Yusuf Dyton (now known as Emanuel) met his soul mate Aisha Mahmood on SingleMuslim.com and they married a year later. Let’s allow them to introduce themselves...
Aisha: My name is Aisha and I’m 30. I’m from Derbyshire, from a Pakistani background, and I’m a nurse.
Yusuf: My name is Yusuf. I work in revenue management in the South West. I’m 33, a divorcé and I’m half Jamaican and half English. I’m a revert to Islam. We are from different cultures, I’ve been married previously and I have two children from that marriage so I’ve smashed a couple of taboos, I suppose!
First of all, who knew that you were registered on SingleMuslim.com?
Aisha: All of my family knew that I was on the website and my mum would often ask me if there were potentials out there. I’d been on it a couple of years. Yusuf had been on there about 8 months but I’d never come across him in that time.
Yusuf: My best friend knew I was on the website. I had suggested it to him! He was looking for a new wife, which I supported him through, and then I thought, “I need a wife too!” (Laughs.)
So tell us about your journey.
Aisha: Yusuf and I had profiles that were similar. I put in my advanced search someone who always prayed because I needed that support and I wanted it to be something we could focus on together. I didn’t search in a specific place because I knew it wouldn’t be an issue for my family for me to move away. In nursing I could get a job anywhere, Masha’Allah, so it wasn’t a case that I would be restricted to finding somebody locally. For some reason Asians aren’t all that tall and I wanted somebody tall (laughs).
Yusuf: To be honest I was losing heart with the whole process of getting married. Sisters on the website were interested in me but, because I wanted a wife from Pakistan or Bangladesh or an Arab, their families would not accept me. It was quite disheartening when the intention was to complete my deen. I just wanted to be married. My culture’s got nothing to do with it. I pray five times a day, I fast, I strive to please Allah, so why isn’t that the main criteria?
My Egyptian friend said, “Look, you’re not going to be able to marry an Asian or an Arab. You’re a divorcé, you’ve got kids, so you need to look for a divorcée with kids from your culture. That’s your only option.” I was such a minority that I thought I would never find anybody like I am! But life doesn’t work that way. If Allah wants something for you then no matter what the circumstances it will be. So I stuck to that and Alhamdulillah, Aisha popped up!
Aisha was my last effort (laughs). It was nothing to do with the website but I was tired of the same result so I cancelled my subscription with SingleMuslim.com. At the end of the month’s notice I was looking at a last batch of profiles and I thought, “This profile seems nice.” I messaged her just to say, “I’ve seen your profile. I think it’s really interesting. I’d like to communicate with you but I’m not going to be able to communicate with you on the website after today so if you want to be in contact here’s my personal email address.” But I’d got my days mixed up - actually the following day was the last day – and Aisha didn’t read her messages till midnight.
Aisha: Yes, that’s when I used to read my messages because of my shifts at work. When I got his first message I read his profile. It was quite good. He does talk a lot! Compared to my profile which was really short, his was quite long. I read it all and I thought, “Okay, he’s divorced, he’s got kids” and I was thinking that it could get a bit complicated but something just said “Go for it – you’ve got nothing to lose.”
Yusuf: I went onto the website the next day and was able to read her message so I thought I’d see if I could respond. So I did and explained that today was actually the last day of my subscription. Then Aisha suggested we exchange pictures. That was never a focal point for me – I was more interested in what was in a Muslima’s heart than what she looked like. We did the swap and Masha’Allah it was fine – I was very happy. Then my subscription finished, Aisha sent her email address and that was it. She was emailing me each day at midnight.
Aisha: It was about a week later that we started emailing and then I had to ask him for his number!
Yusuf: I was quite happy to take things at whatever pace she wanted as long as I had that communication and we were learning about each other and asking the crucial questions. She threw me a curve ball in the questioning!
Aisha: What question was that?
Yusuf: What makes you a good husband?
Aisha: Oh, okay (laughs).
