On The Traditional Wolimatul Qur'an In Ilorin: Matters Arising - 9japarrot


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Sunday 9 January 2022

On The Traditional Wolimatul Qur'an In Ilorin: Matters Arising

By Dr. AbdulHameed Badmas Yusuf

Marriage is a primordial human experience. As an institution, it has social and religious aspects. Religiously speaking, the messenger of Allah was reported to have said: “marriage is my tradition; whoever neglects my tradition is not among my community”. In addition, the religious credibility of marriage entails the satisfaction of some sacrosanct conditions such as guardianship, dowry, etc. On the other hand, the social aspect of marriage essentially concerns how it is conducted. Unlike the religious aspect, this social aspect is not regulated by specific rigid rules besides the fact that it must be done in line with the general principles of Islam such as avoidance of extravagance and indecency. This social aspect of marriage leaves a spacious room for customs of various Muslim communities to determine how it is conducted. Thus, every community has a peculiar way of celebrating marriage in line with their customs. For instance, in some communities, the event takes place at night, while in other communities, it is celebrated during the day and at night. 

In Ilorin, the marriage event is held with a lot of cultural practices prominent among which is Wolimatul Qur'an. It should be noted from the onset that though the Wolimatul Qur'an is a social aspect of marriage, it is nevertheless premised on the religious pedestal. Because it is all about the Qur'an which is the impeccable source of Islam. 

Traditionally, the Wolimatul Qur'an is staged a day to the Nikah ceremony. The highlight of the event is for the officiating scholars to read for the celebrant certain portions from the Qur'an, namely Suratul Fatihah and the first five verses of Suratul Baqarah. This is celebrated with enthusiasm and joy. It is almost taboo for a bonafide son/daughter of Ilorin to get married without "doing" the Wolimatul Qur'an. What also makes the Wolimatul Qur'an more fun is its economic value as well-wishers appreciate the celebrant with some token after he/she had read the selected portions of the Holy Qur’an before family members and friends. It should however be noted that this Wolimatul Qur'an is different from the earlier ceremony which is usually held after a Qur'anic pupil has been certified to have the ability to read the Qur'an proficiently. And it doesn't affect the Wolimatul Qur'an during the marriage ceremony.

As a concept, the Wolimatul Qur'an as being celebrated in Ilorin is not at variance with the Shari'ah principles. Though it is neither approved in the Qur'an and  Sunnah nor is it disapproved in both. Yet, it cannot be termed as a Bid'ah (an innovative act in the religion) as long as it doesn't contravene the general principles of Islam as contained in the two primary sources. As such, the Wolimatul Qur'an is a good example of Maslahah Mursalah (public interest) in the field of the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence. The completion of the reading and memorization of the Qur'an is known in Islamic heritage as Hizaqah or Tahliyah. The Arabs continue to do this till tomorrow.

The Wolimatul Qur'an has many merits. Essentially, it is aimed at promoting the Words of Allah. It is to sensitize the general public on the need to be proficient in the recitation of the Qur'an. However, what may be condemned and needs correction is how the Wolimatul Qur'an is being conducted. The excessive make-up worn by the female celebrant is the most prominent anomaly in that regard.  There is a need for the female celebrants to dress decently in compliance with the teachings of the Qur'an. Added to this is the indiscriminate mixing of both sexes which is unwholesome. 

However, despite the merits of the Wolimatul Qur'an, it is quite unfortunate that this beautiful tradition is fast losing its goal. Nowadays, many celebrants seem to be interested only in knowing how to read Suratul Fatihah and the first five verses of Suratul Baqarah with little or no ability to read other chapters of the Book proficiently. After this ceremonial show of the ability to read the Qur'an, many might not read the Book again perhaps except in the month of Ramadan. In addition, many celebrants appear to be more interested in the gifts that well-wishers would give them after reading selected portions of the Qur'an before them. With this, the tradition of the Wolimatul Qur'an has been reduced to an ordinary ceremony.

Given the waning value of the Wolimatul Qur'an, one begins to ask: should the tradition be discontinued or should it continue after undergoing some reform aimed at restoring its original purpose? The everlasting value of the Book will ultimately make the second option desirable. Being the manual of life for all believers, the relevance of the Book to all times, places, and situations cannot be overemphasized. For this reason, the tradition of the Wolimatul Qur'an needs to be sustained after introducing to it a significant reform.
The desired reform should be practical and affordable. Needless to say, it must revolve around the Qur'an itself.

Without having to engage in an exhaustive brainstorming exercise, I will like to share a potential reform that I witnessed for the first time in a marriage ceremony in Ilorin which was organized by Eng. Yassar Remilekun, a very committed Muslim to the promotion of the Qur'an. Before the Wolimatul Qur'an was held, there was a Qur'anic Competition in which a large number of brilliant lads participated to commemorate the Wolimatul Qur'an. It was a colorful side of attraction adding more glamour to the values of the Wolimatul Qur'an. Yours truly was in the Prize Giving Committee whose mandate was to oversee how and what should be given to young memorizers of the Qur'an at the Walimatul Qur'an. This good innovation is indeed apt; it would enhance the better awareness of the importance of the Qur'an not only by the celebrants but also by the audience. 

In conclusion, the Wolimatul Qur'an is an important cultural event in the marriage ceremony in Ilorin. The significance of the event is underscored by the fact that it is about the Qur'an, the Noble Book of Allah. But given its diminishing value in our society, I want to strongly recommend that the event should be preceded by the Qur'anic Competition where young boys and girls will participate. The process should be properly handled by huffaz (memorizers of the Qur'an) at the end of which the top three winners (as all participants are winners by default) will be presented with gifts and prizes. Apart from these top three, other participants should equally be given consolation prizes to motivate them. These gifts and prizes should be presented to them on the day of the Wolimatul Qur'an before the celebrants and all guests. This would go a long way in making the audience further be aware of the value of the Qur'an especially the celebrants as they see the young boys and girls being honored for their mastery of the Qur'an. This way, the Glorious Book would be better promoted and valued by all Muslims.

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