Assalamualaikum, w.b.t, S.S Mufti, I was invited through Facebook to a wedding ceremony, but I did not attend the wedding. What is the ruling for it?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
According to Al-Feqh al-Manhaji, Al-Walimah comes from the root word الولْم which means a gathering or assembly. It is named as such for the husband and wife gather together (for their wedding).
Al-Walimah also describes the food for the wedding, or the food prepared for the people invited to the wedding. Refer Al-Feqh al-Manhaji (2/92).
Generally, attending wedding invitations is commanded. And for everything commanded in the Quran or al-Sunnah results in the obligation of it, unless there are other evidences or reasons that change its ruling.
The Ruling of Attending or Fulfilling Invitations
The jurists (fuqaha’) have differing opinions regarding the ruling of attending invitations depending on the types and categories of the ceremony one is invited to, whether it is wedding invitations or others. The following are the summary of Islamic scholars’ opinions regarding the issue:
First: The Ruling of Attending Wedding Invitations
Majority of the scholars obligate attending wedding invitations. They ruled it as an obligation referring to a hadith from Ibn Umar RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا دُعِيَ أَحَدُكُمْ إِلَى الْوَلِيمَةِ فَلْيَأْتِهَا
“When one of you is invited for a wedding feast, he must attend it.”
Sahih Muslim (1053)
The Prophet PBUH used the word فَلْيَأْتِهَا, which is an imperative clause which results in the obligation of it according to methodology of fiqh.
Imam al-Nawawi in his commentaries of the above hadith said: “The agreed opinion in our mazhab ruled it fardhu ‘ain (individual obligation) for those who are invited, however, the obligation is abrogated if:
- There is doubtful (syubhah) food
- There are transgressions in the event.
Basically, if he knows that there are transgressions or sins in the event or ceremony, then it is his obligation to prevent the transgressions if he is capable, but if he is incapable to do so, then he should not attend the event.
Regarding the issue of attending an event where there are wrongdoings in it, we have explained it in Irsyad al-Fatwa Series 224 : The Ruling Of Sitting In An Event Where Alcoholic Beverages Are Served through the link http://bit.ly/sittingineventswheretherearealcoholicbeverages
- Weddings where only the rich are invited
This is in accordance with a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, where he said:
شَرُّ الطَّعَامِ طَعَامُ الْوَلِيمَةِ يُدْعَى لَهَا الأَغْنِيَاءُ وَيُتْرَكُ الْفُقَرَاءُ
“The worst food is that of a wedding banquet to which only the rich are invited while the poor are not invited.”
Sunan Ibn Majah (1913)
- It is not obligatory to attend wedding invitations by dzimmi (non-Muslims) according to the sound opinion in mazhab Syafie. The scholars of mazhab Syafie based their opinion from a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, where he said the Prophet PBUH explains the six rights of a Muslim towards other Muslims and one of it is:
وَإِذَا دَعَاكَ فَأَجِبْهُ
“…when he invites you to a feast accept it,”
Sahih Muslim (2162)
The obligation from the above hadith is only when the invite comes from another Muslim.
As for attending wedding ceremonies of non-Muslims, mazhab Syafie ruled it sunnah, if the invite is from family members, friends, or neighbours and if their attendance would benefit Islam. Refer Nihayah Al- Muhtaj, Al-Ramli (6/371).
Imam al-Marwadi from mazhab Hanbali agreed with the above opinion, citing the opinion of Imam Ahmad and Ibn Qudamah. Refer Al-Insaf, Al-Mardawi (8/320).
We would like to add that there are other reasons that permits one from not attending wedding ceremonies, such as:
- Traffic jam, heavy rain, road closure and others.
Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili said: “Among the reasons that abrogate the obligation of attending invitations are: traffic jam, heavy rain, road closure, sickness, and others like it.” Refer Al-Fiqh Al-Islami wa Adillatuh, Al-Zuhaili (9/6622).
The reasons that permits someone to leave his Friday prayer are also applicable in this situation, for they are also reasons that would permit someone to not attend an invitation:
- The wedding ceremony is held in a place far away from one’s place of residence
- The person invited is busy, such as politicians, religious leaders and leaders of a community.
- There are too many invites on the same day and each invite is far away from one another.
Imam al-Nawawi further adds: “Al-Qadhi states that the scholars have agreed on the obligation of attending a wedding invitation.” Refer Al-Minhaj, Al-Nawawi (9/570).
They refer to a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
وَمَنْ لَمْ يُجِبِ الدَّعْوَةَ فَقَدْ عَصَى اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ
“Whoever does not accept an invitation has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger.”
Sahih Muslim (1432)
The above hadith clearly shows that not attending wedding invitation is considered as a transgression towards Allah SWT. However, it is not considered as a transgression if by attending the wedding ceremony, he would need to leave an obligation.
Second: It Is Sunnah to Attend Invitations Other Than Wedding Ceremony
Islamic scholars ruled it sunnah to attend any events or ceremonies that are other than wedding ceremonies, such as receptions, farewell, aqiqah ceremony, and others.
Imam al-Nawawi said: “As for other than wedding ceremony, there are two opinions; first, the ruling is the same as wedding ceremonies (obligated) and second, it is mustahab (sunnah).”
He included the opinion of Imam Malik and majority of the scholars: “It is not obligatory to attend invitations (other than wedding ceremonies).” Refer Al-Minhaj Syarah Sahih Muslim, Al-Nawawi (9/570).
The Ruling of Attending Wedding Ceremonies Invited Through Facebook
Through the advancement of technology, there are notable lifestyle changes, and this includes the way invites for wedding ceremonies are sent. Hence, we state the method used in determining the ruling for this issue:
“A ruling is based on the custom.”
This means, a custom can be made as a determining or concluding factor of issues where there are no Quranic or prophetic evidences that explains about its ruling.
Hence, generally, the ruling for it is permissible. This is in accordance with:
الوَسَائِلُ لَهَا أَحْكَام المَقَاصِد
“The means (tools) depends on the ruling of the maqasid.”
Thus, if someone’s intention is to invite people to his wedding, then it is permissible for him to use any means available for him, whether it is by invitation card, or social media applications, such as Facebook, Twitter and others.
As a conclusion, we would like to explain that usually invites made through Facebook event is used as a process to determine how many friends of the bride and groom are attending a certain wedding event. Furthermore, usually they would include the wedding invitation if we click the going button.
However, if the invite is a public invitation where they invite you along with a huge group of people, then it is not an obligation for you to attend the wedding. The same applies to invites from Facebook events, WhatsApp groups and others where it is the form of public invite to the ceremony.
Thus, it is obligatory to attend wedding invitations when you are specially invited to it, even if you are invited through Facebook. And if you are also invited through other mediums such as a direct invitation, invitation cards and others.
It is an obligation if there are no reasons that restrict you from attending the event. However, if you are restricted from attending the wedding ceremony due to the reasons stated above, then it is not considered as a sin. The best way would be to send an apology to the person that invites you and make du’a to Allah SWT for blessings and happiness for the couple.
May Allah SWT give us the right understanding in our religion. Ameen.