Practicing Austerity

The Islamic Dawah Centre’s established a matrimonial cell to combat extravagance in marriages in Kashmir. In the last five years it helped in arranging more than a thousand marriages. Syed Asma reports

A lot of people see extravagance in marriages as a social evil. Many talk about it. Only few take the initiative to curb it. Humsafar Marriage Counselling Cell, which was started in July 2005, is one such initiative that envisaged “to do” something about it.

Fayaz Ahmed Zaroo, who is now the chairman of Humsafar Marriage Counselling Cell, came up with the idea of establishing the cell which would help people in solemnising marriages with austerity. The idea was approved of by Mufti Naseer Ahmed Qasmi, the patron of the cell. The marriage cell is run by Islamic Dawah Centre.

“The idea struck us in one of our weekly discussion program in which we usually discuss societal evils,” recalls Fayaz Ahmed Zaroo. “There and then we thought of doing something about it and Qasmi Sahib agreed to start it,” says Zaroo.

It was decided that the marriage cell will operate according to the Shariah. Before starting it, Mufti Qasmi surveyed the society (both urban and rural areas) and listed some of the social evils that were – and are – prevalent in the society, he says.

The Hamsafar marriage cell got an overwhelming response from people. “At the inauguration itself, 100 people registered with the cell, which was much more than our expectation,” says the chairman.

The cell registers people after taking the consent of both the parents and the person who intends to marry. Earlier, only people from lower middle class would approach the cell. But as the time passed it gained popularity, and people of different economic backgrounds including the rich started approaching it. “First, we only got the lower section of society but now officers, bureaucrats, businessmen and politicians visit us to arrange marriage of their wards,” says Fayaz.

The Dawah centre through this cell has arranged more than 1000 marriages in last five years. On an average, the cell arranges 200-250 marriages annually.
The registration fee is Rs 400, but it can vary depending on the financial position of the person. “Some pay more and some pay less according to their convenience,” says Zaroo. “We cannot force anybody to pay more than his earnings.”

Apart from arranging marriages as per Shariah, the cell organizes Mahrain and Mahraaze classes, for brides and grooms to inform them about their rights and duties. Zaroo feels that these classes help in bridging differences that might arise between married couples. He attributes most of the marital discords to a lack of knowledge of religion.

The chairman of the marriage cell says that they have been able to bring some fruitful change in the society. “Earlier people only approached us because they wanted to save money (spent on extravagant marriages), but now people approach us as they have started respecting, honouring and understanding Shariah,” says Zaroo.

The marriage cell strongly discourages use of firecrackers, video-grapy, exchange of gifts between two families and singing in weddings.

Hamsafar marriage cell is making an effort to free the society of some social evils and the people at the Centre believe that it would be successful only if the rest of the population come forward to support them and choose austere marriage ceremonies over extravagant ones.

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