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Question: What is the exact concept of Walimah (wedding feast) in Islam? I mean to ask: Is it necessary for a husband and wife to have intercourse on their wedding night? Mine is an arranged marriage and I feel I need some time to develop feelings of love and desire for my husband before this kind of intimacy on the first night itself.

Walimah is the term used for the wedding feast; it has been considered as a highly recommended practice in Islam, for it is giving thanks to Allah, celebrating Allah’s bounty, and gathering family, friends and others for food, all of which are considered as noble deeds in Islam.

The Sunnah of Walimah was instituted by the Prophet, peace be upon him, himself, for we read in the sources that he threw a simple feast following his marriage with one of his wives; he also told Abd al-Rhaman, one of his companions, when he came to know that he had been married, “Give a feast, even if it is by killing a sheep.”

Besides the fact that Walimah is associated with the wedding, there is no particular stipulation or requirement mentioned in any of the sources to suggest that it must be given only after the consummation of marriage. If this had been a firm requirement, the Prophet, peace be upon him, certainly would have said so.

Although there are some scholars who say that Walimah should preferably be given after the consummation of marriage, one authentic scholar has concluded after stating the divergent opinions on the issue, “The preferred view (of scholars) is that there is no fixed time (for Walimah): As long as it is done after the marriage contract itself, there is no harm in giving it either before or after the marriage consummation.”

In conclusion let me state: The Prophet, peace be upon him, has advised us against making religion hard upon us by adding more conditions or requirements than what have been given by the Law-giver. He said, “This religion is simple and easy to follow; whoever makes it hard upon him, will be defeated by it.”

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