long wait. When they met 10 years ago, Muhammad Kaweesi, 31, a teacher and a sheikh knew this was the girl for him. At the time, Latwifah Badru Othieno, 24, was in Senior Three. The admiration went on for two years, until Muhammad broke the silence. Like a man with a mission, he visited her parents during her Senior Six vacation, to tell them of his intention to marry their daughter. What followed was a seven-year silence that was broken early this year, when Latwifah’s parents accepted the proposal. How did they manage to remain steadfast for that long? They share their amazing story with Farahani Muksia.
his story >
How and when did you meet your spouse?
Well as a person who was involved in Da’wa (religious teachings) and a students’ leader, I interacted with many colleagues both male and female. I got to learn their characters. My wife now, then a student in Senior One, was one of the many students I used to interact with in religious affairs. But when she joined Senior Three in 2005, that’s when I spotted some interesting features about her.
What are those features?
She was a young girl but with a developed understanding. Her reasoning of issues was beyond that of her age mates and she actually had most of the traits I wanted in a woman. I should say she won my heart during our interactions, but I kept it a secret from her.
How did you manage a relationship as a Daa’e (a person who teaches Islamic doctrines)?
Everything has its own time, I should say. I knew her but did not approach her before I was certain it was the right time to let her know about my feelings.
Did you use middlemen to approach her?
When I joined Bilal Islamic Institute in 2005 to finish my studies, I decided to approach her through friends but later changed my mind. Instead, I would go to see her with friends, but still kept a distance and I never allowed anyone to disclose to her that I was interested in her.
That is how I operated until one day when I had gone to Bugembe Islamic institute for Quran memorisation, I finally called her to tell her and openly expressed my feelings.
So what did you say?
(Latwifah smiles, then Muhammad responds) When I learnt that she had realised that it was me proposing to her, I thought it wise to tell her that she was the best choice as mother of my children!
Islam teaches us that when you propose to young girls and you get no response or she cries, then it is a positive response.
How did you seal your engagement?
At first, it wasn’t that big a deal because I had never dated before. It was an adventure. I liked her so much because she was a young girl who had won my heart and I wanted to know her more. She suggested that I meet her parents to let them know my plans.
What were her parents’ reaction to your proposal?
I was certain of what I wanted, so I went with my father to discuss with her family my interests. And we did exactly that and they promised to respond. I thought it would take a month or two but instead, it took them almost seven years to give us feedback. I guess being the first born they needed to know the kind of person I was.
Seven years? Weren’t you tempted to get another girl?
Like the saying that he who endures earns the best, so I knew the kind of person I was chasing after. Even when it took years of waiting for her family’s reply, I was determined to remain steadfast.
So how did the response come?
After the long wait, her father called my father to discuss the way forward for our marriage. I was so excited and started planning for the wedding immediately. It took us four months to plan for the wedding and on June 20, we had our Nikka at Wandegeya Mosque. The following day, we had our introduction and reception at Kitante Primary School.
What is the secret to your marriage?
It is all about understanding of each other. Besides, Islam teaches us to scrutinise those we choose as marriage partners. So I looked at four things but the religious aspect overruled the other things because religion keeps us in check.
Do you have plans of remarrying?
My wife also asks the same thing and my answer has always been, why would you ask someone who has not eaten even a single plate, how many plates s/he will eat. Anyway, my answer is that if there is a need to do so, then I will have to marry another wife.
What are the guiding principles for your marriage?
Like any organised environment, there must be some guiding things. Islam is our major guiding principle. Then other things like understanding each other follow. I told her I wanted someone to be with in Janna (paradise).
Why do think your marriage will last that long?
Well, I have a lot of trust in Allah. Secondly, the choice I made, I carefully considered it.
I know that I made the best choice, because we have many things we mutually share, so I have trust that our love and marriage will last forever.
What is your advice to young couples?
Couples should be faithful and trust in Allah and each other. Be careful with the choice of wife you want to marry, understand the dos and don’ts of each other.
Tried and tested recipes to a happy marriage >
Keeping the relationship alive
Latwifah: Being faithful to each other and our religion has helped us maintain respect for one another.
Muhammad: Ladies need mostly care and love, and depending on how you treat them, they will reciprocate accordingly.
Latwifah: What kills many people’s marriages today are women who want to turn into test tubes for men forgetting that no man on earth who can ever tolerate that.
Proof of love
Latwifah: What most young girls forget is that true love waits. No girl should give in to a man to prove that you love him.
Secondly, girls should stop imagining “soaps love” because those are TV soaps that are exaggerated. Women should know that they are the drivers of marriage.
Muhammad: Men should care for their women and stop admiring others.
Turning frogs into princes
Latwifah: If you want to marry a prince, then make your man a prince and others will admire him that way other than you going for those that others have already been nurtured.
If you want him to build for you a bungalow or get a car for you, be part of the journey to have that achieved.
her story >
How and when did you meet Muhammad?
It was at Bilal Islamic Institute, Kakiri. He taught the Quran and helping us in some concepts of Islamic teachings. He was the boys’ leaders when I joined the institute. In senior three, I was appointed the girls’ leader. There was nothing between us until 2008 when I was in Senior Six. That was when he made his intentions clear to me.
What was your reaction?
Initially I did not know that he was the one proposing to me, since he never acted that way.
When I learned that it was Kaweesi who wanted to marry me, I was shocked because he hardly socialised with the opposite sex.
When he told me how he felt, I was confused because at school, they did not allow boy-girl relationships. I also thought about being in a relationship yet I was a girls’ leader, tasked with the duty of minimising love affairs among students, and I did not know what to do.
And how did you manage the relationship?
Everything has its own time. We decided to keep a distance from each other but maintained some communication. However, he later made it clear that he was determined to marry me after my Senior Six.
You told him to meet your parents before taking the relationship further. Why?
I just wanted everything to be open and start on the right footing. That way, I would be secure in case of anything.
You trusted your parents’ decision better than your own judgment?
I trusted them, and saw it as a privilege because they know my weaknesses and strengths. Besides, I knew they could make a right choice for my destiny.
Is it true it took your parents almost seven years to allow you get married?
Yes. Basically it was to make sure that Muhammad was the right person for me. The challenge is that we young people get excited easily and quickly, but the seven years helped my parents to make sure that we understood what marriage was all about. So it helped us to understand each other more. But no doubt, it was a trying time as we waited, but we do not regret waiting that long. We entered the marriage well prepared.
How do you keep trust as a young couple?
My mum was a good role model because she helped shape me. She taught me that when someone fully respects Islam, then they will always know there are limits to everything.
What would be your reaction if he married another wife?
The truth is that instead of him cheating, it is better to know that he has another wife. Life is funny, today I may be able to meet all his needs but tomorrow, I may not. So it is okay with me if he does it (gets another wife).
Do you think Kaweesi will keep your love even with three other women?
Basically, it is about knowing that everything happens for a reason. I know love grows and ages, but most important to me is trust in Allah and keeping my status as a woman to him.