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24 Apr '16

Pakistani Wedding Customs

Posted by Laila T

A Pakistani wedding, like others is a ceremony to celebrate the wedlock of a bride and a groom. It brings closer the families of a bride and a groom. A wedding ceremony has great importance in different cultures of the world.

Pakistani Marriage Customs

Pakistan, an Islamic country located in South Asia and the Greater Middle East, has a great culture with rich customs. A Pakistani wedding is a great feast of fun, wearing fancy clothing, merriments, and celebrations. It is celebrated with great fervor. A Pakistani wedding is followed by several pre-wedding customs and rituals. Men and Women wear Pakistani Clothing of various styles and fashions.

It is important to note that some of the customs followed in Pakistani weddings have no foundation in Islam. However, the Pakistani culture has adopted those ceremonies and traditions from the Hindu culture.

Mangni is the engagement ceremony that marks the formal engagement of couple. The small ceremony takes place in the presence of a few important members of would-be bride & groom’s family. Prayer and blessings for the couple are recited and the wedding date is decided in Mangni.

Mayun is custom of the bride entering into the state of seclusion eight to fifteen days before the wedding. She’s made free of all the chores and errands around the house. The bride and groom are not allowed to see each other after the Mayun; bride is not allowed to leave her house. The beautification rituals begin during this time.

Uptan is a paste made from turmeric, sandalwood powder, herbs and aromatic oils, which groom's mother brings for bride. She blesses bride and applies “uptan’ to the bride's hands and face. Groom's sister also does the same, and a thick string called a “gana” is tied to the bride’s arm. “Uptan” is applied to the bride's skin each day leading up to the wedding. Similar ceremony is held for the groom, where bride's mother, sisters, cousins and friends bring “uptan” for groom and rub it on his skin.

Dolki is a popular ceremony of singing traditional wedding & popular songs accompanied by two or three percussion instruments Dolki being the main. The girl is officially treated as bride (dulhan). She wears traditional Pakistani yellow outfit. Her brothers, sisters, and cousins bring her (bride) in the dholki party.

Rasm E Mehndi (Henna Party) takes place a day before the wedding. It’s a ceremony mainly of women. They apply Mehndi to the bride's hands and feet, sing, dance, and bless the bride. Sadka (warding off evil through charity) is performed on the bride i.e. donating money circling three times on the bride’s head. Traditionally mehndi was brought by groom's parents. Mehndi (Henna) is applied in beautiful floral designs and sometimes groom's name is written in designs. After the ceremony dinner is organized for the guests. Traditionally, the bride is not allowed to take part in the celebrations and keeps her face hidden in veil. Rasm E Mehndi is organized for grooms also in some parts of Pakistan.

Baraat is procession of family, relatives, and friends of groom that accompany the groom to bride’s home for official wedding ceremony. Groom makes his way to the bride's home on a richly decked horse or in a car and “baraat” follows in different vehicles. Groom is given warm welcome by the bride’s family with flower garlands and rose petals. Family and relatives of the groom and the bride exchange glasses of juice or sherbet along with money. Guests are welcomed by the bride’s sisters by playfully hitting them with a stick wrapped and decorated with flowers.

Nikah is purely Islamic official wedding ceremony that usually takes place at the bride’s home. Nikah is attended by close family members, relatives, and friends of groom and bride. Usually, the men and women are made to sit separately, in different rooms, or have a purdah, or curtain, separating them.

Nikah-naama (document of marriage contract) is registered in Nikah. The Nikahnaama contains several terms and conditions that are to be respected by both parties (bride & groom). It includes bride’s right to divorce her husband. Nikahnaama specifies “Meher,” the monetary amount the groom will give the bride. Meher includes two amounts; one that is due before the marriage is consummated and the other that is a deferred amount given to the bride at a time to be determined. The Meher guarantees the bride's freedom within the marriage, and acts as the bride's safety net.

The fathers of groom and bride (Walis) act as witnesses to the wedding. If father is not available, the senior male, brother or uncle performs the ceremony. Islamic Imam (called maulana or maulvi in Urdu) reads selected verses from the Quran and waits for the Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance) of wedding. Usually, the groom's side makes proposal and the bride's side conveys her assent. Maulvi and witnesses (gavah) take the Nikahnaama to the bride and read it aloud to her. She accepts the Nikahnaama saying 'qabool kiya,' meaning 'I accept and signs it. The Nikahnaama is then taken to the groom and read aloud to him. He accepts saying 'qabool kiya and signs the document. The Maulvi and witnesses (gavah) also do sign the Nikahnaama contract and the wedding becomes legal. The Maulvi recites the Fatihah, the first chapter of the Quran, and various durud, or blessings to mark the closing of Nikah ceremony.

