Sunday, August 09, 2009

To Be or Not to Be a Bridesmaid

Many converts have questions about dealings with their non-Muslim family after their conversion, but this one is, I think, far more rare. My brother's fiancee just asked me if I would be a bridesmaid in her wedding. She and I have been close for a while--she's known me since before I took Islam and has always been very supportive of it.

And she clearly spent some time thinking about the issue as well, including the fact that I cover. She's having her bridesmaids wear color-coordinated dresses, though with different styles. When I brought up the issue of my scarf, she suggested I could wear a long dress with a jacket and a coordinating scarf--see? she'd thought it out. The only excuse I was really left with at that point was that I wouldn't want for me to be the focus of her wedding--she should be the one in the spotlight, and I was afraid that in a scarf I might just attract to much attention. But I think she really did want me to be a bridesmaid.

I don't know of any Islamic objections--it's not a very religious ceremony, not even in a church, and if I could certainly be properly covered, I don't know that there's any reason on that front for me not to do it.

She asked me to think about it for a few days and then tell her later. InshaAllaah I'll pray istikhara on it, but just wanted to air the question to see if any of my readers might have some advice to contribute. Jazakumallahu khayran.

20 comments:

jana z. said...

of course pray istikhara..thats the main objective.

but

i think shes exceptional for having you in her bridal party knowing well in advance that you would wear islamic gear!! many people wouldnt even dare to ask a muslim to be in their non muslim wedding just for the reasons you cited here.

so i really commend this dear girl for thinking it out and still asking you..she obviously wants you amy...why not? its her day, she wants you there!!

Amy said...

Jana, I think you're absolutely right--she is exceptional, and a real sweetheart.

Ali1982 said...

It would be very embarrassing for you, the bride and other people.
and since not wearing the scarf is not an option for you, I strongly suggest that you don't go.

taiyyaba said...

I was a bridesmaid for my one of my closest non-muslim high school friends when she got married a year ago. i'm so glad i did it - she did like your sis-in-law to be, the color coordination instead of identical dresses. it brought me closer to her (which can only be better for a family member) and i think it gave her whole family a better appreciation for Islam since I was part of the bridal party, helping with everything, etc. I didn't feel out of place or anything. True, there was dancing at the reception, but I just sat with some friends from high school and talked.

Go for it, Amy.

Yusuf Smith said...

As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

I'm with Ali on this. If the clothing doesn't include hijab, don't do it. If the clothing is more flashy or otherwise less than you would normally wear on a special occasion, also don't do it.

A few years ago my niece was baptised, and the rest of my family signed a card congratulating her on it. I'm normally pretty liberal on celebrations like Christmas, birthdays etc., but on this I refused, because she's being received into an organisation of kufr. My mother had a go at me saying I should be more tolerant, but we have to draw the line somewhere and tolerance doesn't mean taking part, it just means not standing in their way.

Anonymous said...

Do go.I don't know why Yusuf Smith is advising you not to go as you obviously said you would be in Hijab

mezba said...

As a layman I don't see anything wrong with it provided you are comfortable with your dress and her intentions are good. Just be aware of what the bride and her family thinks and if they are good - you should be good. Have to end with that famous line "Allah and His messenger knows best".

mezba said...

Please do let us know once you made your decision if possible .. it will be interesting to know why you decided the way you did!

Amy said...

Ali1982--

I thought that it might be embarrassing, but she had already talked to her parents about it, with the conclusion that it was her day and she could have whomever she wanted in the bridal party. And she had already planned that I would cover and had acceptable arrangements in that regard.

On the other hand, not going is certainly out of the question. The bride is a dear friend of mine, and the groom is my brother. It's unthinkable (to me) that I not be in attendance. So I would certainly go, even if not a bridesmaid.

But saying that wearing a scarf in public, or at a wedding, would be embarrassing, is a little unfair, isn't it? Considering that I wear a scarf in public all the rest of the time?

Amy said...

