Not all romances and marriages are the same. For Neha and Muzammil Ali, it took them 11 days of interaction to decide on a lifetime together.
Their love story began when Neha’s paternal aunt and uncle brought the proposal to her family and for Muzammil it started his parents kept nagging him to get married.
“I finally gave in and told them that they may look for a suitable girl but warned that the final decision on getting married would be mine,” Muzammil said.
“I had already met a few girls when on the night of October 11, I received a phone call from my chacha (father’s cousin) from Suva saying he needed a decent picture of me to send to a girls’ family for rishta (a picture circulated to potential partners in an attempt to woo into marriage).
“Apparently as per my chacha, the first photo I sent wasn’t good enough so I had to ask my mom to take a few more and selected the best one to send.”
When the couple met for the first time after Muzammil messaged Neha, the pair ended up spending an entire day together.
“I went in to meet him so I told my cousin to stay around the area and get me in the next 30 minutes,” Neha said.
“My cousin picked me around 6 pm.”
The next day Muzammil went with his family to Neha’s home. She instantly felt that she could fit in with them. On that day the pair agreed to go ahead with the wedding because their ideologies and views of life were similar.
“I knew that love would eventually happen but it was important to find a partner I would be compatible with, and I saw that in Neha.”
Neha said they both had graduated in 2018 during the same University of the South Pacific graduation ceremony, where Muzammil was awarded a gold medal. Neha’s mum was present at the graduation.
“When we went home that day her (Neha’s mum) take away was that a Muslim boy received a gold medal. My sister mentioned that he was her friend.
“My grandmother went on to say “oh you should marry him” and four years later when I met Muzammil and found out that he was the same boy, it became an easy yes for me.”
The nikah (Muslim wedding ceremony) process began at the earliest possible date.
The couple shared that religion was important to them and the decision they chose was in line with their faith.
“We wanted to do our nikah early to ensure that it was islamically permissible for us to meet and given that we had decided to spend the rest of our lives together we wanted to do correctly in the way of the Prophet Mohammed SAW and with the blessings of Allah SWT.”
“Both our fathers were very much happy with this decision that we took. Granted, this raised some eyebrows, with people making the assumption that I was pregnant.”
The nikah took place at Samabula mosque after Juma (Friday noon) prayers. Then in July when their families were able to travel from overseas the coupe had their mehendi , ruksati and walima/ reception.
“Family is really important to both of us and the fact that Muzammil’s sisters and Neha’s relatives including her grandmother’s 92-year old sister was able to travel to be part of the celebration made it even more special,” Neha said.
The couple agreed that t everyday was a new experience of learning something new about each other and while marriage was a wonderful thing, there had to be a meeting of the minds to make it work.