I was 24, the perfect time to settle down, the perfect time to start talking about marriage. I had graduated from University two years ago. Since then I had been working my ass off, trying to save up as much money as I could. I had a confession, to make. To my family, my parents, my friends and everyone I was always surrounded with. This confession, would either make US or break US. I say -us- because in this journey I wasn’t alone; there were the two of us.
I didn’t know how to break it to them, you see being an Arab living in the USA I was brought up in a modernised society, an up-to date community. My parents were modern to a certain extent too, but what they would feel when I [would finally pick up the courage] to tell them; could be an emotional talk. Heartbreaks, loss of trust, excited, possibly understanding, confused. Mixed emotions and feelings. Just thinking about it made me nervous. I haven’t done anything wrong, nothing to embarrass my family. I knew my limits and I had kept in them.
My society/community had always confused religion and culture. Ever since I was little, there were certain things -you just couldn’t do- don’t get me wrong, this has NOTHING to do with religion, but the differences with cultures.
I had known him since college times, that makes it eight years. For eight years, he had been my best friend. He wasn’t like them typical men. I mean, which guy would be your best friend for eight years and wait. Wait till we both were sure we wanted this. We were doing everything the ‘halal’ way. As we didn’t want things to basically mess up, and we sure kept our families respect in our minds.
He had already spoken to his family about me, he had told them straight away. He was clear with what he wanted and it showed. To my surprise his family were fine with it. They wanted to talk to my parents as soon as possible. I just had to break the news to them. So I spoke to my mum, and sister. A few eyebrows were raised; you see he was a Pakistani and I was, an Arab. There were many barriers, even before anyone had spoken to my dad, a potential list of obstacles in my marriage [if I was to get married to him] was already getting prepared.
1. Language barrier
2. Different cultures
3. Are they strict?
4. What culture would you raise your kids with?
5. Isn’t it best if she gets married to her “own kind”?
6. Wouldn’t that be more convenient?
7. How will you get along with her family?
8. You don’t know anything about their culture.
9. They are ‘different’ – they do things differently.
All these questions were brainwashed into my mums brain – by her friends, relatives and some family members too. I knew it was no use, explaining anything to her; so I spoke to my brother who was very understanding. He wanted to meet him before anything else and he did. He loved him. They got on like a house on fire. My brother told me, that he would speak to dad and try his best. After all “it doesn’t matter about culture, he’s a practising Muslim, he respects you, has a great job and if he was messing about; he wouldn’t want to speak to me, forget meeting me” said my brother… His words gave me peace. I could finally feel something great happening. What happened next, you guys wouldn’t imagine.
I was expecting anger, frustration. Silent treatment. Assumptions. But oh my, did I under-estimate my family.
My dad spoke to me, he was ok with what I wanted – but those same questions were raised once again. I told him to meet the family, see how they are. Then whatever your decision is, I will take it with a smile on my face. Both the families met up, and as far as I thought; everything looked perfect. As if life had been complete. Everything was finalised. The dates, arrangements, everything. It was finally happening.
On my wedding day; I told my dad that:
I didn’t think you would let this happen; I was so scared that it would hurt your feelings and you would feel broken. I never knew this was possible, but because of you it has turned into my reality and I am so grateful.
He looked at me with a smile and didn’t say a word, till he started his speech.
My daughter, was terrified to tell me about the guy she wanted to marry. I feel as parents we shouldn’t burden our kids with this kind of unnecessary stress. It was never about different cultures, the groom could be a White Muslim, Black Muslim, a Pakistani [he laughed and winked] an Arab, a totally different culture to what you are but if hes the guy who can keep your daughter happy? Grab him. ~ If a father refuses her daughter to marry the man she loves, he will open them the door to haram. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “We do not think that there is anything better for those who love one another than marriage.” [Saheeh]. So listen to your children, as they know what’s best. Leave the rest up to Allah SWT [God]~
P.s; this is a fictional story, but wrote with experiences heard from the people around me. These sitiuations happen in real life.