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Muslim Marriage- Moadh & Hadia

Muslim Marriage- Moadh & Hadia

Issue 5 May / Jun 2004

First featured in issue 5 - May/June 2004

Click here to go to the Issue 5 archives

 

Moadh

Many people think that our marriage was arranged by our families because our parents had known each other for a long time, but that wasn’t how it happened. Both of us are very active in Islamic youth work introducing scouting into the Muslim community - me in the UK, Hadia in Switzerland. A training programme for youth activists in Dublin in August 1999 was the first time we met followed by a programme in Brussels.

By the end of the week I was feeling quite strange. Hadia and I didn’t talk much, but throughout the whole programme she appeared very mature, very calm, quiet and intelligent in her contributions. So I thought this is the kind of person I would want to marry. But because we lived in different countries, me in Britain, she in Switzerland and Italy, I said to myself that though she is my type of person, perhaps she is not the actual person. In any case, I consoled myself, I was only 24 and so not ready for marriage.

I was then invited to a programme in Switzerland and I got excited at the thought of going. By this point I was always thinking about Brussels. It got to the point where I thought, ok she is the right person for me. Sometimes feelings push you one way, but then you have to be practical and logical, whether this is the right way to do it or not and whether it will actually work. For me as a Muslim I base my decisions on the teachings of the Prophet and he advises us to choose a person of faith. So, fortified with this advice, I decided Hadia was the right person. I resolved that if I met her, I would ask her permission to propose - which basically meant asking her parents for her hand. My father had also been invited to Switzerland to give talks, so I went along with him. Once there I saw Hadia’s family, but not Hadia. I was thoroughly disappointed. After the programme finished I went to visit a friend in Lausanne. I thought, well it’s not meant to be as she wasn’t there, that’s the end of it. I hadn’t yet told my parents, because I wanted to know what Hadia thought, for if she didn’t agree I didn’t want to deal with the embarrassment later. But then I sought my friend’s advice, so he told me that if God prescribes it then it would happen. He then said that he knew Hadia’s family and that he had heard very good things about them, that they were Islamically very active. That gave me some encouragement.

After that we met again in Budapest at a training programme for Muslim youth activists. My belief that this was the person I wanted to marry was strengthened, though we didn’t have much interaction. Then I asked Hadia that if you don’t have any objections, I would like to ask my father to go to your fatherwith a proposal. We never talked about feelings for each other because one has to keep within the boundaries of what is accepted and respectable. Soon after that I asked my parents to call, so my father did. He told Hadia’s parents that they would like to visit in August. We then had to wait until Hadia’s family returned from their holidays in Syria and to me it seemed like an agonisingly long time. I was working on my dissertation for my Masters, so thank God, the delay gave me some time to concentrate!

Our engagement in Italy was simple with family from both sides. We played nasheeds and my brother had a great time beating the drums. Hadia and I kept contact after our engagement by telephone and the internet. We visited each other as often as we could. We were not only busy with study and work, but with our youth activities too. From the beginning we have always been open with each other, sincere and frank. This is the secret of a successful relationship: effective communication. After the engagement we discussed many things, got to know one another better and to understand how the other thinks and feels. When we got married we felt like we already knew each other, though we were hardly ever in the same place.

It was difficult arranging the civil contract in Italy as they are very bureaucratic. I had wasted a lot of time at various offices trying to get together all the necessary papers. Getting to agree on the date was very difficult because of the busy schedule of our respective families, and also it was the season of exams. We eventually had the civil service on 25th July and two days later the nikah and the wedding party. The main wedding party was on 1st August in London.

My entire family was supposed to go to Italy, so it was hectic getting things ready. Our flight was in the morning and in the afternoon we had an appointment with the Council in Hadia’s village. My sister was five months pregnant and that morning she couldn’t move! My mum said she’d stay behind, but I protested. So my younger sister agreed to stay – even though she was to be a witness at the wedding. In Italy you have to inform the authorities a month in advance of all the witnesses and give their details. Then, when I got to the airport I realised that I had forgotten the ring. So we didn’t have the witness or the ring! I had never driven in Italy before and I decided to just follow the road signs. We got lost. Instead of taking the motorway, I took the A-roads. Finally, we got there just after 3pm; the appointment was at 4pm. If we had been late, we don’t know when they would have given us another appointment. We went on our honeymoon to Malaysia where we spent ten beautiful days. Then we came to England to set up our home. We’re still in the process of doing that. We are still busy with our own activities; neither of us has stopped our Islamic work. We share everything. Most importantly, we make time to talk to one another. When you enter into a marriage it means you have an agreement between two people, two equals who require mutual love and respect.

