The co-founders of C-town’s favorite online designer brand, Thirteen.ThirtyOne, have a straight-off-the-big-screen interfaith love story to share, and are proof that the religion of love is truly sublime.
I’m looking at a picture of a bride in a gorgeous white dress holding a divine bouquet and looking into the eyes of a man in a sharp, navy tuxedo, surrounded by true tropical splendor—and I’m thinking to myself, ‘This is an actual fairytale’. But the bride and groom in the picture, Inoma and Fazil, beg to differ. Coming from two different faiths, their 10-year relationship, which initiated as a dance at a mutual friend’s birthday party, was anything but smooth sailing. Inoma being raised a Catholic and Fazil growing up Muslim, meant that their relationship faced unrelenting hurdles over the years. But, despite their religious differences, the one thing this power couple believes in, and can attest to, is the devoutness and conviction they have for their love.
A relationship is hard work, but living in Sri Lanka and coming from two different religions meant it was even harder. There was a lot of baggage to work through; and situations were complicated, requiring consistent compromise and sacrifice. If there’s anything we know about love, it’s that it does demand everything, but it also gives back in equal measure.
“Our parents were against us at the beginning,” confirms Inoma. “There was a lot of opposition, as I used to be a model (it’s taboo for his faith), but I made sure I left no room for fingers to be wagged. I was strict on having a clean slate ahead, so I gave up modeling and chose to follow my real passion, fashion designing, and started Thirteen.ThirtyOne with Fazil.” Compromise and change is inevitable in any relationship, but what is of particular note is that it’s not about changing for your partner; it’s all about evolving with him.
That being said, choosing to be with each other is perhaps just the first step of many. To actually develop as a couple, Inoma and Fazil fought relentlessly, in the name of love and for what they believed in: each other. “We had to face a lot of family issues, but we tried not to take it too hard on ourselves,” explains Fazil. As it turned out, the key to making it through the storm was having the brawn and courage to outlast the tough waters. Inoma agrees, “We fought for each other, no matter what. Especially him—he fought a lot for me. And we knew that, come what may, we’d be together. We talked to our parents and explained to them that we’re either happy together or we’re unhappy apart….” Fazil finishes her sentence with “…and eventually our parents gave in!” You know what they say…the couple that vibes together, stays together!
“We believe in the laws of attraction, and we believe that what we project out into the universe is going to reflect back onto us,” says Inoma. “I’m an extremely positive person, even when everything around me is crumbling to dust, I believe in the good times and give myself a pep talk! We always make sure we think positively, so that we also attract all things positive!”
A relationship is one entity made of two halves, and the strength to keep it together comes from both those halves. Judging from Inoma’s and Fazil’s love story, it seemed to me that the relationship one has with oneself is equally important as the one you have with your Significant Other. Indeed, knowing who you are is perhaps the best way to give your relationship a fair shot, because you know how far you’re willing to go to salvage it. “Before we were husband and wife, we were best friends. I think that deep understanding we have of each other has been of immense help over the years!” says Fazil. “When you start off as friends, the understanding you have of each other, and the fundamentally strong connection you’ve built is what helps you pull through, despite the severity of the circumstances you’re faced with,” adds Inoma. “You get to go through life with the person who understands you best, and not just in the romantic sense.” That comment instantly brought a friends-first power couple to mind—cult favourite Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf, who made it through the toughest of times thanks to their insane understanding of each other…and the individual quirks each brought to the table.
Inoma and Fazil tied the knot on the day of their 10th year anniversary. “This is actually what we planned years ago when we first started dating,” says Inoma. “Most of the things we wanted fell into place, just the way we’d hoped, which took some luck but also a lot of hard work.” When faced with the inevitable question that all couples get asked at one point or another – What does love mean to you? – they respond simultaneously. “It’s a learning process,” comments Fazil. “Even after 10 years of being together, I learn something new about her every day.” Inoma nods, “It’s about understanding each other, evolving and becoming better people, together.”
At the best of times, love is a complicated emotion, requiring bucket-loads of planning, understanding, foresight and compromise. It can be overwhelming to even think about fighting battles on all fronts to be with the person you love. But, if Inoma and Fazil have taught us anything, it’s that the ride is worth it. Life is all the richer with your soulmate by your side, so don’t shy away at the thought of hardships or complications. These two are proof that love is worth every bit of the struggle and that you really can change the world, if only you try.
This article was originally published as ‘Inoma Fazil & Fazil Deen: On The Religiosity Of Love’ in the August 2017 Confidence issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more stories of inspiring women, grab a copy of our latest magazine.
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