24 Glam Halal | MAY-JUNE. 2020
Marlyn Juliana and Anuar Halim had their nikah, or solemnisation, ceremony done via Skype amid Malaysia’s movement control order
during COVID-19. Photo courtesy Anuar Halim.
By Richard Whitehead
Coronavirus no match for love, or Malaysian religious authorities
Anuar Halim was determined not
to spend another Hari Raya alone,
five years after his divorce.
The Malaysian business
development executive had been
expecting to tie the knot the
month before Ramadan, and then celebrate
Eid al Fitr as a married couple. Then, on March
18, an order restricting Malaysians to their
homes was carried out days before his wedding
to fellow divorcée Marlyn Juliana.
With deposits paid and celebrant booked,
the couple was forced to put their marriage
solemnisation ceremony on hold, perhaps
missing Hari Raya altogether.
“I have been single for a long time now. But
after a few relationships I finally got to meet
someone I really like and we’ve dated for two
years,” Anuar told Salaam Gateway.
“When we decided to get married, none
of us knew that this situation was going to
happen. It was a bummer for both of us that
the wedding had to be called off.
“But we stayed positive, and kept telling
ourselves that this was going to happen, no
matter how,” he added.
The couple kept in regular touch with the
state religious department for Selangor, JAIS,
to work out their options and lobby officials.
After a month of lockdown spent wondering
when they might eventually tie the knot,
the couple heard from a friend that some
couples were being allowed to celebrate their
weddings online using live-streaming.
On April 20, the religious department
announced it would begin authorising
solemnisation ceremonies, or nikah, to take
place over video conferencing, as long as the
couples had completed the formal process
that is required before a marriage can take
Announcing the measure through the
Selangor government portal, assistant director
of JAIS’s family law division Nik Suhaila
Nik Hussin, said: “We have no problem running
this session during Ramadan, as long as
movement restrictions have not ended.
“However, we advise couples not to violate
This initiative has been
made available to couples
who have fulfilled the
application process. It is
also based on their own
request, as most couples have just
chosen to postpone their weddings.”
— Suhaimi Ahmad Wakid
the movement order just to marry.”
She added that couples would be sent a PDF
copy of their marriage certificate.
With 364 applications already received
before the announcement, Malaysia’s first
online wedding, between Mohd Syukor
Misman and Fairina Jantan, took place immediately
in the Sepang district of Selangor.
The first day was not a complete success,
however, prompting Nik Suhaila to note that
unreliable wifi had proved to be a challenge.
“The third marriage had to be repeated
many times due to telecommunications coverage
problems before it could be successfully
“This is important because we need to
make sure that the marriage process is in
accordance with Islamic law,” Nik Suhaila
“This initiative has been made available
to couples who have fulfilled the application
process. It is also based on their own request,
as most couples have just chosen to postpone
their weddings,” said Suhaimi Ahmad Wakid,
the JAIS registrar of marriages, divorce and
rujuk for the neighbouring Petaling district.
Suhaimi told Salaam Gateway that ceremonies
take place over Skype, with a celebrant
officiating and two officers from the local
JAIS office serving as witnesses. Up to seven
couples a day can celebrate their wedding in
“Most people ask us if this format fulfils
Shariah law. In simple terms, we adhere to
the guidelines of the Selangor Fatwa Council
for nikah. If the fatwa allows it, we will see it
through,” he added.
The online nikah will only be available for
couples during the lockdown, which extends
to May 12 but was eased to allow offices and
restaurants to open today.
According to Suhaimi, it could still be
an option in some exceptional cases, such
as when a marriage application has been
approved but the groom is stranded abroad, or
“couples who need to get married urgently”.
“We will consider the options based on
each case as it’s presented,” he added.
Elated, Anuar visited JAIS’s offices at the
Selangor government complex in Shah Alam.
“One of the officers took out a schedule and
said there was a slot on April 28. I told them
yes immediately. I’d take whichever slot was
available. We were given number six,” said
When their turn came, Marlyn was joined
on screen by her father and a wedding dress
she had picked out before the lockdown
was imposed. Anuar joined from his own
home, accompanied by his brother, while the
officials also had places on the screen. Seven
were present at the ceremony, which lasted
20 minutes and was later shared on Facebook.
The new bride expects to organise a formal
celebration after social restrictions are lifted.
“When the government decides to lift the
ban and people can start walking around
again, we will definitely have a small makanmakan
with close family and friends,” she
said after joining her husband on the line to
“Everyone has given us so much support,
and they are so proud of us. The situation has
not been very easy for us and they’ve given us
a lot of motivation.”
“Especially my dad,” interjected Anuar.
“He’s a thrifty guy and I got two thumbs
up from him because there was no money
“But seriously, we are going to be looking
back on this as one of the most memorable
experiences in a lifetime.”