Arranged marriage are commonplace in many cultures. The process can be a huge ordeal for young people involved. Some Western Muslims have turned to online matchmaking to help ease the embarrassment.
Adeem Younis remembers his family orchestrated matchmaking all too well. "they would be brought around for a meal and the samosas would come out and the chicken… there was so much pressure". Along with others, Younis began looking for a new way for Muslims to tie the knot. Sometime in the early 2000s online dating has grown in popularity. Everyone else does it, so why not Muslims?
It is not surprising that Western Muslims use the same idea. It offers low-stress solutions for their courting ceremony. Younis's matchmaking site, IslamicMarriage.com now has more than a million users to date. He does not describe this as "Muslim Online Dating". Instead of one night stands, Younis looks to provide a partner for life, a job he does not take lightly. "In Islam, marriage is equal to half of your religion," he says, quoting a saying thought to have been uttered by the Prophet Mohammed, "so you can imagine how important it is… Islam teaches us that marriage is the cornerstone of society as a whole." Islamic Marriage claims to offer many matches every day but is only one example.
IslamicMarriage.com allows you to search by sect, as well as the doctrine of Islam they follow, languages they speak, and more. It was known for matching partners who want to write poetry and dance in the rain, but also have the parent's approval. Muhammad met his wife through a matchmaking site and now is happily married with two children. He remembers his difficulties finding a match because the lack of avenues, and Muslim online matchmaking is just that. He first emailed his future wife in 2010, and before he knew it, he was married to the love of his life. While Muhammad, Bangladeshi origins, and Catherine, British convert, are an unusual pairing, this is exactly what these sites are looking to do. "The identity of global Islam is not physical, it's more ideological - its constituency is a global constituency," says Mbaye Lo, professor of Arabic at Duke University and author of an academic paper titled Muslim Marriage Goes Online.
"That is why the websites often show an African Muslim man with an Indo-Pakistani girl, for example, on their main page. They portray themselves in a physical manner that postulates Islam's globalism in order to engage people on a global level and give them more of a global outlook, a global citizenship."
Many Muslims still have reservations about dating online. Religious families prefer that children meet their spouse through the family and are suspicious of this new method. After fourteen years of success, Younis never saw this becoming a career or finding his wife through it. The website has given him much to be proud of, including his four children and his beautiful wife.