Not so long ago, after nagging from my mother, I went to a Muslim marriage event hosted in Glasgow. Such events are held to give both Muslim women and men the opportunity to meet an ideal marital partner.
A small number of men attended the event compared to women. Approximately there were five women present for every one man. The women were left sat waiting nervously for the selected few men to join them.
Unfortunately, a lack of men at such events is not a rare occurrence. According to statistics, many women within the Asian community entering their 30's and 40's are finding it difficult to find a suitable partner.
Females predominately attend the vast majority of Muslim singles events. The exceptions happen when the organizers arrange a platform by selling an equal number of tickets to females and males.
Despite organizers best efforts, female tickets are always in demand. For example, this was the case at the Canary Wharf Professionals Muslim marriage event. The female ticket quota sold out in three weeks before the event, although the male ticket quota didn't sell out until days before the event.
Also, the average age of men that attend singles events is significantly lower than the mean age of female attendees. Emerald Muslim Events founder, Rooful Ali, states that women participants are usually in their 30s where as men are typically in their late 20's.
The statistics illustrate the rising number of single female Muslims. This pattern has been developing for some time and is a result of cultural rather than religious trends.
Traditionally, British men that originate from the Indian subcontinent tend to marry women from their country of origin. Families actively encourage their sons to follow suit for a variety of reasons. The belief that women from 'back home' will be more loyal and able to look after the in-laws is a common reason stated.
Another trend is for Muslim guys to marry Christian or Jewish women, who are often known as 'women of the book,' which is permitted in Islam. It is more common for men to work and socialize alongside British Christian women than their Muslim counterparts, meaning there's a greater chance of such marriages.
Such traditions and trends have led to a decrease in the number of Muslim men available for marriage.
Unlike Muslim men, females are more restricted as to whom they can marry. A woman can only marry a man of a different faith if they convert.
Moreover, it is common that Muslim women perform significantly better than men academically. The 'Equality and Human Rights Commissions's How Fair is Britain?' report revealed that Bangladeshi and Pakistani women have more chance of being employed as professionals than males. This means that professional Muslim women have even less intellectual and economic equivalents to choose from.
The situation has worsened because Asian men are more likely select partners who have a lower intellectual and financial status. Asian men are used to being raised in families where the father is the breadwinner, and the mother stays at home to look after the family, and they usually prefer to replicate this model.
Any concrete solution requires a massive cultural shift in mindset by many including imams, community leaders, and parents. This will also require social, economic, and geographical alterations. Until these changes take place, many women will continue to struggle to find marriage candidate of the same faith.
Author: Syma Mohammed, originally written at the Guardian