If we talk about religious practices, then rituals may not be a command by the Almighty but only a spiritual satisfaction for those performing these. However, in worldly terms, performing rituals may be a means of reinforcing societal connections and showing reverence or attachment to the other members of the community. People may be performing rituals so as to get themselves socially compatible with their contemporaries.
In a Muslim society like ours, the religious rituals that are followed by Muslims are the five basic pillars of Islam (Zahid, 2009) namely confession of faith (shahadat), five times prayers a day, fasting in the month of Ramazan, Alms tax (Zakat), and pilgrimage (Hajj). Along with these, some people have created many rituals that have nothing to do with religion. For example, cooking food in the name of Allah and distributing it (commonly known as khatam shareef) with the purpose of reward thwab, is a common ritual. It has no logical significance but is being practiced widely. As far as social rituals are concerned, along with some which might be good, there are many which are actually harmful in many cases. For example, the concept of dowry is totally misunderstood in today’s society. Dowry has become a ritual that the bride’s family has to practice, which is totally different from what the Almighty has ordered. Dowry (Meher) is, in fact, the sum of money or any gift given from the bridegroom to the bride as per Allah’s laws. But nowadays, dowry is understood as that sum of money or gifts that the bride’s family is liable to give to the bridegroom (jahez). This has become a common ritual which is not at all within the boundaries of religion, and in fact, reverses a command of religion and, in many cases, becomes a curse for the innocent bride.
A religious ritual that is observed in my family is getting together of family members at every Thursday after somebody’s death, and also after forty days of death, for the purpose of