Yusuf: The typical question that you get from Muslima is what do you look for in a wife? Then Aisha asked what makes me a good husband. It was kind of stern too! I had to think, what could I offer as a husband? But I passed the test, Masha’Allah! I knew I wanted to marry her even before we met for the first time.
Aisha: I remember asking the question but I don’t remember the answer word for word.
Yusuf: I remember! I said that I take my lessons from the Prophet (saw). It’s my obligation to make my wife happy. If she’s not happy then I’m doing something wrong. I’m a submissive husband – I’ll do whatever is required as long as it’s in the bounds of Islam. I’ll do whatever I can to make you happy.
Aisha: We were talking for about a week before Yusuf told his mum and I told my brother. It was only on the morning that I was going to meet him that I told my mum. That was the beginning of April. Yusuf and my twin brother had already spoken briefly.
Yusuf and I spoke about background and I knew that it wouldn’t be an issue with my family. My parents have always said that I can marry anyone as long as he is practising and you know a man is going to look after you if he prays. So I knew that my family wouldn’t disregard Yusuf on the grounds of his background. If that were the case, I’d have been wasting Yusuf’s time.
Yusuf: That was the fortunate thing because that was a big obstacle that I had come across in general. Masha’Allah her family is not that type of family. That was nice.
Aisha: I think that was confirmed when you spoke to my brother.
Yusuf: Yes, he said I’m not interested in your history, your money or where you’ve come from; I just want to know who you are in your faith. He automatically put me at ease as it was the only thing that I really cared about as well. Alhamdulillah, sometimes it can just happen. It’s such a big community on SingleMuslim.com. You get all kinds of varying attitudes and characters.
Aisha: I think you get to know somebody a bit better when you speak to them. I had to prompt him and I think we spoke that night. It was supposed to be just for a short while...
Yusuf: It was late...
Aisha: And then it ended up being until the early hours of the morning! We were talking for about a month before we met each other. We met up in Cheltenham as it was halfway. I went with my brother and we met up in...
Yusuf: Just a little cafe in a shopping mall. That was kind of funny because it was the first time she had seen me and she was incredibly shy. I could see her on the phone in the coffee shop, “Where are you? I can’t see you.” I said, “I can see you.” She turned and looked and said, “I’m going to go now” and she stood behind her brother. That was kind of sweet. I just spoke with her brother initially. Then we had a cup of coffee and we just relaxed into conversation like it was on the phone. I already knew that I wanted to marry her before we met. I think I said that to you?
Aisha: Yes, you said that meeting was just a formality. And then families got introduced a week or two later.
Yusuf: Then things started to get really interesting (laughs)!
What made you so sure of marriage before you met her?
Yusuf: I came from a particular background, being a revert and being married before. I was married to a disbelieving woman and it was very difficult. Being a revert, I didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to be with her in the first place. It was a good year or two before I learnt that and I took the decision that I wasn’t going to be in this situation anymore. There was always disapproval in my previous marriage about me being a Muslim. So to be with someone who would support me in my faith, encourage me to learn and to pray with me, that was the number one thing. For me to have a wife who would get up with me to pray at Fajr is the most mind-blowing concept. A wife who loves me for the sake of Allah. My criteria were restricted really, just to Islam. As long as you meet that then everything is a bonus. That’s how I viewed it.
Aisha: I’d told my mum that morning. She had a few questions about him being a revert and being married before but it didn’t seem to be much of an issue or anything. My mum told my dad and that evening I told the rest of my family. They asked, “Where did you go?” and I said, “Shopping.” “Really?” “Yes, shopping for a husband!” They said, “Did you find anything good?” I said, “Yeah!” (Laughs.)
Yusuf: Masha’Allah (laughs). I came on my own first to meet the family. My family weren’t too happy with me since my divorce so I didn’t really have anyone to tell or be with me. I’m the only Muslim in my family but, Masha’Allah, my mum has since embraced Islam. She learnt more about my situation. I had to explain to her why I’ve done this and Allah made it easy for her to understand the situation, Alhamdulillah. When it came to telling her I’d met somebody, once everything had calmed down with the family, I told her, “I need you to come with me to meet her and her family.”
