Shamin Baal is a Muslim living in Birmingham. She married Ali Najaf two years ago when she was 26, six weeks after meeting him only once.

"I didn't go out on dates with boys. Although my parents have adopted some aspects of western culture, and my father wanted me to have a career and be financially independent, he considered it his responsibility to find me a suitable husband. But he would never have arranged my marriage behind my back. My parents organised the introductions, but the final decision was mine".

"I insisted on someone with a good family background, higher education, a sense of humour and the ability to communicate. These things last forever, while romance and physical attraction soon fade!! My father thought I was being unrealistic!! 'This isn't a fairy tale', he said. 'Mr. Wonderful isn't going to drive up here in a white Mercedes'. But I couldn't learn to care for anyone ordinary".

"I'd seen several men when Ali was introduced to me. We got on very well immediately and I knew I wanted to share my life with him. Neither of us had ever been with anyone else, so we didn't need to feel jealous of previous relationships. Love grew as we got to know each other. I definitely made the right choice when I picked Ali".


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