When I was recently preparing to marry my wife, I wondered whether walima is compulsory and necessary. So, I did some research and spoke to an Imam on whether having a marriage banquet is compulsory.
So is walima compulsory and necessary? There are no certain obligations for conducting Walima. Since Walima is Sunnah and not fard, if anyone does not perform it for any reason it is not considered a sin. However, if anyone intends to offer Walima with good intention, it is like following the Sunnah of the Prophet.
According to shareeáh, marriage is done through the contract between two spouses, with the consent of the bride’s guardian and in the presence of two witnesses. Such a contract can be completed even if there is no walima conducted. However, people opt to conduct this ceremony as an expression of joy and to publicize the marriage. Walima is mustahab or encouraged on the occasion of marriage
The prophet instructed Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Awf in his marriage ceremony to give a feast even with a single sheep. Since weddings are occasions full of happiness and joy, conducting the ceremony is an expression of happiness and is an opportunity to provide food for friends and feed the poor. Conducting walima is praiseworthy.
The tradition of walima was present in the time of Jahiliyya. The prophet organized a walima on his wedding with Khadija. He conducted a feast for people by slaughtering two camels. His uncle, Abu Talib arranged a banquet in his domicile for this reason, and he invited the Prophet and his wife. The prophet organized walima for his wedding with his other wives. As a result, walima was still considered a tradition before it became Sunnah.
Furthermore, the prophet gave advice to believers on the matter. A vivid example is seen in the occasion of Fatima and Ali’s wedding. Ali for this reason pledge his armor to a non-Muslim individual so as to purchase a scale of barley.
At that ceremony, a meal which was cooked by mixing oil, flour, chopped seedless dates and yoghurt, and barley bread was served. The above was considered to be a good walima and was very common during the early days.
The wedding banquet depends on the generosity and the financial strength of the host. However, preparing a walima ceremony is not a must. Although he was the most generous of all people, the Prophet served simpler foods instead of having meat and bread. If you’re contemplating not having a walima during your wedding because of lack of meat and bread, you should not worry, serving simpler and cheap foods is the best.
Individuals should refrain from serving haram foods. Regarding this issue, the Prophet directed that only allowed foods should be served. Muslims should refrain from eating pork because it is forbidden. Moreover, poor people should be invited during such a feast along with the rich. The worst walima is the one to which the rich individuals are invited while the poor are not.
It is necessary for any invited person to attend such a ceremony. If you are invited to more than one function on the same day of the walima ceremony, it is wise to attend the one belonging to the nearest neighbor in accordance with the advice by the Prophet. If one of the invitations is informed earlier than others, it would be good to comply with priority.
As for the entertainment and food provided during the walima ceremony, they must be in accordance with Islamic law. Attending illicit ceremonies and banquets will be inappropriate. If one attends the ceremony without knowing its inappropriateness, they ought to warn individuals about religiously forbidden them if they can.
Can a Muslim Not Have Walima?
Walima is a way to validate the couples union to family, friends and the public. If one cannot afford it or cannot have walima because of a legitimate reason, there is no harm in having both sides of the immediate family over for a small meal or not having walima at all. If you cannot afford to have walima you don’t have to impose hardship on yourself because it is not the intentions of Islam.
The groom is responsible for walima. If he cannot afford to invite people and feed them, he can have dinner at home with a few individuals. In many cases, the friends and family can bring some meals from their home and eat together with the bride and groom. This way, they can help cushion when there are financial challenges. It also promotes the values of Islam- helping the needy.
Today, marriages follow very ridiculous traditions on which they tend to waste a lot of time and money which is simply not necessary. Walima is Sunnah of Hazrat Muhammad. So, every Muslim should try to remember their marriage in the same way the Prophet did to make it more blissful and valuable.
If one gives walima after the nikah, they should be in accordance to the Sunnah of the messenger of Allah, and therefore receive a reward from God; if for any reason, a Muslim is not in a position to offer a walima there is no sin or obligation upon them.
Hazrat Muhammad urges believers to celebrate the joyous occasion of marriage with a feast. The main wisdom for holding walima is to make the union public. Not having a walima may not make the union well known. It is therefore upon the groom to find other ways to publicize their wedding union.
According to Islam a walima can be conducted anywhere. It should be remembered that having a simpler walima is better than not having the feast. The simpler the walima is kept, the better it will be. At times people can’t afford to have a walima because they are used to attending ceremonies where thousands of shillings are spent in feeding the guests. Simplicity is key.
The idea of having a walima is to feed people with sincerity and simplicity. Feeding simple foods is better than not having a feast at all. Provided that the acts are from the heart. It is far better than feeding the guests with quality and expensive foods, where the intentions are not sincere. According to Sayyida A’isha, the most blessed marriage is the one with the least expenses. Therefore having a simpler feast is better than not having it
On many occasions people are discouraged from having walima for the wrong reasons. They do not comply with the Islamic principles. Some view the walima celebration as an opportunity to perform every kind of behavior that is religiously forbidden like taking alcohol and having women and men dancing together.
These kinds of scenes are fundamentally controversial and clearly demonstrate the religious weakness in most communities. It is a clear indication that some Muslims have sacrificed their faith for the sake of imitating the kuffar.
In conclusion, it is not a must to hold the walima celebration. Though it should also be remembered that the walima is the only ceremonial aspect of a wedding in accordance to Islamic law.
As discussed above, it is a misconception to think that a walima feast should be lavish, with many people invited. Two or three people can be invited, and a simple meal can be served. Issues like a venue or the amount or type of foods are immaterial. It is advisable to hold a simple walima feast rather than not having it at all.