Category Archives: How I Met Your Brother/Sister

How I Met Your Brother (in Islam) # 3: Cyber-love

A lot of people, Muslim and non-Muslim, tinker with the idea of meeting a partner online. Everyone’s heard of RSVP and eHarmony, but many Muslims have also heard of Half Our Deen and Pure Matrimony. If you haven’t, check out this video from Pure Matrimony for an example of how it works:

But there’s still a stigma attached to trying your hand at these sites. It’s often seen as a last resort, something you only do when you’re getting ‘desperate’. For many people, the idea of getting to putting yourself out there in such a proactive manner is undignified. They also worry about the caliber of people on these sites, surmising that only ‘desperate’ (that word again) people would be on there.

I’ve always been intrigued by this method of meeting a partner. It’s fascinating to see how these services try to cater for Islamic sensibilities, such as by having a feature where the woman’s wali can also be registered on the website. (Three’s a party, right?) Some Muslims I’ve heard of have even signed up for sites not specific to Muslims, such as RSVP, and I’m reliably informed that there are plenty of Muslims on there. Again, the perception of there not being enough guys to go around has led many girls to consider this option more so than they would have in the past, though not many will admit to it in public.

In this spirit, here’s a tale of a sister who found her naseeb on the interwebs.

1.) How and when did you first meet your husband? What were your first impressions of each other?

Husband and I met via a muslim matching website (the new black!). I remember thinking, there’s got to be someone else in Sydney or surrounds who is looking for a partner and is struggling via traditional means. I created profile, had a good look around the site (and a few laughs I must admit). Nothing much happened, and then about 6 months later, I get an email. And the rest is history, Muslim dating style. First impression, based on the short email I received, was that he was funny. And refreshingly to the point.

2.) How did you guys commence getting to know each other? (I.e. who expressed interest and how it was conveyed)

After that we swapped some emails. I remember I was quite jaded about the whole muslim dating scene at the time I received the first email. I thought, okay I’m gonna have some fun with this. I shot back a sharp and sarcastic response and signed off with an internet name. I actually think this caught his interest, because he certainly dished it back to me! I think we both were honest with each other from the get go. I made it clear that I didn’t join a muslim site to find friends. And he was the same. I think as the emails became more honest and flirtatious (within halal bounds :P) we knew there was interest on both ends.

3.) How did you get to know each other? (i.e. phone, email etc)

It all happened pretty quickly. We went from email, to instant messenger (oh many an hour spent on that medium), and then within a few weeks, we met up in person. First time was crazy – felt like I had to get to know him all over again. But by the second time we sort of fell into a groove. I had to remind myself that I did in fact know this person and so became more comfortable.

4.) How long did you get to know each other before you got married?

We did katb kitab in about 3 months, and the wedding followed 2 months later.

5.) What were the main obstacles, if any, as you got to know each other?

One obstacle was distance – he lived quite a bit away from me. After our KK we tried to meet as much as possible post work. So there were long drives involved. We made it easier by meeting half way. Other obstacles were ones I’m sure a lot of people have experienced, such as being 100% honest with each other in terms of expectations. It can be difficult to navigate the more serious issues while you’re in that silly romantic period

6.) When were you certain that you wanted to get married to each other?

It’s hard to pinpoint an actual time. I’d say I felt comfortable with the thought of marriage pretty early on in the piece. And the rest felt a bit like a whirlwind. One minute I was single, the next I was hitched!

7.) Did you have a social engagement before your wedding reception? (i.e. some kind of party/exchange of rings)

We exchanged rings at our KK party, which was hosted with close family.

8.) Did you do nikkah before your wedding reception? If yes, then what influenced your decision to do so? If not, was there any reason you decided to leave it until the wedding reception?

Yes we did do a nikkah. We did this firstly because we felt ready. I was in my mid 20s and he was in his late and we felt we were ready to take on this step. Also for practicality reasons – we wanted to be alone together, travel together. Makes wedding planning that much easier.

9.) Do you have any advice for single people on the process of meeting someone/getting to know someone?

Trust your gut. If something feels “off”, ask yourself why. If you feel comfortable, don’t second guess it. Be open, be honest, be prepared to put yourself out there. Make dua every step of the way.

Would you ever consider meeting someone online for marriage? Why/why not?

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How I Met Your Brother (in Islam) #2

Ah, university Muslim Students’ Associations, where would we be without you? A lot of us would be single, no doubt. Here’s the story of yet another cross-cultural MSA couple, enjoy! 😀

*Disclaimer: author’s identity has been kept anonymous.

