Engagement rings in Saudi Arabia
A dream for some, nightmare for others
Engagement rings have always had a special significance in many cultures. However, engagement rings have no definitive value in Saudi Arabia as there are a variety of opinions for and against this token of love and commitment.
Many Saudi women cherish their engagement rings but men, however, find little significance in them. There are also some who find the idea of an engagement ring as a purely Western one and prefer not to wear them, Al-Hayat daily reported.
Waleed Mohammad, 35, said although exchanging rings is an unfamiliar custom in Saudi culture, he believes the act simply means an exchange of love and adoration and there is no need to read too much into it.
“Those who claim that it is a Western custom and rings are not fit for men to wear are being too narrow-minded. I wear my ring despite what people might say and think. I will not listen to anyone but myself,” he said.
In disagreement was 26-year-old Abdulhamid Ali who believes engagement rings are unsuitable for men because he considers them to be feminine jewelry that belittles masculinity. “Men do not need to wear anything to prove their love to their wives,” he said.
Salman Hasan, 37, has two wives and he wondered what a man like him should do: Wear the ring he got for his first marriage or the one from his second marriage?
“Regardless of what I feel about engagement rings, there are no clear rules on what men with multiple wives should do,” he said.
Ahmad Sari, a 21-year-old, believes people put too much significance in engagement rings. “An engagement ring is only for the engagement party and that is it. Men or women are not obliged to wear the ring afterwards. It has no significance of loyalty or betrayal whether one wears it after the engagement party or not.
Faisal Mahmoud, 39, rejected the idea of wearing any type of jewelry. He believes engagement rings have no Islamic basis and are a mere imitation of non-believers. In his view, the relationship between a husband and wife is bigger than a ring.
Fahd Khalaf, 27, said wearing an engagement ring is a subtle way of letting others know that the person is in a relationship.
Sara Mohammad, 22, agreed and said men who wear their engagement rings in public are expressing loyalty to their wives.
“That is how you know a faithful man from one who is not. A man who is married but opens himself up to attention from the opposite sex will take his ring off during social occasions,” she said.
Khadija Mohammad, 20, admitted that she gets really angry if her husband takes his ring off. In her opinion, it belittles their marriage and shows that he has a desire to appear single to others.
Haya Khalid, 21, hasn’t taken her engagement ring off since getting married over two years ago. She said her ring makes her feel closer to her husband and is a constant reminder of their marriage.
“My ring has both of our initials on it and it reminds me of the good times we spent together on our honeymoon,” she said.
Psychiatrist Muna Yousef said engagement rings have a symbolic significance on a psychological level. What an engagement ring means differs from couple to couple depending on their background and personalities. Some view engagement rings as a sign of love and commitment while others view them as external apparel and a custom to follow.
“In the instance when a couple disagrees on the significance of the engagement ring, serious problems may occur even though the object in question is just a ring. Women usually place greater significance in the engagement ring than men do. That is because women are generally more emotional and are prone to attach events, objects and places to a certain memory. Men, however, are mostly objective and practical. If they find any significance in a ring, it is most likely an act of compliance toward their wives in order to avoid trouble at home,” she said.
Yousef urged couples not to give too much significance to engagement rings and instead concentrate on communicating and expressing themselves regularly. “Love is nurtured through time, not by rings,” she said.
Sheikh Ali Alhikami, member of the Senior Scholars Council, said exchanging engagement ring is a tradition not found in Islam. Moreover, if the custom is a foreign trend, he said it is better for people to desert it.
“If the custom has any religious undertones that are un-Islamic, it is forbidden because imitating non-Muslims is haram (forbidden),” he said.