Taiyyaba

Thanks for sharing that with me! I'm glad to know someone else has gone through it, and glad you had a good experience with it.

Amy said...

Yusuf--

The clothing would definitely include hijab, being a head scarf and full-coverage. I would likely wear a jacket (to cover my arms, and to be loose around the chest area in case the dress is very fitted), and a head scarf would be included in addition to that. The gown would be floor length so that also would not be an issue.

I have dressed formally before, wearing a long gown, a jacket, and a nice scarf, and I don't think it's horribly out of place. It's not customary, but I don't think I'd feel like it was too "flashy" for me. The dresses will be brown, she's told me.

And for my brother and his fiancee, religion is not very important. Marriage is certainly not a "sacrament" in the church we grew up in, as opposed to the Catholic church, so it's not exactly a religious experience. I understand what you mean about signing a card for baptism--I probably wouldn't have done that either. But in this case it's more or less celebrating the marriage in a non-religious way, and I'm not really aware of any particular Islamic objections to the situation.

Amy said...

Mezba--

That was definitely one of my concerns, and so I asked her about it up front (when I initially declined.) And she had already talked to her family who thought it was fine because it was her wedding and she should be able to do what she wanted.

And I'll be sure to keep everyone informed inshaaAllaah. :-) Thanks for the advice.

Azad said...

Be :)

jana z. said...

embarrasing? embarrasing? what..to wear your hijab with pride and not cower down because you are in the midst of non muslims? i think not!!

this young lady is wonderful for asking amy and including ideas on how to deal with it all!!

i think its a fantastic opportunity for amy..its her chance to shine for Allah...im here IN my friends wedding and her request and i didnt have to change my ideals to do it!

god bless that girl.

Jamilah said...

Asalamu Alaikum Amy

Is it going to be a religious ceremony at all? I understand that you would want to go because it is your brother, but being a part of the ceremony might be pushing it, of course this is just my opinion.

In a lot of weddings at the end the bridesmaids and the groomsmen are required to walk back down the aisle paired up...arm in arm, that could also be an issue. Then there is the dancing at the reception and the drinking too.

I looked up some rulings about this and although I didn't find anything that said 'don't be a bridesmaid in a non Muslim wedding' found a lot of things that would lead me to choose not to be one.

In the end its up to you, but try to think what the Sahaba would have done...

faaz said...

Salaam Amy

There is nothing in Islam which prohibits us from attending and participating in the weddings of non muslims, religious or otherwise, as for as you can keep proper dress code and not participate in the activities which are haram such as drinking, in this case your sister in law is inviting you to be the bridesmaid knowing your obligation to were hijab,it would be rude to decline the invitation, it will do more damage to your family relationship if you decline and also gives a bad rap to islam among all other relatives.

Jamilah said...

Amy

I wanted to clarify that I don't know for sure if you should or should not go, but please consult with a scholar that knows... don't just take my, or anyone elses word for it. Its easy to say that there is or is not something in Islam that prohibits this, but its not easy to back that up and know for sure.

Allah knows best.

Jamilah said...

just one thing I found when I looked

http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/6992/non%20muslim%20wedding

Hamayoun said...

Salam

I would ask someone like Suhaib Webb, as a sheikh who understands what it's like to be a revert in the USA and face these kinds of situations.

Wasalam,
Hamayoun

Amy said...

Assalaamu alaykum

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Jamilah, that was really what I was looking for--the things I hadn't thought of that might become an issue. Like you mentioned, the drinking, dancing, pairing, could all be a concern.

And the fatwa from islamqa was really helpful, as the brother's situation is similar to mine. (Although, I am a woman so the hijab is an additional consideration, and this ceremony will not be religious, nor in a church.) Especially interesting was the comment about making compromises being detrimental to da'wah. I think that's definitely true to some extent.

So I appreciate your input. I agree that this is not an issue that is definitely permissible because it's not explicitly forbidden. It's far more complex, so thanks for helping me to see that.