I’m an African American Muslim high-school graduate who met and fell in love with an Iranian man. My brother, Faizan worked for him. He was a wealthy man who had a home and business here in San Diego. He also had a home in Mahmoodiyeh, an affluent residential area in Tehran. He was unmarried which surprised me because he was so handsome.
We met when I went to my brother’s house to drop off some warm winter chili which our mother had made and asked me to take for his wife, Farida. It’s the best Halal chili made in a slow cooker. Mr. Anvari was there. My brother introduced us. I was shy and barely said much. He towered over me. Dressed in a black sweater and slacks, he looked elegant. Even before I knew anything about him, I could tell just by looking at him that he was wealthy.
I noticed that he had the most beautiful brown eyes and his smile made my heart flutter. Then, I lowered my eyes when I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to gawk at him. We didn’t shake hands because it is not permitted between Muslim men and women unless they are related, although I have heard that Muslims who live in the UK, USA, and Europe go on dates, hold hands, kiss, and hug in public places. Instead, Mr. Anvari and I simply smiled at each other. We didn’t say much to each other and I left soon afterwards.
Imagine my surprise when my brother, Faizan called and told me that Mr. Anvari expressed an interest in meeting me again and that he, Faizan would arrange it. I was nervous and excited at the same time. We meet at Faizan’s house. Before and after dinner, we sat in the living-room under Faizan’s watchful eye, talking.
A week later, Mr. Anvari showed up at my parents home. I was in the living-room with my aunt who was telling me about her fragrant findings, the alcohol free Attar Oils she had discovered at a Aromatherapy supply store she had visited that morning but, I was distracted. “I wonder what my parents and Mr. Anvari are talking about in the study.”
“Maybe he’s asking for permission to marry you,” my aunt said.
My heart skipped a beat at the thought. Was Mr. Anvari really in there saying to my parents, “If permitted, let me marry your daughter”? I could hardly dare to believe it although I wished with all my heart that it was so. I was madly in love with him and thought him to be a very suitable husband because of his deep devotion to our faith and Allah.
My mother came and fetched me. Nervous, I followed her to the study where my father and Mr. Anvari were. After she closed the door behind her, my father said, “Mr. Anvari has something very important he would like to ask you.”
Mr. Anvari turned to face me and asked me for my permission to marry me. I remained silent which meant that he had it and that I was pleased with him. Mohin and I met during the time between his proposal and my acceptance to get to know each other better. It was our opportunity to ask questions and see if we were compatible. We always met in public and with a chaperone close by. Once we both decided we wanted to move forward and make it official, it was time for the nikkah ceremony to take place.
For the nikkah, we had to have at least two male witnesses who could attest that both Mohin and I said, “I do” or “qubool” at our own free will and without any force or pressure from our families or anyone else. Then there was the mahr, an obligatory gift from the groom to the bride which she or her family can request. As was the norm, I decided on a lump sum of money. The mahr is also symbolic of the responsibility the man has for providing for and taking care of his wife. My father was my wali because he was giving me away in marriage.
Since the nikkah was taking place at my family’s mosque, my father had to accept the marriage contract on my behalf because the men and women were segregated during the ceremony. Mohin and I repeated the word “qubool” or “I accept” three times. Then we, his uncle and my brother, our two male witnesses signed the contract, making our marriage legal according to civil and religious law.
We didn’t have at our nikkah because it was held in the mosque and it’s a religious event but my family opted for soft background music after the ceremony. Sweets were handed out immediately afterward to celebrate our union and the Walima, the wedding feast was held at the Marriott Marquis where we enjoyed fish, chicken, rice and candy-covered almonds. I warned my non-Muslim friends that there won’t be any alcohol. They were however relieved that there was a lot dancing after the dinner, they especially enjoyed the dabke.
Our wedding was generally gender segregated much like our ceremony. The festivities continued until late evening but Mohin and I came together and left for our honeymoon in the Seychelles. We took a scenic boat ride to the award-winning hotel where we were staying. It was surrounded by a tropical nature reserve and the Indian Ocean.
We weren’t tired. When we got to beach front villa with a breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean. It had direct access to the beach, a hammock and the villa was luxurious. “This is so beautiful,” I said to Mohin.
“Yes, it is.”
“I wish we could stay here forever.” I turned to face him and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the way he was looking at me.
He reached out and touched my face. I was nervous. We were going to make love for the first time. I hoped that I wouldn’t disappoint him.
As if he read my thoughts, he said softly, “Don’t worry, Shanice. Everything will be fine.” Before he leaned down and kissed me, he recited the dua for protection from evil. After he removed my head-covering, he cupped my face between his hands and kissed me. I wrapped my arms around his waist and kissed him back.
We kissed for a while and then, he drew back to remove my clothes before removing his. I couldn’t get over what a beautiful body he had. Unable to help myself, I ran my hands eagerly over his torso, marveling at how smooth his skin felt. I could hear his breath quicken and see how aroused he was.
He picked me up and carried me over to the bed. He put down me down on top of the covers and then lying on top of me, his knee parting my legs so that he could move between them. He lowered his head and kissed me passionately. I put my arms around his neck and eagerly responded. It’s funny that although I’ve never kissed before it came so naturally for me. I enjoyed the way his lips moved on mine and the way he parted them so that his tongue could rub against mine before venturing inside my mouth.
My arms fell away from around his neck when he broke off the kiss to kiss me in the hollow my neck just above the breastbone. He pressed little, urgent kisses across my chest which began to heave as I struggled to breath properly. I felt his warm breath on my breasts and then I moaned when he took one nipple in his mouth and then the other. My fingers gripped his hair. Then, he kissed me on my stomach and I cried out when he buried his face between my legs. I couldn’t grip his hair anymore so I gripped the sheets because of the intense pleasure. After a few minutes, I shook like an earthquake.
He raised his head and looked at me, his breath harsh and unsteady. “I want you so much,” he muttered thickly. “but, I’ll take my time.” He opened my legs wider and moved between them. His eyes met mine as he entered me. I gasped at the pain but it soon went away. I closed my eyes as he began to move his hips.
After our lovemaking was over, we lay there for a while, holding each other. I was so happy. I here on a beautiful island with the man I loved. What more could I wish for?
Then, we got up and we had a bath together because in our religion, after sexual intercourse, a person is considered impure and ritual prayer or salah is only acceptable after one purifies them by taking a ghusl, an Islamic bath. When we were done, we got dressed, Mohin rang for them to change the sheets and we walked out to the beach.
We walked along the water’s edge, holding hands, barefoot, the sand soft and squishy between our toes. We stopped and faced the ocean. “Being here in this beautiful and tranquil place makes me long for Jannah.”
He put his arms around my shoulders and pulled me against him. I leaned against him, loving the feel of his strength behind me. I felt loved and safe in his arms. “Yes, me too. I’m looking forward to that glorious day when I can hold your hand and say, ‘we’re finally here’.”
I teared up because he wanted me to be in Jannah with him. “Me too,” I whispered.
What is love? When you want Jannah for someone just as badly as you want it for yourself.
Sources: Find Your Muslim Partner; The Crazy Tourist; Al Islam; Islam FYI; Arab Woman Dating; Learn Religions; Azislam; Islam Question & Answer; Engagement in Quran; The Knot; Brides; Oakville News; Halal Travel; The Luxury Travel Expert; Katie to Khadijah; Hadith of the Day; Hidden Pearls; Ultra Updates