Aisha: That was about five or six weeks after. I think your mum found it a bit strange.
Yusuf: She’s not from an Islamic background so she wondered why I needed her to be there. So I explained and gave reasons: we don’t do courting or dating; this is a much more structured process. My mum was fine and she came to meet Aisha’s family and everyone was happy. Masha’Allah, from my mum meeting Aisha’s family – the first interaction with a Muslim family – that’s what prompted my mum to say, “This is the truth. I need to be a Muslim. I need to revert too.”
Was it all plain sailing?
Yusuf: We did have a bit of difficulty because we spoke for about a year. We were speaking on the phone every day. I took out an unlimited contract because my phone bills were crazy huge! Every day for hours. We were very sure where we wanted to go. We both knew we wanted to get married when we met and that was just after a month! Over the course of the year we wanted to get married as soon as possible but Aisha’s family has had different experiences and their apprehension about us getting married quickly became a bit difficult.
Aisha: Yes, we’d had a wedding date set for November.
Yusuf: That was broken because of their apprehension. It was from family experience where the marriage didn’t go in the right direction and they’d put that down to the fact that the couple had rushed into it. They took the same view of us which was massively frustrating. We’d waited a long time to find each other. I’d even agreed on a house, which then fell through. There were some tensions. Aisha’s dad gave his point of view. I didn’t understand it but I respected it. But we sorted things out.
Aisha: Yes, we had another family meeting in February; they came to our house. My family had this list of questions.
Yusuf: They were questions like: how are you going to provide a house? What are you doing about your ex-wife? Islamically she was no longer my wife but there was English law to contend with too and I had to organise the paperwork. My mum stepped in and said, “I know you are protecting your daughter but now I am protecting my son.” She basically set them clear about who I was. From that, the two sides of the family understood each other and at the end of that meeting they said, “Let’s make a plan to get you married.”
Then we set about preparing for the wedding which was a completely different experience for me. I’ve never been involved in an Asian wedding; never even seen an Asian wedding. The preparations took a few months. Masha’Allah it was good, in retrospect that it didn’t happen in November. It worked out better. Allah knows best. We don’t understand what is going on. The new wedding date was the end of May.
Aisha: End of May! (Laughs.) When we set the date there were fifteen weeks to go but it went quickly.
Yusuf: When you’re preparing for a wedding the time just disappears and you think, “Why couldn’t the past months have gone so quickly?”
It was daunting for me. Aisha said. “You just turn up, sign the contract, have some food and then go!” I was pretty sure there was more to it than that but I suppose, on the surface, that’s it. I didn’t know what to wear and was in the process of buying a shawani suit. My friend met a Muslima from Tunisia, where he’s from, and he was looking at these shawani suits and I thought, “They look amazing. I really do like their style.” Then we met up in Birmingham, looking for suits for me.
Aisha: We did order one but they made it wrong.
Yusuf: In the end I took a refund but the funny thing about what I wore for the wedding was that I’d had this suit in the back of my wardrobe that I bought when I was in my early twenties and I’d never worn it. It was fashioned on those suits that are in the films – long coat with a mandarin collar. It dawned on me that I had this really nice suit and it fit really well so I ended up wearing that.
Aisha: The wedding was in Derbyshire, in Burton. We went to the masjid in the morning because he was quite adamant that he wanted the nikkah in the morning. We had the reception at the Hall and I turned up a couple of hours late!
Yusuf: Only two hours late! My guests were texting me: “Are we getting married today?”
Aisha: I knew it would be awkward for him so I told him to wait for me to get ready, then we’d go together.
Yusuf: It was just the best wedding. There was the Asian aspect – hundreds and hundreds of people – and then there’s my family, which is literally my mum, her husband, my uncle, his wife and a few of my friends from the masjid in Exeter so probably only about ten of us!
