7 Arab Muslim Wedding Traditions

If you're planning an Arab Muslim wedding, learn more about the origin of these traditions straight from an expert.

A Quran and traditional Arab wedding ceremony setup.

Photo by Kyle John Photo

As those planning an Arab Muslim wedding likely know, these marriage celebrations are lavish and steeped in history and tradition. While the specific customs vary across countries in the Levant, from Lebanon to Palestine, all the way to Morocco, there are certain cultural and religious rituals that remain mostly the same.

Here, we consulted Dr. Main Al-Qudah, a Houston-based sheikh and an assistant professor of Islamic studies, to learn about Arab Muslim wedding traditions, their origins, and their meanings.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Main Al-Qudah is a Houston-based sheikh and an assistant professor of Islamic studies at the American Open University. He is a scholar of Islamic jurisprudence and Muslim family law.

01 of 07


Surah Fatiha

Getty Images/Peter Dazeley 

The tolbe or tulba is a pre-wedding ceremony where the groom formally asks the bride's parents for her hand in marriage. If the families give their blessing, a short prayer from the Holy Quran called “Surah Al-Fatiha” is recited by everyone present. This is followed by a presentation of tea, coffee, or cordial and sweets that both families enjoy together.

02 of 07

Katb Al-kitaab

The katb Al-kitaab is the marriage ceremony. During the ceremony, the sheikh lays out the terms of the marriage, and a contract is signed by both parties. Here, it is important for guests to dress conservatively. All guests should cover their arms and legs and women should wear a headscarf.

03 of 07


In Islam, the Mahr is the dowry or payment a groom must provide to his bride. The Mahr is presented during the katb Al-kitaab. It symbolizes love, respect, and courtesy towards the woman. It is something valuable she can take with her in the event of divorce.

04 of 07


The zaffe is the newlywed couple's grand entrance to their reception. It typically starts with the bride’s father walking his daughter to her groom. It is then followed by a troupe of drummers that play traditional, upbeat Arabic music. During the zaffe, rings are changed from the right hand to the left hand. The female attendees can be heard making a high-pitched ululation with their tongue, called the zaghrouta, which is a cheer of celebration.

05 of 07


As anyone planning an Arab Muslim wedding know, there will be lots of dancing. One popular folk dance called dabke is performed by professional dancers and then the wedding guests. Guests will dance shoulder to shoulder in a circle with each other. If planning an Egyptian wedding, belly dancers are more typical for this portion of the celebration.

06 of 07

Cake Cutting

Arab Muslim couples cut their multi-tiered wedding cake with a large sword passed down to the groom from his family for his wedding day. At more ornate celebrations, sparklers might even emerge from the cake.

07 of 07

Barmet Al-aroos

Barmet Al-aroos


This tradition is the final farewell to the newlywed couple before they depart their wedding venue in a beautifully decorated vehicle. Friends and family of the couple follow them back to their home or hotel in a parade of their own cars, playing loud music and honking all the way to announce to the world that the couple in front of them just got married.

Related Stories