Tariq and Naaila Mohammed were busy house-hunting but we were delighted when the newlyweds invited SingleMuslim.com to Tariq's family home in Manchester to tell us all about their unique path to marriage. Their Nikah is proof that persistence pays off and that happiness can be just a click away.
Tariq and Naaila, please tell us a bit about yourselves.
Tariq: I'm Tariq Mohammed. I'm a software analyst at Barclays and I really enjoy it. I've got two brothers and two sisters.
Naaila: My name is Naaila and I'm from Newcastle. I've been working at Leeds Building Society for the past couple of years but I originally trained as a make-up artist. I'm recently divorced.
Who knew that you were on SingleMuslim.com?
Tariq: Everyone in my family knew. I didn't hold back because my brother had already been through the process and he encouraged me. Initially I was reluctant but, because I'm divorced as well, I thought I would need all the avenues possible to find another partner so I got onto it. At first it was really slow. Then I came off and went back on again. Then my sister-in-law started using the site for me and she introduced me to Naaila!
Naaila: My family knew I was on there. I was just doing it in the background at first, not actively looking, and they'd ask how I was getting on and that was it. But when I started getting a bit of interest everyone knew.
Were you registered on any other matrimonial websites?
Naaila: Yes, I was on two other sites.
Tariq: I was on one other as well.
Did you experience any differences between those websites and SingleMuslim.com?
Naaila: There were huge differences. SingleMuslim.com was so user friendly and everyone on there is Muslim so it makes the search easier. It also seems more controlled.
Tariq: On SingleMuslim.com you can filter a lot of stuff out of the search. Plus there are more people on there compared to other sites - and more people from the UK.
Did you use any other avenues in your search for a partner?
Tariq: I did. I've been to marriage events but they went too fast, I think. You only get two to three minutes to talk to somebody and then you move on. Plus it was open to everyone and people my age (I'm 38) were sitting with really young people and so I got lots of knockbacks. You didn't know that did you? (Laughs.)
Naaila: No. (Laughs.) My parents were looking and we did register for a caste association. They just send you lists of people with basic information. Then you later find that you don't fit their criteria so it's a waste of time.
We've learnt a lot from our pasts. We've more experience and we're more mature. Alhamduliliah, everything's working out very well. Tariq's a lucky guy! (Laughs.)
Tell us about your journey from first reading each other's profiles.
Tariq: My sister-in-law showed me Naaila's profile and said she was going to approach her. It sounded very similar to my profile. So basically, I read through the profile and my sister-in-law went ahead.
Did you know it was her contacting you, Naaila?
Naaila: I found out after a few emails. She told me that she and her mother-in-law had been contacting me. I was taken aback that the mother-in-law had seen me before the husband! But it was nice too as I knew I'd dealt with that hurdle and it was easier to move on.
Tariq: Naaila replied back to my sister-in-law and then sent her email address. Her background - what she'd been through - and my background matched. Initially I thought, she's 29, there's no way she'll reply back, but she did. I liked her photograph and we took it from there.
Naaila: I personally liked the fact that it was his sister-in-law approaching me as I knew there was no messing around. SingleMuslim.com is very effective but there are a few people on there who mess around. With some people my divorce was an issue even though it was clearly stated on my profile.
In terms of Tariq's profile, we were in a similar situation. He has a daughter too so I thought he would be more understanding and accepting of Ameera. That was definitely one of the reasons why I thought it was a good possibility. I saw his picture and thought, my mum's going to love him! (Laughs.)
After the messages on SingleMuslim.com we exchanged emails and got the parents involved straightaway. It was less hassle and, for both of us, it's a very big deal that our parents are happy and that we have their blessing. We wanted that before there were any feelings developing.
Tariq: My thinking has always been that parents need to be involved in the search from the beginning and with sites like SingleMuslim.com, everybody seems to be doing it on their own. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. The process is fine as long as at some stage the parents get involved. I was lucky to find Naaila who thought the same as me.
What was in the emails you exchanged together?
Tariq: They were more to do with my background and Naaila wanted to be confident that she wouldn't go through the same problems again. I was the same really. And we were trying to address the issues that we've had in the past.
