KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Faris Iskandar Khairuddin, 27, had an important test that he was expected to pass in November last year. The future of his life depended on it.

To pass, Faris, who took the pre-wedding course back in July 2021, said he needed to get at least 42 questions right out of 50. But he was quite confident he could ace it — after all, he could refer to his notes while taking the test.

“I remember I was given [PowerPoint] slides and notes, and then I was given eight hours to read like 10 chapters from the notes to prepare for some sort of an exam after I finished my reading,” the entrepreneur told Malay Mail in a recent interview.

Of course, he passed the test, and with that, he could go ahead with marrying the love of his life.


Faris was among the many Muslim young newlyweds in the country who had to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic in the process of stepping into the next stage of their lives.

In Malaysia, it is compulsory for Muslim couples to attend what is called “wedding courses” in order to get married under state Islamic authorities — among other requirements that also include the HIV test.

Prior to the pandemic, Muslim couples would attend such classes offered by many agencies licensed by the authorities, most times together. There, they would learn about the religious jurisprudence behind the steps from nikah or solemnisation, to divorce.


The lectures were hardly consistent, but would usually include the responsibilities of husbands and wives, and how to ensure that the marriage works. They have also received criticism in recent years for forcing patriarchal views and gender stereotypes, with male lecturers sometimes making inappropriate remarks and even mentioning lewd jokes.

With Covid-19, such physical classes were no longer possible, so agencies — at least across Klang Valley — mostly offered two options as alternatives: to attend online interactive sessions that usually run across 13 hours over two consecutive days (usually weekends), or to independently go through provided materials such as video lectures and notes before taking a test at the end.

When interviewed by Malay Mail, the Muslim couples expressed their initial confusion and anxiety when sitting for the tests due to the inconsistencies of the implementation across Klang Valley, as they fall under the purview of each agency.

For example, advertising executive Wan Athirah Zulkernaini who took part in the course in July 2020 with her husband Nazreev Ridzuan, said that the agency she picked gave a test with around 25 to 30 questions instead.

Just like Faris, the agency she chose falls under the purview of the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).

The questions they had to answer covered basic topics such as who is responsible for child support after a divorce, on maintaining financial stability, and achieving a blessed marriage.

She said she was not given an option to take an online class, and only found out about it after learning that another agency offers it for a slightly higher price.

“I think despite my ‘short and sweet’ pre-wedding course, I think I prefer to have an interactive session where I can ask questions.

“I think it’s important to know your rights as either husband or wife. And of course a deeper understanding of Islamic family law would be great,” the 27-year-old told Malay Mail.

Meanwhile, graphic designer Muhammad Faiz Azri and his wife Aiza Fazlina Anuar — who took a course with an agency under the purview of a different enforcer, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) in February 2021 — said they only had to answer a short list of 10 questions.

“I took the Islamic pre-wedding course back in 2020 and I remembered that I spent one and a half-day lecture session before I had to answer 10 questions at the end of the course,” he said.

Those polled by Malay Mail however said they were never informed of the repercussions of actually “failing” the tests, as it is considered nigh impossible to not pass them. They had also never heard of anyone failing, or being forced to retake the tests or courses.

When contacted by Malay Mail, a spokesman from Jawi said the online courses were started in June 2020 following the nationwide movement control order announced by Putrajaya in March that year to curb Covid-19.

The spokesman, who wished to remain anonymous, said the test on the last day of the course is merely to ensure that participants understood the topics in the lectures.

“It is also a mechanism to keep participants focused when the online course is conducted. The questions were formulated based on the ‘Marriage Gateway Book’ and contain 10 objective questions with multiple-choice answers, done bilingually.

“The test is only a temporary mechanism as the course is conducted online. The conditions of the course are still the same, that is, it is compulsory to complete the number of hours specified in the module,” they said.

Unlike Jawi, a spokesman from Jais however denied that such a test is mandated at the end of the courses. Instead, the authorities only specify for participants to finish 13 hours of compulsory interactive lecture sessions over two days.

“The implementation of pre-wedding courses in each district is the same according to the standard module. There were also lecturers conducting quizzes or conducting tests, [but] to identify the level of understanding of the participants on their respective initiatives.

“And the result, if any, does not at all affect their involvement in the course. Monitoring is also carried out annually to ensure that the organisers follow the guidelines that have been set,” the Jais spokesman said.

The Jais spokesman also said that physical courses will continue in July this year.