HIS roots is from Lanao del Sur; her roots is from Maguindanao. Two places affected by conflict and crisis but they still found each other amidst war and distance. Theirs is no ordinary story of “a Maranao meets a Maguindanao”, but an incomparable tale of “getting married on the third meeting”.
Yes, their wedding day was just their third meeting. Who said two people have to meet regularly to love each other? Abdul Malik Malinao Diamla and Zuhairah Abdullah Abas met each other online in 2014.
It could have been another love story in Facebook, but they explored each other’s faith, commonalities, and stories. And this made all the difference. Abdul Malik is working in Jeddah as an architect.
He finished his Architecture course in the University of the Philippines- Mindanao but he practiced his profession in a foreign land where his parents are. Zuhairah is the information officer of the Regional Human Rights Commission in Cotabato.
She finished her Communication Arts degree at the Ateneo de Davao University. It could have been “a UP meets an Ateneo” thing. But it was their love of Islam, books, arts and crafts, nature, and poetry that spoke to their hearts. It all started on November 22, 2014, when they were introduced to each other by a common friend.
Malik initiated the conversation through Facebook messenger. He said “Assalamu ’laikumwarahmatullahiwabarakatuh (Peace be upon you with God’s blessings and prosper)", and that was the beginning of something special.
After 17 months, Malikwent back to the Philippines to see Zuhairah in Cotabato.
They took their lunch at Babo Katip’s, a famous restaurant in Cotabato City. After lunch, Zuhairah drove her Volkswagen to tour Abdul Malik around.
Their first stop was the Grandest Masjid in the Philippines. Zuhairah accompanied Malik to explore the architectural grandeur of the place.
They waited for the sunset in fulfillment of their promise to see it together once they meet in person.
It was their first meeting. Abdul Malik returned to Jeddah after that. They continued their conversations online. Abdul Malik would recite Zuhairah’s requested Surah (a chapter of the Qur’an) and every time they talk, they would always remind each other about the deen (religion).
Eleven months after their first meeting, Abdul Malik returned to the Philippines. This time, he went to Cotabato with his family to meet Zuhairah’s family and relatives to ask for her hand in marriage.
The relatives of the groom came all the way from Taraka and Marawi in Lanao del Sur. During the salangguni (engagement), the dowry or mahr (a right that is given to the woman, as enjoined by Islamic sharee’ah, as an expression of the man’s desire to marry her) was decided and the other details of the wedding were agreed on. It was March 27, 2017.
It was their second meeting. Two months after that, the crisis in Marawi started and other conflicts were breaking out in Maguindanao. But they were unfazed and continued with all the needed arrangements. One of the highlights of Maguindanaoan traditions is the prerequisite to the wedding day where the groom and his family will give the igan or bed made of narra, the finest wood in the country.
Abdul Malik personally designed the bed that he gave to Zuhairah to be given a day before the wedding. For the accessories of the bed, Sayyeda Aisha Pangilamen-Nur, the cousin of the bride, embellished it. July 1, their wedding day, was only their third meeting. The parents of Abdul Malik traveled all the way from Jeddah to witness the event.
After the subuh prayer (obligatory prayer) around 8:30 a.m., Mufti Muhammad Pasigan, the Grand Mufti of Davao Region and the grandfather of the bride, conducted the ijab and qabool (offering and acceptance) at the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid in Cotabato City.
The Grand Mufti held the hands of the groom and the bride’s father, her walior guardian. After the event at the Grand Masjid, everyone went to fetch the bride then the couple proceeded to Al Nor Convention Center where all the guests were waiting.
In the ceremony, Tarsila (comes from the Arabic words ilsilah which means a chain or a link) was done tracing the ancestry of Abdul Malik and Zuhairah. This is used in the Muslim south as in other parts of the Indonesian and Malay world to refer to written genealogical accounts.
There was the reading of the Holy Qur’An and the confirmation of the wedding. Almost 500 guests celebrated the rustic-themed wedding of Abdul Malik and Zuhairah.
Although many of the relatives of Abdul Malik from Marawi were not able to attend, it was still a colorful and meaningful wedding day for both of them. They called each other “Best”.
It’s best friend maybe or best partner perhaps. Whatever it is, they vowed to give only the best for each other. Amidst the war and crisis, they found true love.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on July 16, 2017.
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