A Prayer Heeded: Chapter 10: HOLY MATRIMONY

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"In the name of Allah, Most Gracious and Most Merciful. Dear friends and family, we have gathered here to share and celebrate the togetherness of Rania and Adam, the sacred act pleased by Allah through which He converts their love for one another into the holy and sacred state of marriage." Mr. Kareem, a highly reputable Muslim scholar and cleric and a state-appointed Muslim judge, is here to join Rania and Adam in the sacred bond of marriage. He is the same man who had led Bari and Sarah's ceremony, twenty-seven years ago.

"We are all pleased to attend Rania and Adam's Nikah ceremony, with all the blessings of friends and families. As Allah says in the Holy Quran about this sacred relationship: They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them; it is my ultimate responsibility to guide these two young adults to understand that clothing not only means to protect each other physically, but that they are to protect each other's identity. With this bond, they are lawfully bound to respect and love each other with complete trust and faith. As our Prophet Mohammad has said: Faithfulness and enduring friendship are a part of faith. In this holy bond, a husband and wife screen each other from falling into sin by fulfilling one another's needs in a lawful manner." Adam listens to him intently.

"Marriage should indeed be a garment of pleasure. It brings pleasure to the body and to the soul. It brings about inner balance and alleviates tension and anxiety. A husband and wife should find in one another peace and tranquility. As Allah says: Good women are for good men and good men are for good women. Today, being a responsible person officiating the marriage ceremony, I proceed with the announcement of Mr. Ahmed Bari, father of Rania Ahmed, appointed as a legal guardian: wakil, representing the bride. We shall begin the ceremony." He pauses for a moment and looks toward the audience.

"In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. I bear witness that none is worthy of worship but Allah, the One alone, without partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger."

Mr. Kareem steps down from the podium and all eyes watch him as he walks toward Adam. "Mr. Gibson, since you are unaware of the Muslim marriage rules, in this process the groom is asked to offer a mahr to his bride. It is a kind of a prenuptial agreement—a safety deposit that you are bound to provide either at the time of the ceremony or later in life, depending on your consensual agreement. Please understand it's her right and a free gift, and you are obligated to provide it to her. How much are you willing to provide to your bride, keeping her choice in mind?"

Adam can't help but smile. He can't believe that this is actually happening.

"Anything she desires, Mr. Kareem. Please ask her what she wants from me; I can provide it to her and sign. I can gift her my properties, or cash. Ask her if I can gift her Hope? It's a shelter home that feeds many homeless people daily, and gives them a safe place to sleep and to worship God. I'd like Rania to share in the blessing of helping so many people. Of course, the shelter is endowed and fully supported financially. Rania would not be responsible for that."

"That is very generous of you, Mr. Gibson." Mr. Kareem smiles at Adam's offer. He looks toward Bari and speaks. "Being Rania's legal guardian, please ask Rania what mahr she approves from Adam for marriage, and proceed with the ceremony."

Bari stands up and enters the room where Rania is sitting quietly next to Eva, who is too excited to attend the ceremony. He looks at his beautiful daughter, who is looking stunning in her emerald green bridal dress. He kisses her on her forehead and sits beside her with the marriage contract papers.

"You groom has offered the mahr in the form of Hope. Would you like to accept it?"

Rania looks at her father in surprise. In offering her Hope, Adam is making Rania a shareholder in gaining the blessings from God that Adam has always received due to his constant support of Hope. It is an incredibly generous gift. But accepting Hope is a lot of responsibility.

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