the breakfast went smoothly as we all sat around the tables with more family and friends, I occassionally looked up and smiled. It warmed me to see all these people who were so close to my heart, here for me and my special day and as I sat next to my new husband I couldnt stop smiling. The table was cramped so I found myself knocking the elbow of my mum sat next to me as we dived into the breakfasts put before us, but I found comfort in the fact that my husbands leg was tight next to mine, so tight that I could feel the warmth coming from his skin and I blushed everytime I realised I was thinking of this.
Once food was finished people started to break up to move around to talk with people, or just to step outside. I turned to Sulayman and smiled, he stretched his arms in a yawn and rested both either side of him on the chair backs. I sat back and remembered the time when we had first met, it was years ago.. before I became muslim and before he started practising. We went out with a group of friends and sat chatting for a good portion of the night when we realised we had so much in common, we were into the same sports, the same relaxation hobbies, loved to watch the world go by and we had a similar sense of humour which was unusual for any person from this country let alone 2 people from different countries. We talked about our families, our friends, our lives and eventually got talking about politics and religion, it was then that I heard something positive about Islam. At the end of the night we separated with a promise to keep in touch and a soft kiss on the lips. Then 5 years later I got a call from an old friend who was asking if I wanted to meet her for lunch with a few other friends, by this point I had become muslim and agreed to meet them later that afternoon. When I arrived at the meeting place I was shocked to see many friends who I had lost touch with from uni but was nice all the same, and it was then that I noticed Sulayman was also there and looking very different. He saw me then lowered his eyes almost immediately which made me blush as I looked down at what I was wearing to check I wasnt showing something I shouldnt have been. A few people there hadnt known I had converted but they all commented on my hijab and loose skirt like I had always worn them and it made me feel comfortable in the setting. I sat amongst the girls while we ate occassionally looking up to catch his eye, although not on purpose, all too soon it was time to leave and we stood outside hugging each other and promising to keep in touch. The few guys that were out with us all kept a respectable distance away from me and we parted with 'it was good to see you again' and 'glad things are working out for you' then we were there, stood infront of each other. He salamed me, I salamed him back... and then he was gone. I walked back to my car and drove home in deep contemplation, and that was how I spent the rest of the next few days. About 3 weeks later I got a call from the same friend who had initially invited me out and we had a random chat about nothing, she asked how things were going for me in Islam and how things work at the mosque I go to. I was surprised, she had known long before our reunion that I had converted, but never showed this much interest, I was excited to think she was interesting in Islam insha'allah. So I told her all about my mosque, the classes I took there and the women I had met, from the usual Im-willing-to-marry-you-to-anyone auntie to the masha'allah-a-white-muslim-who-i-must-protect. We both laughed and after about an hour she excused herself and we parted with the 'keep in touch, was good to hear from you' speech. About a week later at jummah, the imam (and my wali) came up to me after the salah and asked if he could speak with me, I admit I was a little nervous, it was usually me who went to him asking for advice. This time it turned out he needed me :) we sat down outside the mosque in the sun with the usual crowd of people leaving and walking in the streets outside, he turned to me and explained that a brother had come to him asking for help in finding a wife. I frowned and he read my frown by immediately telling me 'I know you say you dont want to marry yet, but I know this brother, he is a good muslim masha'allah and I feel he would be perfect for you insha'allah' It was the last part of the sentence that made me think again, my wali was thinking about me alhamdulillah, the brother was perfect for me, not you are perfect for the brother. So I urged him to carry on with his speech and reasoning to which he smiled and carried on telling me about this guy, 'you have seen him' he told me... 'although probably not thought much about the next step' I was curious... who was this guy he was talking about. He gave me some background on him and told me if he had a daughter he wouldnt be asking me, he would be giving the brother to his daughter, 'although I dont think he would agree' he said smiling. I frowned quizzically 'why?' I asked, 'because hes asked for you specifically' I blushed.. someone asking for little me, the person who shys into the background and hopes for the moment on the spotlight to pass quickly. At that point I was intrigued but he wouldnt say anything else, 'just think about it, pray istikharah and let me know insha'allah' I nodded and thanked him before standing up. 'I told the brother that if its ok with you we could meet up at his house, bring your mum or a friend, in a few weeks.' 'Insha'allah' I told him before walking off to leave him sitting on the wall as he usually did during the day, as I turned the corner I pulled out my mobile and called Davina who suggested I take my mum. Tentatively I phoned her and talked to her about the situation, it was all a bit weird for her, the whole process but she agreed to come with me if I decided to meet this guy.
I prayed istikharah as suggested by the imam and decided to go for it, I could always say no if it didnt feel right and I was still under the thought that I needed that initial spark. I phoned him up and we set a time for a few days away, which gave me time to think things through but not enough time to be overly thoughful about it, which I usually was.
When the day came I picked up my mum and we drove over to the house using the directions the imam had given me in our last phone conversation, i stood outside the house wondered whos it was. I had never been to the imams house, so it could have easily been his or some random 3rd person, I stood outside in the front garden looking around and taking in the area. It was nice, peaceful and the weather was so stunning that day that I allowed the sun to just pour into my face which made me smile. I dont know how long I was stood there because the next thing I knew my mum was pulling at my arm and I heard a cough behind me, I knew it wasnt the imam (i knew his older chesty cough) so I turned around to see a face that took me by complete shock. 'Sulayman?' I coughed up nearly choking on my own breath, he smiled 'assalamalikum,' i returned his greeting and blushed a little. 'Are you the brother Im here to meet?' I asked innocently, he smiled and told me he had a brother. But then he stopped the story when he saw how my face dropped, he walked over to me... 'I hope I get more of a smile than that on our wedding day' I blushed profusly at that point, realising the game he was playing and liking that even though he had become a lot more practising masha'allah that he was still very down to earth and hadnt lost his sense of humour. My wali came out of the house holding a bottle of water, 'should we go inside, or do you want to talk out here?' we both looked at each other and without saying a word Sulayman produced a few picnic chairs and a blanket to sit on outside alhamdulilah.
And that was where it all started.