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The secrets of the Tannoura, a traditional dance
Egyptian traditional dance reflects multiple aspects of culture, so traditional dance must be evalua...

Arab tribes’ wedding traditions in Syria’s Al Jazeera region
In this study, we identify the theoretical antecedents and the preliminary steps involved in startin...
16
Issue 16
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Arab tribes’ wedding traditions in Syria’s Al Jazeera region
Issue 16

Mohammed Al Sammuri (Syria)

In this study, we identify the theoretical antecedents and the preliminary steps involved in starting a family in Syria’s Al Jazeera region, specifically the Al Hasakah Governate.

 

This region was chosen for two reasons. Firstly, this region is representative of rural Syria, with Arab tribes and oral cultural heritage that includes authentic traditions, a rich legacy, detailed proverbs, rituals, traditional music and songs, performing arts and other forms of expression. Secondly, with up to 50 family members of multiple generations living together, the rural family of this region is representative of Arab families in general.

Engagement: There are two phases involved in asking for a girl's hand in marriage. The prospective bridegroom’s father entrusts a close friend to visit a girl's father and to gauge his initial reaction to the proposed match. The girl’s father usually asks for a few days to discuss the matter with his daughter, her mother, and other relatives. If a woman plays the role of mediator, the prospective bridegroom’s mother and the girl’s mother will discuss the issue before informing the girl’s father. The prospective bridegroom is seldom aware of this discussion. Although tribal marriages are not limited to a particular age group, people often marry young, when the father decides that it is time for his son or daughter to get married.

The second practical phase of the engagement takes place after the girl’s family has given their initial approval. In Al Jazeera and many other Arab regions, this is known as Al Jaha. A group of people respected by the girl’s father accompanies the prospective bridegroom’s family members on a visit to the girl’s family to ask for her hand formally.

Alheyar: It is a tribal tradition that the girl’s cousins have the right to object to a proposal from a stranger or from any relative more distantly related to the girl. In addition, any member of the girl’s family has the right to prevent her from marrying a man from outside the tribe.

The dowry (also known as Al Siyag): After both families have agreed to the marriage, they begin to discuss the dowry, (the money to be paid to the bride). It is customary for the young man’s family to ask the girl’s father what dowry he wants for his daughter, and it is customary for the father to hesitate and procrastinate and to pretend to be confused and embarrassed before he arrives at what he perceives as a suitable dowry for his daughter.

The Contract: Even if people have to travel a great distance, the marriage contract must be performed and registered by a Mullah, (an Islamic teacher or leader). The girl’s father appoints a man, often someone close to him, to serve as his representative for the marriage contract. The father holds the representative’s hand and kneels in front of him, saying, “I appoint you to act for my daughter’s marriage contract.” The father specifies the names of the daughter and of her prospective spouse and the details of the dowry.

The representative answers, “I accept this appointment.”

The Mullah reads Quranic verses, and then dictates what the other parties must say. The groom’s representative, (most often the groom’s father), and the bride’s father’s representative sit in front of the Mullah holding hands.

The bride’s father’s representative says, “I agree to give you my principal’s daughter, (stating her full name), for a dowry of this amount, the down payment of which is … and the deferred payment of which is …, according to the law of Allah and His Messenger.”

The groom’s representative immediately replies, “I accept your daughter, and confirm the dowry’s down payment and the deferred payment.”

In the presence of two witnesses, everyone recites Al Fatiha, the first Sura of the Holy Quran. Afterwards, they honor the Mullah and offer him hospitality.

Jihaz  (trousseau):  Jihaz, (also known as Zihab), consists of the clothing and other belongings that a bride takes to her new home after she marries. The groom’s family presents the first part of the Jihaz. This includes the wedding dress, a long-sleeved robe that is open at the front, an aba, shoes, a headscarf, a face covering, and khala’ah, (gifts such as dresses, clothing, towels or socks that are presented to visitors who come to offer their congratulations). The girl's family gives her gold jewelry and a bridal chest, (a wooden trunk, decorated with velvet and patterns, that is one-and-a-half meters long, a half-meter wide and one meter high).

Henna:  The henna night is held a few days before the wedding and it involves rituals that vary from family to family. One constant among Al Jazeera’s various tribes is that the girls of the tribe meet at the bride's family home to apply henna to their hands. The bride has henna applied to her hands, feet and hair, and then she retires to bed, exempt from any housework. During this period, people describe the bride as Mukhadara, (completely relaxed), because she must be very comfortable before the wedding. The bride listens to advice from her mother and from married friends and the bride’s mother may present her with protective amulets.

