Bonus content

We have in our tradition the notion that you marry a woman for one of four reasons: for her beauty, her wealth, her family or her religion. It’s then said, “Marry her for her religion and the Most Merciful will take care of the rest.” To which my response is: “So true!” The divine sense of humour is unmatched

Throughout my youth, I had a crush on the American actress, Julia Roberts. Maybe I can credit my sister for nurturing that, for she was obsessed with Robin Williams’ retelling of the tale of Peter Pan in the 1991 movie, Hook. She owned the film on VHS, so would be found watching the video over and over again until she had memorised all the dialogue of the entire film by heart.

I guess I must have watched it over and over with her too, because somehow the face of Julia Roberts’ character Tinker Bell became imprinted on my psyche. While all around me classmates obsessed over (so-called) blonde beauties, my heart had been stolen by that face. Later I would see it on posters for The Pelican Brief and Pretty Woman. To my youthful imagination, she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

That was, of course, until I got married, and I realised that God had granted me a companion who bore more than a passing resemblance to my teenage crush, whose face had been plastered across billboards promoting Notting Hill a year earlier. It turns out I wasn’t the first person to notice that similarity. I was, however, the first person to be blessed to be married to her.

Naturally, I thought she was pretty when we were introduced, but until you’re husband and wife, you don’t really study your companion’s face in detail. At every meeting until then, she had been modestly clothed, her head encircled by a headscarf, her hair unseen. I had fallen in like at first sight, but was being carried along by my faith in the One.

Had I tried to plan any of this, I would have utterly failed. But that saying we have in our tradition is so true. The Most Merciful certainly will take care of the rest. I married her for her religion. The One then provided the bonus content I hadn’t been expecting. So much better than a teenage crush, mashallah.

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