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ILORIN CULTURAL WEDDING ("IYAWO ALALANSI")




By
Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori

Yesterday, I was discussing how we are fond of committing illegalities and even make things difficult for ourselves in the name of "wedding". Let me also add the practice of "Iyawo Alansi or Alamisi" to the discussion. "Iyawo Alansi" as it is well known is the description of a big wedding in Ilorin. The word "Alansi" is picked from the Arabic word "Al-khamees" (Thursday). The main marriage used to be conducted in the ancient Ilorin on Thursdays. It is believed that there are some blessings attached to this day for the couples. We used to hear our elders saying something like: "iyawo ku alansi marun" (the wedding is 5 Thursdays from now).

These days, a lot of things have changed in the ways we conduct weddings, but some people still belief holding a wedding event on Thursdays has some blessings and they still do it that way, even though there is no basis for this belief in the Sunnah because a wedding can be conducted any day depending on convenience. It is not that it is bad to hold a wedding on Thursdays, but the belief that the day has special importance attached to the event should be discarded. 

Apparently, it is not in our tradition to rent expensive halls,  hold parties where music would be played and danced to with men and women mixing together freely, or cut cakes, exchange rings, wear wedding gowns that exposes the body of a woman, even in front of Alfas (the Alfas would not say anything), or apply make ups that makes a woman to look like a masquerade. Some people even share and drink alcohol. All these are alien to our ways of doing wedding in Ilorin. Even some people in Ilorin have also embraced the alien culture of "engagement" during weddings. These are strange things. All these crept into our society by way of people's exposure to western ways of life in schools that they went to.  

Yet, when we try to reform the system to conform with authentic sunnah, the same people who have destroyed the pre-existing heritage are the one who would be attacking us and accuse of what they are guilty of. They will accuse us of attacking the elders and our forefathers, just because we insist on carry out required reforms as Allāh and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم have instructed. Now, who is the real attacker of our ancestors?

In Ilorin, many people, especially women believe it is a shameful thing for a woman not to have an elaborate wedding with all its flavors, such as "sisa", 'ijo olomooba" (royal dance), "kengbe" (I don't know how to describe this. But it is like our own version of the duff, usually done by only women and we sometime watch them from afar), "aisun" (eve of waleemah), "ale waka" (traditional party with Baba Labaeka), "masa waleemah" (waleemah cake) , "waleemah" (reading and celebration of the Qur'an by the groom and bridegroom) and wearing of "sanyan" (sanyan is the traditional "aso oke" cloth meant for the waleemah event), "igba-Iyawo" (arrangement of bride's belongings) "imu'yawo" (picking of wife), "igba'yawo" (receipt of wife, done by the most junior wife in the compound) and so on. 

In the past all these customs might be performed for days (sometimes a week). But in recent time, it has been reduced to two (2) or three (3) days.

As Muslims, we must be careful in whatever we do. As we can see, some of these customs contravene the Sunnah, while some are not entirely against the Sunnah. Nevertheless, I still think there are ways we can fine-tune these customs for them to be in conformity with the relevant principles of shar'iah. We can remove the haram and keep the halal.



Based on the cultural belief that it is shameful for a woman not to go through all these ceremonies before going to her husband's house, even if the couple had gone through the process of "iyoju" (introduction), "ikobi" (exchange of kolanuts), "idupe" (appreciation), nikaah (exchange of dowry) and had had several children, a woman can still be recalled for her "Alamisi". 

A woman with up to four (4) children would invite you to her wedding, and  when you asked why: your wedding or your sister's wedding? She says: I only did nikaah, not wedding. What is nikaah and what is wedding? This only shows that many people in our society only go into marriage, without proper understanding of what marriage is all about. The ceremonies are more important to many people than the marriage proper. This tradition is not strange to any person who is brought up in Ilorin, even if he is not a native. Despite the fact that scholars have been condemning this practice for years, many people are still doing it. If this is not israaf (extravagance), what is it?

I am not a fan of over-simplification of marriage, as some people tend to use it as an opportunity to do some evils. But I am strongly against wastage and shameful ways of conducting weddings in the name of culture.

May Allah guide aright

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