Omar and Zaina have been married three years and eight months now. He is Saudi and she is British. They are a dashing couple and it shows in their pictures. They have been ostracized for their age difference due to the fact that Omar is younger than Zaina. I personally don’t see anything wrong it, after all, age is nothing but a number. Omar’s choice of marrying an older woman should be regarded as a noble Islamic attribute. His choice is reminiscent of Prophet Muhammad’s (1) marriage to his first wife, Khadijah (2).
When I look at their pictures, I don’t see age. I see the kindred souls of two ordinary people looking into the camera. Are they two ordinary people destined to do extraordinary things?
Omar’s mission is to bring about worldwide peace which is the opposite goal of his father, Osama Bin Laden. Omar has mentioned himself that, “I am nothing like my father. While he prays for war, I pray for peace.” (Time)
Zaina is behind Omar every step of the way, traveling the world with him to help promote peace which included orchestrating the 4800km North African Horse Race For Peace. Zaina confides that she has “been working for peace for many years, even before I met Omar, all be it on the quiet. I wrote many a speech for others to use when promoting peace. We are both working very hard to try to bring peace to this war torn world. The world should have no boundaries, either of land, resources or religious beliefs. We are all human and should protect and care for our neighbour, no matter what nationality, colour or creed”.
There is a saying that behind every good man, is a strong woman. Zaina fits the bill in her position as “Omar’s conduit to the Western world: serving as his publicist, dresser and interpreter, hovering over his every word and rushing to deflect anything she considers damaging or inflammatory.” (Telegraph)
Zaina and Omar’s marriage, peace activism and the fact that Osama bin Laden is Omar’s father, have catapulted them to stardom and into the news. Along with that territory comes vast criticism of their marital relationship and Omar’s status as the son of the most wanted man in the world. Their words and actions are scrutinized. The details of their lives are fodder for the tabloids, words are put into their mouths and the truth is twisted. It is no wonder that they decided to launch their own blog, Omar And Zaina Binladin, in response to the bad press they receive.
I was not aware of their blog until Zaina posted it in a comment here on FHWS. What a good idea to create a blog in order to combat the misconceptions and refute the lies written about them in the media. Now people can read Omar and Zaina’s version of a false publication such as what Zaina wrote in The Truth Of The Matter. Or when they share events as they happen in their personal lives, for instance, in a post titled Sinking Sand.
Maintaining a blog is not the only way the Bin Ladens are taking control of how we are informed about their private lives. Omar, Zaina and Omar’s mother, Najwa Bin Laden, collaborated with Jean P. Sasson to publish the book, Growing Up Bin Laden. For those of you who do not know, Jean P. Sasson is also the author of the three books on the true life of a Saudi princess, “Sultana”. I was very delighted at the fact that Jean has authored the book as I have read them all and enjoyed her style of writing. At the time of reading her books, I was not yet a Muslim and could not envision ever living in a country such as Saudi Arabia or being the wife of a Saudi. Little did I know that I would one day become a Muslim, marry a wonderful Saudi man and live in Saudi Arabia.
Omar and Zaina express a fondness for Jean, stating that she “is an excellent writer who is so honest in the true sense of the word. She is a wonderful friend who we have grown to love dearly. What an amazing lady.”
Omar explains why he decided to write a book, “I wanted my story to be told so that I could say the truth about my life. No one knows about my life but me. This book will set the records straight. (Gulf News)
Zaina adds that it wasn’t easy for Omar. “It took a long time for Omar to write the book. In fact, it was started when we first married. In approximately March 2008, Omar gave the outline to Jean Sasson and from then on they worked on it together. It was a long hard process that was psychologically challenging for Omar as he had put so many sad and difficult memories to the back of his mind.”
I asked Zaina if the book was banned in Saudi Arabia or if I ordered it in the mail, would it be seized by Saudi censors. She replied that, “You can order it from Amazon. It isn’t banned in Saudi Arabia as far as I know. It will also come out in Arabic soon. There is nothing in it that would offend or upset the Saudi Arabian government, in fact they should like it.”
You may also be interested to know that Omar and Zaina are in the process of developing a clothing line called B41. What does B41 stand for? Zaina described it as follows, “B is for Binladin, Omar is the 4th son and I am the 1st daughter of my late father, God rest his soul. This is the trademark/logo for our company (pictured at left). It is not yet up and running but we hope to start soon. We have a lot of great plans for the future and we are both into all aspects of designing. We are hoping to start with a clothing that is in line with the Islamic dress code but can be worn anywhere in the world and still be very stylish and fashionable.”
I acknowledged to Zaina that we Muslims need more variety of Islamic clothing to choose from. We also need more peaceful role models like Omar and Zaina to show the world that not all Muslims are terrorists.
Thanks to Zaina for helping me with this article! Tara Umm Omar
(1) Peace be upon him
(2) May Allah be pleased with her
Omar and Zaina Bin Laden