Day 8

S. Dakota

08/09/2011

78 Comments

NOR’S LETTERS
by Bassam Tariq

DAVID

Before prison, David only knew one world — the biker one. He was part of a biker gang and got himself into a lot of mess. Once a man pulled a loaded gun to his face and nearly killed him. Another time, two men opened beer bottles on his scalp and left him to die. Before Islam his enemies were the people around him, after he became a Muslim his biggest enemy became his own anger and aggression. David lacked self-control and vowed to become a better man in prison.

David picked up a Qur’an only so he could refute his sister who embraced the faith. After reading it cover-to-cover he was so moved by the book that he accepted Islam.  Later in his life, David was sentenced to three years in prison in South Dakota. He knew very little about Islam, but saw this as a chance to turn things around for himself. His cellmate was an observant Jewish man who was serving a life sentence. Since David didn’t know Arabic and believed that the call to prayer had to be made before praying, he got his cellmate to do a call to prayer in Hebrew just so he could pray. The other prisoners would mess with them and call their cell “Little Jerusalem.”

A year into his sentence he decided he wanted to get married. He had been in a number of unsuccessful marriages and knew now what would work for him and what wouldn’t. It was important for him to find someone while he was in prison so they could accept him for who he is.  Somehow or another, the Islamic Pink Pages, a matrimonial directory, found their way to him.  In it, he found a listing for a lady in Singapore and wrote her a letter introducing himself. The lady, Nor, received the letter two weeks later. She didn’t know what to say, Nor was the assistant principal in a prestigious Islamic School, David was in prison in South Dakota. She sent him a letter apologizing and saying that he might have gotten the wrong person, but still went ahead and introduced herself.

NOR

Nor’s husband died in a brutal car accident. She was left to raise her three children on her own.  Her eldest son felt that she should look to get married again as she was still young, so he put a listing out in the Islamic Pink Pages. Nor was understandably uneasy in the beginning with her correspondence with David, but felt she should at least give him a chance. His honesty and candor caught her off guard. It was different, it was refreshing. They kept in touch for a year. Nor studied Shariah Law in college so David would ask her questions about Islam that he and his fellow inmates would have. They would wait patiently for “Sister Nor’s” responses on many legal Islamic issues. They would take her word as if it were the Quran itself. The inmates had very little exposure to Islam. Once, a Muslim was admitted to the South Dakota prison who knew some Qur’an. They all would gather around him just to hear him recite it in Arabic.

A year into talking, David finally built up the courage and asked her hand in marriage. He sent the letter and waited impatiently for her response. Everyday as the mailman came by he would run frantically up to the bars and ask if there was any mail for him.

“Sorry, David,” the mailman would say, “nothing yet.”

A month passed and no word came from Nor. David was devastated. He started getting into fights with other inmates and lost his job. His prison mates saw him falling into pieces and comforted him as much as they could. David felt all was lost with Nor, until a month and half later he received a letter from her. David was sitting in a cell when the mailman came with a letter. Nor had agreed to marry him.

David’s sister, Aneesa, couldn’t believe it. Nor had never seen a picture of David. Only David had seen a picture of Nor.

“Are you crazy!?” Aneesa asked Nor on the phone once, “He could be blind or deaf or have a bad limp. You have no idea what he looks like or who he is in person!”

“That is fine. He just needs to have a good heart.” Nor replied.

A couple of months later, Nor finally made it to South Dakota. It had been a whole year now that they had been corresponding and Nor finally called David on the phone. The prison was rowdy that day and David couldn’t hear anything on his end.

“Quiet down!” said one of the inmates, “He’s talking to his lady for the first time!”

The entire prison went mute.

“Hello?” David said on the line.

There was no response.

A minute later, Aneesa picks up the phone.

“David, she got so nervous she fainted…”

TODAY

Today, we sit together in their small house in Sioux Falls. David laid the hardwood floors himself and made some holes in the floor that have made Nor unhappy.  They have been married now for 11 years. David sits next to a stack of National Geographic magazines that they got on Craigslist’ Curb Alerts. Nor walks out a little while later. She greets us and stands by the dining table. She is small and reserved. As David shares a story about growing up in the farms, she covers her face laughing and rolls her eyes.

“I’ve heard them all,” she says to us.

