Muslim matrimonials are taken very seriously, and as such, most Muslim weddings in Egypt are arranged. There are, however, occasions when a couple do meet through school or work and subsequently fall in love.
Although such love matches are traditionally opposed, if it becomes obvious that the couple are committed to each other and are of equal educational and social status, families often relent.
By taking advantage of Internet dating, young people can get to know and love one another before they are to be wed. While still really a kind of pre-marital interaction, it is less frowned upon than physical interaction and is more likely to gain family approval.
Arranged marriages give couples little chance to meet. Initially, both families will make a range of inquiries as to the prospective spouse’s conduct and status. When both families agree that a union is suitable, the couple are allowed to meet within the family circle.
If things work out and they do like each other, further family meetings are scheduled and the engagement party is arranged. During this party, the bride is given a wedding ring by the groom.
The matrimonial contract is signed both by the groom and the bride’s family, with members of both famillies acting as witnesses, while the bride waits in another, separate room. Once signed, the contract is taken to her for approval.
The traditional ceremony involves reading of passages from the Quran and also the Kitbah, which is the formal betrothal. Some choose a mosque to hold the ceremony, while others will hold it in a hotel or one of the families’ homes.
The ceremony is followed by the walimah, the wedding feast. In most urban areas, both sexes are present for the celebration and the couple is formally presented, often walking hand in hand down a path lined by wedding guests.
The rings given at the engagement are now changed from the right hand to the left, and large quantities of savoury and sweet foods are provided. There will be music and dancing, and frequently the bride will throw her flowers to unwed women in an attempt to forecast the next one to be married.
Rural weddings are often more formal, with men and women segregated and the bride’s face covered with a veil throughout the ceremony.
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