Chapter Seven: The Conversations
© Abu Zaynah
“A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. You should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a loser.” said the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him). He (may peace and blessings be upon him) also said “When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied asks to marry your daughter, comply with his request. If you do not do so, there will be corruption and great evil on earth.”
Marriage is a religious duty and a sacred bond and in Islam we are taught to pick for ourselves, our sons and daughters a righteous spouse through whom one can grow in faith and practice.
Afsana knew exactly what she wanted from a man. She wanted a strong man, a pious man, a man of principle and fortitude. At the same time she wanted someone with emotion and feelings and a soft heart because she herself was a very soft hearted person and anyone who came across too strong could easily perturb her. She wanted someone who prayed five times a day and lived their lives as much as possible according to the teachings of Islam.
Amjad on the other hand was not as prescriptive. When his friends asked him the other day what he wanted in a wife his response was a jovial “as long as she looks good and can cook a smashing curry, I’m good with that.” Although he hardly showed it Amjad did have a serious side to him. Deep within him he also wanted a pious wife, someone that can bring his children up in the right way and someone that can teach them the religion. He knew that his own knowledge of the religion was limited to say the least and he had not gone out of his way to learn anymore than what was taught to him in evening school at the local Mosque.
The parents began to converse with each other talking about family history, where they lived, how many children they had etc. There was the occasional question aimed at the prospective groom and bride. Amjad answered any questions that were directed at him. Afsana’s sister tended to answer any that were directed at Afsana. For instance Afsana was asked by Amjad’s mum whether she wanted to continue to work after marriage and Amira replied “she hasn’t decided what she wants to do in the long term but certainly in the short term she would like to carry on working.” Amjad was asked whether he had considered any other careers aside from selling cars and his response was that he had a thing for cars and really enjoyed his job and therefore for the time being this is where he was settled. Having said that he did mention that it wasn’t to say he wouldn’t consider other opportunities should they come his way.
The conversation then drifted into Afsana’s dad asking Amjad questions around the latest BMW to come out and technical details about the engine capabilities etc at which point Afsana’s mum steered the conversation back to the matter at hand.
The families both seemed to get along well. After a little more conversation between the parents Mr Ahmed suggested to the parents that they go upstairs and leave the children behind to talk amongst themselves. He ordered some more refreshments for the tables and took the parents upstairs into the cafe area.
An eerie silence ensued for a minute or so as if everyone was afraid to speak or make eye contact. To Afsana it seemed to last a lot longer. She nudged her sister to say something. Amira broke the silence. “So … what are you into then, what do you enjoy, like etc?”. The question was directed at Amjad. Amjad cleared his throat and began listing the things he likes. “I am a fan of cars hence the job at BMW”. “You will get along well with my dad then” interjected Amira. Amjad continued “I enjoy sport. I watch football and play with my mates in the weekends.” “What team do you support?” asked Afsana’s brother Navid. “I support my local team West Ham. How about you, are you into football?” replied Amjad. “I am a Chelsea supporter” replied Navid. The conversation then drifted on to what team is playing when, and how one team is supposedly better than the other, and what players will move in the next transfer window and so on. Afsana just sat and observed as the conversation went on.
The conversation then went on to Amjad’s sister Samira and what she did. She said that she was currently in college studying for her A levels and was looking forward to going to university to study Law. Samira then asked Afsana what she did and what her hobbies were. Afsana spoke in a soft tone, barely audible. “I work at a Pharmacy as an assistant Pharmacist. I am still in training but insha Allah should be a fully qualified Pharmacist soon. I enjoy reading a lot and like the occasional outing with my friends.” “I like reading to” responded Samira. “What book are you reading at the moment?”. The conversation went on about the books each were reading and their favourite authors. Afsana maintained her genuine shyness throughout and spoke little with her sister Amira interjecting often to help her out with a lot of answers. Whilst the girls were talking books, the guys were talking movies.
“So what do you want in an ideal Husband” asked Samira. Amjad stopped his conversation with Navid as he wanted to hear what Afsana had to say. Seeing Amjad’s attention redirected at her Afsana became shy and looked away. Amira could see her sister was a little uncomfortable so she decided to answer on her sister’s behalf.
“As you can see my sister is quite a shy and modest person. She is practicing Muslima – Alhamdu Lillah – and as such would want her husband to be the same. She is looking for someone that can bring out the best in her and to help her in her journey to Allah. She wants some who can comfort in her times of hardship and share with her the times of joy. Someone that will protect her through thick and thin and be there for her always. In return she will do the same for him”. “Have I covered everything sis?” Amira asked her sister. Afsana smiled and nodded to show she was happy with her sister’s answer.
“How about Amjad – what are the qualities he wants in a wife?”. The question was asked by Amira to Amjad’s sister but actually directed at Amjad. Amjad allowed his sister to answer the question as he became quite nervous at this point and didn’t feel as though he met the high standards expected by Afsana.
“My brother is an easy going person. He is chilled out and likes to have a laugh. He is into his sports and movies as you may have gathered from the discussions he’s been having with Navid. Although he comes across a little bit childish and immature at times, deep within him there is a good soul. He does his prayers regularly and attends the Masjid when he’s not at work. I think my brother is looking for someone that can give him that extra push to bring him closer to Allah. Someone to hold his hand and pull him up to the next level. He is not the perfect man, but he is sincere and willing to try.”
Amjad had his head down this time and seemed to be in deep thought. It would seem that it was at this point that he realised that he is actually growing up into a man and soon enough will have responsibilities to bear whereas up to this point he had his mum and dad to rely on and most things was provided for him. He put his thoughts aside and rejoined the conversation in the room.
“Your sister is very pretty masha Allah” said Samira after describing her brother and what he wanted in a wife. “She is very pretty indeed. 10/10” concurred Amjad wanting to make an impression upon Afsana as thus far she seemed to just sit there and observe what was taking place.
What Amjad moved onto say next shocked Afsana to the core. It wasn’t the content of what he said that shocked her, but it was more to do with the possibilities that it opened up. She had learnt a big lesson that afternoon and it caused her to re-evaluate a lot of the things that she did in her life and took for granted to be ‘safe’.
Amjad noticed the change in Afsana’s face, although he was not entirely sure what bought it on. He didn’t think he had said or done anything wrong or out of place. He sat there wondering what had just happened and wished for the rest of the afternoon to be over quickly.