| by Raymon Kondos
- Marriage traditions have a long history in Egypt that may be traced
back to Ancient Egypt and Arab traditions.
As well as getting to change gradually, marriage traditions in
Egypt vary geographically from one place to another and according
to the religious affiliation.
Egyptian couples sign on marriage contract in church
In general, marriage in Egyptian is a bond that gathers together
two big families, not only the couples, and for that consensus among
all members of each family is important especially in rural areas
where newlyweds must sometimes live at a proximity to their folks.
In urban areas, youth just get to know each other and when some
young man gets the female's approval, he officially proposes to
her family at a set date. Bringing the father with him, and usually
the mother, the young man visits the bride's family for the first
time to propose.
After acquiring the approval of the bride’s family, and after
they become assured the young man is suitable for their daughter,
the two parents set to agree on financial terms.
The proposed man has to offer an amount of money that is called
With this money, the bride's family has to furnish the apartment
which the groom should provide. In the past the groom was required
to purchase an apartment but with increasing prices, rentals became
In rural areas, grooms have also to pay the dowry, but usually
they choose brides among their relatives. Many times marriage choices
are made by both parents sometimes without even the consent of the
couples themselves. This habit is now changing but it hardly posed
a problem in the past, since youth were get married in teenage,
even before they get to know other people to choose from. They marry
and the family they generate creates love, not vice-versa.
A typical marriage contract has to include the following:
- Moqaddam Sadak: Amount given to the wife prior to marriage (may
also be considered the dowry).
- Moakhar Sadak: The amount to be paid to the woman in case of
divorce or in case of the death of her husband.
- The ‘Esma: The right to divorce that is usually accredited
- The Qayma: The list of furniture and jewelries that are given
to the woman in case of divorce and in case of the death of her
- The Nafaqa: The alimony.
Christian marriage in the Egyptian society differs a lot. A Christian
groom has got o provide residence but he is not required to provide
a dowry. Rather, providence of furniture is a shared responsibility
between the two families. There are traditions that define who buys
what, but such terms are now more flexible than ever; the bride
has to buy the bedroom furniture and kitchen equipments, while the
groom buys the rest.
Though the Christian marriage must be a church event done by the
hands of a priest, the Moslem marriage is usually a house event
that is concluded by a Mazoun (registrar).
And while Christianity forbids divorce, Islam regulates it. When
divorced, a Moslem wife must be given the Moakhar
and jewelries as defined by the marriage contract as well as the Nafaqa (the
Only 3 divorces are allowed between the two couples, and they shall
not return to each other except after the female gets married to
another husband and gets divorced.
In 2000, the Egyptian government has released a new controversial
law, the Kula' law, which enables a wife to obtain divorce if she
relinquishes her right as defined in the marriage contract.
The wedding ceremony may also differ but generally after the official
marriage, relatives of the two families attend a big party that
may feature belly dancing and money donation to the newlyweds.
For rich people, the party place is some luxury hotel, and for
poor it may be some wide street in their district, or an open-air
The couples then go to spend their first night together whether
at a hotel room or at their house.
In rural places, there is still this strange tradition by which
the groom must provide to the people the proof of his wife’s
virginity until marriage. This would also honor her father. Villagers
then would tour the streets with a piece of cloth stained with “virginity
blood” singing songs that praise the bride's virtue.
Tying the knot in Egypt is not so easy especially with harsh economic
conditions. In Egypt, man has the bigger responsibility preparing
for the marriage event from the moment the couple gets engaged.
And with inability of several men to meet the requirements of marriage,
many become single, not because they choose celibacy or they prefer
extramarital relationships, but rather for failing to marry.