بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
A Sudanese flavor for the wedding of Kate and Tom
11th April, 2013
This occasion is organized by the couple’s friends. It testifies the extent of their social relations, indicating that Diplomacy is about official State to State relations and Peoples to Peoples.
I cannot comment on the occasion without a word of tribute to the late Lady Margaret. During her term of office, I have criticized many of her radical polices, especially capitalism without social brakes. Nevertheless, I have admired her principled approach to politics and continue to recognize her competence to deliver. May God bless her Soul.
Marriage in Islam is a civil contract between spouses. That is why it is legitimate to be contracted between spouses of diverse faiths.
One of my Christian friends asked, why if so do you allow your men to marry Christians and do not allow the opposite? My answer was: A man has a certain responsibility in a family. A Moslem man would respect the faith of his Christian wife, because we recognize spiritual moral worth in the beliefs of the Peoples of the Book; but because you do not recognize Islam, a Christian husband would consider his wife as heathen. If you reciprocate recognition of Islam as an authentic Abrahamic faith, we accept your husbands.
Sudanese weddings have a rich secular heritage. Weddings as cultural Sudanese folklore are very engaging. They have become a tourist attraction.
Compared to Egyptian tourism, Sudanese tourism is undeveloped.
Charles Bonnet told me that when he prepared to visit the Sudan, his colleagues told him, don’t bother, there is no history south of Egypt. He discovered otherwise.
Sudanese ancient history is very rich, for example,
* The Karma excavations exposed a civilization which preceded Egyptian civilization.
* At another period, Sudan joined and participated in Egyptian civilization with its Sudanese pharaohs.
* The Meroic civilization of Sudan was unique in many aspects, namely:
* Its longevity for a thousand years.
* Its written alphabetic language.
* Its iron furnaces.
* Its Abadamak Religious icon.
* Its Almusawarat institute for learning.
* The extent of its Africanity as described by William Adams in his book: Nubia Corridor to Africa.
But this is rarely known world widely. To make things worse, events in Sudan have given it a bad reputation. Many diplomats told me they felt bad when assigned to Sudan, and feel bad when transferred from Sudan. There is no anti- foreign feelings among the Sudanese. An Arab prince described certain Sudanese morals as Sudanese Humanities. One of them is that despite the fact that modern encounter with foreign occupation was very bloody, after a half century of foreign rule the period ended in friendship. British administration in Sudan, despite Kitchiner’s atrocities was enlightened.
Besides being expatriate friendly, the Sudanese have humanities such as modesty, tolerance which endear them to others.
Although in Islam, marriage is a Puritanical Contractual affair, Sudanese weddings have acquired a rich ceremonialism of a rite of passage.
What we are about to administer to Kate and Tom is called Jirtig, a Nubian word referring to semi-precious stone which is worm to dispel the evil eye. Another stone is Bloodstone, a form of Agate, which is supposed to be protection against blood hemorrhage.
Another element is some saw dust (الضريرة) to be put at the head of the spouses.
There is much symbolism in the red color as sign of happiness. Of course red has much symbolism in Love and Revolution.
Our Jirtig rite is a collection of symbols from Sudan’s varied Cultures, and includes many Afro-Asian Cultural symbols. I have given the rite an intellectual explanation that all the rituals point to three meanings, namely; that:
* From now on, two equals one in the platonic sense that the sphere was divided and in marriage the two halves restore the sphere.
* That the relationship should be an exercise in fertility.
* That all the couple’s affairs should be bathed in optimism.
The Henna is, of course, a cosmetic dye. Our cosmetics are environment friendly, for example, Henna is a natural herb, Dilka is massage with natural seeds and perfumes and Dukhan is a type of Turkish bath for the skin, in addition to perfuming and other skin care effects.
However, our society is now invaded by all types of environment hostile cosmetics, which I, for one, am trying unsuccessfully to repeal.
Kate and Tom’s friends are trying to give their expected wedding a Sudanese flavor, May they in the ritualism of Jirtig be two in one, be a fertile couple, and be immersed in optimism. If so, the symbolism would have served its purpose.