On Saturday, January 7, 2017 a large number of Facebook users in Afghanistan, posted long sarcastic and somehow serious statements on their Facebook walls that the Department of Justice is working to legalize online marriage and divorce. These posts were supported by some and opposed by some others.
And today I received an interesting and surprising message from a friend of mine who is living in New York that a boy currently living in Kabul has proposed to his loving girl who does not live in Afghanistan on his Facebook wall in a very romantic way. This is something that rarely happens in Afghanistan.
He wrote to his love:
I want you now
Like a vessel that needs blood
Or like a heart
That needs a shock
Hoping to survive…
Will you come?!
After this I love to be with you and breathe besides you. Will you walk in this journey of life with me??
In a country like Afghanistan, incidents of this kind occur rarely or it does not occur and probably this is the first case. In a closed and traditional society that violence against women is reported every other and then, one should have strong gut to propose marriage to a girl online.
This move is perhaps the most romantic type of proposal at least in Afghanistan and this courage was widely welcomed and appreciated by Facebook users. Even the family of Mr. Nasser Folad, welcomed his decision.
Growing up in a traditional and religious Family
The boy who proposed the girl online is Folad. When I talk to Folad, I could see and feel the sense of pride and sentiment in his eyes.
Mr. Folad, was born in a religious family and has done religious studies. His father is one of the grand clerks among Shiite Hazara community in Daikundi province. He comes from a traditional and religious family and has broken one of the riskiest taboos.
Folad told Khabarnama that this proposal was very important to him and the move is entirely made in consultation with his family. Folad said, his father and other family members do not oppose him. His brother who also has religious studies background, has strongly supported him. Folad said that he has done this move in order to be a role model for other young people, so that they can easily and without any concerns decide about their lives and future.
Folad told Khabarnama, “The moment I was posting the marriage proposal on Facebook, I was stressed and more stressed out when I was thinking about my relationship and engagement with religious leaders. Since my father had agreed with me the same as Nilofar, and though for many unthinkable and beyond their expectations, I moved forward. Although I was afraid that people might curse and insult me, everyone appreciated me and it was great.”
Folad said, late in the night when he tried to post the proposal, he awakened his brother, Sheikh Abdul Hamid and asked for his suggestion. He says: “When my brother Sheikh Abdul Hamid woke up and I said I want to make the post, he said can I have a look at your written piece. When he read the text, without commenting a single word, he said post it immediately.”
The distance love
Folad is not the only hero of this interesting story. Far away in one of European countries, the girl’s heart is probably beating impatiently to see Folad from close distance. Maybe she is counting every second to see the prince of her dreams and to be together forever.
Nilofar Gholami was born in Iran and has not visited Afghanistan. She is now living in Austria. Nilofar from thousands of kilometers away has accepted Folad’s proposal and will begin a new long journey of life.
Nilofar says she is proud to have Folad in her life. She says they have made the move with each other’s consultation.
Nilofar told Khabarnama, “First we consulted with each other, and then we decided to do this. Naseer had proposed me several times in person, but our decision was to make the final and real proposal on Facebook.”
After much waiting, Nilofar finally on 4th of January, two days after the public proposal, at 4:32 AM Afghanistan time, says a yes to Folad’s proposal. She wrote on her Facebook wall: My response to my dear Folad is a YES. A YES.
Folad here in Afghanistan probably had been up all night. He made the proposal on January the 2nd and was waiting for a positive answer. Three minutes after Nilofar’s response, he immediately wrote back: My dear Nilofar!Thank you for the positive response,We will always stay together.
Public’s reaction to this proposal
This was only one side of the story. The other side is public’s reaction to this story. People who have made Folad a hero:
Eid Mohammad Jafari, one of Folad’s friends wrote, “This is the best marriage proposal of 2017, which is proposed on Facebook. Those who do not have wife, follow the courage and initiative of the two young role models. I am impatiently waiting to see Folad as a groom.”
Zaker Babak, another friend of Folad wrote, “Your half-mast flag is now flown at full–mast. Fayaz and I are going to decorate the car with flower. Ramin, you go and talk to the guy in charge of electricity and tell him not to cut off our power until morning as we are taking preparation for the wedding.”
Most of those who have welcomed and appreciated this proposal are young boys and girls. For instance, Parven, a young lady wrote, “Wooow! Mr Folad, the first and most interesting news of the year is your proposal post. My beautiful words and best wishes to you and to the dearest lady. Have a happy life together.”
Another friend of Folad, maybe his family friend wrote that he was appointed to convince Folad to get married and now that this has happened, he is happy.
Mohammad Ali Milatyar wrote, “It has been for more than a year that I was appointed by Folad’s Family to persuade him to make a choice and get married, but he chooses no one.
Finally, with his excellent choice, he made his family, friends, and me very happy. I congratulate you both.”
Love relationships in Afghanistan
In a country like Afghanistan, where environment is quite traditional and closed, these events may seem a little unusual. Earlier in December 2016, a young boy had also proposed to his loved girl in Kabul International Airport.
When his girl landed at Kabul Airport, he proposed her in public. This story went viral online. Some people had appreciated it and some had denounced it.
Maybe in big cities of Afghanistan, many young boys and girls do not have many problems choosing their spouses, but in the villages it is a serious difficulty. Most of the marriage decisions are made by parents, which mostly ends to domestic violence.
Another example is marriage of a boy and a girl from two different ethnicity, which seemed to be unlikely. The love story of Ali (Hazara ethnic) and Zakia (Tajik ethnic) was hugely controversial in Afghanistan, but eventually the couple made their togetherness possible. A book was written about love story of Mohammad and Zakia titled Afghanistan’s Rumeo and Juliet.
The New York Times made several reports on this matter. The story was welcomed among most young people at that time and was supported as a begun against discrimination.
There are many open minded people in Afghanistan. Sometimes even during their friendship they write something about each other on Facebook. However, after their engagement, men mostly impose a lot of restrictions on their wives. Even some do not allow their wives to participate in social programs or put their photos on Facebook. Sometimes these events have also been problematic after marriage.
Overall, most people value democracy only by words and say things that do not really believe in. At least this is clearly seen in their actions after marriage. That is why it has become a proverb that Afghans want democracy for their neighbor’s house.
The initiative taken by Folad and Nilofar will probably open the way for many young people who love each other to publicize their relationship before marriage.
Folad and Nilofar’s love story was interesting. Even beyond interesting. It was very surprising. More importantly, it is not even the end of the first month of 2017, and this happened. Perhaps this year will be an interesting year for young unmarried people in love in Afghanistan.