Sometime in the last decade or so, online dating became a mainstream activity, in Europe and North America at least.
These days everyone is at it, from the likes of Halle Berry and Adele - both say they have given it a go - to your aunt, my grandmother, and half the people swinging like coat hangers on the early morning commute. So perhaps it's not surprising that Western Muslims adapted the idea to their needs. For many, online dating offers a low-stress solution to the daunting challenge of finding a partner for marriage in countries where few share their faith, and in communities where matchmaking is considered a family affair.
Younis's own matchmaking site, SingleMuslim. However, as the young entrepreneur tells me, to call the practice "Muslim online dating" would be inaccurate. The goal of such sites is often far more ambitious than the average hook-up website.
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Instead of hazy morning-after memories and hopes of receiving a follow-through text message, sites like SingleMuslim. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. But the site is just one example of a booming market serving Muslims of all ages and degrees of religiosity. For example, there is Muslimmatrimony.
It has now changed its name to ishqr. Muhammad met his wife Catherine through an online matchmaking site four years ago.
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Today he is happily married with two children. But his search for marital bliss wasn't always an easy ride. In typical Western cultures that's OK, but in Muslim culture it's frowned upon. So there are very few avenues, apart from family contact, for matchmaking to occur. Muhammad had been on various secular dating websites before he decided to give Muslim online matchmaking a try.
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Three or four months from initial contact we got married - we just knew really. When you meet the right person, you know. Muhammad, who is of Bangladeshi origin, and Catherine, who is British and converted to Islam at university, may seem like an unusual couple, but in many ways their relationship exemplifies the kind of relationships that these websites seek to endorse. They portray themselves in a physical manner that postulates Islam's globality in order to engage people on a global level and give them more of a global outlook, a global citizenship.
According to Lo, the websites not only encourage global citizenship, they also allow young people in conservative countries to choose potential matches with greater freedom.
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Riad, who hails from the Tunisian capital Tunis, met his wife online in She would, she says, always refer explicitly to being a Muslim if asked to describe herself. Neither of these young women has ever come across the sort of online sites that are blamed for radicalising the likes of Yusra Hussien. Aqsa Mahmood, 20, left her family in Glasgow to join extremists in Syria. Of course, the internet can play a part, but we need to ask why young people might go looking for those sites.
Parents need to keep an eye on what their children are doing on line. You have to ask what guidance are some of these girls being given by their families, or by the people they meet? It brings us neatly to the radical preachers and activists who — often in the picture painted by politicians when they worry aloud about radicalization — haunt the corridors of universities, preying on the insecurities of young British Muslims there.
The two young women are shaking their heads again. Why would anyone want to swap life in the UK for that?
Perhaps because they experience the UK as prejudiced against Muslims, even though they have been born here? I can honestly say that I have never experienced discrimination. She was the boss, she had her own business, she was older than him. She even proposed to him. If you think things are wrong in this country about the way you are treated, or perceived, work to change it.
Single Muslim? Meet Your Life-long Partner Here
We have all been given that opportunity. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Thursday 17 January Read more from Women.