There are so many things we did when we were young, which with hindsight we might choose to do differently today. Mindful of the long engagements that many Muslim couples nowadays have, I suppose we could perhaps have slowed down a bit too.
Indeed it occurred to us in recent years that in order to placate my family, we could simply have done the religious nikah and walima amidst our community, and then gone through the motions of courting the “Western way” for sufficiently long a period to satisfy everyone that we weren’t being rash and foolhardy.
At the time, we were so fixated with doing it right and making it halal that we charged ahead with marriage regardless, causing ill-feeling all around us. On the other hand, perhaps that pursuit of halalness was a blessing, laying down firm foundations on which to build all that followed.
Whatever their misgivings, at least our family could acknowledge that we were honest and sincere. We didn’t pretend it was something it wasn’t. Given the assumptions about my conversion, I could easily have lied and explained that she was the mythical girl in the background, long thought to have been the cause of everything.
But, no, that wasn’t where either of us were then. We were going to do everything right — as we understood it at the time — and were straight forward about it. With hindsight, of course, we could have done absolutely everything differently.
We too could have had a long engagement. We could have waited a year and made the Istanbul wedding the start of everything. We could have given ourselves space to ponder and contemplate — and others the time to properly talk us out of it.
But I think, on reflection, we did the right thing. Even if we were young and foolish.