Within a month of meeting on SingleMuslim.com, Mohammad Ali and Anila Ansari were married. It's not the quickest marriage that the website has seen but, considering our happy couple currently live five thousand miles apart, it was no mean feat!
SingleMuslim.com met the newlyweds at Mohammad's house in Slough, whilst Anila was visiting the UK from her home in Canada, when they shared their unique journey with us, as well as their plans for the future.
Mohammad and Anila, please could you tell us a little about yourselves?
Anila: I'm a primary school teacher. I'm originally from Pakistan but I was raised mostly in Canada and I spent some years in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. I was about two years old when my parents emigrated. I've travelled quite a bit. I've been married before and I have children.
Mohammad: I'm originally from Pakistan and I'm settled in the UK. I work as a car trader and, alhamdulillah, I have three children from my previous marriage.
So, who knew that you were using SingleMuslim.com?
Anila: My mother, siblings and my daughters. My father's not alive. I'm very open with my immediate family and, alhamdulillah, my mother was very supportive. She said that as long as I'm doing the right thing and it's halaal, then there's nothing wrong with it.
Mohammad: Most of my friends and family were aware of my search for a partner. My brother was quite keen to help me with the website and give me tips on the best way to find a suitable partner and what type of questions I should be asking. He was a great help.
Were you registered on any other matrimonial websites?
Did you try any other avenues to find a marriage partner?
Anila: Yes, my Masjid and relatives. There were some proposals but I wasn't too happy. I met people and my family met them and their families met me but we just didn't click because of personalities or family background.
Mohammad: I tried other avenues but I was quite happy working at this at my own pace. Alhamdulillah, I found it quite easy to use the website and get in touch with people very quickly. It was a good experience.
Alhamdulillah. Would you tell us about your journey â€ how you met on the website and how things happened from there?
Mohammad: It was about two o'clock in the morning. I wasn't really looking – just bored, I suppose. For some reason, I clicked the Canadian flag on the website. I read her profile, I was happy with that. I contacted her and then she had tried to get into contact with me but I had started speaking to someone else in the meantime.
Anila: I thought he was ignoring me so I didn't pay much attention.
Mohammad: I was looking for UK based sisters but, alhamdulillah, after speaking with her, I thought, she's the one!
Anila: I saw that he was checking my profile; I was curious to find out more about him. I said "Salaam" but he was communicating with someone else at the time. After some time he messaged me and apologised for not replying sooner. We exchanged some messages – he messaged me in Urdu and I replied in Urdu. But he didn't have a picture up, so I was a bit unsure about him and I got suspicious about why there was no picture. Then we didn't communicate for a week and finally he contacted me with pictures. We exchanged email addresses and he told me he had been busy with his niece's wedding.
I think that communication is very important in any relationship and I think that was the key to our journey. After that, I spoke to his dad and his sisters and I felt relieved that he was "normal". He spoke to my brothers as well. I kept praying istikhara as well, so I just felt that he was genuinely true. He is very open and honest about himself. That's the quality that attracted me the most. Then we started making plans to come to Canada and meet. Everything was fine but we just wanted to meet faceâ€toâ€face before the nikah because of the distance. So, he finally came to Canada. My children met him first and they gave me the thumbs up. And then we had our Nikah!
What was the date of your first meeting?
Mohammad: 17th and the Nikah was on the 19th. Because we had contacted each other quite a lot, we wanted to have the Nikah done. It's not really a big ceremony unless you make it a big ceremony. So, alhamdulillah, we had a simple Nikah and we are both happy with that decision.
Anila: After the Nikah, the way we communicated with each other was different. We were more open and I don't think we could have communicated that way if we weren't married. We talked about our pasts and what we've been through. It was very important for me to have that connection. I think it was good to do it the halaal way rather than dragging it on for months or even years as something negative could happen.
What date did you register on the website?
Mohammad: I registered a month or so before the Nikah.
Anila: For me it was also about a month. We found each other online within a week of registering and within a month of the first communication, we were married. We probably would have married sooner if I was in the UK or he was in Canada.
How did you feel about travelling to Canada, Mohammad?
Mohammad: It was like I was going into unknown territory. It was exciting, interesting and I had half of my deen to be looking forward to.
Did you experience any problems?
Mohammad: There were no problems from any of my family; everyone was supportive. Recently, when my wife came over from Canada, my kids have been really good with her and vice versa.
How did you feel on seeing Mohammad for the first time, Anila?