After the wedding is legally announced, dishes of dates and misri (unrefined sugar) are served to the groom's family. Groom is then escorted to his bride where he’s allowed to site beside his wife. This is the time when sisters-in-law of groom play pranks and tease the groom.

Mooh Dikhai is the ceremony of first time “showing of the face” after the Nikah. The couple is made to see each other in the mirror and the bride unveils her face that she keeps hidden during the Nikah. The custom of Mooh Dikhai is also calledAarsi Musshaf.” The bride and groom share a piece of sweet fruit, such as a date and family and friends congratulate the couple and offer gifts. Dinner is served to the guests. The sisters, friends, and female cousins of bride take this opportunity to steal the groom's shoes and demand a sum of money for shoes. This is very popular custom and groom usually carries a lot of cash, due to the popularity of this custom. He pays money to get back his shoes and girls divide the money among themselves.

Ruksati is the ceremony to bid farewell to the bride before her departure to the groom's house. She says goodbye to her parents, close friends and family. The Quran is held over her head as a blessing. It’s a pretty touching moment. Although this practice is un-Islamic but a lot of Pakistani families have come to adopt it.

Several traditional games are played at groom’s house. A tray full of a mixture of water and milk is placed before the couple and a ring is thrown into the mixture and husband and wife are asked to find the ring. The one who finds the ring is considered winner and dominant partner in the relationship. The couple is asked to untie the “ganas” (thick strings) that were tied on their writs before wedding. The one who unties it first is considered the dominant partner in the relationship. Bride eats kheer (sweet, pudding-type desert) out of the groom’s hand. This customs are designed to make the couple more intimate before the physical relationship. Groom washes the feet of the bride in a basin of water that is sprinkled into the four corners of the house. It’s believed that this brings wealth, prosperity and luck into the home.

Chauthi is the custom of bringing the bride back to her parents' home the next day, or on the fourth day after the wedding (depending on family tradition). Usually bride's brothers perform the Chauthi and goes to fetch their sister home.

Walima is ceremony to announce the wedding to community and friends. It’s a grand reception hosted by the groom's parents. Relatives, friends and community people are invited to the reception and wedding is celebrated with great fun and festivities.


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22 Apr '16

Basic Concepts of Islamic Finance

Posted by Nosheen Z in Basic Concepts of Islamic Finance

Islamic financing has been a viable alternative to western banking since the early 1970s and complies with the major concepts of Shari law, namely that:

  • interest (usury) should not be charged or collected;
  • no form of gambling be undertaken; and
  • no investment should be made in a business which is deemed to be unlawful under Shari law.

Basic concepts

The essential basic concepts of Islamic financing are:

1. Islamic Debt financing

Ijarah – Leasing

Ijarah structure entails  the lender creating a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to purchase asset(s) that is the subject of the financing.  In turn, borrower agrees to enter into a lease agreement to lease the asset(s).  Lease payments act as part rental payments (the profit component) for use of asset and part repayment of principal debt. 

Ordinarily transaction will take on the following elements:

(i) borrower and lender enter into a purchase contract to buy asset that is the subject of the financing;

(ii) borrower and lender enter into a lease contract under the terms of which borrower agrees to lease asset that is the subject of the financing;

(iii) on completion of the lease term, borrow can either make a balloon payment to purchase asset or, alternative, if the rental has included part principal payments, can pay a small sum to the lender in exchange for ownership of asset.

This type of Islamic financing structure is very similar to hire purchase contracts.  As such, assets that are commonly the subject of this type of Islamic financing include motor cars, home appliance, electronic goods, etc.

Murabaha - Cost-plus financing / buy-sell arrangement

Essentially works by borrower asking lender to purchase asset on the understanding that after lender has purchased asset, borrower will purchase asset from lender. 

Agreement is made that lender on-sells asset to borrower at an increased price.

Repayment can either be in one balloon payment or by way of installments over a period of time.  If repayment is a balloon payment, more commonly known as a Bai’ Bithaman Ajil – or deferred payment sale agreement.

Popular structure for purchasing real estate property.  It should be noted, however, that as lender on-sells property to borrower, all land title deeds, etc. vest with the borrower.  Thus, security provisions of such an arrangement need to be considered carefully so that the lender can adequately protect themselves.

Components of this type of Islamic financing include:

(i)                     on-sell arrangement;

(ii)                    agreed mark-up on on-sell price;

(iii)                  asset must be Shari compliant;

(iv)                  asset must exist at the time of the transaction; thus, this cannot be utilized in futures trading transactions;

(v)                   all terms and conditions of the arrangement must be known by all parties at the time of entering into the arrangement;

(vi)                  reoccurring expenses cannot be passed on to the borrower.


Bai’ al-Inah – Sale and buy-back

 Similar concept to Murabaha.  However, due to security concerns on default, structure is changed slightly.  Lender purchases asset on behalf of borrower.  Borrower purchases asset from lender on deferred payment basis.  Asset is immediately resold to lender for cash at discount. 

