Asma Haidri and Kashif Saroya have some determined teenage matchmakers to thank for nudging them together. As devout Muslims, Asma and Kashif did not “date” in the traditional sense. The twenty-somethings first saw each other — in passing — in Iowa, at an Islamic conference. Later, they were introduced at the Islamic Center of Minnesota, after Asma moved here from Iowa and Kashif from Madison, Wis. Kashif asked Asma to serve as a camp counselor at a Muslim summer camp for kids he organized last year. “We got to know each other a little more,” says Kashif, a systems analyst with Ecolab. “I saw that she was so calm and patient with the kids. They felt so comfortable with her.” “I think there are different levels of love, and even before that summer at camp, when we would talk on the phone to organize things, I saw his commitment to the camp. He gave up a whole week of work just to be there, just to volunteer,” says Asma, a senior at the College of St. Catherine.
“We did not talk personally, but we were kind of friends, and I think there was some kind of love there, and it just grew.” After camp, Asma and Kashif went their separate ways. Not for long, though. “In October, a couple of the girls from camp approached me and asked, ‘Do you like Kashif?’ They’re teenagers, I thought they were just joking around,” says Asma. “But then I told my sister and my friend at Sunday school. I said I was going to drop it, that if he was interested, he’ll do something about it. But they said, ‘No, what if he’s shy, you have to find out.’ So, my friend e-mailed him and said, ‘The girls approached Asma about this, is it coming from you?’ ” “The girls had approached me, too, after camp,” says Kashif. “They said, ‘You know, Kashif, you should get married. We have a sister in mind for you.’ I said, ‘OK, you guys, take it easy. I don’t know what you’re up to, but let me know before you start.’ ” But Kashif was happy to receive the e-mail. “Before, I did not think about her on that level; I didn’t know her situation, she could have already been engaged,” says Kashif. “But when they told me, it did not feel that out of the blue, like I did not know this person.”
They proceeded cautiously and sought out their families’ involvement. Kashif had moved to the United States during college, and his family remains in Pakistan. Asma grew up in Iowa in a family with traditional Muslim roots. Families get involved in the courtship process to serve as a neutral third party, “because it might be that we are overlooking something in the excitement,” says Kashif. In this case, approval came fast. When it’s love and it’s a good match, sometimes it’s obvious to everyone. Especially mothers. (MORE)