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3 Muslim Wedding Stories to Warm Your Heart – Arranged, Elopement & Convert Style
May 11, 2022
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Amal Said walks down the aisle to her elopement-style nikah.
Guest Contributor
guest writer
Editor's Note: It's Wedding Week at Haute Hijab, and we put a call out for you to share your sweet, fun, interesting and romantic Muslim wedding stories with us! The following three women share with us their stories of an arranged marriage, a marriage between two converts and the story of a bride who never wanted a "traditional" wedding but got something so beautiful instead!
Honoring our Faith as Muslims and Our Respective Cultures as Converts
By Hazel Gómez, community organizer advisor, Dream of Detroit
"I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman."
Intentions for the sake of Allah (S) can transform the simplest of acts into deep worship. I'd like to share how [my husband] Mark and I tried our hardest to be intentional with our Big Day while also doing our best to stay true to our faith as Muslims and honoring our respective cultures. Just another episode of #ThatConvertLife.
One of the intentions for our wedding was that we wanted it to be a form of daʿwah for our families and friends especially since we are both converts.
Many of our family members and close friends had never been inside a masjid at that point. Nothing was perfect by any means, but I genuinely feel that such an intention is what helped things go smoothly ... for the most part.
1. I wore a khimar on my wedding day. I got a really fancy one made out in the southern ‘burbs of Chicago. Shout out to a Palestinian-owned salon that made my khimar FROM SCRATCH with the fabric and materials I brought in. I literally had to make an appointment a week before my wedding to get a ḥijab custom-made just for my head and then place it on a mannequin's head in my room so it wouldn't fall apart.
2. One of the challenges we faced was that we wanted our nikāḥ ceremony to take place in the main muṣallah (prayer area) of a masjid in the Chicagoland area, with men on one side and women on the other side while having an "aisle" for me to walk down while being escorted by both my maternal and paternal grandfathers. (No music of course, it's a masjid). Why this set-up you ask? Because we wanted our relatives front and center as we were going to get married. We wanted them to be present, to witness a big day for both of us and to witness the beautiful Muslim community that nurtured myself and my soon-to-be husband at that point.
That was one of the hardest parts – finding a masjid to allow for such accommodations. We sought advice from various scholars and since the ceremony was not at the start of any of the ṣalat (prayer) times, each of them agreed that it was fine and saw nothing wrong with the set-up we wanted. We had attached small reminders along with the invitations about what dressing modestly looks like for men and women.
Hazel Gomez undergoing final wedding preparations.
Photography for Hazel and Mark Crain's wedding by Eve Rivera.
3. The nikāḥ was open to the community, but they did get invites – physical or digital. After the ceremony, people received cultural sweets in cute little boxes that contained sweet potato pies my mother-in-law baked, (She baked 70 pies cut into 10 slices each, Masha’Allah!), besitos de coco, which is a Puerto Rican sweet, plus we included dates. The walīmah was smaller and mostly family. We were on a budget!
4. Since our walīmah was at an upscale restaurant with about 150 guests, there were some folks that wanted to order drinks. You best believe how kind the host was in reminding ANYONE that drinks were not allowed at the reception, and if they wanted drinks, they had to leave. I am so grateful for the hosts coming up to me and saying "This is your day. Do not worry. We are reminding your guests that alcohol is not allowed." To this day, I am so grateful to have had loving and caring hosts who really looked out for our values on our big day.
5. Our nikāḥ was done both in English and Spanish – English by Shaykh Shpendim Nadzaku, who knew our intentions, and Spanish by Imam Wesley Lebrón. I name them because they deserve our du’a, because they truly made the day so special with their message of love and marriage within Islam. May Allah (S) bless them and their families!
6. We added cultural elements, such as the Mexican traditions of the lasso and las arras (the gold coins). Traditionally, the lasso is a rosary with a cross but we got gorgeous and massive misbaḥah/dhikr beads made, which symbolizes unity and protection for one another in a marriage, similar to the Quranic concept of spouses being garments for one another.
Las arras, the gold coins, is when a groom hands his new bride a handful of gold coins and says a prayer along the lines "may Allah (S) always provide for us, may I always provide for our family, and may we always give in charity, ameen."
(We didn't “jump the broom,” but I wish we had.) Even for these cultural elements, again we sought advice from scholars. I'll never forget when Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah walked over to us after the nikāḥ ceremony and asked to see the dhikr beads we had around our shoulders. He looked so happy to see such lovely dhikr beads and to witness how happy my own family was.
Our wedding week was stressful but I pray that it left some sort of impact on our families and friends, and that it was some sort of daʿwah. May Allah (S) accept. I will add that I HIGHLY recommend everyone to read "The Cultural Imperative" by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah which can be found here in both English AND Spanish! May Allah (S) bless and protect all of our marriages, make them sources of peace and tranquility, and keep us mindful that our unions are for Allah (S), ameen!
(This story was originally shared by Hazel on Facebook and Instagram and was lightly edited by HH)
I Never Wanted a Wedding, but I Had the Most Beautiful One!
By Amal Said, Human Resources Manager at Chili’s
I have never wanted a wedding, it always seemed excessive and stressful to me. After learning that my sister would be in LA for a month, I thought what a great opportunity to elope away from home (Dallas)! I quickly found a dress online, booked accommodations, found the most amazing photographer and three short weeks later we were getting married in the middle of Angeles National Forest.
Amal Said's small wedding party
I only told a handful of friends that it was happening and they surprised me – I had no idea they were there until walking down the aisle, so of course I couldn’t stop crying. It was a beautiful day filled with so much love and I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
When There’s Magic, There’s Magic!
By Dr. Uzma Jafir, Mommying While Muslim podcast
It was a seventh-level-of-Jahannum-worthy summer when I “sat with'' several men (not simultaneously) and perfected the art of keeping a straight face when mine wanted to make like Jim Carey and flee for refuge in a cold acid shower. When there’s no magic, there’s no magic. There’s also no good way to tell your dad the potential spouse being scouted for you is gay and fronting for his family. Fast forward four years and two divorces later – turns out, he was!
Dr. Uzma Jafri and her husband
Dr. Uzma Jafri
The next season, a tall man with thinning hair made it to the family couch. I was into either Tom Selleck hair or Kojak (super diverse tastes, look them up if you’re a millennial or younger), but the deal breaker was his beard. And, I wore hijab. Of course that was his deal breaker! We both figured we’d survive the night to save family face and then go our separate ways.
Despite our protests, our chaperones insisted on ditching us at coffee time, and our stilted questions evolved into hours of frank conversation. When he dropped me off, he handed me a thank you note he’d pre-written in case the date went well and, despite my hijab, he thought it did. In spite of his beard, I did too. When there’s magic, there’s magic!
It was the first time in months I didn’t crave an acid shower after meeting a potential spouse. And, I haven’t needed one for the last 16 years, Alhamdulillah. Whether I wanted to give one is an entirely different article.
Do you want to share your wedding story with us? Post it below in the comments!
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