If I speak a lot about marriage and my beloved, it is out of gratitude and in awe. It’s not easy to find a companion and soulmate, and even if you do, there are always others who will place obstacles in your way. The half a decade before we met was a real test for me, but the opposition of the weeks afterwards: nothing compares to that.
I always knew that time would come, and it would be a problem. To marry a woman of the same faith would be to confirm before to all the world that this journey was not just a passing phase, or some kind of rebellion. It would be to say that I was serious about it, and was the way I had decided to live my life. This I already knew, but nothing really prepared me for events as they occurred.
Those were testing times. When my eldest brother drove down south to talk me out of it, no topic was out of bounds. It wasn’t just about my planned marriage then. My selfishness in taking up this path was explored at length. The problematic behaviour of Muslims put to me to emphasise its untruth. All while walking me around Kew Gardens for hours on end in an effort to convince me of the error of my ways, pleading with me to reconsider.
By any ordinary measure, that should have been enough for me. Taking in all of their arguments, I should have said, “Yes, you’re right. I’ll put the whole thing out of my mind. I’ll forget about it and walk away.” Such was the level of pressure, that I nearly did.
Not long afterwards, I’d be summoned up north, and my parents would try all over again. These interventions were even more crushing for my soul. So much so that, falling on my face in prayer, I asked my Lord to take me away just then, to spare me from such a test. Shortly afterwards I despatched an email to the friend who’d introduced us, telling him that if my beloved couldn’t wait, perhaps she should just forget about me.
But then what? Would I do that whenever I met someone? Or, if we were to take it slowly, as everyone demanded, at what point would it be acceptable to say the time is now right? Of course I understand that we were rushing it by modern western standards. Most if asked today, even after congratulating us on our twenty-first anniversary, would still say that we were too hasty in getting married.
But were we? Can you ever be too hasty in doing what is right, and what is good? For ease, we could easily have done everything in secret, but we chose not to. Why? Because I suppose we knew that this was our time. The signs were all there, the preconditions set. It does make me sad that some went out of their way to prevent what should have been the happiest event of my life. The only consolation is that over the years that have followed, we have all made peace.
My beloved has been embraced by my clan, and I by hers. Everybody has been forced to confess that this union of ours was a good thing. And some have come to accept the path of faith we walk, recognising that it is real for us, enabling us to live a good life in service of the One. Without this companion at my side, I wonder how different this journey might have been. For could anyone else have embraced me, just the way I am?
Hence gratitude and awe. May God preserve her and keep her safe.