Robin Wood was sitting in her musical theatre class at Saint John High school when a man walked in who would change the course of her life. The man began throwing cards around the room and performing magic tricks. The fifteen-year old student was intrigued and walked up to him after class.
“It was literally love at first sight. Something just sparked and we both knew it.”
Tabraze Sheikh was visiting his old high school teacher while on a break from medical school in Pakistan. For the next month and a half before he went back to Pakistan, he began his relationship with Wood.
Three years later, Wood is studying psychology at St. Thomas and she is engaged to Sheikh who is still studying in Pakistan. They are raising funds for Wood to travel to Pakistan to be married in April.
The couple are raising money through a website called gofundme.com, Sheikh is collecting bottles and Wood is selling clothes on Kijiji and working at McDonalds. They have raised $200 with a goal of $2,000.
“We’ve been engaged for three years now and it’s un-Islamic for us even to talk so we’re sick on gaining sin by talking on Skype.”
Wood converted from Christianity to Muslim almost two years ago. Although her friends and family thought she was doing it for him, she is adamant it was something she did for herself.
“I didn’t really believe in Christianity as a child. It was always pushed upon me. We went to church every Sunday and I really tried to get closer to God. And then I asked him about Islam and he explained it to me,” she said. “And it’s really everything I had been looking for. I really wanted to work going towards heaven. So, that’s what I really liked about it.”
Wood wears modest clothing and a hijab and doesn’t eat pork.
A lot of people were against the relationship because they live so far away from each other and in the beginning their cultures were so different.
“After Robin had converted to Islam she had to hide it from her parents who feared for their daughter because they thought I was going to harm her because of Islam’s portrayal in the media,” said Sheikh. “But we both knew we loved each other and we knew the truth about each other and our religion.”
Wood said converting to Muslim has been just what she was looking for.
“It’s not just like believing in Jesus and getting to go to Heaven. You have to work to go to Heaven. You do good and you go to Heaven and you do bad and you go to Hell.”
Wood prays five times a day.
Even with 6,548 miles between them and a nine-hour difference, the couple knows how to keep the love alive.
“I used to go to lunch everyday at a restaurant in Saint John and every morning at 3 a.m. he would wake up and order my food for me and leave a note.”
Wood has kept all the notes in a scrapbook along with pictures of them from his visits to Saint John. The scrapbook also contains poems and songs he wrote for her, their first calling cards and old flowers.
Wood has also created a great relationship with her fiancé’s mother.
“We call each other mom and daughter. She’s very caring,” she said. “But, unfortunately, my family is not supportive of him at all. My mother doesn’t support anything.”
Wood hasn’t even told her mother she’s going to Pakistan yet because she’s scared. She won’t tell her until they get more money.
“But I’m still going to do it. We just want to be together and not live with the sin anymore.”