This week in Almaty, the Tailor’s cousin (actually his wife Assel’s cousin-in-law Medina) got married to a young man named Umar. The following is an edited transcript of the Tailor’s mother’s speech.
Alhumdulilah, friends and family are gathered to celebrate the wedding of our daughter Medina and our son Umar.
My husband and I congratulate the happy couple, wishing them all joy and happiness on as they begin their new journey together in life. The other members of our family, our sons Musa and Ananda and their wives, Assel and Irza, have asked us to convey the same best wishes.
I’ve bought the couple a wedding present, but I’d like to give them something more valuable: a prayer.
We generally think of a marriage ceremony as a celebration and official stamp of recognition of a relationship between a man and a woman. Which it is. But the ceremony is much more than that.
For the ceremony is marriage itself: it is what constitutes a Real Marriage, a Marriage in the Real, a Marriage Forever. A successful marriage is based on the ability to enter physically — not conceptually or emotionally as such, but to enter physically — into the ritual of the ceremony and to be corporeally transformed by it, so that you cease to be simply Medina and Umar, and your very atoms are altered, realigned, so that you are Wife and Husband.
I pray that you both engage with this ceremony again and again, forever living your life as a wedding. That you are trully transformed by this most significant and meaningful of rituals.
How did this day unfold? You wore your best wedding clothes, left your parents, drove through the city in cheer, made your vows, kissed, and — now — are surrounded by friends and family at a feast of celebration …
May your life — and the lives of those who surround and love you — be like this day, every day.
May your garments always be fashioned in Love.
You departed from the house of your parents. What does this mean actually? A simple goodbye? Surely you will see them again and they will never cease to be part of your lives, even though you may live in separate places.
A more fundamental question: who are the parents? Really, who are they? My brothers and sisters, listening to this speech? Yes, of course, that’s obvious. But we are all mirrors to True Names, partial manifestations of what we might call a True Form. So what is the True Form of your parents? Parents are conduits that transmit something from Allah to humans.
And, in particular, the Mother — in Quran, this is called the Womb or Ar-Rahm — derives its name from Rahman, the name of Allah, the Merciful. Motherhood is placed in the Qur’an so close to Allah — to be a mother is to be as close to the Divine as a human can be — it is to be a proxy for Allah’s Mercy.
But of course mothers — myself included — regularly fail to live up to this name, fail to even come close to embodying this Divine Form of Motherhood. We forget our Divine purpose, what made us special and the reason we exist: to manifest the Mercy of Allah through giving birth to our children, and caring for them and sustaining them with the words of Wisdom. And, yes, letting go of them, though it pains us, is part of this Divine Form: because Mercy and Provision take the form of a growth and release from the Womb.
Released into the world, to make their own choices, to make their own mistakes, to find their own successes, released to determine right from wrong, released to find find freedom in Truth, and Truth in Love and Love … through marriage.
We release them in love — this is the meaning of the departure from the parents house in the ceremony that we had today.
What relationship do we expect from our children, after we have said goodbye? How does our relationship tranform? We must maintain what the Qur’an calls a “tie of kinship” between parents and the new couple: this tie of kinship is not a demand, not an imposition, not an expectation that they live their lives for us or provide for us. Everything changes with marriage.
The tie of kinship that the Qur’an speaks about between Mother and married couple must be one of Provision and of Wisdom. It must mirror the Wisdom provided to us through Allah, the ancient wisdom understood by your ancestors in the provision of Ummai, of the land, to those who dwell on the land.
To follow the rule of Allah, parents must become distant from the couple: they have left the womb and are released into the journey. But I pray that all parents continue to sustain the wedded couple with whatever Mercy and Wisdom they have. I pray the parents always recall the Divine nature of their position. For the alchemy of the family to turn life into gold, the parents must become like Parents. They must live up to this Divine responsibility.
How did this day unfold? You wore your best wedding clothes, left your parents. Then you drove through the city in cheer, made your vows, kissed. Umar, may you drive through the city in cheer, victorious, like a general who has returned from a successful battle, like a politician who has won an election, like businessman who has secured a major contract. Because, Umar, you have won all these things.
Remember the meaning of Medina’s name:m ay you never forget it! Medina was named after a state of being, a state ruled over by Prophecy. Medina is the city of Light, the city of Islam, the city of God. Medina is the same city that the Jews and Christians call Jerusalem. It is the city of unbounded love, and infinite wealth.
Umar, you have been gifted with Medina. You have the keys to the city of Muhammed. You succeed that Prophet as the Caliph of that city. Kenan, you are the most victorious of generals, you are the winning politician, you are the wealthiest of businessmen: because you now have been given regency over this city.
And with this greatest of wealths comes the greatest of responsibilities.
So you are now responsible, and must now live your life and live with Medina as Muhammed lived, cared for, loved, cultivated and existed in Medina.
You must live as the Prophet lived. How can this be done? Obviously you will need to find a job and money and so on to care for you wife. But, even more important than that, to try to be like Muhammed with Medina, you must try to thank Allah every moment of every day for being given Medina. May you never stop being thankful.
Now you are surrounded by friends and family at a feast of celebration. We are all happy and in the best of cheer, because we know that this is a significant day. Marriages are sometimes smooth waters and sometimes a rough sea. That’s unavoidable, as that is life.
But I pray you weather all waters in your marriage. May everyone here weather all waters.
This is possible, if you live your life — every day — as if it is a wedding ceremony — and if everyone here, all our friends and family — also live every day within this wedding ceremony.
May every moment, for everyone here, be a sacred moment in which, simultaneously, the children leaves their parents, the children kiss in Love, in which all of us meet to celebrate this kiss, at a wedding banquet, a prelude to that final moment wherein husbands and wives, parents, friends and family rest and celebrate, before the Face of Allah.