“With an age gap of 70 years between the bride and the groom, it was no wonder that family and wedding guests were skeptical of their union and predicted that the marriage would not last. However, three years after the wedding day, these same people had to admit that they were terribly wrong and regretted their hurtful comments.
Musali Muhammad al-Mujamai had lived a full life. At the ripe old age of 92, he had endured his fair share of hardship and turmoil, but he also had much to be thankful for. For many years, he had been happily married. In fact, his wife of 58 years had made him a rich man. Together, they had 16 children, a true blessing to his Iraqi family. He had also fathered two more children with another woman, bringing the total number of kids he had brought into the world to a staggering 18.
Musali was a farmer who had led a simple lifestyle but was able to support this large family. They lived in the village of Kuban, situated just south of the central Iraqi city of Samara, and the family was happy and content. When his wife died in 2010, this father and husband suffered a tremendous blow. Not only did his children lose a dedicated mother, but he lost the companion of many years that had always been present by his side. He was all alone now, and his life was stripped of all joy and pleasure.
Most of us would think that a man nearing the age of 90 would be content to live out the remainder of his life without a companion. This wasn’t true for Musali. After three years of being widowed, he was ready to marry again. But he did not want just any wife. He was looking for the ideal woman to fill the void and loneliness he had endured for the past three years. With this in mind, he instructed his sons to find him a wife again.
In the meantime, a young Muna Mukliff al-Jiburi was waiting to find her ideal husband. She was ready to marry, and her family was eagerly looking for the right match. When Muna saw a picture of Musali, she was immediately intrigued by the strong and kind-eyed man. But in her mind, this was not a likely match. Although women in Iraq often marry men older than them, an age gap of 70 years was a bit extreme. Still, both parties decided to leave the door open to this unlikely possibility.
The two families started negotiations, something that took a little more time than usual. Muna’s family wanted to make sure that she would be well taken care of, especially after her husband’s death. They understood that there were 18 children who were legally heirs to his estate. By that time, the al-Mujamai family had grown to an astonishing 325 members. Musali was a father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather to many because several of his sons practiced polygamy and had thereby taken more than one wife, which had resulted in a steady birth rate and an increase of children.
One may wonder if young and beautiful Muna was a completely voluntary participant in the events that were about to unfold. However, it was clear that she was happy with the match made on her behalf. She publicly stated that she was content with her parents’ choice and that this marriage was her fate. To Musali, finding this young wife was a blessing from God. He would soon marry a woman who would ensure he could still enjoy a life of pleasure at this ripe old age and would become a lovely companion to his female grandchildren.
The long-awaited wedding day finally arrived in 2013. The ceremony was elaborate because, in addition to the main couple, two of Musali’s teenage grandsons also became husbands at the same triple wedding ceremony. These boys had to postpone their own weddings several times to finalize the arrangements for their grandfather and his 22-year-old wife. Of course, the wedding ceremony could not be rushed and half-baked. Instead, the family went all out to make the celebration one to remember.
In a four-hour ceremony filled with music, dancing, and the best of food, the elderly Musali tied the knot with his young bride, Muna. He was eager to share this special day with his grandsons, a day that made him feel like a 20-year-old man again. His wife was dressed in a beautiful white wedding gown adorned with beadwork and sparkles to commemorate this special occasion.
Many people that heard of this match were simply appalled or shocked. While others openly laughed at the union, most of them thought that Muna had not married for love. She was simply willing to spend a few years beside this old man in order to get an inheritance. Her husband would most probably not live long, and then she would be financially set for life. No one was willing to believe that she was intrigued by this older man and wanted to marry him.
Other people did not believe that Muna was only 22 years old. To many outsiders, she looked much older, more like a woman in her 40s. Although that still left a huge age gap, it seemed more appropriate to onlookers. They did not understand why a beautiful 22-year-old woman would choose to marry a man that was practically standing with one foot in the grave. They thought that she was merely hiding her real age. But the critics didn’t fall on the bride only. After 58 years of being married to his first wife, Musali was now also considering a polygamous marriage situation. He said that he would be willing to marry a second wife if his sons could find one willing to enter into this union.
It was never clear what Muna thought of this idea, but many people suspected that she would not be thrilled and openly chastised Musali for suggesting it. Because of the many controversies that surrounded this union, most skeptics expected this marriage not to last very long. In fact, most predicted that Muna would leave only after a few months of having to cope with her elderly husband. Would this young wife remain faithful and dedicated, or would she succumb to the pressures of outside people telling her to leave?
But something unexpected developed between Musali and Muna in the years to come. Because in the end, she chose to remain by his side. Maybe despite all the odds, they were a happy couple. Muna did not become pregnant from her husband, but that was something to be expected, and she probably walked into this marriage knowing she would not become a mother. Nevertheless, she was willing to serve her husband and care for him until the very last day.
Many reported that she was a loving caretaker and wife to the man everybody thought was not her ideal match. However, this was her choice, and she decided to be the best wife she possibly could be to Musali. In the three years after their marriage, something incredible happened that made all the skeptics take their words back. When Musali became critically ill, Muna was constantly by his side. She made sure that he was well taken care of and prepared his favorite meals to give him all the comfort he needed in his old age.
As many people predicted, she never left him but remained faithful till the end when her husband died a short three years after their wedding in 2013. Muna was heartbroken. She was used to the companionship and life she had with her husband, and now she was left all alone at the age of 25. She was still very young, but she was too heartbroken at the time to even think of a future marriage to another man.
In the end, the skeptics had to concede and give Muna the credit that was due to her. She did not leave her husband but remained by his side until the day of his death and was a good wife from the first until the very last day. She took care of Musali even when he was very sick and did not treat her all that well. When he was impatient and in pain, she remained patient and only responded with love.
What happened to Muna after her husband’s death is not clear. According to custom, she would have been eligible for at least a portion of his money, and we hope that at least she was well looked after financially after the death of her husband.
Do you think it’s appropriate to marry someone when there is such a large age gap? Do you believe that the concept of arranged marriages has any merit? Tell us in the comments below.