Bilal & Zaheda - Married August 2010
Compromise leads to perfect match
Bilal Abubaka (39) and Zaheda Novsarka (40) held their Nikkah on 7th August 2010, just over one week after meeting on SingleMuslim.com. We were intrigued to meet the couple involved in our fastest marriage yet at their home in Coventry shortly afterwards.
Bilal and Zaheda, please could you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Bilal: I was born and bred in the UK in Batley, West Yorkshire. I did a chemistry degree at university then spent 15 years in the food industry before becoming a manager for a pharmaceutical company in Barnsley. I was married, got divorced and I have three children aged 15, 13 and 10.
Zaheda: I'm 40. I worked in the Education Department in Birmingham for 15 years and then moved on to OFSTED inspections. I was married for 15 years and I have five children. The eldest is 20 and at university; the youngest is 10.
How did you hear about SingleMuslim.com?
Zaheda: My friend was on it. I'd been on my own for a few years and so she mentioned it me. I tried it a few times and this time was going to be my last!
Bilal: A few of my friends recommended SingleMuslim.com so I gave it a try. I put my profile on, browsed for a few days and then I forgot my log in details and so I tried traditional methods of finding a partner. That was a few years ago but it stuck in my mind that there were a lot of UK prospects on there. At that time I wasn't interested in marrying in the UK. Some of my friends married in Morocco and I looked into that too and I joined other matrimonial websites. But it would have been difficult and costly for me to go back and forth and not ideal for a companionship.
Then I started thinking that I'm getting older; I'm not going to get my ideal woman. You just have to accept that we're not living in an ideal world - you're divorced, you've got kids and how many people will accept that? So I decided to focus on the UK and there was only one website with plenty of UK options so I turned to SingleMuslim.com. I paid up for three months. I didn't just want to marry my own kind (Gujurati); I was also looking at reverts and divorcees. At the same time I was registered on other matrimonial websites, but I was concentrating on SingleMuslim.com on a daily basis.
What other avenues had you explored in order to find a potential partner?
Bilal: I tried the traditional way but I asked around friends not through family. I'm independent and didn't want them involved. It didn't work out though so I joined the website again and, Alhamdulillah, it came to fruition.
So, how did you find each other?
Bilal: I liked her profile and I found her attractive but she was beyond my age criteria - maximum age 34 and no more than two kids. She said she had children but not how many! One thing that stood out was that she's been through the same thing as me and had met false people on matrimonial sites. I felt that she was very genuine, a true mother. I liked that, but the fact that she was Gujurati and originally from the same town as me put me off.
I posted about 180 messages to profiles I liked. There were some interested parties but I didn't feel any compatibility. Then Zaheda replied. I wasn't really interested and so I sent an “all the best” message. She replied, saying similar things but there was something in that message that made me give her my email address. I'd love to know what that message was now; that was the key.
But I gave it no chance and so I divulged everything I needed to tell her, actually meaning to put her off! The majority of people would have run away after what I'd told her but she hung on! Then we talked for 3 or 4 days on the internet.
Zaheda: On the Saturday night we talked until about 2 in the morning. Sunday and Monday he started texting me, Tuesday he came to see me and Saturday we got married!
Wow! That's fast. How was your first meeting?
Bilal: In between there was a lot of emotion between us. We clicked that night online. We found out we had a lot of things in common - how we would want a relationship to be - and it felt as if we should have been together for 20 years! However, I wasn't 100% certain until we met. I wanted to be sure, especially as I had met a woman on Muslima.com who had sent me her photo from 10 years before. I was in shock when I actually met her!
I drove down to meet Zaheda on the Tuesday and she kept me waiting for an hour and three quarters! She was in two minds whether to come or not. I eventually picked her up from outside her house and when I saw her, I thought this is it!
Zaheda: I was trying to get ready but then coming out with excuses not to go.
Was it love at first sight?
Bilal: In my case, yes.
Zaheda: I didn't even look at him!
Bilal: She was scared. She felt for me but was scared to commit.
Zaheda: Yes, but not only that, when you have children, you hesitate when it comes to involving another person in their lives.
Describe your Nikkah for us.
Bilal: Islam has made Nikkah very simple. All you need is two witnesses and someone to do the Sunnah. I brought two friends down, we did the Nikkah and that was it. Zaheda and I discussed it all beforehand. She was a bit apprehensive at first, then I explained it to her through the Islamic view and she was fine about it.
Zaheda: We had an evening meal together and the following day he met the children.
How important was family involvement to you?
Zaheda: I told my brother I was on the website. He wasn't happy that I was going out there and “exposing” myself and said that it wasn't good for the children. I asked Bilal to keep it quiet and now, after the Nikkah, how do I tell people in my family?