1.) How and when did you first meet your husband? What were your first impressions of each other?
We were both on the MSA shura at uni (how original) and worked on a project together so got to know each other that way. I actually used to confuse him for one of the other guys on the shura at first so it took me a while to remember his name lol! He was very focused at the time which was something I liked but it took quite a while for me to actually think of him as anything other than a friend. His first impression of me was apparently of someone who was really smiley and just a little bit ditzy. Hey, opposites attract!

2.) How did you guys commence getting to know each other?
We were working on a project together at the time so had frequent meetings and got to know each pretty well pretty quickly. It definitely wasn’t love at first sight for me but friends were telling me all the time that he was interested- I just couldn’t see it. Eventually we had a bit of an awkward conversation online where we both sort of admitted that we liked each other in a very roundabout way and it kind of went from there. Needless to say, meetings got pretty awkward after that!

3.) How did you get to know each other? (i.e. phone, email etc)
We were friends first so we used to catch up when we were at uni to get to know each other, phone calls, emails etc. Our parents knew that we were getting to know each other so it wasn’t in secret or anything like that. They were pretty flexible about it and knew it was inevitable given we were at uni and on the shura together.

4.) How long did you get to know each other before you got married?
Our relationship was slightly complicated given we both came from different cultures, we were both at uni and he moved interstate for work while I had to stay here to finish my degree. We knew each other for 3 years before we got married and were engaged for about 2 and half of those years. I cant say it was a particularly pleasant time given the length of time but it gives you the opportunity to really get to know someone before tying the knot.

5.) What were the main obstacles, if any, as you got to know each other?
We came from very different cultures so accepting the “way things are done” between each others families was a bit difficult. We were very fortunate though in that neither of our families had an issue with the culture thing- it was more an issue with age and having the financial ability to setup house that caused us to take so long to get married ( and the fact that he was living a thousand km’s away for a year or so!).

6.) When were you certain that you wanted to get married to each other?
Right away really. As I said, we already knew each other before even considering marriage so it was easy to go from friends to “ hey…so lets get married!”. There’s always fluctuations in a relationship where you second-guess and wonder whether it will really work but you need to trust your gut really. At some difficult stages in the relationship, people around us would tell us its best to break it off but it really does boil down to what you think is best.

University events provide the perfect opportunity to meet a partner.

University events provide the perfect opportunity to meet a partner.

7.) Did you have a social engagement before your wedding reception? (i.e. some kind of party/exchange of rings)
Yes, we had a fatiha at home ( which they don’t do in his culture so it was a bit of a surprise for his parents!) where he gave me a ring and a katb ktab (nikkah) party around a year later.

8.) Did you do nikkah (Islamic marriage ceremony) before your wedding reception? If yes, then what influenced your decision to do so? If not, was there any reason you decided to leave it until the wedding reception?
We had our nikkah done around a year and a half before we got married and just before he moved interstate. We had been together around a year and a half before that and it felt right to do it. We were seeing each other often and were aware of the Islamic considerations in this situation. Also, he was moving interstate and we wanted to be able to visit each other and remain within Islamic boundaries.

9.) Do you have any advice for single people on the process of meeting someone/getting to know someone?
Trust your instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t push it. Don’t be too picky- look for qualities in a person that you know will see you through a lifetime. It’s not about his financial status, car or career prospects- those come later. And boys, her looks will fade so judge your future wife by her personality not the size of her waist. Ultimately you need to be able to look at that person and be comfortable knowing that they will be the mother/father of your children. When it comes time to dowry/wedding/rings etc, be humble and stop at your limits. I’ve seen countless great couples break up because of stupid materialistic things. If he cant afford a massive wedding or dowry, make do with what you can afford. There will not only be more barakah (blessings) in your marriage but he will appreciate you more for it. Definitely don’t go into debt for a wedding- that’s a disaster waiting to happen!
Boys, understand that there’s a lot more to a relationship than physical attraction. Yes, it’s important but it’s marginal. Look beyond the exterior. You’ll be surprised by what you might find.

How I Met Your Brother (in Islam)

Every couple has a story. It begins with a meeting, whether by chance or by design. It continues due to mutual interest and culminates in marriage if that interest proves to have staying power. I’m fascinated by the journey of each and every couple I meet. I often want to bombard them with a million and one questions on how and when it all began, but can’t in case I seem like a total creep. But through this blog I finally get to indulge my creepiness and share it with the world :p

Reading about how other people met and got to know each other could impact singles in two ways. It could potentially depress the hell out of you, inevitably resulting in the consumption of copious amounts of icecream. (I recommend Connoiseur’s Cookies and Cream for this purpose.) The other impact it could have is to give you some hope that you too will meet Mr/Ms Right, and maybe even give you some ideas about how to go about it. I’m hoping it’s the latter, because this is only the first of many ‘How I Met Your Brother/Sister’ posts to come iA.  Enjoy!

