The Marriage System in Morocco: The Berber’s Bani Wrayn Tribes as an Example
Edrees Makboob (Morocco)
Social life without marriage has no place in the society of Bani Wrayn. A bachelor who reaches a suitable age to marry isn’t asked his opinion on the matter of finding a girl who suits him and his family. If he were to choose to remain single, his status in the society would be marginalized. Until he marries, he isn’t even recognized. The creation of a family through marriage, then, is the basic and vital element of societal life in the tribes of Bani Wrayn. It is also the way to upward mobility and individual dynamism. In Bani Wrayn, as in all human societies, tradition dictates that families are to be formed only within the confines of marriage. By submitting to the mechanisms of marriage, members of Bani Wrayn are granted a level of social distinction reserved by their tribe exclusively for those who are married. This is true even though marriage, as practiced in Bani Wrayn society, is not all that different from the prevailing type of marriage found in some other tribal societies, such as in Fez. This paper poses a list of questions concerning the rituals of marriage in the society of Bani Wrayn. In order to answer these questions, it is necessary to adopt the anthropological approach, which is based on description, observation and interview. How is marriage achieved within these tribes? What stages does it go through? How is the engagement made and upon what kind of mechanisms? What are the requirements for a wedding in the society of Bani Wrayn? And lastly, what are the motives of the author in writing about the wedding in this society? The author indicates that discussing marriage as a research topic should not be considered either as utopian culture or folklore. Marriage as an institution is going through an intentional transition. This motivates the author to preserve it by writing about it and documenting its history. As a researcher concerned with the literature of folklore, especially its oral forms, the author approaches an issue that has not been visited for a long time. Marriage is not only for social entertainment. Above all else, it is a medium for social interaction. Marriage will become, given the prevailing practices of the tribes of Bani Wrayn, a means of meeting, exchanging and messaging as it conceals social inequality, and is not restricted to a particular social class, given that everyone is melded within marriage to become part of an integrated fabric of social unity. Marriage in the tribes of Bani Wrayn is not, by any means, unique in the sense that people universally engage in this social practice, even if only as a guest attending a wedding. In other words, marriage, as an institution practiced by the tribes of Bani Wrayn, and even the overarching folklore of the tribes, should be considered a tradition that is inherently “Bedouin.” Likewise, marriage is not restricted by one’s social class. The wedding system in the tribes of Bani Wrayn is not a feature that distinguishes them from other tribes; it is, rather, the manifestation of one’s cultural identity, as well as a social system which builds upon social solidarity and cohesion. What appears to be the beginning of a process that leads to the inevitable extinction of the rituals of the wedding in the tribes of Bani Wrayn can be attributed to the infiltration and penetration of urban culture into the structures of the subject tribal society. This underscores the need to implement measures designed to save these rites and to keep them alive. Attempts to protect marriage should be made even if only through documentation and in literature. Marriage provides the majority of people, who want to participate, an opportunity to express themselves and reveal their emotions in a meaningful way. The author accepts this undertaking in order to help ensure that marriage, as an institution and tradition, will not be driven to extinction by so-called “national” cultures..