Naaila: We were very straight and to the point.
Tariq: And we covered our views and what the future holds as well.
What gave you the confidence that you could keep each other happy?
Naaila: For me, it was his attitude towards Ameera. Even in a general email he'd write, "How's Ameera?" The fact that he was acknowledging her was a very big deal for me. Not many guys do that - it's all about the girl. Obviously Ameera's part of me so it's very important that whoever accepts me accepts Ameera and he did that straightaway, from the first email. After that we learnt a lot about each other and we knew that we'd both been through a tough time and learnt from it.
Tariq: Because I have a daughter as well and I wanted Naaila to accept her, I was wholeheartedly willing to accept her daughter right from the beginning. Naaila was willing to accept mine and that was encouraging for me. She was introduced to my daughter and I was introduced to hers.
Naaila: Really successfully!
Tariq: It was successful and my daughter responded really well.
How much involvement did the families have?
Naaila: We emailed for just a few days; I don't think we'd actually spoken. I told my parents and Tariq told his and we gave them each other's phone numbers and Tariq's dad phoned my dad. It was very fast to be honest. It was only four months since we met on SingleMuslim.com until we were married.
We spoke after our parents had spoken. I didn't want to until I knew that my parents were happy and luckily Tariq was very understanding. Obviously, speaking on the phone is very different to emails but once we spoke we clicked. We met with the families. It was a very nerve-wracking time! I was very nervous meeting him for the first time.
Tariq: I think it took about a week. By that time, we'd already sent texts and emailed quite a lot.
Naaila: We knew each other pretty well by then. Our families told us to go into the other room in the traditional way. My brother tried to hover around but we didn't let him! (Laughs.) We had a one-on-one conversation and seeing him with Ameera, well that was it for me!
Tariq: She responded well the first time.
Naaila: And we clicked straightaway as well.
Tariq: Definitely. My family went to Newcastle first: me, my mum, my dad, my sister-in-law and my sister. I wanted my sister-in-law there because we were introduced through her. Naaila looked totally different to the photograph. I was on Cloud Nine to be honest - I thought she was stunning.
Naaila: Our parents clicked as well. It was a very good start. I was so nervous about meeting Tariq and my mother-in-law and father-in-law, and for Ameera as well. But once we started talking and were comfortable, it was very fast moving. They were talking about the next meeting straightaway. I knew that my family was happy and Tariq's family was happy. The Saturday after, me and my family came here to see Tariq.
Tariq: We were quite surprised that it happened so fast but I suppose the timing was right. Allah obviously planned everything in advance and we were meant to be together. That's how I see it.
Naaila: Yes, definitely.
Tariq: I'd been on SingleMuslim.com for a while and I struggled but when it happened, it happened!
Naaila: I think it would have been quicker if I hadn't gone to Pakistan. My family and I had everything booked prior to finding Tariq. Tariq's parents wanted to take things further but we only had four weeks until we went.
Tariq: Our whole family went to Newcastle a second time. It wasn't meant to be the engagement really but it turned out to be!
Naaila: I was very anxious because of the pace. It was actually happening! I tried to halt things to get to know him better but my parents brought up a very valid point that you only really get to know someone when you live together. I was very open to that idea and that's how it works. I wanted Ameera to have a father figure in her life and we really did get on straightaway so it all just fell into place.
What were your first impressions of each other?
Naaila: He was very smart, clean shaven and I found him attractive. There was definitely something there. He came across as very well spoken, well mannered, quite confident and I like that in a man.
Would you say it was love at first sight in the Western sense?
Naaila: No, it wasn't but I was attracted to him. I'm more into personality. I just want the right person who understands me. I fell in love with his personality first before I fell in love physically.
Tariq: I think it's more or less the same for me. When we first spoke, I loved her voice. And when we met I thought she was stunning. I must be the luckiest guy!
Naaila: I guess in that respect SingleMuslim.com is very effective because it was nice to get to know the personality, an understanding of what they're looking for, then seeing a picture and thinking, oh yes!
