Ali places his cup on the table.
Ummi: You’re not thinking of wearing a typical baju kurung do you?
Alia: That would be ideal to me. However, I’m not going to blindly disregard our society. Of course I will present myself as a bride, but a Muslim bride. And, I will decide how much decoration I will wear.
Ali: Sorry, I would like to add something: I am confident that a Muslimah like Alia will bear the limitations in mind. And like Alia, I’m not totally ignoring the culture. Like I said before, we just need to filter out what we can’t wear and adopt what we can wear.
Abi: Okay, if Lia wants to decide on the dress that’s fine with me. But Ummi and I have to approve of it first. Just in case you come off looking too…unfashionable.
Ahmad is taken aback by what his father just said.
Alia: Abi, it’s impossible to satisfy every single person. I am tolerating as much as I can, within limits set by our religion. Let me wear what I wanna wear, please.
Abi looks at Ummi.
Ummi: We’ll think about it.
Abi: Fine then, as long as the hantaran is still on the table. Ummi, remember the walimah we went to last week? Their hantaran was about RM10,000 right?
Ali: (Hesitated) With all due respect uncle, can we not do the hantaran as well?
Abi: Ali, this is getting ridiculous.
Ali: I’m very sorry. The issue here is that I can’t afford that much money. Besides, the hantaran isn’t a condition for a valid marriage. As long as the mahr is in order.
Abi: And what might the mahr be?
Alia: I think a ring would be fine. I don’t want to complicate things. Besides we’re not doing a business, this is a marriage.
Ummi: But Ali, it’ll be weird if we skip the hantaran.
Ahmad: (Clears throat) If I may, I think we can work something out.
All eyes on Ahmad.
Ahmad: What if we make the hantaran a set of clothing? Alia will buy a set for herself and then give it to Ali. Ali will do the same. No need for expensive clothes, as long as they look nice. Then we’ll present them in a fancy way; ala hantaran. Besides, decorations don’t cost much. It’s fancy, it looks like a normal hantaran, doesn’t cost much, and the things we buy are those that they’re gonna use often. Tadaa!
Ali: I’m good with that.
Alia: I never thought I’d say this, but I agree with Ahmad.
Abi: That is a good idea. But, during the walimah people are going to ask how much does the hantaran costs. They’ll ask what’s in it too! That’s normal, people do that. I can’t tell them that all we did for hantaran was a set of cheap clothes.
Ahmad is stumped. He was so sure that his idea would solve the problem.
Ummi: We understand that religion is important, but we have to take care of our image too.
Ali: With all due respect, I believe it is better for me to invest in my marriage rather than in my wedding. If we spend until our pockets are dry or until we’re in debt, is that a good start for any marriage? Is that a blessed first step? Why not use the money for what comes after the wedding?
Ummi: Don’t make it difficult, Ali. Can’t we just go along with how everybody does it? It’s easier that way.
Ali: It is easy and easiness is tempting. But, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right.
Abi: Look, do you want to marry my daughter or not?
Ahmad sends Alia a text…
Ahmad: Lia, what to do?
Alia: No idea 🙁
Tension mounts. Ali closes his eyes for a moment and breathes steadily, because what he’s about to say will determine everything. He knows it. He whispers “Bismillah” inaudibly, and then says…
Ali: Wallahi, right now I desire nothing more than marriage. Just thinking about it gives me happiness, I can only imagine what it feels like if I experience it for real. On top of that, I know that Alia is the kind of woman I’ve been looking for. However…
Ali: If marrying Alia means that I have to “divorce” Allah and His Messenger, then I’d rather sacrifice my pleasure for the pleasure of my Lord.
Ahmad: Yo Ali, what are you saying man?
Ali: I’m saying that if we’re going to make the people our reference point, then I’m afraid I won’t go on. How can I be happy on my wedding day knowing that Allah, isn’t?
Abi and Ummi lock eyes.
Abi: Ali…I don’t think this is going to work out.
Ahmad and Alia looks at Abi, almost in sync. Shocked.