Have you ever been to a super boring wedding? When you sit apart from your wife, in different halls, and don't know anybody else, so you converse via sms, wait for the food and then leave? Where the only sign that it's a wedding is the one printed on the notice board?
Welcome to your traditional gender segregated wedding.
Now if you ask anyone who prefers a gender segregated wedding, here's what they will say - it's more "Islamic". Is it though?
Remember, Islam DOES discourage free mixing between men and women but ONLY when they are ALONE; Islam does not prohibit ALL interactions between men and women in a public setting.
I find it hypocritical too. To paraphrase Wood Turtle's status, so you can talk to a girl at work or on the street, but you can't talk to her at a wedding without losing all control and giving in to your "impulses"?
Here's the three basic myths about a gender segregated wedding:
1. It's Islamic.
Not it's not. The concept of gender segregation is a Middle Eastern patriarchal practice called Namus which predates Islam. There is no evidence from the Quran or Hadith that enforces segregation of sexes.
The Prophet attended a wedding that was NOT gender segregated. It was Abu Usaid As-Saidi's wedding, and his wife served the Prophet (and his Companions) with food, and even brought him his drink. There are plenty of examples from his life where men and women, not related to each other, ate at the same table.
2. A mixed wedding may lead to men and women flirting
There is even the idea that if something bad can happen from a permissible act, then we should prohibit the permissible act, even if there is good in it. This incorrect idea is taken to extremes in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive lest something bad happens. The ridiculousness of this is proven by a Saudi study that says if women are allowed to drive, there will be a loss of virginity in the kingdom and more homosexuals . Dr Taqir Suwaidan at RIS specifically rebutted this idea. If the idea was true, then the whole incident of "Aisha and the Necklace" would never have happened.
As long as there is no obscenity, touching, secret meetings and any sexual contact, go ahead and maintain healthy social interaction with the opposite gender. It's the Islamic thing to do.
In Bengali circles, it's well known that men and women meet up at weddings. I attended two weddings this year, the second one was of the groom and bride who got to know each other well during the first wedding. And what's wrong with that?
If your society is already so segregated (I am looking at you Saudis) that it's unhealthy and where a woman's eyes now make you crazy then you gotta wonder how on earth will a man and woman meet up. Maybe the driving ban IS the reason you have more homosexuals (something to think about?).
My personal theory is that societies with gender segregated weddings (Pakistanis? Arabs?) have more cousin marriages. I am sure there is a research paper somewhere here, but what is so wrong with a young man and a young woman getting to know each other, and then getting married?
And if you think a gender segregated wedding prevents men and women from flirting, you don't know your young men and women.
3. Women show their hair and dress up all slutty at these mixed weddings
First, why are you looking at these women anyways! Lower your gaze, men! Second, see first.
I am not responsible for what anyone does. I am only responsible for my own actions. At my own wedding, I had a simple additional line in the invite.
"Since this is a Muslim wedding, guests are kindly requested to observe Islamic sensibilities and dress modestly. Your cooperation is this regard will be highly appreciated."
Or something to that affect. It was a mixed wedding. And you know what? Almost everyone complied with the request. My non-Muslim friends even called me up to ask what would be acceptable. That's because in general, people are nice. I find that hardcore so-called religious people treat everyone else as assholes who need to be 'guided', and therefore controlled.
My view is that it's your wedding, so if you want it to be gender segregated it's your choice. My faith compels me to attend a wedding once I get an invitation and have no excuses, so I will attend. But please, don't call it "Islamic". Because it's not, and you do a disservice to all those men and women who get married in a decent mixed wedding ceremony.
1. Sexuality in Islam, referencing Surah Hujarat from the Quran.
2. Segregation of the Sexes.
3. Bukhari, Vol. 7, No. 111
4. Saudi Arabia: Driving a 'threat to virgin brides', The Independent
5. Saudi to ban women with alluring eyes