Destination Gauntanamo Bay

Rahim 1 

My parents told me about a woman they had heard about, her name was Salma and my mother insisted that we arranged a meeting with her family and in a few weeks we were heading to London. I had my doubts because I wanted a wife that was religiously aware.

Finding a true believer was far more important to me than good looks and how well she cooked. My parents refused to give me details and told me to trust them. It was pointless arguing with my mum so I relented. They guided me this far In life, surely i could go to this dinner for them.  My mother assured me that that Salma came from a good Muslim home and was strong in her faith. 

Initially when I heard that Salma was from London, I imagined a working women who was independent and probably being nagged by her parents to get married. I wasn’t keen on meeting someone who was being forced to get married and then there was the question of moving to South Africa because my parents are aged and with all my siblings married and living far away, I was the provider at home. 

My parents and I boarded the plane,  people looked at me nervously because of my islamic attire but I wasn’t going to change my clothes, my religion came first. The flight was long and it was taking a toll on my father , he was under treatment for his Cancer and it was hard to watch such a strong man deteriorating slowly. He sensed my concern and assured me that he was ok and I shouldn’t worry and that he wanted to be here. I thanked Allah for sending me the best parents in the world. 

Growing up we didn’t have much but we always had loving , committed parents who guided and supported us.

After an eternity, we landed and surprisingly we got out the airport without any hassles. I booked my parents into a luxury hotel to spoil them and braced myself for the week long family visits we had to make and the endless gift shopping for everyone back home. 

A day later we were met at the hotel by Salma’s father. He was dressed in a white Kurta and had a warm, friendly smile. As soon as I greeted him, I felt at ease. Especially because in a country where Muslims are often subjected to hate because of the media, there are some who will still openly display who they are.

He took us to get some coffee and the car ride was spent talking about me, he needed some answers before introducing me to his  daughter. He asked me about my work and was pleased to hear that I was an aalim  as well as a psychologist. He insisted that we joined them for dinner and I politely declined initially but my dad accepted after he insisted.

Once we were settled back at the hotel, I asked my mother how they knew about Salma.

My dad told me the local imam approached my father and told him about his niece, how he admired me and he thought we would be a good match. The imam had told his brother-in-law about me and they agreed it was a good idea. My mother told me that she had spoken to Salma but didn’t want to tell me more because she wanted me to create a first impression that was entirely my own.

On the way to his home Salma’s dad spoke about his work at the masjid and I was really impressed. He had projects that included everything from feeding the local poor to helping raise funds for Gaza and Syria. They had also opened a community centre where kids could come and do homework, play and join classes so they were kept off the streets and away from drugs. The best part was that the centre was opened from community funding.

When we arrived we were greeted warmly and welcomed by everyone at home. We were seated in the lounge and then I was totally caught off guard by this beautiful woman coming down the stairs. She looked at me and then lowered her gaze, which was probably when I realized I was staring and everyone had noticed. I wasn’t sure she was Salma because the imam had a few daughters. The beauty passed by us and entered the kitchen. 

Supper was served and despite how awkward it was, I continued to stare at the beauty. After all I’m a guy.  When supper was done, the imam turned to me and say that since I wasn’t Salma’s mahraam, they would remain in the large open planned dining and lounge area while we spoke. 

Luckily the beauty was Salma, she wore her niqab with such elegance and she was confident as hell. 

She sat down across me and neither of us said a word. Eventually I told myself this was do or die time so I stopped gawking and started speaking. First I asked her about herself. Her faith was the most important thing for her, she was 25 years old, qualified as a teacher. She told me that many schools didn’t want to hire her because of her niqab but she eventually found work at a public school. My mum had told her loads about me, including that I took care of them and apparently this told her all she needed to know about me. 

The imam came and told her to lift her niqab. I lowered my gaze, only because her dad was watching me closely and when I looked up, her smile was addictive and she radiated warmth. She was a bit chubby , had these rosy cheeks and her eyes smiled. I was in awe. I asked her to put her niqab back on and called the imam. I told him I had already performed my istigarah and I was ready marry his daughter and that I had one condition, he looked worried but I smiled and said that nikah should be in a few months time if she agrees to the wedding just so my siblings and best friend could be part of the festivities. I then told Salma that if she accepted my proposal she should call my mum and let her know and that I was officially going to be in love now. She laughed and it sounded like a piece of heaven.  

She thanked me and informed me that her istigarah was positive and she was ready to take the next step with me. She left the room and I felt ready to make nikah that second. My dad looked at me and then, as if he had read my mind, he asked the imam if they would consider a nikah while we were in London and then a walima in a few months when we came to take Salma back home with us. He told us that the choice would be Salma’s.

Salma retuned with her mother half an hour later and said she had thought about it, discussed it with her parents and feels that we should make nikah before I left for South Africa. I was elated. This was my queen, my amaanh, my other half. Her father said the nikah would take place after zohr salaah the following day. I would be leaving London with as my wife. 

by mumtaz saley

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