Marriage:Walimah - the purpose of

Q369 :It is customary in our country to hold a dinner the day following a wedding. However, people believe that this dinner party, to which all relatives and family friends are invited, is treated as permissible, or halal, if the marriage has been consummated, while it is forbidden, or haram, if it has not. Please comment.

A369 : The dinner following a wedding is called "walimah". It is strongly recommended and indeed some scholars go as far as making it a duty, because the Prophet said to Abdur Rahman ibn Awf, one of his companions, when he told him that he has got married, to organize it and invite people. A person who is invited to a walimah should answer it, unless there is a cause which justifies his absence, such as his knowledge that some sins are being committed at the place where the walimah is held. Even if a person is fasting, he should go, but he may excuse himself from eating by explaining to his host that he is fasting. If it is voluntary fasting, he may discontinue his fast. You are no doubt aware that publicity is an essential part of marriage. Indeed, an essential distinction between what is legitimate and what is illegitimate in relations between a man and a woman is publicity. The more a marriage is publicized, the better. The minimum publicity required by Islam is for two witnesses to be present at the time when a marriage contract is made. But when the wedding takes place, whether it is made a small family affair or a grand one, a walimah is recommended to add to its publicity. Another purpose for the walimah is to ensure that the local community shares in the happy occasion of the marriage of one of its members. What is important to publicize is the fact of the marriage and not its actual consummation. Therefore, the notion that walimah is only lawful if the marriage has been consummated is absurd. No one other than the bride and bridegroom should concern themselves with the actual consummation of the marriage. Local traditions in different communities may have some other requirements, but these are not recommended by Islam.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )