This photo is of me with the Qur'an by a pub fire with a cup of green tea beside me. Sound idyllic? It truly was. Today has been a day of yet more wonderful news. As I wrote a few days ago, the BBC approached me to do an interview with them, which will be going out this Friday (so everyone in Norfolk, look out for it!). I have now also been asked to submit my story to an online magazine, which I have done, and I may also be appearing on Look East to do a televised interview. The last interview is still being thrashed out, so don't get your hopes up just yet! I will let you know what is happening with it as soon as I know.
Today was also another happy day for me, because wherever I went people were respectful and lovely to me. Even the pub landlord was very respectful to me and brought me my tea - something that most pub landlords don't normally do for me. We saw our wedding co-ordinator to discuss our menu with the hotel chef, and I am very pleased to announce that they will be providing halal meat for all of our guests, as well as some fish and vegetarian options for those who do not eat meat! It's a great step forward for us, and I am glad that we have managed to put a little bit of Islam into our wedding, despite it being a non-religious ceremony.
I also bought myself a copy of the Qur'an to read (the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation for those who are interested!) after I finish the one I have borrowed from my library. I believe it's good practice to read as many translations of a book as you can so that you can see how other people translate it and make your own judgement of it. So far I've done this with The Odyssey, The Aeneid and even some French poetry, although finding different translations of French poetry sometimes proves difficult!
In another step along my journey's path, I went shopping today for our weekly groceries and took the step of omitting pig meat from the list of things to buy. I am not sure if our butcher is a halal butcher, but I know that he sources his meat locally and slaughters it humanely, so I suppose that will have to do until I can find a halal butcher. I'm sure that Norwich has some somewhere - it's a big enough city to have one! I will look into it and see if I can shop there the next time I buy our groceries.
The final step that I have taken is to remove as much alcohol as I can from my wedding. We are having a cash bar, where guests pay for their own alcohol, but none of the drinks on the tables will be alcohol. Our reception drinks are lemonade, there will be apple juice and water on the tables during the wedding breakfast, and the toast drink will be something non-alcoholic, although we have yet to decide upon this. We can't ban alcohol entirely, but we can at least allow people the option of staying sober as opposed to getting drunk.
Tomorrow will mark the first week of me wearing the hijab, and yet it feels like a lifetime. It sounds clichéd, but I honestly cannot remember my life without the hijab. I know that wearing it around my parents will invite criticism, and I still have not yet decided if I will be able to pluck up the courage to wear it around them, but I will definitely wear it more often (not every day, but more often).
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my friend Widyan from the bottom of my heart. Without her, I would not be doing this or have the courage to continue despite the rude, disgusting and sometimes downright vile comments I have received. She is the most amazing woman I know and she inspires me every day. Thank you Widyan, you are the best friend I could have asked for and I love you as my sister in Islam. Subhan'Allah!