*Identities have been kept anonymous at the interviewee’s request. Drawing was also kindly provided by the interviewee!

1.) How and when did you first meet your husband? What were your first impressions of each other?
We met because we both volunteered at a detention centre. I met his best friend and partner in crime, who thought I was strange and thus good for Reginald (yes, this is the absurd fake name my husband has chosen for this interview). Then the friend organised a lunch with a group of people and we both came. I thought he seemed interesting and funny. A disclaimer: I had no idea then about his predisposition for choosing ridiculous fake names.
2.) How did you guys commence getting to know each other? (I.e. who expressed interest and how it was conveyed)
I guess we were lucky in that we had an easy setting through which to meet appropriately, that being the detention centre. Not that we were volunteering specifically just to hang out with each other, but we would generally say hi and have a chat if we were there together, and often I would use Reginald to translate for me if the detainees didn’t speak English. We hung out a lot in groups of friends. Reginald eventually was kind of like, so shall we get married? I was at the time holding a toy monkey called ‘Screamy’ because it screamed when you catapult it. It wasn’t exactly the most romantic moment in history. I immediately turned bright purple as I am wont to do when feeling nervous, and mumbled yes.
3.) How did you get to know each other? (i.e. phone, email etc)
Both phone and email, and hanging out with friends, family and, when we were engaged, going out for coffee. I went on holiday for two weeks while we were getting to know each other and we emailed a LOT. We did endless amounts of those online Muslim marriage quizzes, which are really good because they make you ask hard, practical and revealing questions that, when you’re in a tizzy of romance, you tend to brush over. I highly recommend them.
4.) How long did you get to know each other before you got married?
Between engagement and marriage? Two and a half months. And from meeting to engagement, seven weeks, so all up that’s three and a half months (ish?). My parents were like, wut? And to be honest if my sister met someone and married that fast I’d tell her she’s a majnoonah (the perfect insult as she would have no idea what it means and thus wouldn’t beat me up) and to hold her horses, but I knew, inshallah, it was right and it was.
5.) What were the main obstacles, if any, as you got to know each other?
Meeting up with each other and getting to know each other in an Islamically appropriate way, I guess. It was a major concern for both of us and honestly it’s REALLY hard if you don’t do the nikkah within 20 seconds of initial meeting. Of other married people I know, this was a major issue for them, too. If you’re not doing the tea and coffee circuits, it’s really hard to get to know someone well enough to know you’re interested in marriage, without crossing the lines. It’s a constant balancing act and we talked about it a lot, and I’m sure we got it wrong sometimes. But we did our best and overall I’m really proud of how we stuck to the restrictions and boundaries that are necessary to be in the clear Islamically.

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6.) When were you certain that you wanted to get married to each other?
This is super sappy, but the first time I ever met Reginald, I thought to myself that I could see myself married to him. That sentence sounds so ridiculous with his fake name. Over the course of getting to know him, I only became more and more certain. I prayed about it a LOT. When he proposed there wasn’t a single bit of doubt in my mind that this is what I wanted.
7.) Did you have a social engagement before your wedding reception? (i.e. some kind of party/exchange of rings)
No, I don’t think that was either of our cup of tea. We were pretty cavalier about the whole thing. We had a family meet and greet and left it there.
8.) Did you do nikkah before your wedding reception? If yes, then what influenced your decision to do so? If not, was there any reason you decided to leave it until the wedding reception?
We did our nikkah at the wedding reception. This is because my family are Christian and I wanted my wedding to be something they could enjoy and understand as a wedding. We spoke about this with the sheikh who did our marriage and he agreed that it was important to respect family and was happy to do the nikkah at the reception, and give a bit of a speech as well. I think it was a bit unusual for everyone there, but we loved it and so did our families, which is all we needed really.
9.) Do you have any advice for single people on the process of meeting someone/getting to know someone?
– If you have married friends, ask them if their husbands have any single friends. Ask your (blood) brothers, if you have any. (If it’s not completely embarrassing, that is. I would probably have preferred to die surrounded by cats than to consult my brother. He would have had way too much fun. Married friends are definitely the way to go).
– Volunteer. Join MSA or whatever, any Muslim volunteer organisation. Or not Muslim- just something you’re interested in and passionate about and maybe you’ll find other Muslims there who are interested in the same thing. This is how I met Reginald (obvs). Aside from possible snagging yourself a spouse, volunteering is a great thing to do for yourself.
– There are great new initiatives in Sydney for people looking for marriage, like the Mission of Hope ‘The M Word’ program. It seems like a pretty great way to get straight to the point, and in an Islamically appropriate setting. You can find that one on Facebook and sign up there.
– Pray. Make dua. Stress less because you know that your life is guided by the best of planners.