David’s life is an open book. No part of his life is off limits to talk about. In the first ten minutes we met him, he had shared three stories and told us about his big mouth and bad temper. Nor is the opposite, she is reserved and soft-spoken.  Ever since he was released from prison, they have lived together in South Dakota.

Nor brought her two younger boys to live with them. The adjustment for Noor was difficult. She wore a scarf when she would leave the house and many would cuss at her and call her a terrorist. She took a job at the local K-mart as a cashier. In the beginning, her co-workers gave her a difficult time, but she slowly won the hearts of her customers and supervisors.

David leaves the room for a second and comes back with a stack of folders that reads “Nor’s letters.”

“You kept all these?” Nor says, surprised.

“Of course.”

David starts scouring the folder to find the first one she wrote to him.

Nor picks it up and reads it.

“ ‘I am a fair skinned, skinny Malaysian Singaporian.’” she covers her face laughing, “I can’t believe I wrote that.”

The letters in the beginning were very formal. She addressed him as “Brother David.” They were terse and cut straight to the facts. After marriage, ‘Brother David’ became “My Beloved Husband,” and the letters began to carry an emotional weight they never had before.

I see a letter in David’s hand and ask him if I can take a photo of it.  He puts it down for me, but Nor quickly points at a part in it and blushes.

“Uh, well you can’t see anything past this point.”

David covers the entire page.

THE WEDDING

The day before their marriage, they were to meet each other face-to-face for the first time. David was still in prison, so when they saw one another it was through the glass separating inmates and visitors. When they gave them a minute to meet one another without the barrier, David came close to hug Nor, but she quickly moved away.

“It’s haram for us to hug!” she said to him, “we are not married yet.”

David began apologizing. He felt so bad and thought he ruined everything. For the past year, she was just words on a paper and now, she stood right in front of him and all he was allowed to do was smile and wave from a distance.

The next day, David was brought down from his cell to sign the marriage contract. When he was given a pen, his hands started shaking and he was unable to sign it.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” The Warden said, frustrated by David’s nervousness.

He then walks up to David, grabs his hand and helps him sign it.

Later that day, David and Nor came together in a cold prison room where they finally saw each other as husband and wife and held hands for the first time.

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  • Victor L David

    you guys did a very nice job

  • The Lone Hawk

    After a rather tough day of dealing with injustices this story has helped to ease my pain and life my spirits towards something better. Thank you guys for all that you do. 

  • shr

    mashallah soo soo beautiful. may they both recieve many blessings

  • bintumalek

    Subhanallah, this is a breathtaking story. am from Malaysia and to find a Malay Singaporean traveled so far to marry a man who she never met before but put her faith in Allah is so inspiring. Its the faith that bring them together. Subhanallah, beautiful story.

  • Mona

    this story made me tear up! truly an amazing love story. May Allah bless them both.

  • Barbara

    wonderful story

  • UrSister

    Glad to see they are happy after 11 years, mA!  I am so happy that they found each other and helped one another to the next phase of life :)  Best to both of them in the future, iA.

  • Sharjeel

    Great story guys! Please keep up the good work.

    (I really wish your website was a bit more mobile friendly :)

    • Asadp

      yeah it acts a bit odd on my phone also i love reading the posts but i cant do it on the go like i could last year aman could you look into that please

      • Amal

        Yes! Same with my iPad :(

    • Brother

      So true! I love reading this blog on my iPhone but somehow every time a post finishes loading this white background blankets the writing which renders it unable for us to read. The comments, however, are intact.

      • Brother

        Well for me I don’t know if anybody else is getting the same problem.

        • A K

          Happens on my ipad too.

  • Hijabman

    wow.

  • http://www.cartoonmuhammad.com CartoonMuslim

    SubhanAllah, what an amazing story! Thanks for sharing!

  • Walid

    Staggering…Jzks for all the stories, it’s always nice to get a wider picture of this vast community.

  • HananeFromFrance

    MashAllah, trés belle et touchante histoire qui redonne espoir dans le mariage.
    Qu’Allah vous garde et nous préserve des personnes de mauvaises intentions…

  • http://twitter.com/AhlamS Ahlam S.

    Amazing where faith and humility can lead you. May we all have the the courage to trust in Him.

  • Rayan

    So many question, so unfulfilled…mashallah the sign of great writers.  They both married for the best of reasons and are so happy, mashallah, and best wishes.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KJB6IH45HBV4PFIPHAY4GQURCQ buriedinlit

    very inspirational story guys, its awesome how Allah can grace us with the most improbable gifts.  Its always nice to see Islam help turn around a life and bring two together in marriage. 

  • Ameera

    That was so beautiful to read.

  • Faridi Salman

    wow. cant wait to hear more stories. it’s a beautiful story 

  • Bahry S

    MashaAllah this is a beautiful story!  May Allah protect David & Nor and increase them both! Ameen!  Thanks for sharing this guys!

  • Mohammed Azam Hussain

    Subhanallah!  “Allah guides whom he wills” never felt more appropriate.

  • Ayda

    Hey hey hey I’m from Singapore! Such a beautiful story, Subhanallah. May Allah continue to bless and preserve them both, Ameen.
    I will be checking out this site more often from now, iA.
    Keep up the awesome work bros.
    May Allah make your journey smooth, Ameen.
    Rawk on!

  • http://www.facebook.com/chowdhuryrashed Rashed Chowdhury

    As a big National Geographic fan, I love the stack of National Geographic magazines in the corner of the room in the first picture. :) Great story, ma sha’ Allah. Very touching.

  • Habeeba

    I’m sitting here crying. Sub7an’Allah wa bi7amdih. Indeed Allah SWT is the mercy-giving the merciful. what a phenomenal story! Jazakum Allahu Khairan and may Allah SWT continue to bless David and Nor and guide all of us on the straight path, Ameen

  • Wajahat

    Salaam brothers.  I see you have changed your route and coming
    to Chicago.  Which Masjid will you be
    visiting?

  • http://twitter.com/Ovasi Kevin Glynn

    Another beautiful story, and beautifully written. I tell as many people as I can about your blog. 

  • http://hautemuslimah.com Haute Muslimah

    What an incredibly sweet story! SubhanAllah it’s amazing how things work out..

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  • Omar

    This is the most beautiful and inspirational marriage story I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing. It literally made my night. 

  • http://twitter.com/dyayisha Nadiah Basheer

    Sister Nor! Salam from Singapura!! I admire your conviction and faith in Allah’s plans for you. Sioux Falls is a long way from home but I see how contented and happy you are. Many more happy years for both you and your family.

    “Salam Ramadan & Selamat Menyambut Syawal Yang Bakal Menjelang” =))

    • Anonymous

      Syukran Sister Nadiah.  Everything comes from Allah S.W.T.  May u & family be blessed. 

  • Amirahdk

    this story needs to be made into a movie! mashaAllah!

  • Elinmanja39

    Salam, I’m frm Singapore, what a beautiful love story, despite all their differences & the great obstacles they faced, their love for each other still prevail, May Allah blessed them both with happiness till eternity, Ameen….

  • Samia Ali-Akhtar

    Wow,Mashallah, this story brought tears to my eyes, so beautiful.
    Samia

  • Talukdml

    touched my heart!

  • Ruqayyakimm

    WOW loved the story, so beautiful :)
    put a bihg smile on my face 

  • Asif mallick

    I wish True love Prevails in Our Lives InsHAllah……………………

  • Jtttops

    subhanallah bought tears to my eyes

  • L-L

    Salaam Alaykum Brothers-
    I will be spending half of Ramadan in the States and half in Saudi insha’Allah.  A big tradition in KSA after Iftar and prayers is to watch a comedy show called “Tash ma’ Tash.”  My Arabic is not so good, and many of the jokes are over my head.  I am so happy to say that reading your blog is becoming my own nightly Ramadan tradition, as I’m sure it is becoming for so many Muslims in the US and abroad.  Thank you for your positivity and insight.  Jazak Allah khair for all you are doing!  

  • Samu_97

    We all should have the attitude these 2 have! Subhanallah.

  • Noor Asmahan Abdul Aziz

    astagfirullah hal’adziim! masyaAllah! such a beautiful love story. this is another great example of total faith, surrender and submission to Allah the Al Mighty! may both of you and famly be always in the Mercy, Guidance and Blessings of Allah s.w.t.

  • Omar

    SubhanAllah… wow beautiful story. 

  • Marwa

    This is so beautiful, mashaAllah! 

