A week after her son’s marriage, the billionaire’s wife invited all her friends and near relatives to a dinner party at her house. She spoke to them of the benefits of the simple life, how Islam enjoins upon all Muslims to practice austerity. She advised them not to spend too much on weddings. The women listened in silence, but not one of them had the courage to remind her of the millions she had spent on her own son’s wedding the week before. They were scared of her because their husbands and sons were employed in the many companies owned by her family.
A week before the grand dinners she gave in Karachi, she and her husband had chartered four planes and taken a thousand guests and relatives to Medina for the nikah. After umrah, they had returned, and the merriment had begun. The two families had been like children trying to outdo each other. When the bride’s family spent a colossal ten million on the “mayoo” ceremony, the groom’s parents were not to be left far behind. They constructed a village on their huge empty plot next to their palace, where whirling dervishes sang and maidens danced, and goats and cows mixed freely with the guests.
Not to be outdone, the bride’s family took the guests (all three thousand of them) on a picnic to the beach, where they sang and danced throughout the night, with the more daring among them jumping into the sea completely unclothed. The groom’s parents went one better: they invited four thousand guests to the “mehndi”, where sumptuous food was served and the old guests gaped at the boys and semi-naked girls dancing together, a sight which would have been heartily approved by our film-makers.
Finally, after seven days of fun and frolic, the valima was held at a five-star hotel. The hotel management blithely ignored the ban on food being served at weddings, while women wearing clothes which revealed more than they covered feasted with the men at the tables. Islam was temporarily forgotten by the old bearded men and the fully covered old women. The next day they would forget the wedding and its excesses, and their lives would return to normal, but on this night, they were determined to enjoy themselves, so they ate and drank and danced until the muezzin called the faithful to the morning prayer.