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Some Advice & Etiquettes for the Wedding Night

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Some Advice & Etiquettes for the Wedding Night
 
 
Sheikh Sāmī al-Mājid
 
 
The first wedding night is like no other. It is the night where two people embark upon life in a whole new world with its own unique qualities and experiences.

It is a doorway that is being crossed for the first time. The two people are able for the first time to enjoy what has always before been forbidden to them. This new permissibility applies to only one person. For the husband, this person is his wife, his life-partner, the woman who is going to be the mother of his children. Should not this woman deserve to be treated with the utmost care, consideration, and sensitivity from the very first moment?

True, this is not the first experience that this young man will have had in dealing with women. He will have grown up surrounded by his mother, his sisters, and other female relatives. However, though he will have been interacting with these people for many years, that interaction will have had limits placed upon it. There will remain secrets, a world hidden from view.

However, the meeting of a husband and a wife for the first time changes all of that. It is the beginning of a whole new kind of relationship, in many ways deeper and more personal than any other relationship that he will ever have, bringing with it a deluge of unique experiences and considerations. Between the husband and wife, nothing remains hidden. There are no veils and no barriers, and no shameful parts. How could there be, since the husband is a garment for his wife and she is a garment for him. They are to seek comfort and tranquility in one another.

What does the wedding night mean for the husband? It signifies the end of one important stage in life and the beginning of another, one that will assume for the rest of his time on Earth. This means that he should take care to start off this new life correctly, taking every step with the utmost care, deliberation, and patience, and knowing full well the direction in which he wishes to proceed.

The wedding night should be a night filled with tenderness, intimacy, affection, and joy. In that night, the husband should be seeking to establish ties of love and affection with his wife and placate her worries and her fears about the new life she has just embarked upon, so that she feels secure and at peace with him.

There are some etiquettes that have been related to us regarding the wedding night that we wish to remind every newlywed about, that perhaps he will benefit from them:

1. The husband should place his hand upon his wife's head and offer a supplication for her.

He should place his hand upon the front part of her head at the time when he first starts to approach her or after that. He should mention the name of Allah Almighty and then pray for blessings, and then say the supplication that was taught to us by the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah! I ask of you the good of her and the good of what you have placed in her nature, and I seek refuge with you from the bad in her and the bad that you have placed in her nature.” [ Sunan Abī Dāwūd (2160) Sunan Ibn Mājah (1918) Mustadrak al-Hākim (2811) and Sunan al-Bayhaqī (7/148)]

The hadith speaks about taking hold of her forelock upon reciting this supplication. However, there is nothing wrong if the husband abandons some Sunnah practice like that one if he feels it could bring about some negative consequence, like angering his wife or causing her to feel an aversion to him. Such feelings might come about if the woman is unaware of this Sunnah and she misunderstands its intended meaning.

It is not a condition for this supplication that his wife should hear it. There is nothing wrong if the husband recites the supplication in such a manner that it is only audible to him. There is nothing mentioned in the hadīth to indicate that it is preferable to say it loudly.

2. The husband and wife should offer two units of prayer together. This is an established practice of the pious predecessors, as related in the following narrations:

Abū Sa`īd, the freedman of Abū Usayd, said:

I got married while I was a slave, so I invited a number of the Prophet's Companions, including Ibn Mas`ūd, Abū Dharr, and Hudhayfah. We started to offer prayers and Abū Dharr went forward. They said to him: “Hold up.”

He said: “Is this so?”

They said: “Yes”, whereupon I went forward to lead the prayers, though I was a slave and possession.

They taught me, saying: “When your wife enters upon you, pray two units of prayer, then ask Allah for the good of what has entered upon you and seek his refuge from the bad of it. Then the matter is for you and your wife.” [ Musannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah (17147) and Musannaf `Abd al-Razzāq (3822)]

Shaqīq said:

A man called Abū Jarīr came and said: “I have just married a young lady and I fear that she shall dislike me.”

`Abd Allah b. Mas`ūd said: “Affection is from Allah and dislike is from Satan who wishes to make you dislike what Allah has made lawful to you. So, when she comes to you, bid her pray with you two units of prayer. Then say: ‘O Allah, bless me in my family and bless them in me. O Allah! Bring us together in what you bring together in goodness. And cause us to part, when we part, towards goodness.” [ Musannaf `Abd al-Razzāq (10460-10461), Mu`jam al-Tabarānī al-Awsat (4018) and Mu`jam al-Tabarānī al-Kabīr (9/204) – all of these with authentic chains of transmission]

It is important for us to take heed of the fact that this practice of offering two units of prayer together is not established on the authority of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Consequently, it is not something that we should become stern about putting into practice. Likewise, we should not think to blame anyone who does not do so, as if it was an established and indisputable Sunnah that was being neglected.

The issue is an easy one. If the husband and wife wish to postpone the two units of prayer until later, they may do so. They may wish to spend time together first, speaking, relaxing, and getting to know one another, so she may overcome the fear and shyness that she is likely to feel.