  • http://mooslim.com/blog Mr Moo

    Awesome story

  • Anonymous

    Syukran to all brothers and sisters for your comments.  Islam teaches us kindness and respect regardless ethnics and believes.  Life will be simple when brothers and sisters caring for each other.  Jazakallahukhair

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1418109651 Soraya Day-Johnson

      As Salaamu Alaikum brother David and sister Nor

      I know I am months late in reading this but I just found this blog yesterday and I just read your portion of the blog today masha allah. I am in tears right now. Literally crying sitting at my desk, because this is very similar to how me and my husband met one another. My husband is currently finishing up a 15 year sentence and I met him three years ago through a mutual friend of ours. I can relate on so much that was talked about above. Alhamdulillah your marriage is a successful one and its beautiful to hear your love for Islam and also give an insight that marriages of all kinds can be successful. I still find it breath taking that like you I found love in such a hopeless place not only for my husband but for Islam as well. Shukran for sharing your story with 30 mosques. Truely amazing. Allahu Akbar

  • Shaselstudio

    Salam from Singapore,This story is very well-written.  Congrats to the author.  It should
    be made a biographical love novel.What more with all the letters.Could turn out a best-seller.May bro David and sis Nor be blessed for sharing with us their incredible yet wonderful love story.
    I hope Berita Minggu will write
    about this soon and I will share
    this link with them, insya Allah.  Thanks. Ramadan mubarak :)

  • Ms Anish David

    I remember well Victor “writing in the air” as he tried writing his name onto that contract! I remember too the nervousness of Nor! Both of you were so cute, as you took that step of faith into the marriage. As your sister and sister-in-law, its been great joy watching you two grow into the couple you are now! No one would have ever thought you were a “Suitable” couple… But Allah is the Best of Planners!

  • Craj1988

    this is amazing!

  • Anonymous

    ‘Assalamu’alaikum Bro David & Sister Nor! Your story is not about mere faith; its about certainty in Allah!
    And what an inspiration for me. Thank you for sharing.

  • Ismail

    I am amazed at how sweet this story is. May Allah Bless you with the best of this life and the best of the Here After Ameen.

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  • http://www.yawarbaig.org Yawarbaig

    Subhan’Allah! may Allah bless your lives.

  • usman ali

    subhanallah congrats on your beautiful marriage to each other. you both seem like very good muslims i hope allah keeps you and your family very happy and healthy. i reall really love your story of love and becoming one inshallah i will have a good marriage like yours too. i am so happy to hear that there are still great muslims with beautiful stories like yours i will spread the story to friends of mine because they can learn a thing or two from this and so can i. inshallah u will both live a happy and successful life together. you have made me truly happy by reading this i didnt know that there were people that actually believed in one another so much mashallah. salaam my brother and sister may u live in happiness and peace forever

  • Rubinakhan830

    such a wonderful story! mA what an adorable couple!!!!! may Allah swt always bless their marriage and their family! 

  • Ainme786

    Assalamualaykum Kak Nor.. Saya sungguh terharu bercampur gembira membaca kisah kehidupan ini… Menitis airmata saya. Sungguh Allah Maha Penyayang dan Pengasih. Dan Dialah sebaik-baik Perancang. Terasa kecil diri ini.. Sungguh bersih dan sucinya hati kak Nor. Menerima segala-gala dan menjadikan Allah sebaik-baik sandaran. Saya berdoa agar kehidupan kak Nor sentiasa diberkati dan dirahmati oleh Allah. Kak Nor doakan saya juga agar dapat menghadapi kehidupan seperti kak Nor. Tabah serta kuat iman dan yg penting mempunyai hati yg suci dan ikhlas. Salam sayang dari saya utk kak Nor dan suami serta keluarga..Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh..

    • Anonymous

      Wa’alaikum salam warahmatullahi wabarakatu, wahai saudara ku.  Segalanya yg diperolehi datang dari Allah S.W.T. & akan kembali juga kepada Nya.  Berfikiran positive amat sangat disenangi yg Maha Esa.  Syukran yg tidak ternilai dari saudara mu yg amat berkurangan. 

  • Hira Ahmadi (Spore)

    As Salam Mu Alaikum

    I just came across this page and it brought such warm to my heart. Its a long way home from Singapore to Sioux Falls, tapi kalau dah jodoh di tangan tuhan, bersatu juga. Alhamdullilah.

    May both of you lives happily and fills with joy always.

  • Rosnani

    My sister and brother in Islam…Nor & David…Syukur alhamdulillah because of your strong faith in Allah and your patience to take this long journey to marriage, Allah has blessed you both with love, peace, happiness and a happy marriage.

  • Hifzanshafiee

    anybody want to make this as film?

  • bintdee

    AWWWWW AllahuAkbar

  • Mohamed

    Mashallah! What a warm, feel-good story about personal struggle and triumph. May Allah bless both of you David and Nor.

    @David: Love the sarcasm T-shirt! Bassam thanks for the beautifully written piece, this has certainly made my day!

  • Sammy

    MashaAllah your story is so beautiful it moved me to tears. SubhanAllah. May you both have many years of happiness together inshaAllah :)

  • Mohammad Saeed

    Subhan Allah! Allah is the greatest!
    Nor or Nour means the blessed light from Allah and this story clearly proves it. It also proves that, pairs are made in heavens. Otherwise, how else David and Nor could have met and made the pair with a seperating distance between them almost half the world!
    Another thing to note is the fact that, if you meet and love first and enjoy life, marriage becomes a liability, while if you keep your respectable distance and leave love and life to come as you go, it becomes eternal.

    Best of luck and best wishes to both for showing the true light of Islam to the terrified world. Definitely, there is no fear in Islam which lights the life like Nor and David. May Allah Swt bless you.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OK22W5JX4X4YZESMFFNOH4SM6Q Brittney

    God is Great!

  • seef

    I am typing this with a tear on my cheek. I’m a 43yo dude. I don’t cry.
    This is a ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ story. Who could make this up? SubhanAllah, Allah sends us the examples of these people to show us the strength of the values he wants us to have: perseverance, sacrifice, selflessness, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and the amazing breadth of His creation. A truly wonderful story. WHY ISN”T THIS ON OPRAH????
    I would love to hear this story from Nor’s perspective, how difficult her struggle also was, and the how she found the strength to make the decision she did.
    Kudos on the t-shirt bro. Allah is the Greatest. And I hope you’re still riding.

  • Elizabeth Niederer

    This Christian is THRILLED with your story. All blessings upon you and yours.

    • Norvic3101

      Warmest thanks from us. We love our brothers and sisters regardless of belief & ethnic. Loving & caring lead us closer to the Supreme Being. 

  • H.N

    Subhaan Allah.  See how Allah, the Almighty is so Kind and Loving to His slaves.  He guided David to The Straight Path through His Mercy and blessed him with a good wife and taught him the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
    And yes, Allah has already created mates for each and everyone of us, just like he has decreed the time and place of our death.  
    When we didn’t know Islam and Allah, we were lost and miserable with no hope, but now with Allah’s Guidance and His Mercy we know who we really are;we know the real purpose of this short life, and we know that we all belong to Allah, the Most Great, and that as long as we believe in Allah as the One True God, Laa ilaaha ill-Allah, and that Muhammad (sall-Allah-u alaihi wa sallam) is the Last Messenger of Allah, and believe in the Last Day with certainty, we shall have no fear or sorrow.
    May Allah bless you both.

    In Surah Al Ahzaab,The Holy Qur’an, Allah says:
    Say: “Who is he who can protect you from Allah if He intends to harm you, or intends mercy on you?” And they will not find, besides Allah, for themselves any Wali (protector, supporter, etc.) or any helper.(verse no 17, surah no.33)

  • Adi Pranoto

    I just want to say ‘Assalaamu’ alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” to akhi David and ukhti Nor.

    Salaam from Indonesia.

  • Yusoffkader

    Its the heart that counts and the love for Allah that binds .. May they be guided by Allah henceforth. Amin

  • Sidra

    This is such a heart-warming and touching story, mashaAllah. As a young Muslim woman who sometimes feels overwhelmed with the thought of finding my Mr Muslim Right, this post gives me so much solace. If we are sincere and desire deen and character in our partner, Allah swt will grant us one from realms we never imagined.

  • Ibrahimzahir

    may Allah guide u n ur family 

  • Aisha

    i love it!!

  • sis sadiya

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. may Allah(SWT)preserve both in ur deenn Amin YaRabi


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