It didn't take long for Nanu Uddin and Rumana Islam to decide that they wanted to marry after finding each other on SingleMuslim.com. The couple held their Nikah only six weeks after meeting.
SingleMuslim.com met up with the newlyweds at the King George Hotel in Ilford, London, where Nanu and Rumana shared their story with us.
Rumana: I'm 26 years old and a personal banker. I've been on SingleMuslim.com for a couple of years. I have one brother, three sisters and mum and dad. We all live in Portsmouth.
Nanu: I'm 32 and I've been on the site for a few months. I have six brothers and two sisters. Both sisters and two brothers are married. I'm a delivery driver and I really enjoy it.
First of all, who knew that you were registered on SingleMuslim.com?
Rumana: My whole family knew. My mum was the one who really encouraged me to go on there. Although my family were looking for a partner for me, it proved to be difficult for my parents as there aren't many Asians where I live. Even when they do find someone, they're not compatible so it came to a point where I had to do something myself. That's when I joined SingleMuslim.com. It was easier to find someone compatible and it's been great.
Nanu: Everyone knew. My sister and my sisters-in-law asked me to join but I wasn't sure myself. But as soon as I started it was great. I was on it nearly every day – finding lots of matches! My family really encouraged me and, once I was on there, I really enjoyed it. It's a great idea.
Did you register on any other matrimonial websites?
Rumana: I was on one other site but I found it quite complicated. I hardly ever went on it. It wasn't as user-friendly as SingleMuslim.com and, as a girl, it's easier to join SingleMuslim.com as it's free! Two bonuses there!
Nanu: I never looked at any others as I was happy with SingleMuslim.com.
Had you tried any other avenues to find a marriage partner before joining?
Rumana: I was reliant on my family members to find someone suitable for me, but they never used to consult me. Although they might think it's a perfect match, it might not necessarily be. That's what I found difficult about when I met people through family. One of my friends was on SingleMuslim.com and she recommended it.
Nanu: My family also looked for me and I think they've just got bad taste! (Laughs.) Yeah, it wasn't very good.
So, could you tell us about your journey? Who made first contact?
Nanu: I first saw Rumana's picture and I thought “She's absolutely stunning; I've got no chance with her!” So I sent a message to her anyway and I didn't hear for about two weeks.
Rumana: Those two weeks I was in Saudi doing Umrah. I didn't go into emails as it was a special time for me. I made lots of duas and one of the things I made dua for was to find my perfect partner. On the day I was returning to the UK, I was in Jeddah airport trying to kill time on my mobile phone. I looked at my emails and had a message from SingleMuslim.com – it was a message from Nanu. I read the message and checked his profile. I liked the sound of it so I messaged back.
Nanu: Yes, you did! It wasn't until I finished work that I had the message.
Rumana: So the following day I got home and gave him a call. We had a brief chat and I think he was keen to just meet and see if we were right for each other. He's very black and white and I like that. I don't want anyone to waste my time. I'm seriously looking and it made him sound like he was as well. We agreed to meet but that was complicated. We didn't know when as my parents were away. I had my brothers and sisters around me so I spoke to them. They said, “Meet him but make sure you have someone with you.”
Nanu called me afterwards and said, “You'll never believe it but there's a wedding in Portsmouth this Sunday!” This was Thursday. It was someone we knew mutually so that's where we first met. Only briefly though, we didn't have much time to chat. After that he called me to arrange a proper meeting.
Nanu: It was Good Friday and we met in Regents Park. It was just after Friday prayers.
Rumana: Yes, we did our Friday prayer in Regents Park mosque and went for lunch. At that point Nanu thought I didn't like him!
Nanu: I thought, “No chance!”
Rumana: I don't know how he got that impression. He took me to the station and said, “So, do you want me to tell my parents? You haven't said anything.” I said I'd be quite happy for him to tell his parents about me and I think he was pleasantly surprised!
Nanu: I told my parents that evening. I said, “I've met someone on SingleMuslim.com and I'd like you to meet her.” So within two weeks our families met.
Rumana: My parents were on holiday so as soon as they got back his dad called my dad and they arranged to meet the following weekend. They came to Portsmouth and arranged the dates. We were aware that Ramadhan was coming up so we decided just to do the nikah on June 5th. We knew we both wanted to get married so we did the nikah first.
My mum did call me while they were on holiday so I told her I'd met someone. I know that people don't always have the kind of relationship that I have with my mum, but there's usually someone in the family – maybe an aunt or a cousin – that you're close to and who can speak on your behalf. I think that's a good way to do things. I'm lucky that I can go directly to my mum and say, “I've met someone”, although it was his sisters and sisters-in-law who really got involved. I spoke to all of them before I met his parents.