Al Zafa (escorting the groom): The groom's family erects a special tent for guests before the wedding night. The guests gather from early morning to partake in popular pastimes such as horseracing and shooting, and a poet plays a Rababa and sings songs praising the guests. The guests form a procession to escort the groom to the bride’s house, accompanying him with music and dance.



This region was chosen for two reasons. Firstly, this region is representative of rural Syria, with Arab tribes and oral cultural heritage that includes authentic traditions, a rich legacy, detailed proverbs, rituals, traditional music and songs, performing arts and other forms of expression. Secondly, with up to 50 family members of multiple generations living together, the rural family of this region is representative of Arab families in general.
Engagement: There are two phases involved in asking for a girl's hand in marriage. The prospective bridegroom’s father entrusts a close friend to visit a girl's father and to gauge his initial reaction to the proposed match. The girl’s father usually asks for a few days to discuss the matter with his daughter, her mother, and other relatives. If a woman plays the role of mediator, the prospective bridegroom’s mother and the girl’s mother will discuss the issue before informing the girl’s father. The prospective bridegroom is seldom aware of this discussion. Although tribal marriages are not limited to a particular age group, people often marry young, when the father decides that it is time for his son or daughter to get married.
The second practical phase of the engagement takes place after the girl’s family has given their initial approval. In Al Jazeera and many other Arab regions, this is known as Al Jaha. A group of people respected by the girl’s father accompanies the prospective bridegroom’s family members on a visit to the girl’s family to ask for her hand formally.
Alheyar: It is a tribal tradition that the girl’s cousins have the right to object to a proposal from a stranger or from any relative more distantly related to the girl. In addition, any member of the girl’s family has the right to prevent her from marrying a man from outside the tribe.
The dowry (also known as Al Siyag): After both families have agreed to the marriage, they begin to discuss the dowry, (the money to be paid to the bride). It is customary for the young man’s family to ask the girl’s father what dowry he wants for his daughter, and it is customary for the father to hesitate and procrastinate and to pretend to be confused and embarrassed before he arrives at what he perceives as a suitable dowry for his daughter.
The Contract: Even if people have to travel a great distance, the marriage contract must be performed and registered by a Mullah, (an Islamic teacher or leader). The girl’s father appoints a man, often someone close to him, to serve as his representative for the marriage contract. The father holds the representative’s hand and kneels in front of him, saying, “I appoint you to act for my daughter’s marriage contract.” The father specifies the names of the daughter and of her prospective spouse and the details of the dowry.
The representative answers, “I accept this appointment.”
The Mullah reads Quranic verses, and then dictates what the other parties must say. The groom’s representative, (most often the groom’s father), and the bride’s father’s representative sit in front of the Mullah holding hands.
The bride’s father’s representative says, “I agree to give you my principal’s daughter, (stating her full name), for a dowry of this amount, the down payment of which is … and the deferred payment of which is …, according to the law of Allah and His Messenger.”
The groom’s representative immediately replies, “I accept your daughter, and confirm the dowry’s down payment and the deferred payment.”
In the presence of two witnesses, everyone recites Al Fatiha, the first Sura of the Holy Quran. Afterwards, they honor the Mullah and offer him hospitality.
Jihaz  (trousseau):  Jihaz, (also known as Zihab), consists of the clothing and other belongings that a bride takes to her new home after she marries. The groom’s family presents the first part of the Jihaz. This includes the wedding dress, a long-sleeved robe that is open at the front, an aba, shoes, a headscarf, a face covering, and khala’ah, (gifts such as dresses, clothing, towels or socks that are presented to visitors who come to offer their congratulations). The girl's family gives her gold jewelry and a bridal chest, (a wooden trunk, decorated with velvet and patterns, that is one-and-a-half meters long, a half-meter wide and one meter high).
Henna:  The henna night is held a few days before the wedding and it involves rituals that vary from family to family. One constant among Al Jazeera’s various tribes is that the girls of the tribe meet at the bride's family home to apply henna to their hands. The bride has henna applied to her hands, feet and hair, and then she retires to bed, exempt from any housework. During this period, people describe the bride as Mukhadara, (completely relaxed), because she must be very comfortable before the wedding. The bride listens to advice from her mother and from married friends and the bride’s mother may present her with protective amulets.
Al Zafa (escorting the groom): The groom's family erects a special tent for guests before the wedding night. The guests gather from early morning to partake in popular pastimes such as horseracing and shooting, and a poet plays a Rababa and sings songs praising the guests. The guests form a procession to escort the groom to the bride’s house, accompanying him with music and dance.