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Healing Hearts

Healing Hearts

Issue 70 July 2010

Akeela and Nafeez have a combined passion to serve their community, which strengthens their bond as husband and wife. 




Nafeez and I first met when my cousin introduced us over dinner at her house. Dinner was quite informal and it gave me a chance to observe him from afar, but in a natural setting.  

Initially, I thought Nafeez was very intellectual, and very serious, and I wasn’t sure how he’d take to my mad sense of humour. I also thought he was very sincere, and I really liked the way he spoke about women/gender relations. I came away with a lot of respect for the breadth and depth of his knowledge.

I don’t think I knew what I was looking for until I met Nafeez. Everything kind of fell into place after our meeting and it was an easy decision to get married. In the run up to our nikah, I did feel very nervous; a mixture of excitement and fear. But as soon as the nikah was read, all nervousness and anxiety just went away.

 The wedding preparations were quite stressful; I wanted everything to be perfect, but I had a lot of help from my family. Thankfully, everyone joined in to share the responsibilities. 

Like all couples, we do have personality clashes. For instance, we both like to have the last word! Marriage is like a journey, and you’re constantly evolving along this path, refining yourselves and how you interact with each other. Human beings aren’t static, they’re changeable; as you grow older, become parents, and do different things, you have to adapt – and marriage is the framework of this adaptation. Sometimes it’s like a whole paradigm shift, and you need to keep up. The best things where we’ve overlapped and aligned is our passion and love to serve our communities- not just Muslim communities – but people in general, everywhere and anywhere. I’m always learning new things from Nafeez and he helps me develop and grow as a person.

We share everything. I wouldn’t be able to work long hours if Nafeez wasn’t a writer who worked from home; our work is complimentary. There is overlap in the broad sense that Nafeez is trying to help people by educating them, whereas I’m trying to help those who are struggling. Also, we have different approaches to dealing with similar issues facing society. This means we have interesting debates at home, because often we don’t always see eye-to-eye on politics. Nafeez’s work focuses a lot on the root causes of major global crises and systemic issues on a macro level. Whereas I focus more on the micro level, on helping people who are often impacted by these issues to have a space in which they can get the help they need and are empowered.

I cherish the fact that Nafeez is always there for me, that he supports my beliefs and aspirations, including my work at Muslim Youth Helpline (MYH), which demands a lot from our family. I love the fact that he shares my vision about helping people, especially those that don’t have the same opportunities as us.



 When I first met Akeela, I had a very clear idea about what I was looking for, and was intent on following the Prophet’s clear guidelines of not marrying someone for their great looks or wealth, but for their ‘imaan’ – their spirituality, their worldview, and their ultimate goals in life. When I met Akeela, I wanted to know how compatible we were on that level, and as we talked, I was more and more amazed by how similar our outlooks on life were. We both wanted to dedicate our lives to working for the betterment of the human predicament in general. We both aspired to grow spiritually, and to develop a marriage that would help us do that.

Ultimately, I was attracted to Akeela’s intelligence, vision, confidence, strong character and sense of humour. And of course, her beauty was a bonus!

Of course, arguments and clashes are an inevitable part of marriage! You have to learn that compromise and especially sacrifice – sacrifice of insisting on being right or having things your own way – is essential. In my view, this is partly what the Prophet meant when he said “Marriage is half of Islam” – because Islam is precisely the act of surrendering one’s self to the Absolute, marriage is a process which compels you to curb your self, to live the rest of your life not as an individual but as part of a greater whole that necessitates being attentive to the needs of another.

I love Akeela’s compassion. Like me, Akeela really feels for others, and has always been deeply passionate about the fact that the vast majority of people, of whatever faith or nationality in the world, suffer due to entirely unnecessary and regressive forms of social, political and economic injustice.

I try my best to support her by minimizing the stuff she might need to do outside of work. I do the school-run (we have two daughters, 7 and 5), try to make sure she comes home to a hot meal when I can, and try to keep the house in some kind of functioning order! It’s the least I can do in return for the way Akeela has always supported my work over the last 10 years, especially in harder times when my writing brought little in the way of financial dividends. Akeela has kept me going when I’ve felt deeply uncertain and even demoralized, always reminding me of the importance of using the pen to speak out against injustice, rather than to simply make a quick buck. She has deliberately made sacrifices, encouraging me to pursue a path of struggle for social change. It’s only with her steadfast support that I was able to become a successful and respected bestselling author, and am able to continue my research and writing.


You can check out more marriage articles here


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