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September 5, 2015

A Different Kind of Love Story: Little Mosque on the Prairie

by Annette Bourdeau, posted Feb 14th 2011 9:00AM
Audiences have spent four seasons watching the quiet romance between 'Little Mosque on the Prairie''s Amaar and Rayyan build. Now, they get to enjoy the big payoff -- in season five, the two crazy kids finally get together.

Amaar and Rayyan, played by Zaib Shaikh and Sitara Hewitt, didn't have a typical courtship. The two devout Muslim characters aren't allowed to touch until they're married -- even after they're engaged. Naturally, hijinks ensue. (Like when Rayyan falls asleep while the two are bed shopping and Amaar has to wake her up without touching her.)

The entire season leads up to the big wedding day, when the two lovebirds will finally get some physical contact (don't worry -- nothing too racy). Just in time for Valentine's Day, we caught up with Shaikh and Hewitt to reflect on Amaar and Rayyan's restrained road to love. Awwww.

What are some of your favourite moments leading up to the wedding?

Zaib Shaikh: We get to see some past characters because of the wedding. That was really cool.

Sitara Hewitt: I really enjoyed that the four seasons of romantic tension -- all that stuff that Amaar and Rayyan experienced -- was finally able to be expressed. It's been building up for so long.

ZS: They've been so reserved with each other. And with the wedding they get to express themselves -- or try to do it, at any rate.

SH: Amaar and Rayyan have never even touched. He's only seen her hair once -- it was totally by mistake and it was so embarrassing for Rayyan. This season they're engaged, but they still can't touch until about the final episode. It was cool for our characters to have a little bit of physical contact. Nothing too steamy, though!

What do you think some of the biggest challenges have been leading up to the wedding?

ZS: Amaar and Rayyan are not your normal characters, first of all, because they're Muslim. But then, for Muslims, they're actually very passionate. To have two characters who are so devoted to their spirituality and their faith, to try to show a romance between them and to try to play that out in a show was a big challenge.

SH: With Amaar and Rayyan the stakes seem so high compared to other romantically involved characters on TV. The smallest moments really have a big payoff. It's that much more moving when there's so much restraint. As far as challenges, Amaar and Rayyan are just so different. He's a city guy and she's a really small town girl. They have differences in income, which can cause problems in relationships.

Did it present any challenges to you as actors portraying the progress of this relationship because there was no physical contact?

ZS: It's all about the gestures, the looks. Sitara and I are lucky because we had a good chemistry as people and became friends. But it's challenging, I'll be honest. You end up working in a vacuum because you have to. You're not rehearsing physical moments because they don't exist. So you don't get to have that connectivity.

SH: He never had an arm around her or the typical things you see in relationships. And yet it always felt like there was something going on.

ZS: We kind of got to laugh together at the absurdity of the situations we were put in. As actors you laugh and say, "How are we going to pull this off without touching?"

What can viewers expect from the wedding episode itself?

ZS: We're not going to reveal too, too much. There's going to be a lot of missteps, a lot of confusion, a lot of awkward moments. And then we'll come to a place where there's some panic going on.

SH: I think viewers who've followed these characters through the seasons will feel good about it.

Do either of you have any favourite Amaar and Rayyan moments?

ZS: We've always made sure Amaar and Rayyan get to enjoy a beverage or an ice cream. They really love their sweet treats, those two.

SH: They really, really do. (Laughing.) There's a particular episode when Amaar and Rayyan are bed shopping and Rayyan keeps falling asleep on a mattress and Amaar has to shake the bed to wake her up.

Do either of you have any favourite TV weddings or high-profile real-life weddings?

ZS: Obviously, there's the big royal wedding coming up. I think it's cool our show is gearing up for a wedding when there's that stuff going on.

SH: It's cool! And Zaib met the Queen last year!

ZS: Yes, I had the good fortune of having audience with her majesty and I never thought I'd get to do that -- to meet the Queen and Prince Phillip.

Are you waiting for your invitation to the wedding?

ZS: (Joking.) Yeah, I know it's in the mail. But I know it takes a little while to get here from the U.K.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about Amaar and Rayyan's romance?

SH: I'm very grateful to our audience for sticking by us. Because of that, we're now in our fifth season and Rayyan and Amaar are able to get married.

Season 5 of 'Little Mosque on the Prairie" airs Mondays at 8:30 PM on CBC.

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Congratulations Amaar and Rayann. You have shown how true love conquers all. Can hardly wait for the weddings (both of them). Can just imagine what next season will be like. Salaam Allahykum.

February 15 2011 at 8:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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