Preferred financing mechanism if there is any danger that lender will become insolvent.

Musharakah  - Partnership

It's can also be referred to as Islamic Venture Financing

  • An arrangement between a lender and a borrower where both parties agree to make a capital contribution towards financing a commercial operation. 
  • Parties agree to share profits from the arrangement at a pre-agreed ratio. 
  • Losses from the arrangement need to be shared pro-rata to the capital contributions of each of the parties.

Tawarroq finance - Monetary finance

  • Lender agrees to purchase a commodity on behalf of the borrower. 
  • Lender sells commodity to the borrower. 
  • Borrower sells commodity to a third party buyer. 
  • Cash payment from third party buyer acts as monetary financing element of the transaction.
  • Borrower repays lender in installments.

Qardul Hassan – Benevolent loan

  • Consists of a loan given to a borrower on a “goodwill” basis, i.e. no interest or fees are charged
  • Borrower may, at their discretion, repay more than they borrowed
  • Seen as being the only “pure” form of Islamic financing loan as, unlike all the other financing structures, it makes no attempt to charge riba (interest), which is prohibited under Islam.

Mudharabah - Profit sharing

  • Islamic investors agree that a Mudhareb (trustee) will provide skill and expertise.
  • Mudhareb agrees to hold and manage the assts for Islamic investors. 
  • In return for providing services, Mudhareb earns an agreed share of profits from the assets managed on behalf of Islamic investors. 
  • Mudhareb cannot claim any right to the assets - merely acts as manager and trustee of assets.

II.        Commodities financing

SSalam – Advance payment

  • Under this Islamic financing structure, purchaser agrees to make advance payment for asset/goods to be delivered at a future date. 
  • It is essential that purchase price be paid at the time of making the agreement, and not on delivery of the asset/goods - failure to comply with this requirement would alter the nature of the agreement to that of a sale of debt against debt, which is prohibited under Shari law.
  •  As Shari law stipulates that items must exist at time of contract, i.e. no futures contract, asset to be purchased must be clearly stated in the purchase agreement and the quantity and quality of the purchased asset must be capable of being specified exactly – there can be no room for dispute.
  •  Assets must be goods and cannot not include commodities; such as gold, silver or money.
  • The exact date and place of delivery of the asset/goods must be specified in the agreement.
  • Istisna’a is another Islamic financing structure that follows almost exactly the same concept as found here

III.       Deposit taking functions

WWadiah - Safe-keeping

  • Agreement between two parties where on agrees to look after the property of another.
  •  Concept is used to take deposits of money, where bank acts as custodian of money deposited by customer.
  • Bank agrees they will refund sums deposited “on call”, i.e. on demand.

Hibah  - Gift

  • Hibah literally means a ‘gift’.  This is used by banks to compensate depositors for lost earnings (interest) on their deposits.  It can also be used by borrowers who have been granted Qardul Hassan loan mention above.
  • No agreement to provide Hibah can be made – it’s an arbitrary payment made at the discretion of the person making it.

IV.       Bonds

Fixed-term, fixed-income, interest-bearing securities cannot be issued under Shari law.

SSukuk – Islamic bonds

  • Although fixed-income, interest-bearing bonds cannot be issued under Shari law, it is estimated that over $500 billion in corporate and government bonds issues have been made using Sukuk (Islamic bonds) mechanism.
  • Essentially, Sukuk bonds are long-term bond issues made by SPVs where the bond sale proceeds are used to purchase assets that are then leased back to the issuer in return for rent.  Rental payments constitute part repayment of the principal and part profit revenue to the bondholders.

Salam bonds

In certain circumstances, short-term bond issues can be made using the same mechanism concepts found in Salam transactions.  It should be noted, however, that due to the precise nature of the assets/goods that are the subject of a Salam transaction, these types of bond issues are rare and for very short-term periods.


The growth of Islamic financing in the past decade has been stellar.  Given the large amounts of cash available in the oil rich Middle-East, it is likely that the growth of Islamic financing will continue.  Moreover, as investors in the Middle-east look to break-out an invest elsewhere, it is certain that governments around the world will need to familiarize themselves with the principal concepts of Islamic financing, and to regulate for such, if they wish to take advantage of this growth industry.

22 Apr '16

Islamic Art (The Works of Salma Arastu)

Posted by Nosheen Z in Islamic Art

Art, in general is defined as something that human beings create in pictorial or other forms through their skill and imagination to capture experiences, pictures, concepts and thoughts. Islamic Art usually encompasses an area of study whereby Muslims have reflected various cultural and other Islamic traditions in picture forms. This page specifically portrays the works of a US basd Islamic Artist who goes by the name of "Salma Arastu". HilalPlaza.com is proud to bring to our visitors her work. Her work includes Islamic calligraphy on paper as well as ceramic tiles. To buy any of her work, please contact us as sales [@] hilalplaza.com.

