"Present, And Forevermore"

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Narrated by 'Uqbah ibn 'Aamir (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "The conditions which most deserve to be fulfilled are those by which intimacy becomes permissible for you (ie the marriage contract)." Narrated in al-Bukhaari (2721) and Muslim (1418)

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LONDON

Shawwal's* passing was like a flashing dream, fading from memory; likewise, the month of Dhul-Qa'dah* and the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah passed in a blur. Within those evanescent days, everything had all been planned out. The dates, the venue, the guests, and the mahr had all been decided. When at last the day of Eid-ul-Adha arrived, Ahmad and Ahlaam prepared to mark the holiday with another occasion, they were to be united at last in their winter wedding.

Eid morning was hectic for both sides. Ahlaam had been regrettably awake for most of the previous night, getting her henna and other preparations done whilst spending her last night single amongst her friends. Though she and Ahmad had insisted on having a small wedding, she also had family from all over come to stay and attend the wedding. With so many people around, the house was nothing short of chaotic.

By Zhuhr time, though, Ahlaam's mother and aunts had gotten her out of the house and into a seat at the local salon, getting her hair and makeup done. Ahlaam sat, numb and absent-minded in the chair for hours. Occasionally, her cousin, Sarah, would pop in to check on her and let her know that it was all coming along beautifully. Each time, she could only mutter a simple response, "In Shaa Allah," and each time, she would be teased that Ahmad would certainly agree.

As the clock hands spun round, the Eid nasheeds that had been playing were replaced with wedding nasheeds. Soon, Ahlaam found herself standing before her full-sized mirror, getting a final touch up after putting on her dress. Staring back at her was a nervous, eager, and hopeful bride. Her long, ivory lace and tulle mermaid gown was bright as ever; the crystal beaded embroidery was glittering on the top bodice and around her waist. The lace sleeves stopped just at her wrists, with a slit running up the side, revealing the dark henna designs on her hands and arms.

Nearly shaking from excitement, her timid fingers reached to fix the crisp, white hijab wrapped around her head, carefully covering the loose curls of black hair that tried sneaking out. She flashed herself an anxious smile, her eyes gleaming brightly with the contrast of dark kohl. Her smile was not the only one she saw, however, as she was joined briefly by her beloved father, placing a tender hand on her shoulder. Without words, he said everything that she needed to hear, and soon, he was off to the Masjid with the other men.

Across town, Ahmad had already arrived at the Masjid. He'd been staying in a hotel not too far away for the past week. That made getting to Eid prayer easy for him in the morning, but complicated his journey for doing udhiyah* thereafter. Nonetheless, he'd managed everything in a timely fashion, even getting his meat packed and prepared by the catering services. He welcomed the latecomers of his family and handled all of the last minute arrangements for the wedding.

When he arrived at the Masjid, an hour before Asr, all that was left to be done was the ceremony itself. The quiet, empty halls in which he stood presently would soon be alive with foot traffic and the buzz of excited guests. There were many rooms in the large Masjid, though; certainly enough space to accommodate their minuscule party of only sixty invited guests, as well the regular congregants in attendance.

After placing his shoes on the wooden rack by the entrance, Ahmad walked across the smooth, marble floors, a crystal chandelier hanging brilliantly above him. He made his way into the carpeted prayer area, calming shades of blue welcoming him and putting his mind at ease. The white walls were graced with black banners, bearing calligraphic designs written in gold lettering. He could faintly detect a sweet scent wafting through the air, bukhoor burning pleasantly from the imam's station. A heavy, red curtain had been draw out to divide the room, making space for all of the female attendees to be present for the wedding, though none had shown up yet.

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