Anila: I was happy that he turned out to be as he said he was. Because he was so open from the very beginning, when we met there were no surprises. I was meeting him, not someone else. I was very comfortable, very relaxed with him. I did have some fears of the unknown; some "what ifs". Some of my family said, "He's from the UK. You don't know what types of people are in the UK!" But I could tell that he was honest. Alhamdulillah.
Would you say it was love at first sight?
Mohammad: I don't know about that. It's about making an informed decision about a person. You've got to scrutinize what they're saying and check them out. My criteria were prayer and hijab. They were number one priority for me. I was always thinking, is she pretending? I couldn't be 100 per cent sure because of the medium I was using. I could have been talking to a man! Alhamdulilah, when I got to Canada and I saw her and met her kids, that's when I really felt at ease, masha'Allah, everything she has told me is true, so all in all I'm very happy.
How important to you was family involvement?
Anila: Initially, I just needed their support. I didn't want it to be based on their decision alone because of my past experiences. I wanted to communicate first and select someone and then let them know. I did tell them about Mohammad and his family. I think it is important but it also depends on how close you are with your family.
Mohammad: It was definitely very important. I've always put my family first whenever it has come to an important decision. I involved my family even if they didn't feel like being involved! I felt it was important for them to know the steps I was taking and it's not just a union of two people, it's a union of two families as well. After them getting to know my wife, I realise I have made a good choice on behalf of the family.
How do you feel about having a long distance relationship? You're still in Canada, Anila, and Mohammad is in the UK. How does it work at the moment?
Mohammad: It is a problem with the two countries being 5,000 miles apart but if you turn to Allah (swt), he makes it easy. Alhamdulillah, we're planning our future together, so whether that's us settling in Canada or the UK, we'll have to decide.
Anila: You know, it's not that far and the there aren't many cultural or language barriers. Whatever we decide, it won't be a huge change, insha'Allah. For now, it is a bit difficult being apart but that is because we've become so close, but we're looking forward to the future.
What do you think makes your relationship special?
Mohammad: Truth is the most attractive quality. Alhamdulillah, I have a truthful wife.
Anila: I feel the same. It's better to not say anything than to lie. Attraction is also important and communication. Also our past has formed part of our personalities. That's also attractive.
Could you tell us more about your wedding day?
Anila: It was very simple. It was in the Masjid. Just family were there and a few friends of mine. It was a Nikah based on Sunnah.
Were there any memorable moments?
Mohammad: She was late picking me up at the airport!
Anila: Before the Nikah I was still working, and getting things done. I didn't know we were going to have the Nikah so soon; I wanted to meet in person and for my family to see him, especially my children. I wanted to see if they were comfortable with him and vice versa. It was a rush. We were even late getting to the Masjid! I thought the Imam would refuse to conduct the Nikah ceremony!
Mohammad: That was because my hotel was on the other side of the city.
Anila: The Imam said to come and he'd see what he could do. There was still uncertainty. We did our Salaah and then he started the Nikah. We didn't have arrangements for someone to do the video so I used my cell phone. That was very strange but we have some footage.
Mohammad: I'm over the moon about what she did. I had my camera with me but couldn't pass it to anyone to record the Nikah. It was a 2â€3 minute clip. It was really good.
Anila: We have proof! It was nice and simple.
Were there any difficulties with your children accepting your marriage?
Mohammad: We love our kids to bits. Insha'Allah, we want them to grow up to understand that these choices we have made are according to Islam and there's nothing wrong with marriage after divorce. It's a bit hard for children to understand, but if they can get that message then I'll be more than happy. I've made a good choice and I'm happy with that. If my kids can support me – and they are – then I'll be a happy father.
Anila: My children are teenagers and I wanted them to see that marriage after divorce is possible and encouraged. In Islam, it's encouraged to marry quickly after divorce or becoming a widow. I also wanted them to see that I'm doing the right thing. Living in the West, it's very easy to go towards haram. It's harder to do things the right way but as a Muslim you have to do it. It may be a struggle, it may be difficult, it may be risky, but if you are going towards what Allah has commanded, then Allah makes it easy for you. There are more blessings. Insha'Allah, it becomes easier.
Now, a few questions about the website. How did you hear about SingleMuslim.com?
Anila: I was taking an online course and through it I met some sisters who live in the UK. After one of the courses, the sisters and I were communicating on our own and talking about marriage, so they got to know that I was looking. They suggested I try SingleMuslim.com. They had seen all these advertisements and heard about people going onto it. So I thought, my intentions are good and Allah will help me. So I registered. It was very simple and, alhamdulillah, I found my match!
