Just a week ago the new besotted Royal couple was exchanging rings in front of perhaps one of the biggest TV audiences in history. As much as I’m gutted they didn’t meet on SingleMuslim.com (I’ll have to hold out for Prince George), it is nonetheless a wedding that will go down in history+ for more reasons than one.
As a British Muslim, immersed in the world of matchmaking, I was struck by the story of these star-crossed lovers and found myself a little caught up in the Royal Wedding fever and was honoured to catch a glimpse of the couples at their first official Royal engagement. As I listened to Prince Harry address the crowd sprawled out across Buckingham Palace’s beautiful gardens, I had to remind myself how far away this place was from my inner-city upbringing in Wakefield. Now, there’s a time and space to think critically about the role of the monarchy in modern-day nation-states, notwithstanding all of that, I wanted to reflect on what we might be able to learn about this blossoming love.
To start with, a friend of the newly anointed Duchess of Sussex reflected on the way humanitarian work had brought the couple together in the early stages of Meghan and Harry’s relationship. “I remember when Meghan told me about Botswana,” said Janina Gavankar, in an interview with Good Morning America. “I loved how she was… pleasantly surprised. Like, this boy is actually just doing this for real. This is not some flouncy trip. He really means it…They fell in love with nothing around them… No frills. No bells and whistles. All they had was each other, doing good work in a place where nobody was watching them. They did that separately. Imagine what they can do together.”
How incredible. She was drawn to him not just for what he does but the sincerity by which he does it. This theme of charity has stayed with the couple, with Kensington Palace thanking all the well-wishers and guests who came to the wedding asking that “anyone who might wish to mark the occasion of their wedding considers giving to charity, instead of sending a gift.” – with the couple personally choosing a selection of charities that represent a range of issues that they are passionate about.
What an incredible foundation to build a relationship on.
Now, let’s consider the couple themselves. Both have wrestled with tumultuous childhoods, with Harry tragically losing his mother when he was just 12 years old and Meghan dealing with her parents’ divorce when she was just 6. Meghan, being of mixed-race, is three years older than Harry and a divorcee herself.
Let’s be real. How many families, in our communities, would at the very least frown at the idea of their son, their precious youngest baby, marrying a divorcee, older than him and of mixed ethnic origin (not to mention her parents are divorced too.) I’ve known young couples torn apart because their families didn’t come from the same village in Pakistan. I don’t need to share the shock stories, we’re all too familiar with them.
As much as I’m comforted that many young Muslims are moving beyond the cultural baggage inherited from generations before, with more and more open to embracing other ethnicities, seeing past divorce and less apprehensive about differences in age, we still, nonetheless, have a long way to go. Ironically people label this as being progressive, but it’s only going forward because somehow or another we’ve gone so far in the wrong direction. Look at the examples we find in our tradition. Many Muslims have taken to social media, and perhaps rightly so, have reminded us of how this marriage bares resemblance to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing upon him. He too married a woman older than himself, who had previously been married but unlike Harry, she was wealthier than him and she initiated the proposal.
My dear single guys, your princess might not be what you or your family had imagined. Perhaps she’s a pearl that could only be cracked open through the painful grip of a divorce. Maybe the perfect woman for you is a little older, did the 15 years Khadijah had over the Prophet, peace, and blessing upon him, make her less perfect for him? Prince Harry was probably one of the most eligible bachelors in the world, with women across the world swooning at his feet. He had the pick of the bunch and he chose substance over style, and in truth, he got both.
My dear single ladies, don’t sell yourself short. If you’ve experienced difficult times, consider them preparation for the Prince who will sweep you off your feet (you may need to direct him a little at first, however!) Work on refining your character and fall in love with yourself before you hope someone to truly fall in love with you. Keep digging for gold and who knows, you might just end up with some ginger! Now’s that’s a modern day fairy-tale by anyone’s standard!
I pray that God helps strengthens and pours His Light and Blessings into our marriages and for those who are single, may you find that perfect partner who you can live in tranquillity with, just as Allah intended, and the love and mercy that He puts between us and our partners be a shining sign of His Love and Mercy for us. Ameen.