Halal Dating

So, a group of us from the university were hanging out at Eastern Food Bazaar. I was sitting next to Anele. We’re at the counter getting our food. I try not to stare at her but I can’t help it. Since I’ve been at the university and this is my last year, I’ve never met a girl I was interested in or wanted to date until I saw her. She was Muslim which was good because I’m Muslim too.

I wasn’t sure she would be into me, though, because I’m Indian but when I saw her staring at me as I walked down the hallway with my friend, I could see that she was and that was very encouraging for me. That morning wasn’t the first time I had seen her. In fact, I noticed her months before she even knew that I existed. I would see her walking down the hallway with her friend or on the steps of Sarah Baartman Hall or in the library but she was always too busy talking to her friends or had her nose in a book to notice me. Many times, I wanted to approach her and talk to her but I wasn’t sure if she would be receptive and I was afraid of rejection.

So, when I saw her in the hallway, looking at me, it encouraged me to exchange hellos with her until I had the courage to approach her and invite her to come with my friends and me here. And now, I’m standing here, trying not to stare at her as we get our food. She looks up, catches me looking at her and smiles. We head over to the table and sit down opposite each other. I was having Nizami Chicken Kebab with Masala fries and she was having the spicy falafel shawarma. Although we were among friends, I felt as if we were alone. I asked her to tell me more about her interest in Social Development and working with children.

“I want to invest in children so that they can reach their full potential,” she told me. “I want to enable and empower the poor, vulnerable and those with special needs. I want to help children to raise above their circumstances, poverty and get a good start in education so that they could succeed in life.” I could tell from her impassioned expression and tone of her voice that this meant a lot to her.

“I think that it’s great that you want to work with and help children.”

“Thank you. It has always been my dream.”

We talked about other things. I learned that she was an only child and that her father was a Grade 11 teacher at Fezeka Senior Secondary school while her mother was a Project Manager at Muslim Hands South Africa. “I have heard of them,” I said. “One of my aunts was a volunteer. How long has your mother been working there?”

“For a very long time. Since 1997, a year after it was established.”

“25 years. She must love it.”

“Yes, she does.”

“Qur’an 57:18 says in the, ‘Indeed, the men who practice charity and the women who practice charity … it will be multiplied for them, and they will have a noble reward.’”

“Yes, there isn’t anything more rewarding than practicing charity.”

She asked me about my family. I told her that I was the eldest of two sisters and a brother. “My father is a lawyer and my mother is a Dentist.”

“I think it’s great that a woman can be a Dentist.”

“Have you heard about Halal dating?” I asked.

“Yes. It’s a way for Muslims to learn about one another to decide if they want to be married, while at the same time observing their beliefs of Islam. I know people who think it’s better because they think that it’s better to learn about a person before a marriage takes place to prevent some of the problems that can arise from arranged marriages. And I also know people who still prefer the traditional method of matchmaking or arranging marriages because they feel that it’s more like a fun thing.”

“Do you think it would be something you would be interested in doing?” I was hoping that she would say yes.

“Is it something you would like to do?”

“Yes…with you.”

“With me?”

“Yes, but maybe, you would rather go through the traditional methods and have your family help you to find a significant other.” I waited anxiously for her reply as I saw her thinking about it.

“I would like to try Halal dating,” she said. “When we go out, a chaperone should be present or we can meet in a public place.”

“Or we could be in a group like now.”

“Yes.”

“I’ll tell my parents about you.”

“And I’ll tell mine about you.”

Soon it was time to leave. We said goodbye the others and then, Anele and I got a ride with another student. We didn’t sit together. She sat at the back with another girl and I sat at the front. Her place was the first stop and after thanking S for the ride and me for inviting her, she bade us farewell and got out of the car. I watched as she walked to the front door of an attractive but modest house. She turned and waved before going inside. My friend was saying something but I wasn’t paying attention. I was thinking about Anele and how much I was looking forward to seeing her tomorrow on campus.

As soon as Anele got to her room, she dropped her bag on the floor, took up her notebook and went over to a chair. She opened the book and began to write down everything that happened that day. It thrilled her that Hasani wanted to date her the Halal way because it meant she could be his partner for life.  Of course, they would have to tell their families about it. She paused in her scribbling and looked up.

Would their families approve? Granted, they were both South African and Muslims but she was black and he was Indian. Would her parents approve of her marrying an Indian and would his approve of him marrying a black woman? What would they do if they didn’t? What were Hasani and she going to do about it? Give into what their parents wanted or do what they wanted if they truly believed that they were meant for each other?

Although she could understand families having concerns about their children marrying someone outside of their race but Allah said that if a person of good character, regardless of race went to them for marriage and they denied them, corruption would spread in the world. If their families opposed them, she hoped that Hasani would not cave in but try to persuade them to look beyond the race and think about their happiness. And she had no doubt that she would be very happy with Hasani.

Sources: Salaam Says; Jobs4Muslims; Education Without Borders; New Brunswick Canada; Learning English; Asiana TV; Wikipedia; Holr Magazine; Verona

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