Tariq: I always read the profile first and if the personality didn't match then the picture didn't matter. Attraction has to be there but personality is more important.
So, tell us about your wedding preparations.
Naaila: When I got back from Pakistan it was basically all preparation for the wedding. It was a very simple wedding as both sides decided to invite immediate family only.
Tariq: The wedding day was in Newcastle. We got married on the Thursday and did Walima on the Saturday.
Naaila: The wedding was very emotional. On the girl's side it's very emotional anyway because she's leaving the family home but because of our circumstances and because I'm the youngest in the family, I'm spoilt and Ameera was spoilt as well. We'd got very attached to my parents! But we were very happy.
The dress was very important - a girl wants to look nice! I wanted to make an effort but I was more bothered about the "after". I'd had my luxury wedding previously and it was a waste of money, so we kept things to a bare minimum. We got completely pampered! The run-up to the wedding this time was definitely more relaxed and more exciting.
Did you face any challenges along the way?
Naaila: Not really. It was a family affair. As there was hardly anyone there, there wasn't much chance of anything going wrong! When you've been married before, you think that you're never going to be married again. But we're definitely grateful we found each other and it all fell into place.
Tariq: It was all plain sailing.
What would you say makes your relationship special?
Naaila: We have the same sense of humour - sarcastic and cheeky - and it's good that we can be like that without offending each other. Our previous experiences have made us stronger and we're more accepting. We're very open - that's what we promised each other as we both have trust issues. So far, Insha'Allah, it's working out very well for us.
What have been the highlights of the journey for you?
Tariq: The whole thing really. Ameera acknowledging me as her dad was special.
Naaila: We're genuinely happy and we've got a ready-made family. I was very anxious meeting Tariq's daughter. She's six years old and it must be hard for her to accept that daddy's got someone else and another daughter but she's been very mature about it. The girls are now like long lost sisters - it's so nice to see them together.
Back to the website, what did you think of the features on SingleMuslim.com?
Naaila: I think that SingleMuslim.com was the easiest website to use. I found it very convenient and the best thing is that it saves your search. I liked the fact that you can put your pictures in the private gallery until the point where you're comfortable for the other person to see them. A lot of websites don't give you that opportunity. Either you see it or you don't. Having that control over it is really comforting.
Tariq: The structure was really good. It's nicely laid out. There are more filters in the search than other sites. You can take it deep down to what you want. The latest changes to the messaging service were really good. You can now see your messages in one go. So if you're having a conversation with somebody, it's all on one page.
Naaila: SingleMuslim.com is a very safe, very controlled environment and I've recommended it to people.
Tariq: I would definitely recommend SingleMuslim.com. It's brilliant!
What do you think of the fact that males pay for SingleMuslim.com but women receive the service free of charge?
Naaila: I loved it! It's unfair for the men but it makes out that they're serious enough to pay for the website.
Tariq: I thought there should have been an element of payment for the girls, even if it's really cheap, because you get girls who mess around as well. They can get a free profile, have a chat, then disappear.
Naaila: I think it's more nerve-wracking for girls but because they're not paying for it then it's worth a try. I know that's what I said. I know where you're coming from but girls worry what people would think. That and the cost would put them off
What advice do you have for those who are on the website and still searching for their ideal partner?
Tariq: Keep trying. It does pay dividends in the end. It's worth the result. It takes time. I won't say it's easy but if you stick at it and be truthful it can work. And stay positive! It worked for me and Naaila.
Naaila: I agree with Tariq. At times it can get so frustrating but just take a back seat and start afresh in a week or so with positive thinking. Don't expect people to contact you. It works two ways. Definitely stick to it.
So, what does the future hold for you?
Naaila: Our future plans would be to go to Hajj. Thanks to SingleMuslim.com for providing us with that opportunity. Then come back and do some house-hunting.
Tariq: We've been living with my family temporarily but we're looking for our own home together.
Naaila: Add to our family...
Tariq: And look to the future. Be happy, Insha'Allah.
SingleMuslim.com's Managing Director Adeem Younis was delighted to present the newlyweds with their free tickets to Umrah as a thank you for sharing their story.