Modern dating can be a challenge for anyone. But for young Muslims it can be more of a trial, particularly for girls. The mixture of Western culture and Islam can be complicated, even if you don’t come from a particularly traditional or conservative family.
Even the culture of arranged marriages has begun to change in countries such as the UK. Mutual consent has always been expected in the dominant schools of Islamic law, but increasingly young Muslims in countries such as the UK and America are looking to find a potential partner before involving their families to arrange their marriages.
The majority of Muslims in England and the U.S say religion still plays an important part in their lives, but this does lead to clashes between Islamic traditions and most Western cultures. The practice of polygamy has declined, but Muslim women are still prohibited from marrying outside of their faith (although it is allowed for Muslim men). And strict Islamic laws consider looking at a member of the opposite sex with desire as haram (forbidden), with chaperones often still involved.
So how does a young Muslim find a suitable marriage partner?
Family and Friends:
Family and friends remain one option. But although Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, Muslim communities in the West are still a minority. That has a tendency to limit the people you’re going to be introduced to, and there’s a fair bit of recycling of potential dates through friends. It also relies on friends and family being able to guess what you’re looking for in a partner, even if you’re not sure yourself yet.
Education and Work:
Muslim students may worry that abstaining from alcohol and nightclubs will mean they miss out on much of the social experience of university, but Islamic Societies and other social clubs do provide plenty of gatherings. But with limited numbers of potential partners, and little experience of dating, finding someone to spend your life with can still be a challenge.
A similar situation exists in the workplace. Sharing a profession doesn’t necessarily mean your religious views or cultural values will match up. And whereas university at least limits the time you’ll spend with someone, any workplace romance failure could mean awkwardness for years.
Muslim speed dating and marriage events are common places to try and meet a partner, but many people still struggle. At most events, the number of women vastly outnumber the men, and tend to be slightly older which limits options, particularly when Islam states that Muslim women need to marry men of their own faith, while men can marry into other religions.
Muslim men are also more likely to return to their country of origin to find a wife, while the increasing number of educated, professional women will find a more limited pool of men matching them intellectually and economically. This has led to the rise of a growing Muslim spinster crisis.
Online Dating Sites:
If you’re not fortunate enough to have bumped into your ideal marriage partner by luck, the rise of internet dating has provided a potential solution. Some Muslim dating sites have seen huge increases in members over the last couple of years. Tom Dibaja, Managing Director of LoveHabibi comments:
“LoveHabibi is quickly establishing itself as the premier online destination for Muslim singles worldwide. We’re seeing double-digit growth monthly, with hundreds of new users joining every day.”
Not only does it provide young Muslim men and women with the chance to interact with people outside of their immediate social circle. It also makes it possible to search for potential partners with similar religious and cultural values. That common ground helps to overcome the potentially awkward introduction phase and get to know someone. Do you consider it important for your partner to conduct salah (praying five times a day), or to eat halal?
It means that you can find someone who understands your faith and is looking for marriage, which is why so many Western Muslims are now finding their partner via the internet. Not only does it remove geographic barriers, which are less important in an age of global travel, but it also allows young women a greater choice in deciding who they want to meet.
That’s why Muslim online matchmaking has grown so popular in the West – it’s the way to find a partner who shares your beliefs and values wherever they might be.