The Ring of Power.
On Saturday I had the joy of attending an engagement party for a family friend.
The ceremony was a simple one, the witnessing of the gift of a ring followed by a sumptuous meal.
For 1400 years Muslims have given a gift of Mahr (of significant monetary value) to their bethrowed on the occasion of their marriage.
The symbolism of that gift, whether it be a ring or otherwise, is significant. Mahr is often translated as dowry, but 1400 years ago and to this day, its significance is greater than that.
For Muhammad (saw) came to a people steeped in ignorance, worshiping what their own hands wrought. Killing their own girl children because of the shame that they brought on them and because of the burden they would one day cause them. For just like many Indians today, the dowry was paid from the family of the girl to either the husband or his family. The dowry was a bribe that they might take away their shame.
Muhammad (saw) destroyed that. He (saw) destroyed the shame and the burden. For he (saw) said that heaven lies at the feet (at the service) of your mother. And every girl-child will be, God-Willing, one day a mother. And every man has a mother.
And he (saw) decreed the mahr to be paid from the husband!
And he (saw) decreed for the mahr to be paid, not to the wife's family, nor to her father, but to her solely.
And he (saw) decreed that the Mahr belonged as a gift to the wife, even on the occasion of a divorce.
And by this token, this greatest of tokens, Muhammad (saw) decreed that women will own and will be financially independent of their husbands.
It would not surprise me if the origins of "by this ring I thee wed!" were traced to Muhammad (saw). I have looked summarily into those Christian Origins and can find none, save an age when the Christian Civilisation came into contact with the nascent Islamic one. For so much of what we have came from Muhammad (saw).
For around 200years ago, Europe was still only debating the humanity of women, and whether or not women would enter paradise.
1400 years ago Muhammad (saw) gave the right of ownership to women. And he (saw) gave them the right to partake and be heard within public life.
The ring that is used today by many people to wed, is a ring of power. Typically it is a simple band with no workmanship. It's value is in the value of its own purity and weight. It is like the Mahr, a simple token of monetary value, carrying the right of ownership to all wedded women.
Technically the Mahr can be anything of value including a ring. Some Muslims will say that it is un-Islamic for the Mahr to be a ring because we are not supposed to copy the ways of those who are not us. However, the ring for me is a symbol of all the values that have been handed down from us to others. And it is better that we realise the origins of what is us in others, not that we become arrogant and foolish, but that it becomes easier for us to take back what has always been ours! And indeed what is with us is far better and deeper than any that have come before or will come after.
By that token (Mahr or ring) a family unit is forged, a woman is valued and uplifted and all that oppression that was the days of ignorance is thrown aside, by the hand of Muhammad (saw). May Allah t'ala (GOD Most High) reward Muhammad (saw) abundantly, freely, unendingly... that we, the whole of mankind, benefited from all he (saw) brought. Ameen.
1st posted MySpace 11th Feb 2008.
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