Confronting High Costs of Marriage in Egypt

Al-Azhar Launches Initiative to Facilitate Marriage
A bride and groom (C) are showered with money as they dance during a wedding in the Egyptian Nile Delta province of Monufia. (AFP)

The Islamic Research Academy of Al-Azhar has recently launched an initiative to confront the high costs of marriage in Egypt.

The initiative called “Letaskono Elaiha”, taken from a verse in Islam’s Holy book means, “You may find tranquillity in them”. As when God ordered people to get married and form families, he said the marriage must be a relationship based on affection and mercy, not on furniture and appliances.

The initiative seeks to achieve a set of goals that eliminate the bad habits practiced in conducting weddings through extravagant costs, in the hope of facilitating matters related to it, as well as confronting the exaggeration of its costs, especially in such economic conditions that the world suffers from today.

The initiative has three phases. The first is implemented for the engagement, by seeking to achieve a set of matters, the most important of which is limiting the engagement ceremony to be attended only by close relatives on the two sides in addition to reducing exchanged gifts to save money. The engagement should be short in the period during which the would-be couple agrees on all expenses and costs of marriage.


Egyptian women attend a wedding in the Egyptian Nile Delta province of Monufia. (AFP)


The second stage of the initiative is the preparation for marriage, through which it calls for obtaining an intensive course for the spouses-to-be in understanding family dynamics, limiting the writing of the actual movables in which the marital home is established, without exaggeration, choosing the home through the couple only not their parents, according to their ability and without exaggeration.

The couple should agree that the shabka, a set of gold accessories a groom usually gives his bride before they marry, should be based on value and not by grams, the postponement in purchasing less useful furniture, limiting the necessary appliances to the house and eliminating unnecessary electrical appliances that result in more costs in the monthly bills.

The third stage emphasizes holding wedding ceremonies as simply as possible, and not being bound by cumbersome appearances and exaggeration. It also calls for cancelling photo sessions and traveling for the honeymoon to save money.

The initiative will be addressed and followed up by male and female preachers of Al-Azhar in all governorates of Egypt.

Amna Nosseir, a professor of Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar University, told Majalla that the initiative is great and comes from the core of religion.

“Most of the problems faced by young people who are about to get married are related to exaggerating the terms of marriage and abiding by the outdated customs and traditions adopted by families,” she said.

“This initiative will help encourage marriage among more young couples and in a quicker  way (since it strikes at) exaggeration in dowries (which) makes many young people refrain from the idea of marriage."

She believed that the initiative would achieve great success, especially in the villages and rural areas in Egypt.



A couple pose for their wedding video in the Egyptian capital Cairo [AFP/Getty]


Nosseir explained that the high costs of marriage had caused an increase in the number of women in debt in the countryside since every mother or father buys all the marriage requirements that his daughter or son needs through debt, and if they fail to pay, they are imprisoned.

“Grooms and brides must start their life together from the zero. There is no obligation that they must have a fully-equipped home with all appliances. But together, and by time, they can add appliances and whatever they need step by step,” Nosseir said.

“I hope that this initiative will contribute to changing wrong perceptions in society regarding marriage. By Al-Azhar’s following up, the initiative will spread among people and achieve its goals, God willing.”

Samia Khedr, professor of sociology at Ain Shams University, hailed the Al-Azhar initiative. She believes that the Al Azhar is not sufficient to tackle such a huge issue, however.

“Al Azhar has its role and the school, the university, the family and the media have their roles too in tackling this problem. Al Azhar alone will not succeed,” Khedr told Majalla.

“This generation is different from previous ones. The mother now has no time to raise her children. She is busy at her work and spends little time with her kids. So when her kids grow up, how will they see the right marriage concepts and know its true message?” she wondered.

Khedr added that young people nowadays lack patience in solving their problems.

“Some people abstain from marriage for fear of getting divorced after a short period of marriage,” she said about many cases she already knows.

Khedr urged the media to play a role in raising people's awareness about this issue starting from how they can select a suitable partner, not because of their richness, but because of good morals.

“Unfortunately, young people have no role models. Social media displays many useless topics which become trends such as a divorce between an actress and billionaire and the millions she earned after getting divorced. People talk about money, nothing else. Young women compare their lives with what they see in the media. So how can they react just to this initiative?”

She gave an example of an actor posting on his social media platforms his many cars to the audience. “What is the message the audience gets when they see such a trivial post? The actor unintentionally causes a problem to those who want to imitate him and dream to live the life he has,” Khedr said.

A number of initiatives have been launched recently by society to facilitate marriage and to curb spinsterhood. But they are not spreading enough in a country whose inhabitants exceed 103 million people.

According to the 2021 report by the state-owned Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, Egypt records a case of divorce every two minutes and two marriages per minute.

“The whole of society should make concerted efforts to solve this problem. Al Azhar did its role through this initiative. We wait for the media and other concerned bodies to play their role too.”

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