 

Hadia

The first time we met I was impressed by the wayhe spoke and behaved, and I thought this would be the type of person I would want to marry. But I didn’t actually think about Moadh himself because he lived in England and I was in Switzerland, so I thought it wasn’t going to happen. I was still young, only 20 years old.

 I didn’t develop feelings immediately, it was something that grew gradually. Moadh went to this camp in Switzerland and I wasn’t there as I had exams. But I always felt that things were moving in the right direction and happening at the right time. So it was also the right time for me, when he took my permission to propose, to say yes to his parents coming to mine with a proposal. It took a while to make things official. Firstly, his mother had to renew her passport. Then it was summer time and that year we planned to go to Syria as a family, something we did occasionally. We spent over a month there. There is still a very traditional matchmaking habit in Syria. People wanted to bring me proposals and I was like no, because, though I wasn’t engaged, I knew who I wanted to get engaged to. I did feel the pressure of all these proposals, so I had to tell my family about Moadh. I’m talking about my extended family in Syria because my immediate family knew about him already.

I came back from Syria to prepare for my exams. Then on New Year’s Eve 2000 we got engaged. It was a long engagement period; my parents said that if we had lived nearer to each other then we would have got married sooner. We had agreed to get married after my degree, so Moadh was the happiest person on my graduation!

We had a nice family party for the engagement. The thing is, when we say ‘just our family,’ people don’t realise just how big our families are. Moadh showed me pictures of engagement rings on the internet and asked me what I would like, so we discussed it on the net. I used to ask my sisters, come look at the pictures. I had to check my finger size and tell him, but of course in Italy they have different sizes! Well he worked it out in the end.

During our engagement, we were both busy, so it was difficult to meet. We had to make do with the telephone, email, internet chat and text messaging! Quite a modern engagement, you might say. When it’s someone you feel right about, you have patience. Some of my friends, most of whom are Italian and not Muslim, would ask, how can you trust him, he’s alone there! How is it possible? They didn’t understand the trust that Islam instills. When we got married being together didn’t feel strange at all; we had became good friends through the course of our engagement. Not all my family and friends could come to England and I did want a party with them, so we had two wedding parties: one in Lugano the other in London.

When Moadh was late on our registration day, I kept on calling and text-ing, where are you? Did you change your mind? I was ready since 10am. I then got a text from Moadh telling me he’d forgotten his ring and if I could send someone to buy one from the city. We had no time, so we borrowed my dad’s and of course it was too big and kept falling off! On that same week there had been some problem in the local government and the committee was dissolved. They called me two days before and said we’re sorry to tell you, but  you know the problems, so nobody’s going to registeryour wedding. I was like, what! They said we’re trying to do our best and find someone who’ll come from another city and luckily they did. But al-hamdu lillah we finally had the registration.

The next day we had the nikah with 150 people outside in the garden. There were mountains in the background and it was quite windy, but altogether beautiful and moving. Then it started raining. In Italy we say that the bride who gets wet is going to be very lucky. We were supposed to fly to London the following day but we missed our plane! So we spent the whole day visiting Bergamo, which was wonderful.

When I arrived in England, it was the first time I saw my new home, which seemed very empty and I started to change things immediately. If anyone came last month, they wouldn’t have seen this carpet. I do like England. After a week’s break I started work as a trainee solicitor with a law firm based in Italy. Thank God, my employer’s very understanding and knows that family is a priority, which is great since I’m expecting my first baby. Married life is better than I thought it would be. Usually people tell me that the engagement is better and then when you get married it’s all worries and responsibilities. But I find it nicer, because the two of us used to be so far away from each other.

We came to marriage prepared because we used to encourage each other to read about married life. It’s not like living with your family, it’s somebody else with different habits, it’s important to know them. You have to adapt yourself to certain things like food, he likes spicy food, I don’t. So when I cook, he says why don’t you put this spice in and I say because it’s not supposed to be like that. But he does help a lot in the kitchen. I’ve always believed marriage involves compromise. So some days spicier food for him, other days milder food for me.




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