They met on a cruise of the South Pacific and immediately hit it off. Back at home in the U.S., they dated and found themselves all the more drawn to each other. In an era when most people their age married right out of high school or college, they were both in their 30s and still single. But they came to realize that this was what they had each been waiting for.
It culminated one evening in a perfect setting: a candlelit dinner at a fancy restaurant. After the meal, he took the diamond ring from his pocket and held it out to her.
“Well?” he said.
My fiancé Ahmed came to the US from his native Turkey in part to escape from the societal pressures of his culture. This resonated with me, because I left small-town Oklahoma for a similar reason. We both wanted to make our way in the world unfettered by other people’s expectations.
But, when it came time for him to propose, he ran it by his family. Naturally, they asked if I was a Muslim. When he said no, they gave him the skeptical eye, which annoyed him to no end. But he loved them and wanted to explain his decision in a language they could appreciate.
“One Surah of the Quran,” he told them, “says that sometimes what seems good is actually bad, and what seems bad is actually good. Maybe you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing but it is bad for you. Only Allah knows.”
Last week we highlighted Avital Chizhik’s wonderful NYT post “The God of Marriage“, which details striking similarities between Orthodox Jewish and Muslim courtship and marriage rituals here in the US.
Ms. Chizhik wrote us a lovely email soon thereafter, saying, in part:
I spent a good hour reading through other posts on your site, and wanted to tell you that I love your work. It’s wonderfully empowering, refreshing too, to see women finding spaces to discuss love, relationships, sexuality vis-a-vis religion and the traditions they seek to uphold. I ended up reading aloud quite a few excerpts from your site to my roommates. We girls sat here laughing and gasping over the similarities: the struggles are one, and so are the voices.
We wanted to send big Friday love to Ms. Chizhik and the many, many others of all faiths and backgrounds around the world who are helping people see themselves reflected in the lives of others, and who remind us all that there is far more that binds us together as humans than separates us as nations.