I’m a Somalian student who met and fell in love with an older Lebanese man. I met him through a mutual friend during Ramadan. I was immediately attracted to him and I could tell that he was attracted to me too but the friend who introduced us warned me not to get my hopes up. Chances were that he would marry an Arab woman not me because I was from a different culture although I was a Muslim too.
That was hard for me to hear, especially as he and I saw each other regularly at the mosque. I considered looking for another Muslim guy, one who was African like me but my heart was set on Fadi. I had fallen in love with him and I kept hoping and praying that he wouldn’t let my my race and ethnicity be barriers to marriage.
I learned everything I could about him. He left Lebanon and moved to the United States after graduating from Yale. He was super smart and ran his own business. I couldn’t believe that he was still single but was relieved. He was thirty-nine and I was twenty-one. Our age difference didn’t matter to me. I was too much in love with him to care.
Then, my whole world came crashing down around me when someone who knew him told me that he was engaged to an American Lebanese woman. Devastated, I realized that I never had a chance. Even though he was obviously attracted to me, in the end, it didn’t make any difference. Culture and ethnicity mattered.
I went to another mosque because I didn’t want to run into him and his fiancee. I threw myself into my studies, trying to forget Fadi and move on with my life but that was easier said than done. My friends, including the one whom I met Fadi through, encouraged me to try the single Muslim dating sites but I wasn’t interested.
In December, I performed Umrah. Going on this pilgrimage gave me the opportunity to offers to refresh my faith, seek forgiveness and pray for my needs. It felt good being in Makkah or Mecca as it is most commonly known. It was there that I performed the Ihram which is mandatory before Umrah. Without it, Umrah cannot be performed. After two weeks on the blessed journey, I returned to Seattle, feeling a great sense of peace and that things were going to work out for me.
A week after I returned, I heard from Fadi. He told me that he wasn’t engaged. He had been taking part in “halal dating” and had met an American Lebanese woman but after seeing her for a while, he decided that he couldn’t marry her. “It was because of you, Afiya. I couldn’t stop thinking about you even when I was with her. I realized that you’re the one I want to marry.”
My eyes widened in shock. “You want to marry me?” I exclaimed, hardly daring to believe what I was hearing.
“Yes. I’m in love with you, Afiya. And I hope that you feel the same way about me.”
“Oh, Fadi, I do. I do.” My heart was overflowing with joy. I wanted to throw my arms around him and for him to kiss me but that couldn’t happen because of our religion.
He asked my parents permission to marry me. We were engaged for 5 months, long enough for Fadi and I really to get to know each other well enough, prepare ourselves for marriage and for our families to get acquainted.
Our wedding ceremony was held at the mosque and the reception at The Foundry. The ceremony lasted for less than an hour but it was the most beautiful and soulful event in my life. I was laughing when we were showered with coins as we couple exited the mosque. We had a sumptuous dinner, cake cutting, the first dance, speeches, parent dances and so much more. No alcohol is served at the cocktail hour or the reception which must have been a big disappointment for some of my friends and colleagues.
After the festivities were over and Fadi and I were alone in our bedroom. I was nervous. I think we both were. “We don’t have to make love tonight,” he said quietly. “There’s no rush.”
“Don’t you want to?” I asked.
He touched my face. “Of course, I want to,” he murmured huskily. “I just don’t want you to feel pressured.”
“I’m not,” I assured him. “I’m nervous but I don’t feel pressured. I want us to make love on our wedding night, Fadi.”
Before we had relations, we recited the du’a, the supplication to seek protection from the evil among the unseen during our intimacy. Then, it was time to get intimate. We took it slow and easy because Fadi wanted to make the act as comfortable as possible for me. I didn’t think I could love him more than I already did but his thoughtful and selfless act made it possible for me to.
As I lay there on the bed, on my stomach, naked, he massaged me with oil, helping me to relax and I could feel the tension leave my body. “That feels good,” I mumbled. “And I like the scent.”
“It’s Fusion forests.”
I closed my eyes as he continued to rub the oil in and then my breath caught in my throat when I felt his lips on my skin. I felt my body respond. My fingers gripped the sheets as he pressed kisses down my back and lower. Then, he gently turned me over onto my back and kissed me. I kissed him back as desire raged inside me. We kissed passionately for a while and then, he broke off the kiss to press his lips against the side of my neck before covering every inch of my body with kisses.
When, he was done, he took olive oil and lubricated his shaft. Then, he took his time and entered me. I cried out and he didn’t move his hips until he was sure that it would be okay. When he began to move against me, I clung to his shoulders, my fingers digging into his flesh as I felt pain and then pleasure.
I’m glad I insisted that we made love tonight. It was a wonderful experience for me. After we were done, we couldn’t pray salah until we had performed ghusl which is the cleansing bath but we were permitted to delay the ghusl just before the dawn prayer. So, we lay there, in each other’s arms, spent and sated until we fell asleep.