Aisha: There were about 400, 500. That’s small for an Asian wedding. It probably felt more than that to you. We’re quite used to it.
Yusuf: I just didn’t know what to expect. So I waited for Aisha and we got there and the first thing I was told was to get onto the stage. Stage? So we sat there having pictures taken. I went and sat with my guests for about fifteen minutes, had some chicken and, before I’d even finished my plateful, I got a call from Aisha saying we needed to be back on the stage as we had to cut the cake!
What would you say was the highlight of the day?
Yusuf: The highlight would have been the morning when we made the contract and we were husband and wife at that point. My children were there and they were in the pictures on the stage – they were well behaved, Masha’Allah!
Aisha: The whole day just went so quickly.
Yusuf: Actually, the highlight was probably when we got back to the hotel and we could just relax. The relief of a whole year and we’d made it! The day was quite a lot of pressure and our cheeks were hurting from all the pictures!
So. how did you find out about the website?
Yusuf: I just looked online. I can’t remember what I put into the search engine; something like Muslim wedding and the first thing that came up was SingleMuslim.com. But I was looking for my friend then. I looked at a few others but SingleMuslim.com looked like a genuine professional site.
Aisha: And safer as well.
Yusuf: Yes but I think for a guy it’s different in terms of safety. In terms of the people that you meet, it looked the safest bet that you’d meet people who were more genuine. It also seemed to have more features in terms of searching – you could be specific in terms of what you were looking for. The website is easy to use and it’s very easy to view profiles quickly. It’s very well set up.
Aisha: I did a similar search on Google.
Yusuf: I may have seen a TV spot as well. The name rang a bell with me.
Aisha: Sometimes you feel isolated on the website but I suppose the success stories and contacting the administrator helped. It was just about having faith really that whenever it’s my time, it’ll happen and Masha’Allah, it happened!
Did you use any other matrimonial websites?
Aisha: No. I’d had a look at a few others but they just didn’t seem that user-friendly. There weren’t any advances searches like on SingleMuslim.com. The others were also quite broad; it’s easy to find someone from the UK on SingleMuslim.com. The website was easy to use. You have to do a lot of filtering but it made me think, “I’m genuine and I’m told there are genuine people out there who have the right intentions like I do” and that kept me positive.
Yusuf: I had looked at other websites but they were like a free-for-all: Muslims, non-Muslims, put your profile up, date, chat, be internet buddies or looking for marriage. It was weird. It’s just not right. That’s something I like about SingleMuslim.com, even though you meet varying people, by and large they all have the same intention. With marriage being half our deen, a very big part of our life on this world is to be married. Masha’Allah, SingleMuslim.com provides that halal option.
Did you try any other avenues?
Aisha: Yes, initially that was the case. Family introduced me to other brothers and that whole situation felt so awkward. You’re sitting in a room with this guy and your family and you’re expected to talk to each other. On SingleMuslim.com it was a lot more relaxed!
Yusuf: When I put up my profile, I was just coming out of my marriage. It was difficult for me because a lot of people didn’t understand, particularly our families. They didn’t understand why I left my wife so I was quite isolated. I lived in a small town as well so there wasn’t much of a Muslim community.
I didn’t know anything about Islam prior to meeting my friend who introduced me to it. At the time I had no religious beliefs. I was born into a Christian family but I turned my back on that pretty quickly for various reasons and that’s how I lived my life. It took me about six months from when I started reading the Qur’an (a translation) to reverting. I’d decided before I’d even finished reading it that I had an obligation; this is the truth and I have to do this. I knew that I was risking losing my entire family because they wouldn’t understand but I still had to do it. I put my faith in Allah: whatever happens, just protect me and make me patient. So this is how my true life started and Masha’Allah, I have Aisha to share it with.
SingleMuslim.com founder, Adeem Younis, wished the happy couple a blessed future together and presented them with their free tickets to Umrah as a thank you for sharing their unique story.