Amid coronavirus lockdown, Muslims turn to Zoom, Houseparty 'nikahs'
But for some Muslim brides and grooms-to-be, the lockdown has called for new ways for marriage ceremonies to be carried out.
On Saturday, Malaysia - a Muslim majority country where Islamic marriages must be registered with the state - saw its first official marriage by video conference.
Newlyweds Muhammad Don Haadi Don Putra and Nahdatul Aishah Mohd Sharif had their marriage witnessed by the Southeast Asian state's de facto Islamic Affairs Minister, Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, who attended the bride's home.
The groom, meanwhile, joined the ceremony via video link.
"It is interesting as it only took less than 15 minutes. This effort is in line with the decision by the National Fatwa Council for Religious Affairs in Malaysia to allow the solemnisation ceremony to be conducted online," Zulkifli wrote on his Facebook page after the ceremony.
It is not just in Malaysia, however, that online weddings have taken off.
A video posted to YouTube earlier this month by Mufti Ismail Menk, a Zimbabwean preacher with a YouTube following of close to 900,000, encouraged Muslims planning to get married to do so online.
"When people are ready to get married, dont delay," Menk said in the video titled 'Marriage During Lockdown! Zoom, Skype and HouseParty'.
"If it means we have to do it online, we will do it online, and we will not facilitate haram (the forbidden)," he added.
In the video, Menk also expressed his dismay at hearing of a physical wedding celebration that had taken place during the pandemic.
Adapting to the times
According to Sultan Ahmed, director of the Nikah Co - a UK-based Islamic marriage agency, the coronavirus lockdown has forced almost all marriage ceremonies booked in April to be cancelled or postponed.
For Muslim couples whose faith requires them to be married to be able to live together, this has presented a real challenge, however his agency were able to adapt.
"This is when we came up with the idea of using technology to our advantage," Ahmed told The New Arab, explaining that the online ceremonies still adhere to Islamic requirements of having the consent of the bride, the groom and the bride’s guardian, as well as having the presence of a minimum of two witnesses.
"In one ceremony we managed to virtually host more than 300 guests for a couple. Their guests joined in from all over the world including Pakistan, UAE, Qatar and USA to witness their special occasion," Ahmed said.
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"The lockdown might have stopped large gatherings and weddings from taking place, but it doesn’t have stop us from fulfilling the important Sunnah (prophetic tradition) of marriage."
For Mehreen, the bride whose marriage was recently conducted by the Nikah Co, there was a silver lining in having an online wedding, despite the pandemic having cast months of preparation aside.
"It was really nice, really an event. Because my husband is English and there was a mix of cultures, it was really good that the Imam was able to still recite verses from the Quran about love and marriage and give explanations for all of our guests," Mehreen told The New Arab.
As well as catering to the religious side of the ceremony, Mehreen's online nikah also meant that her sister living in Sri Lanka, who would've been unable to attend an event in Britain, was able to dial in online.
"I guess you have to see the best in these situations," she added, saying that plans for a physical wedding celebration are still in place but on hold, for now.
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