It was a nice day out - even though I didn't actually buy anything (apart from lunch - the only thing I could afford. lol) However, I was certain that if I had this money, then the decision to purchase these beautiful clothes would be quite straightforward. That's easy - check account. Enough money? Yes. Choose size. Buy.
A more difficult decision would be to put together an outfit. Do I have jeans to match that jacket? Do I have shoes that match that belt? Will this shirt compliment my skin colour or will it not? Although I am a pro at dressing people up now, I still remember the times when I found it difficult. It's just how it is. The more you practise, the more you will become better at it.
But how do you practise looking for a wife? Or practise talking to a girl about marrying her? Or even getting to know her?
I've never come across some manual or the like to guide me through this, so I had to make it up as I went along. I'm guessing that this is how most of you feel like right now?
So I talked to the first potential, then the second, then the third, and eventually, I lost count how many girls had been brought forward to me. Now, I didn't see this as a loss, as some people would. Thomas Edison said it best: I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. Now, I didn't get through 10,000 girls (just 9,999 lol) but with each potential, I was able to define, then redefine what I wanted in a wife - or just as importantly, adjust my personality to fit in with my dream gal.
I had been talking to this girl for several months now, and I could not believe how amazing she is. So much so, that I decided that I had to see and meet her myself. Now, she lives a few thousand miles away. But luckily, our mutual friend was getting married so I decided to attend her wedding and kill two birds with one stone, as they say.
Due to work commitments, I was only able to visit this far away land for 10 days. Ten measly days. And in those ten measly days, I felt that I had to make a decision on this girl. After all, I had invested about £1000 in total (flights, hotels, clothes, etc) to meet this girl - this was waaaay more than I had spent on any girl in my life!
But I prepared myself mentally for the worst; the worst being that either one of us didn't like each other and I would return to the UK as a single man... still looking for the girl of my dreams.
As I landed, I knew I had to make every use of every minute in that country (famous hadith: "take 5 before 5"). So after talking to her, we made arrangements to meet every day. We made our intentions clear to each other and soon enough, we were well on our way to finding out about each other.
First meeting: airport. she picked me up with her sister. drive to hotel. jetlagged. slept most of the journey. then she took me out with her sister for dinner.
Second meeting: she took me to the mosque for salat ul jumu'ah. again with her sister. lunch. sightseeing.
Third meeting: met her uncle, grandmother, aunties, cousins, mother. I wasn't wasting time. I wanted to see what her family were like.
And so on... I just let her take me places.
I ended up meeting many members of her family. And I was very pleased with how humble they were. They were all very friendly; very nice people. And the most important thing, was that I could make them laugh! So I think they had a very good impression of me! hehe! I also met some of her friends.
After about the 7th day, I was back at my hotel room, and I was pleased to find an email from my big sis asking how things were with my gal. I wrote extensively. Probably the lengthiest email I had ever written in my whole life. I detailed the things that put me off her. And I wrote down all the worries I had - that this girl may not be the best thing for me. It was a very heart-wrenching email. I totally spilled all my deepest emotions and feelings to big sis.
Next day, I received an equally lengthy reply back from big sis. She had detailed all my incorrect thoughts and emotions and showed me how Islamic people think. And do you know what big sis said in response to all the reasons I made NOT to marry this girl? She explained how these reasons were not actually reasons not to marry this girl. In fact, they were the contrary. Or they were very small tiny issues which would never ever matter in real life.
To cut a long story short, big sis made me realise how amazing this girl was. Big sis made me realise how this was a great opportunity for me, and showed me how my future marriage (inshaAllah) to this girl would be very fruitful. I love big sis. She always makes me see sense.
Not that I didn't value the enlightenment from big sis, but I still felt that I had to discuss my feelings and emotions with more than one person. Just in case I was temporarily insane... and in case big sis was temporarily insane as well. lol.
So I had the same conversation with my friend's wife back in the UK. She's actually one of my best friends - always looking for a wife for me before I met this girl; and always giving me tips on how to be a better person and giving me insight into how girls look at boys and stuff. So she knew me inside out cos I always went to her for advice on girls.
Anyway, she said the exact same thing as big sis. Just to make sure that she's not temporarily insane as well, I logged onto facebook and had a chat with more close friends of mine. Every single person was saying the same thing. Came up with the same analysis. So either everyone was temporarily insane... or this was the real deal.
Istikhara. That's the only thing left.
Man, I can't believe that I used to think that dressing someone up so that everything matches really well was difficult. That was a piece of cake compared to making a decision about your future spouse. In fact, I tried to recall all the difficult decisions I have had to make in the past. All I could think of was decisions like what time to wake up for work, which brother I should drive up to see on my day off and what I should cook for my family one day. Man... have I been blessed with easy decisions all my life or something? Is this Allah's way of following up a period of ease with a period of hardship?
Why can't the difficulty level of choosing a wife be the same as when you are choosing the colour of your decor? Or choosing which car to buy. Or which neighbourhood to live in?
I started to become frustrated again, and secretly started to envy those people who didn't have to make this decision in their life - started to envy those people who had a forced marriage. At least they didn't have to endure the torture of making such a huge decision!! More stupid ideas like this started coming, so there was nothing I could do to get rid of these ideas, other than to sleep on it.
Woke up the next day. Feeling good about everything. Confident. These past few days had stressed me out to the point that I had gotten ill. All that decision making drained me mentally and even more physically. But that morning, I was feeling a lot better. It was like the world had been lifted off my shoulders. It was like I could see a clear path out of the woods. I felt like now, I could take on the whole world.
I had made the most difficult decision in my life.
Now I had to come up with a way to tell her...