Muslim vs Christian Marriages
Marriage is plays a central role in forming the culture of any socio-religious group. In Islam Marriage is considered important by all socio-economic groups and The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has recognized its importance by saying that marriage is half the religion(Maqsood 3).In Christianity however, marriage is religious sacrament and it is thought to be a gift from God, one that should not be taken for granted (BBC). Although in today’s time engagement ceremonies are a globally practiced pre-wedding event, the importance of this ceremony varies significantly between religions. In Christian traditions, engagement is an important event and some sects stipulate the minister’s presence at and blessing of the engagement. The engagement period is 2 years for most sects but can be extended. While in Islam engagement holds no religious importance and there is no set time for the engagement to last before the marriage ceremony can take place. In both religions, the marriage is a contract between a male and a female which results in a physical and spiritual union of the two. The Muslims require two witnesses from both sides while the Christians require a total of two witnesses (bridesmaid/best man). According to Islamic traditions it is not required for the bride to be present at the time of signing of the contract as long as her two witnesses are present while in Christianity both the bride and the groom are required at the place of contract signing. In Islam a payment is agreed on, that is to be paid to the bride by the groom at the time of Nikha( marriage contract), this payment is called Mahr and it is for the bride to spend however she wishes( Maqsood).
In Catholic Christians some religious rituals are supposed to be performed as part of the wedding ceremony which include, ‘Bible readings, one from the Old Testament, a responsorial psalm, a New Testament reading, a Gospel acclamation, a Gospel reading and a homily’(BBC), hymns and prayers. In Islam prayers and Quranic verses are often recited but such rituals are not compulsory. The Islamic wedding ceremonies are often culturally influenced and vary enormously according to different cultures and therefore besides the basic ceremony of Nikah other events have also made their way into Muslim wedding practices in the recent times.
In many religions with the solemnization of marriage, the husband and wife are entrusted with some basic rights and privileges to govern their married lives. One of the most important aspects of marriage is the physical relationship. Islam speaks boldly about sex and it allows the couple to express its love in any manner that is pleasurable to both the partners however it is forbidden to use any foreign items for pleasure and the couple is recommended not to perform acts that maybe harmful to them. Foreplay is high recommended taking in account the higher emotional needs of women and in order to build trust. In Christianity sex is not talked about openly and most books talk about the ‘spiritual’ idea of sex. On the question of birth control, Islam takes a liberal approach and allows the female to take contraceptive pills and encourages family planning although it prohibits contraceptive measures after the egg has been fertilized and it is considered a sin. The Christian view on birth control has changed over time since Biblical texts disallow the use of contraception while the growing need of family planning and population pressure has forced many women to resort to taking contraceptive measures. Therefore the church has become more lenient overtime in this regard.
Divorce happens to be another element associated closely to the institution of marriage. Both religions consider divorce to be an undesirable act; however Islam is relatively lenient regarding this issue and allows both the husband and the wife to opt for separation. On the other hand divorce is considered to be a grave sin and it is assumed that if husband and wife marry, they will remain married for the rest of their lives. Moreover, Muslim men are allowed to have up to four wives in marriage at a time while polygamy is not allowed in Christianity.
Marriage is considered a sacrament in Christianity while it is not so in Islam.
Engagement is not of any religious importance in Islam but it is an important pre-marriage ceremony for Christians.
Marriage in most Christian sects takes place in a church but a Muslim marriage can take place anywhere.
Nikah is the only religious requirement for marriage in Islam however in Christianity there is a sequence of rituals that take place during marriage ceremony.
Sex is talked about boldly by Muslim scholars. Christians talk about sex in a ‘spiritual’ context.
Birth control is allowed in Islam while disallowed by the Bible.
Polygamy is not allowed in Christianity but Muslim men are allowed to have up to 4 wives at a time
Divorce is considered a sinful act in Christianity but it is not so in Islam.
A minimum of 4 witnesses are required for Muslim weddings while a minimum of 2 witnesses are needed for Christian weddings.
Muslim women are to be paid a sum of money that is agreed upon by two contracting parties at the time of the marriage by the groom.