Mohammad: Yes, it's good. I was just surfing the net, checking our different websites and I saw this advertisement. I started playing around with the website at first, checking out its functionality and the more I used it, the more curious I became. I made a profile and was getting a lot of response. There were a few other sites that I checked but I wasn't really happy with the layout and web environment. I was very happy with SingleMuslim.com.
Was the website easy to use?
Mohammad: Yes, it was very straightforward. It was in a logical order and easy to work with.
What did you think about the features on SingleMuslim.com such as LiveChat and the Private Gallery?
Mohammad: It's good to have them for people who want to use them. I wasn't really that interested in putting my picture up.
Anila: That's what I liked about the website. It was easy to use and you can see who's viewing your profile. Communication is very easy and I felt that it was very up to date. I got messages right away and I felt like I was in control. The blocking feature is also good. I felt that it was a very safe and secure website.
Did you find many potential partners on SingleMuslim.com?
Anila: Yes, I spoke to a couple of nice people. The week that I didn't communicate with Mohammad, I was communicating with another brother. I was doing Istikhara and I felt that Mohammad and I had more things in common and I felt more comfortable when I started communicating with him again. I told the others that I had found somebody and they were happy for me. They didn't give me a hard time.
Mohammad: I started paying for the site because I was getting a lot of response. My inbox was flooded so I was curious to know who was sending me these messages. Some of them were not really genuine. During the week before I met my wife I had spoken to a lot of sisters in the UK. There were some sisters that didn't like that I'd been married, divorced and had children. There are a lot of different types of women but Allah knows best. After I started speaking to my wife, I was 100 per cent sure.
Did you find other users of the website genuine?
Anila: Yes, I found most of them genuine.
Mohammad: Maybe one per cent of users were strange but overall I was happy!
How do you feel about females receiving the service for free?
Mohammad: I don't think it's fair. They should also be charged.
Anila: I paid for a website previously and I decided I wasn't going to pay again. It is fair; men are the providers. If they can pay for a website it shows that they can pay for some basic things. There are more women out there than men so I think it's a good thing.
How has SingleMuslim.com changed your life?
Anila: SingleMuslim.com has changed my life because it has been a tool to make it easier for me, as a woman who is practising and divorced with children, to find someone, communicate with them and make a decision based on that experience. Alhamdulillah.
Mohammad: My previous marriage was through a woman who used to look for suitable matches and once she had found my exâ€wife, I gave her a new mobile phone and my exâ€wife gave her money and clothes. I felt I wanted to give her something. To find my wife through SingleMuslim.com, you don't know how happy I am in terms of what the website has done for me. Since I've found my wife I've been telling everyone about SingleMuslim.com. That's the best I can do in terms of showing my appreciation. I'm indebted to SingleMuslim.com for the rest of my life.
Anila: I feel great and I'm not embarrassed to say that I met my husband on SingleMuslim.com. With all that I've been through, I can't believe it only took me a week to find my husband!
So, would you recommend SingleMuslim.com?
Anila: I would definitely, without hesitation. I have already mentioned it to my friends and a couple of my family members.
Mohammad: Yes, I've already been recommending it to my friends and family and I will do in the future.
Do you have any advice for brothers and sisters who are still searching for a suitable marriage partner?
Mohammad: Join up! Don't waste any time and it's affordable!
Anila: I would say that if your intention is good, that's all that really matters. Be open and honest and don't be afraid of showing your true self. If you are true and you're doing everything the right way, doing istikhara sincerely and honestly, then I think that you really wouldn't have anything to worry about. After that, it's commitment. You take that step and you need to be patient and appreciative and overlook some things if they are minor. You are never going to find someone perfect because we are not perfect. Perfection only belongs with Allah.
Mohammad: My advice would be to reflect on what you're looking for. Spend some time doing a good profile. Be yourself, be natural. Don't be scared of rejection and paranoid about your looks. Just go through it with your held high. Whatever is not under your control is in the control of Islam, so be happy with what comes to you. Seek advice from family and friends, and istikhara is very important.
What are your plans for the future?
Mohammad: We haven't decided whether I'm going to settle in Canada or whether my wife is going to come and settle with me here. In terms of going to Umrah, we don't know where we'll be going from! But, alhamdulillah, we're looking forward to it. Going to the house of Allah – it's the journey of a lifetime with my wife.
Anila: I think it doesn't matter where we are as long as we're together, we're happy and safe. We've both done Umrah before and I've done Hajj as well but the idea of going for Umrah together is really exciting and I'm looking forward to that experience.
While our newlyweds decide on their departure airport, SingleMuslim.com founder Adeem Younis is delighted to present this deserving couple with their free tickets for Umrah in return for sharing their story.