No Boxed Gifts

gift box

بسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله

How many times have you received invitation cards with "No boxed gifts" written in not-so-small print at the bottom? Everyone knows what it really means:

  - We want gifts (just not boxed)

Or:

  - We want cash (preferably)

Well, it's fraught with problems - both culturally and Islamically. First of all, it means invitations are (potentially) no longer given with sincerity. Just imagine: it could mean that each invitee (or family) is invited with the hope that he (or it) will pay towards the cost of the wedding or event. This can't be right.

Secondly, it means the invitees are inconvenienced. Having to fork out £10 or so per function is not within every person's capability, especially when the 'wedding season' is in full flow (think summer holidays)!

Thirdly, many people who cannot make it to an event, typically a Waleemah, send an envelope in advance containing the cash that was implicitly requested, as though they are saying: "I'm sorry I can't make it. But, not to worry, here's what you were really after."

Fourthly, as with all inexplicable cultural fooleries, there is an element of expectation which is not demanded by sharî'ah. It is not unknown for women from the receiving party to sit down and note down who gave what and how much. Those who decide not to give for whatever reason are thus inconvenienced. Such expectations always lead to social/relationship problems.

Fifthly, it promotes lavish weddings; there's no problem in incurring debts as a result of organising a huge wedding event since a large chunk of it will be paid off by the invitees. (Small weddings probably have all their costs paid off giving a false notion of barakah!)

In general, anything that is considered necessary but not stipulated by sharî'ah - especially when it involves money - can be avoided without fear of reprisal or a feeling of guilt.

As will be detailed elsewhere, Inshâ-Allâh, the solution to these cultural innovations is to reject them outright. Accept the da'wah invitation, for that is a Sunnah, but don't feel obliged to give cash. You can give some perfume instead or a copy of the Qur-ân or, if you so desire, nothing at all. There simply is no obligation.

Islâm is about sincerity of mind and actions; what you see is truly what you're being shown with no hidden agenda. So, let's deviate from the cultural mess and embrace the true spirit of Islâm.

This blog entry was originally published on 15 Aug 2009.

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JazakAllah khayra perfectly put and needed to be said.

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