UPDATE: Following our marriage, we’ve decided to help others get married, too 🙂 Click here to find out how.
Throughout 2013, from time to time, I prayed that God would find me a companion whom I could spend the rest of my life with. Being in my early 20s, and in the ‘peak’ of my adulthood, or so it’s claimed – I had completed my education, was working full time, regularly playing football and attending the gym – but there was, nevertheless, a void in my life that no amount of fun, family, work or (being a believer) worship, could fulfil. I needed someone to share my (weird, confusing and often perplexing) thoughts with, someone to sit with me while I watched philosophical and religious talks on Youtube, someone to accompany me on those lonely journeys back home late at night, someone to hold my hand through life’s struggles and tell me that everything will be alright, someone who would journey with me to the next world and someone I could reciprocate that all with, not out of gratitude, but out of the natural desire a husband has to give and care for his wife.
In fact, that sense of loneliness – perhaps exacerbated because I had no father or siblings – was sometimes quite overwhelming. Before I got married, it seemed as if everyone around me was depressed, the world seemed insane and God often felt distant. The prayer I would make – and this is quite personal and may sound weird – was: “Oh Allah. Please hasten the arrival of my wife and make her beautiful inwardly and outwardly.”
While many modern people may scoff at the idea of praying to God, my sincere prayers almost always seem to be answered. And God certainly didn’t let me down this time.
Wherever my wife was, I knew she wasn’t far.
It was October 2013 and, for some reason, something inside me pulled me to start talking to this girl on Twitter that I had been following for a couple of months. We had first been following each other on Instagram since the beginning of the year – neither of us remember who followed each other first or how we ended up on each other’s Instagrams for that matter – but I had added her on Twitter, as there was something that interested me about her. After a couple of brief exchanges @’ing each other, I decided – again, I’m not sure what compelled me – to ‘direct message’ her. We exchanged a few conversations but, on November 11th, I decided to make a bold move. I asked her whether she would “like to get to know me better.”
I was relieved when she replied in the affirmative and gave me her number. We began texting, made a few phone calls, met up in public places and, one evening I realized something: I actually like her, a lot. And I didn’t think I’d be way off in presuming she liked me, too.
That night, I rehearsed in my head what I’d say to her on the phone and, without too much thought, called her. After the pleasantries, I asked her: “So what do you want to do?” “What do you mean?” she replied. “You know what I mean. Where do you want to go now? I have feelings for you. Do you have feelings for me?” “Yes,” she replied. “Then, there’s only one thing to do. Tell your dad.”
Tell her dad she did, albeit after one month of prepping herself. I met her dad, it went smoothly and the rest, you could say, is history. We began talking in November and by June 2014, we were married. Job done. The prayer was answered.
But there was something slightly mysterious about it all. The first and perhaps weirdest thing was that my wife and I were always within reaching distance. My secondary school and her secondary school were literally down the road from each other. But here’s the really strange part: I knew most of her closest friends at school, and she knew most of my closest friends at school. Yet, we didn’t know each other nor did we ever cross paths. God didn’t want us to meet just yet.
What’s more, out of anywhere in the UK my wife could have lived, she was a 10 minute drive from my home.
Once we got married, my wife told me that, although she didn’t know how I ended up on her Instagram, every time I uploaded a picture that appeared on her timeline, she would stop in her tracks and think to herself “there’s something about this guy, I have a strange feeling about him.”She even told one or two of her friends that there’s “just something about him” – and this was before we had ever exchanged any messages. I, too, was drawn to her profile, on at least three occasions I clicked on her Instagram, unsure of why I was doing it.
Reflecting back, that “would you like to get to know me better” Twitter message, came from the recesses of my being, not a place of random, impulsive spontaneity. My wife’s reply, so she tells me, was something she did pretty much without any thought. “I’m not sure why I gave you my number,” she’s told me on a few occasions, “but, at that moment, it just felt like the right thing to do.”
So how do you know if the person you’ve met is the one for you, especially if you’ve met them online and haven’t known them long? The simple answer is – you don’t. You may have a feeling deep down that there’s something special about them, but this could just be a fleeting emotion. The best judge is to see if they possess – or seem to possess – the highest virtuous characteristics in religion: an aspiration to journey to God, sincerity, loving-caring gentleness and honesty. These things might not be obvious straight away, but if you have a strong instinct, then listen to it. Also, Muslims shouldn’t forget Istikhara.
Meeting your wife on Instagram might seem like a strange way to meet your spouse. But it isn’t. God brings people together in so many different ways, and none is necessarily better than the other. I’ve recently come across other Muslims who’ve met their spouse on social media and it seems to be a growing trend. With all its downfalls, social media certainly has it’s positives, meeting my wife on there is definitely a positive in my experience.
The route my wife and I took while getting to know each other may also seem strange to some people. We maintained what is known in Islamic lexicon as ‘good adab’. In other words, from the first time we spoke, right up until we got married, we were vigilant about what we said to each other, careful not to use inappropriate or charged language. In the seven month lead up to getting married, we never touched once and we were never in a room alone. This, we believe, increased the spiritual blessings in our relationship. But, above all else, we are sure that we were always part of the same web, which, through the years, was slowly unfolding, until, finally, we came together.
I pray that this piece gives other young Muslims the courage to pursue what they believe to be the right thing to do and not be shackled by cultural norms.