Bilal: With me, there's been no family involvement whatsoever. I like it that way and as long as I don't hurt anybody, that's fine. My family members still don't know I'm actually married because that's the way Zaheda wants it. One day we'll tell them and I'll handle it. The kids are the most important factor in this; they should come first.
It must have been plain sailing for all this to happen in just one week. Is that the case?
Bilal: I was very confident that I could get on with the kids. Alhamdulillah, I knew that I could give her love and that she could give it to me. Zaheda's mother and brothers have been on her case to get married, so when they find out that could cause a problem. For now we just want to live together, build our bond and, once it's strong enough, it doesn't matter what anybody says.
Zaheda: As long as me and the children are happy with Bilal that's all that matters.
Bilal: I felt an instant connection with Yousef, Zahed's son, it wasn't like the first time we'd met.
Zaheda: Our children have really clicked. When they met it was as if being together was so normal.
Bilal: We are not only compatible but we complement each other. She is in Coventry and I'm in Batley near my kids, who visit me Fridays and Saturdays. This is the way she wanted things and the way I wanted things. I didn't want her to move to Batley and she didn't want to. I'm happy to come to Coventry. It's short term but it's the perfect thing for now. We can develop our relationship and have time for the kids. These are the kind of compromises you have to make as divorcees but I think that puts us in a much better position.
What makes your relationship special?
Zaheda: It's everything - every moment, just being together. I never thought that I could feel like this and, at my age, find someone that I could get along so well with. And he gets on so well with the kids. Masha'Allah, they just adore him.
Bilal: For me, the whole package. From day one I realised what a wonderful person she is. She is perfect in so many ways. And the package that comes with her is so brilliant. Allah has gifted me with these kids. It's amazing. I wouldn't have it any other way. And to find this kind of relationship on the internet - wow!
Did you meet anyone else on the site before you found each other?
Zaheda: Yes but I was really naive. When I met someone I would straightaway introduce them to my kids. That was my downfall. They would blend in with the family and then after a couple of months the kids got hurt. This happened a couple of times. I met someone on Shaadi.com and the kids were settling down with him but then I discovered he had another life with a wife and kids! I couldn't consider being a second wife.
Then I got Bilal's message and I discovered he has kids. He tried to put me off but I thought, Alhamdulillah, if he's got kids then it's blessed. I needed someone who understood that when you have children you have responsibilities you can't walk away from.
What were your impressions of SingleMuslim.com?
Bilal: The plaudits go to SingleMuslim.com. I needed UK options and so that is the place to go! I'd been searching for years and if it wasn't for this kind of website, our paths would never have met.
SingleMuslim.com feels closer than the other websites I tried. You get a list of who's there, who's visited your profile and how many times. That's really good and I used that to contact those I thought were interested in me. It's a two-way thing. SingleMuslim.com is the most user-friendly. It's very informal and very interactive.
Zaheda: The private gallery was really good. Masha'Allah, people on the site were generally very respectful. I liked reading the success stories and Umrah winners to see how they met.
How do you feel about males having to pay for SingleMuslim.com while membership is free to females?
Zaheda: It's good for the women to come on and know that they have the opportunity to find someone and that they can stay on there as long as they like without paying.
Bilal: It's a good thing. Traditionally, the man is the breadwinner. I didn't have second thoughts about paying. It's harder for women to earn a living, especially people like Zaheda, who have to be the breadwinner and the man of the house.
Would you recommend SingleMuslim.com?
Bilal: All the time! Without a doubt. You could even feel the sincerity in the messages from Admin - it really touched me. You can feel the love and the “Islamic-ness”. There's a misconception about these websites amongst the older generation, but we have shown that everything we did conformed to the Qu'ran and Sunnah. You can use these websites to please Allah.
Zaheda: It's such a huge thing for divorced women with children. Their confidence has been shattered but this website builds hope.
Bilal: Don't stop doing what you're doing. My kids are going to need you when they grow up! You can search together as a whole family - it's a beautiful thing. This is the modern way and SingleMuslim.com is playing a very important role.
What advice would you give to others who are still searching on SingleMuslim.com
Zaheda: Please don't give up hope. There will always be someone out there for you. Bilal: To ladies with kids, who are divorced, don't give up. There are genuine men out there who can make you complete. Also, people think that it's easy for a man to find a wife - it isn't if the man is divorced. The only way you can achieve success is to accept compromise. You're not a bachelor, you've got baggage. There needs to be compromise on both sides.
What are your plans for the future?
Bilal: We accept the situation that we're in at the moment and we will live together when the children are more settled. Obviously, we plan to have our own, Insha'Allah, one day. The Umrah trip is going to be awesome - it's something you always dream of. It's a sign that our marriage has been accepted and we can't thank you enough!
SingleMuslim.com founder, Adeem Younis, was delighted to present these deserving newlyweds with their free tickets for Umrah as a thank you for sharing their remarkable story.