Mohammed Qasim lived in a small town in north India. One afternoon he came home and sat on the cot in the courtyard. While serving the lunch, his wife said, ‘What have you planned about the marriage of our daughter?’ Sitting on a raised platform in the kitchen, their daughter, Amtul Ikram (fondly called Ikraman), was washing the lentils. Mohammed Qasim glanced at his daughter, got down from the cot, wore his slippers and went into the living room with his wife shouting “at least have lunch” from behind him.
He asked a person to call Maulvi Abdullah, his nephew. Abdullah was still studying in a madrasa and lived in a room nearby. He rushed to the call of his uncle. His dress would be always clean but the trouser had a tear and the shirt had a stain of ink.
Mohammed Qasim asked his nephew, “Son, do you have any plans about your marriage?”
Abdullah was a little embarrassed by the question. He said, “How can I think of my marriage in the presence of my elders?”
“What do you say about Ikraman? If you agree, nikah would be solemnised.”
Abdullah thought for a while, and said, “Uncle whatever decision you and father will take, I would not dare reject.”
Abdullah’s father, Mohammed Qasim’s brother-in-law, lived in Gwalior. He had told Qasim to marry Abdullah if he finds any suitable proposal. Listening to Abdullah’s reply, Qasim asked him to stay there, went inside the house and asked his wife, “How do you find Abdullah for our Ikraman? He is our relative, there is nothing to enquire about him and if you agree, let us solemnize their nikah.”
Qasim’s wife found the proposal suitable. Both came to their daughter who was still busy washing lentils. Qasim sat beside his daughter and said, “Daughter, we have decided to solemnize your nikah with Maulvi Abdullah but first let us have your consent.”
Ikraman buried her face between her knees in embarrassment.
It is necessary to have the girl’s consent. There’s nothing to feel shameful about regarding any matter of the shariah. If Ikraman doesn’t agree, we will find another match.
Qasim’s wife interjected, “How can you talk of marriage with a girl?” Qasim coolly replied, “What’s wrong in that? It’s according to the shariah. It is necessary to have the girl’s consent. There’s nothing to feel shameful about regarding any matter of the shariah. If Ikraman doesn’t agree, we will find another match. However, it is necessary to have her consent first incase she agrees to this match.”
Qasim’s wife shared, “Modest girls don’t speak about their consent openly. Had she wanted to refuse the proposal, she would have looked at me or would have left the room. This way I would have understood her wish. In such matters the silence of the girl is their consent.”
After listening to his wife Mohammed Qasim stood up and went inside where Abdullah was still waiting for his uncle in the living room. Two or three other people were also present there. Mohammed Qasim called them and said, “I am giving the hand of my daughter, Amtul Ikram, in the hands of Maulvi Abdullah for nikah!”
He gave 2 paise to a man and asked him to bring dried dates from a shop at the corner of the street. The people present there became witnesses and the nikah was solemnized within few moments. Mohammed Qasim then asked the groom to bring a doli (palanquin) and take away his bride. When the doli arrived, Mohammed Qasim came into the house and sat beside his daughter who was on the prayer mat to offer Zohr prayer and said, “Daughter, by the grace of Allah, I’ve solemnized your nikah. Maulvi Abdullah is waiting for you outside. Now go to your house with him.”
His wife was surprised at this immediate move and said, “You should have atleast given me some time. I would have made some nice dresses for our daughter. Atleast I would have changed her dress at the time of nikah.”
“Why what’s wrong in this dress? Isn’t she offering namaz in this dress? When her dress is good for namaz why not for Nikah?” asked Qasim.
Meanwhile Ikraman wore burqa. Her mother said a quick pray while her father patted her, took her to the doli and gave her sound advices about the rights of a husband and some domestic responsibilities, on their way to the doli.
The next day Qasim invited his daughter and son-in-law at his house. He served whatever food was available in the house to the people present in the living room and told them that it was the walima (reception) of Maulvi Abdullah.
This story, of the most simplistic wedding ever, is from Deoband. Mohammed Qasim was later popularly known as Maulana Mohammed Qasim Nanotvi, the founder of Darul-uloom Deoband. His nephew Maulvi Abdullah used to study in Darul Uloom Deoband itself. After passing out, he went to Aligarh. He was counted among the close friends of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and became the first Nazim-e-Deeniyath of Aligarh college.
Narrated by Mohammed Tariq Ghazi, grandson of Maulana Abdullah Ansari First published at siasat.com Edited by Zarafshan Shiraz