Nanu: We had so much in common.
Rumana: As I was getting to know Nanu, there were so many interests the same, even little things.
Nanu: We just clicked.
Rumana: We just knew it would work; we had that feeling.
Nanu: And it wasn't hard to tell our parents. We knew we were both ready for marriage and we spoke to family. I was so happy and I knew that they would be happy about it. They could stop looking and it's a relief for them – they want to see their child get married.
Rumana: I think that's how my parents felt about it. My mum said, “If this is the man you want to marry and it's your choice then we'll be happy with that.” I know that I would be forever blaming my parents if they had chosen someone for me and it didn't work out. At least I know I've found someone and I'm going to make it work. That's the commitment you have when finding yourself a partner. There is a difference there.
Nanu: Within six weeks we had a nikah!
Rumana: It all went so quickly but at the same time it felt so right. A lot of my friends, especially English friends, just didn't understand. They said, “But you don't know him.” I had so many questions and was just trying to explain.
Nanu: That was the exciting part! What's going to come up next? I think you just have to make a go of it.
Were there any issues with caste or background?
Rumana: My family are quite liberal about that. They wouldn't mind if I found someone from a different background as long as they can look after me. Ultimately, that's what parents look for: someone to look after their daughter forever. My mum said I could marry whoever as long as he's a good Muslim. I think I wanted someone with the same background as me just because it's convenient, for example the language, so he can chat to my parents without any problems. I thought it was easier to stick with the culture I already know. I'm Bengali at the end of the day.
Nanu: Same with me. Obviously it's easier for the older generation. My parents speak broken English.
Rumana: My mum and dad were quite picky at first. Even if I said, “This person is Bengali”, they'd ask, “Where do they live in Bangladesh?” But over time they became less picky. I think parents need to ask themselves “Why are we asking these questions?” instead of “Is this man able to take care of my daughter? Is he a good Muslim?” There are more important qualities than what village he's from back home. He's probably never been to that village in his life. What does it matter? Look at what's important.
Nanu: We live here not in Bangladesh. Most of us were born and raised here.
Rumana: I understand why they look at these things but some parents put too much emphasis on it.
Would you say it was love at first sight?
Nanu: When I first met Rumana on SingleMuslim.com, I thought she was very attractive. So yeah, I thought it was love at first sight. I always thought we were a good match.
Rumana: When I first met Nanu, I think the first thing that attracted me was his smile – he had this big grin. I like a man that smiles. He's got a great sense of humour and he made me laugh the whole time. That's important to me.
Nanu: It didn't take long anyway. We met twice: once for five minutes and once for lunch. Within four or five hours we knew we wanted to get married.
Tell us about your nikah day.
Nanu: We had the nikah in a mosque. It was such a beautiful day. The men and ladies went to separate mosques.
Rumana: I had my nikah in the morning in Portsmouth and he had his afterwards. My family had to travel to St Albans to attend his nikah.
Nanu: It was a very special day.
Rumana: I was just waiting for him to come home! I was left at home when everyone went to Nanu's nikah but my friends came and supported me and helped me get ready. Then the following day we went to the Isle of Wight.
Nanu: Yes, for our honeymoon!
Rumana: We'd used up most of our holidays from work.
What preparations did you make?
Nanu: My sisters had bought the outfits. I went over the weekend before with jewellery, sari...
Rumana: Make-up, everything really and he presented it to me like a present. Equally, my family bought his outfit. It was really emotional on the day. I remember coming downstairs and the imam was there and I was thinking, “There's no turning back, and I'm going to be married!” My sister and my mum started crying then I couldn't help crying myself. Part of me was happy but it's like leaving a different life behind. Obviously, it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It was good.
Nanu: It's the best thing we've ever done! And it wasn't an expensive day. We fed about 100 people on quite a low budget.
Rumana: I know so many people who get put off because it's so expensive. Many seem to think they need to wait until they've saved enough money.
Nanu: There are always budget ways of doing things. The last thing you want to do is spend the next ten years of your life paying for your wedding. There's no need for it.
Rumana: The important thing is that you've found the right person.
How important was family involvement?
Nanu: There was a lot of family involvement because my father and my brothers played a massive part. Once I told them I had found someone I'd like to marry, they did the rest. My family still have a huge involvement, same as Rumana's. We always ask our parents' permission anyway. I think it's just right.
Rumana: You need your parents' blessings and you need to know everyone's happy. It's not just about me and him. Without family it doesn't work.
What makes your relationship special?
