In celebration of LOVE & the DIVINE
Good morning to the beautiful curious creatures that have awaited my intimate reflection during this holiday break. In celebration of my becoming, I have put together a few sacred entries on the traditions celebrated in Islamic marriages, highlighting the Imam Zamin. While nourishing my own sense of self-worth and having advocated for those around me that were voiceless, I realized that there weren't enough voices supporting the diversity of Muslim marriages in the wedding industry, which is why I have put this journal entry together.
Having worked in the wedding industry as a Henna Artist, a healer for my Brides as an energy worker, I found myself short of breath in expressing the traditions, love and honouring the spirits that made the foundation of my faith. Due to Islamophobia and segregation within the Muslim world; media and politics, I felt that a remedy was needed to help heal the wounds in the hearts of those who were unaware of Islam and its beauty.
I will be making references to the traditions witnessed in a Shia Muslim wedding; the Nikah specifying the importance of the Imam Zaman.
Please note that this is not an article to convert your beliefs, but to lovingly share the heartfelt messages of the Divine light while I reminisce and share one of the most beautiful days of my life.
My name is Saira Hussain and I am human.
I was raised in a Pakistani, Shia Muslim family and the origin of my existence and the purity of my heart are from God who I am forever grateful for.
My ancestry is HUMAN and DIVINE.
In recreation of my well-being through a rose-water hydration mist, a soothing tea and having my friends arrive to help with setup, I recognized that there was a lingering discomfort within my fascia that left a chill within my bones. Difficulty would be the safe word chosen here in representation of the state that had overcome me. As I looked at myself in the tall standing mirror in my custom made Nikah gown, I felt a sadness come over in which led to the following questions...
'...Did I rush into this marriage without reflecting upon my Nikah-nama? Who would be there to guide me? What if the wait for the longing of love wasn't enough to keep me happy? Who would address the feelings within me and who would guide me to carry forward the faith that I so deeply wanted to connect and build my future with?..'
I simply felt as if I didn't give enough time to studying the beliefs of what I found as encouragement to seek a partner of similar teachings. Were we the same? How would we ever prove this to our creator? Love had already changed, but why today? I reassured myself that these were simply butterflies of the inner critic inside me.
All of our guests had arrived and as my train was being adorned with the baby's breath that I had ordered for the spiritual entrance of my becoming (symbolism and ambiance are two parts of a marriage that I believe make or break an emotional release). My sacred space of reflection was suddenly disturbed by my father who was processing agonizing emotions that were seen in the unsettling nature of his half combed hair and grey frown on his face. He was giving away his eldest daughter. If I was to say rushed, I would be underestimating the lack of time that the Maulana selected had provided me and my family on our Nikah day.
Before moving forward with my Nikah and the Imam Zamin, I wanted to share with you that I cannot write this reflection without some humour and the very real emotions that took place that day.
All this time I had been planning the most sacred space in witnessing what would be the most divine celebration of our love and here I was separated in a room away from the man that I built this relationship with. I knew that there had to be a reason why I was being tested, even after awaiting more than a decade to build our home together. For me, witnessing our marriage side by side by a form of symbolism in our mirrored emotions, our heart's will to strengthen and never give up on our relationship. This was not followed through.
Traditionally in a Nikah, the woman is inside a room where the Islamic family tree are represented in beautifully garnished Alams (flags embellished with their names in Arabic - Ali, Fatima and their children and grand children) with fresh florals, candles radiating with their light and rose water filling the room with cleanse and clarity. This space is considered an altar; a place of prayer and reflection. As someone who loves aromatherapy and building sacred altars, this very representation was dearly missed during the process of our Nikah. Traditionally, in Pakistani households, the Nikah is commenced out of the bride's home (with her rooted upbringing of love and belongings) or a spiritual home - a mosque in which her divine guardians are there to guide and protect the couple.
Having closed my eyes under the veil of Ammi (my mother)'s dupatta, I connected with my heart to mould the rented guest room into the space of prayer and divine blessing with the women closest to me. If I could suggest one thing, it would be to lessen your expectations of the perfect marriage as this does not exist. What is perfect is the essence of your being and th0e messages in which you are seeking for clear, conscious alignment within your marriage. But again, nothing is ever linear in reaching this destination. So be gentle. All marriages have their challenges, which are placed in strengthening the faith (for the self, God or the Universe) of each individual on this journey. I knew I had to let go of control in this very moment or else I wouldn't have been able to move with my heart's consent.
As I was about to react to the anxiety within my mind, I witnessed the intricate threads of gold and luxurious scarlet red that redirected me on my present chosen path.
During our Nikah...
My radiant Ammi came into the room and she tied the Imam Zamin, the beautiful words of Bibi Fatima (the first lady of Islam) onto my right arm, nearest to my heart. This was the second act of transitioning into my marriage - the ritual seen as a symbol of love and eternal blessing of our divine and Ahlulbayt. This is seen as the oath in taking responsibility of the Alams (the flags of our spiritual leaders) and continuing their message - to continue with peace and prosperity here on earth with love, equality and compassion for one another.
I was now adorned with the sacred name of Lady Fatima - the Prophet's daughter) and mother of the root of the family tree. Having her name on my right arm ignited a powerful light within me that reminded me of my responsibilities as a woman first, then a daughter, then wife. I was a voice for the voiceless, a woman protected by the ancestry of courage, patience, and immense sacrifice to carry forth the messages of well-being in the best way possible.
As I had my ritual blessing, my husband too had his earlier in a separate room with the holy name of Imam Ali (a.s) tied on his arm by his mother. His name represents the strength of our faith, lineage and courage - some excerpts from Islamic verses quote him as the LION or most powerful next to the Prophet (peace be upon him) within Islam. These two names associated with our Imam Zamin were jewels gifted to us in the beginning of our celebration as husband and wife (traditionally seen in marriages). We were now blessed by the holiest marriage witnessed in Islamic history - this moment was awaited not only by me but in the hearts of our two families coming together.
As I listened to the words of Maulana Shirazi (who was not my chosen Maulana) I had some difficulty with my breath in finding alignment or compassion for his rushed recitation of what was meant to be the most beautiful awakening of the divine within. I put my hand onto the Imam Zamin and could smell the roses and holy water that had uplifted me from what was first associated with anxiety and emotional outpour. I sat there, facing the bounties of the earth from the window that framed me with the light of the sun. This was the marking of time that had not only celebrated the prosperity of humanity and its well-being, but our responsibilities as man and wife.