World Clock

Cairo, Egypt


Sherif’s Family Wedding

Sherif’s Family Wedding


On Sept 18, I went to an Iftar with Sherif’s family. We had a wonderful meal, and then were sitting around looking at an Obama speech on the internet when Sherif’s father came out all dressed up, and then Sherif went to don a suite and tie. He said that they had to go to a wedding (it was 10pm at night!) and would I like to come along? I was tired, but the sociologist in me couldn’t resist! I said sure.


Sherif drove us to a huge Mosque along the Autostrad (it is the “newest” mosque I have ever seen in Cairo—two large minarets but the structure is a complete half dome—no vertical walls at all). There were hundreds of people there. Sherif said that many of the people waiting outside the gate of the mosque were his family. He greeted many, and privately said to me that he will be kidded that he is never around at the family gatherings—people will pretend that they do not know who he is. It was true, he would greet an uncle or cousin and then say to me: they called me the bad cousin, because they never see me. I asked if all of these people are family, and he said no, that there were 2 wedding ahead of his cousin’s (again, this was 10pm at night).


The event we were at was  a contract signing in the Islamic faith (the kat-kitab). This was where an Imam registered by the Egyptian government was there with the prepared wedding contract to be signed by the bride and groom. Sherif said that because his cousin’s family was a little conservative, that after this contract signing, the bride and groom would be able to go out on dates together alone (finally not having to be chaperoned), but the wedding would not be for another month, so they will not be living together as husband and wife until November. I asked Sherif if this was an arranged marriage, and he said that yes, if you consider that the groom’s (his cousin)  family knew the other family, and suggested this woman given that they knew what he was looking for, then yes, it was arranged. He said that his family had been trying to set him up for years with family acquaintances. He said that on the first meeting, the potential bride/groom got to know each other. If the man (always the man) asked for a second meeting, then they would maybe meet at one of their parents’ house. If the man asked for a 3rd meeting, then he had better be prepared to ask her father for her hand in marriage.
There were at least 250 people there from the 2 sides of the family, all sitting in rows in this meeting room adjacent to the masjid. A video was being made of the groom and father of the bride signing the contract. The Imam made a short speech about the importance of marriage, and some hired men walked around handing out water and chocolates (it was all part of the “contract package” provided by this mosque). When Sherif and I and his father left after milling about outside the mosque as the  next family filed in (this was now about 11pm), Sherif said his father said that I was invited to the wedding itself, and was now “salt and bread”—an Arabic phrase that meant once I shared salt and bread with a family, I was now part of their family.

1 comment to Sherif’s Family Wedding

  • Don & Rosie Stoebner

    WOW! Well that would be a first for me also. You best be careful or you will have another wife before you get back to Texas. Ha! Don

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>