My involvement with Islamic Art - By Salma Arastu

Arabic Calligraphy has never been challenged as the supreme art of the Islamic world, reflecting the centrality of the Quranic revelation to Islamic faith and culture. In Islam, the Quran is held to be Allah’s eternal word, giving Arabic a special status as the God’s actual revelation. It was the man’s pure faith to preserve these precious words of Allah that he went on creating more beautiful ways to write these words to please Allah SWT, from early Hijazi style to Kufic, to more cursive scripts.

I was fortunate to view the earliest Quran written on monumental vellum leaves to contemporary styles of Arabic calligraphy in Kuwait National Museum in seventies. The magic of fluent, flowing line captured me and I sat spellbound, following the movement of line and forming precious words. The arabesque designs, presenting eternity, were combined with the flow of Calligraphy. I felt the spirituality and faith mirrored in these jewel like works. And they are constant source of my inspiration.

In the beginning Islamic arts developed as practical arts as the calligraphy and arabesque (continuous pattern of geometric or flowers designs) were drawn on metal pots, leather bags, glass lamps and ceramic bowls. Amazing craftsmanship was revealed as the artist sole purpose was to please God and thus it had to be perfect and meticulous. But as Islam spread all over and while merging with other cultures, Islamic artisans started using this meticulous draftsmanship to produce Book arts and miniature style paintings. Arts and poetry were considered forms of worship. Though the format may have changed over the years as today we create art for the walls more than other objects, but the burning desire to please Allah is still there. Islamic arts gave rise to spirituality in Arts and life.

In this regard, perhaps I can analyze my work better than others. As the line was my leading guide over the blank surface of the canvas while copying Arabic Calligraphy, it became more free, lyrical and energetic. It has allowed me to create Calligraphic designs or flow of humanity. I want to spread Allah’s love by bringing all people together with this single line of positive energy. I have created several pieces which show, unity and celebration together and world harmony. Faceless people are not given the identity and thus represent the entire humanity without differences. We are all human spirit and the color, race and religion were added later. Allah wants us to live together and share together and thus I recreate these visions which show people in celebrations, visiting neighbors, families reunion, celebration of life, glow of unity and hope of the new earth.

22 Apr '16

Islamic Calligraphy

Posted by Nosheen Z in Islamic Calligraphy

Calligraphy is the art of beautiful penmanship or handwriting. Calligraphy has been popular in western, Arabic and Chinese / oriental domains. Within Islamic culture, Islamic Calligraphy has usually involved the beautiful penmanship of Quranic verses. Muslims from all over the world have produced Islamic artists that have produced quality Islamic calligraphic works.

The following profiles Islamic calligraphic works of Ricardo Panizza who has produced various digital Islamic calligraphic models.


Ricardo Panizza has been drawing Islamic Calligraphic works since 1985. His work has been profiled in the national museums of South America and Middle Eastern organizations. More of his work can be viewed at www.calligraphy-arabic.com

22 Apr '16

Raising Children in Islam

Posted by Nosheen Z in Raising Children in Islam

Islam places great importance on raising children to be good Muslims and obedient to their parents. In western society, it is common for children to mistreat their parents in words and deeds. However, Islam very strongly emphasizes utmost respect to one’s parents.

Islam tries to protect both parents and children with just laws that help to enhance the environment in which children grow up.

  • Equal treatment – Muslim parents must treat all their children equally, especially when it comes to giving gifts. As a result, a parent cannot give one child more than others without a reason. In hadeeths (Prophet Muhammad’s Sayings), it is reported by Buhkhari and Muslim, that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Fear Allah and treat your children with equal justice.”
  • Right to live – Islam has given children the right to live, even when they are in the womb, with the Quran condemning those who abort their fetuses for fear of being unable to provide for them once they are born. In Surah Al Israa, verse 31 of the Quran, Allah says: “And do not kill your children out of fear of poverty; We shall provide for them and for you. Truly, killing of them is a great sin.”
  • Name – it is the right of the child that the parents should bestow on him or her a good name. It does not have to be an Arabic name, though this is preferable. What it cannot be is a name that has a bad meaning or a name that implies worshipping other than Allah. For instance, Abdullah (slave of Allah) is allowed while Abdul Muhammad (slave of Muhammad) is strictly forbidden.
  • Right to be looked after – it is the parents’ duty to feed, clothe, house and educate the child in the proper Islamic manner. They should shield the child from evil and encourage the good, according to Allah’s laws. Reported by Ahmad, al-Nisai and Abu Dawood, the Prophet said: “Allah will ask every caretaker about the people under his care, and the man will be asked concerning the people of his household.”



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