Marriage contract includes modern egalitarian text in English, Hebrew and Urdu languages
Maliha Khan, 33, originally from Pakistan, and 34-year-old Jewish American national Alan Cordova married in Seattle, a seaport city on the west coast of the United States in Sept last year, the Jewish News weekly reported.
The civil marriage started with a Muslim ceremony that featured a number of South Asian cultural rituals, like placing long flower garlands on each other and feeding each other sweets. The ceremony was officiated by a female family friend, who also read some Sufi poetry.
The Jewish ceremony followed, with Cordova’s childhood rabbi officiating as the couple broke the glass together. Representing Jewish and Muslim traditions, their signed marriage contract is in both a ketubah and a nikah.
‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine’
The contract features the Song of Songs opening, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” and includes modern egalitarian text in English, Hebrew and Urdu, Pakistan’s national language.
“We come from South Asian and Jewish families that was very important to us. My family truly loves Alan and his family truly loves me. We feel very loved and supported in that way as well,” said Maliha who attended Smith College as an undergraduate and has an MBA from Harvard.
“My family is not particularly observant, but we still define ourselves as Muslim,” she said. “But I was actively seeking to not date Pakistani men. Both of us experienced zero resistance from either of our families or communities at large,” she said.
“My family is very supportive and open and just wanted me to find someone that made me happy,” said Cordova, who attended Williams College and the Columbia University for his MBA and is business development manager at a company, which develops power plants for hospitals and universities.
Early on in their relationship, Cordova told Maliha that he attends The Kitchen, an independent Jewish community in the Mission District, and invited her to join him. For Maliha, Jewish practice in general wasn’t new to her due to her Orthodox roommate and many other Jewish friends at Smith College.
“Everything was different than what I was used to. There was this cacophony of joyful singing,” Maliha said. “I liked it enough to want to come back, as I really love to sing.” Cordova said that he used to go to services sporadically and sit in the back without really participating, but now he and his wife attend every service and sit in front.
Maliha said that she feels very much part of the community. “We feel supported and balanced in a way that neither of us ever felt before, which is really wonderful,” she said. About her gorilla-tracking trip to Tanzania before marriage, she said that he (Cordova) was amazing, he was so kind and chivalrous.
She said that they stayed in touch during her two weeks in Tanzania and both realised how much they missed each other. “I appreciated her willingness to go to a place with no cell reception and to trust me and go way out of her comfort zone and do something different and be together on this adventure. That set the tone. Each of us saw how we work together really well,” Cordova said.