“Jee, I do,” Faiza replied quietly. “I assume your parents didn’t mention it?”
“No. They didn’t.” And with good reason too. If Taahir had known Faiza wore niqaab, he would never have agreed to the wedding. He knew himself and his level of deen and he had always wanted a wife who would be on that same level. A woman who was so diligent as to cover her face was definitely not on the same level as he.
He watched as Faiza lifted her hands to draw back her niqaab, strangely transfixed. He blinked rapidly as he saw her face for the first time, unable to think of something to say.
She was bright. That was the only way to describe it. He tried frantically to get his thoughts in order enough to express something to that effect – he could see that she was waiting for his opinion – but before he could, the door opened and his mother entered, calling them to come join everyone else outside.
Faiza felt… numb. She walked mechanically out of the room after Muneerah, unable to believe what had just happened. Had Taahir really reacted that way to her niqaab?
Sadly, Faiza was no stranger to bad reactions towards her niqaab. From members of the family to complete strangers, she had heard so-called well-meaning advice to take it off. She’d been told that men wouldn’t like it but she’d always had faith in Allah (SWT) that her husband would be different. Hearing Taahir’s horrified question had hurt more deeply than she wanted to admit, even to herself.
Now what? she asked herself. I’m not going to remove my niqaab because he doesn’t like it. He needs to know that. But… Should I tell him now or wait?
She couldn’t decide. She longed for her cell phone, to send a message to Saeedah or her mother asking for advice, but it, along with everything else she owned, had been packed away neatly and was waiting for her at Taahir’s home.
After several moments of debating with herself, during which she completely ignored the wonderful food that had been set in front of them at the small table in the middle of the room, she turned to Taahir and spoke: “Taahir,” she said. “I’d just like to make one thing clear before anything else – I don’t plan to remove my niqaab.”
Taahir’s expression went from confused interest to fury in the blink of an eye.
Before Faiza could say anything further, he spoke in a harsh whisper. “I am not so horrible a person as to ask that of you.” With that, he stood up and left.
One of Taahir’s cousins dropped into the chair he’s just vacated, innocently commenting “He sure left fast, didn’t he?”
Faiza tried to inject humour into her voice as she agreed, completely horrified. As terrible as her imagination had been when she was imagining worst-case scenarios, this was far beyond anything that had occurred to her. They had barely been married an hour!
Tears pricked her eyes and she tried desperately to fight them. She excused herself quickly from Taahir’s cousin, asking for a bathroom.
Once the door was shut and locked behind her, she took a deep breath before sinking down to sit on the floor.
I want to go home! This is horrible! But she couldn’t work up the courage to go back outside, find her parents and explain the situation.
Slowly, she calmed down and began to re-examine what had happened.
I offended him… she thought to herself. And then he got angry and left. I suppose I could have brought the whole thing up in a better way…
But what had Taahir expected, she thought irritably to herself. He’d been incredibly rude!
She sighed. Now was not the time to justify her actions. She needed to decide what to do next.
He did say that he wouldn’t ask me to remove my niqaab. So, am I willing to forgive him for reacting so badly to it?
Yes, she finally concluded, standing up and dusting herself off. She reached out to open the door and took a startled step back when she noticed Taahir standing right in front of it, hand poised as if to knock.
“Oh!” she exclaimed in surprise.
Taahir stood reluctantly in front of the door, trying to get up the nerve to knock. He’d come back from trying to cool his temper to find his new wife had disappeared. Questioning Zaynab had resulted in him standing where he was now.
The door opened and he saw that Faiza had been crying. A pang of guilt went through him. Not even married for a few hours and already, he was making her cry. This was why he hadn’t wanted to marry a stranger. She had no idea what his moods were like and it seemed like his quick temper had scared her.
It’s too late for regrets now, he thought. What’s done is done. We need to make peace and find a way to live together.
With that in mind, he spoke honestly: “Faiza,” he said. “I’m sorry about earlier. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.”
“Apology accepted,” she said sweetly. “I could have spoken in a better way as well. We should go back down.”
Taahir nodded, moving aside to let her walk in front of him.
“Our parents are probably looking for us,” he said. “And there’ll be a lot of people who want to greet us before we leave.”
Faiza’s steps faltered at this reminder. She had almost forgotten that Taahir would be taking her to his apartment once their little informal walimah ended.