Rumana: Religion was very important to me. I needed to know that he was religious, that he had faith and that he practised. After I came back from Umrah I wanted a fresh start and once I met Nanu he said he wanted a fresh start. We made it clear from the outset what was important in our relationship. Once you meet someone, it's about the future.
Nanu: We've both got the same sense of humour. I always wanted to have a laugh with someone I can spend the rest of my life with.
Rumana: It's progression – you want to settle down, have a family, go places. If the right person isn't there then it's like a dead end.
Nanu: This is just the start.
Rumana: We have so much to look forward to.
So, what brought you to SingleMuslim.com and what do you think of the service?
Rumana: I heard about it from friends. We have the same issues living in Portsmouth; there are not many Muslims there so for us it's a good tool to find someone. My sister ended up having an arranged marriage through my parents. She's happily married now but at the time she told me that I needed to start looking for myself. I was 24 then. It took me a couple of years to get here but that doesn't matter now as I'm married and I'm happy.
Nanu: My sister had heard it was a really good website. SingleMuslim.com was so easy. I'm not really a computer literate guy so if I can do it, anyone can! I highly recommend it. I can't thank my sister enough!
Rumana: It's so easy to register. You can just join with your basic details or put in your whole life story! Your profile can be as you want it to be and that's such a nice thing to have.
Nanu: Another good thing is that it breaks down your information and finds your sort of match. The rest is up to you but it gives you a massive start.
Rumana: It's equally easy coming off the website. It was so easy to remove my profile after I found success. When I tried to come off another website, it took forever! It's user-friendly.
Nanu: I like the bit where it tells you how often the other person uses it.
Rumana: 50 times he looked at my profile!
Nanu: (Laughs.) That was my sisters! I got really excited about how I found Rumana. I wasn't embarrassed. I think it should be normal.
Rumana: I think people need to keep faith in the service.
Nanu: Be patient too. I didn't hear from Rumana for a couple of weeks but I didn't know she was on Umrah.
Rumana: The tools are there for you to use [SingleMuslim.com] but, ultimately, if you don't ask Allah for guidance and make that dua, it's not going to happen. As soon as you take it to the prayer rug and ask Allah it will work for you. They come hand in hand.
Did you find many potential marriage partners?
Rumana: I spoke to some blokes but they weren't right for me and I didn't really get anywhere till now. When I met Nanu, I saw progression straightaway.
Nanu: I had a few messages from people and some were put off by the distance. I didn't want timewasters. But everyone I sent a message to, I had a reply back.
Rumana: Apart from me! (Laughs.) I made him wait!
How do you feel about the service being free for females?
Nanu: I didn't know that until I spoke to Rumana. I think it's a great idea – it gives them more of a chance.
Rumana: I think it's a good idea that men pay; it shows they're serious about it. But if it was up to me I'd split the cost and charge the girls too. I genuinely would pay for it.
How would you improve the website?
Nanu: Good question. There's not much you can improve.
Rumana: I like it the way it is. Maybe add a filtering system though. I used to get men as old as my mum and dad approaching me! That's the only thing I'd suggest.
How has SingleMuslim.com changed your life?
Nanu: SingleMuslim.com has changed our lives because we found each other. I found the love of my life, Insha'Allah.
Rumana: I think that from the day we started talking, it already started changing my life. I live life a lot more positively now; I have more goals and a lot more I want to do. Before, I felt that I was in a dead end. I was single, getting older by the day, not getting anywhere in life. Now, thanks to SingleMuslim.com, I found Nanu and I'm really happy. I feel I can progress now. Overnight, everything changed!
Would you recommend SingleMuslim.com?
Rumana: I'd definitely recommend SingleMuslim.com but I'd also tell the girl not to give up. I felt like giving up at times.
Nanu: And always be open-minded. There is someone out there for you.
What are your plans for the future?
Rumana: Our Walima is going to be later on in the year. That's something we're looking forward to and that's when I'm going to be moving to St Albans to be with my husband.
Nanu: We're going to stay at my parents' house for a couple of years just so everyone can get to know each other properly. Then we'll look to start moving out and have our own family.
Rumana: We'll stay within St Albans so that we're close to family but start our own little chapter in life.
And go on Umrah?
Nanu: I haven't been on Umrah and I'm really excited. I can't wait for the experience.
Rumana: I have been once but I'd love to go again. It's such a wonderful experience. It was life-changing in itself. It has been a great year for me; I've experienced a lot. I've told Nanu so much about Umrah. Insha'Allah, one day, we'll do Hajj together.
To help the happy couple on their way and to thank them for sharing their story, SingleMuslim.com founder, Adeem Younis, presents these very worthy winners with their free tickets for Umrah.