Muslim dating

An article appeared in NY Times today which is just way too funny. Thank you to those who pointed it out to me. I have written on Halal dating before, but this takes it to a new level. I had heard about the ISNA convention fast becoming a place for young men and women to meet each other for marriage, but this puts it into perspctive. Enjoy!

It’s Muslim Boy Meets Girl, Yes, but Please Don’t Call It Dating
(Source: NY Times)

CHICAGO — So here’s the thing about speed dating for Muslims.

Once the banquet got under way, the mothers were plenty busy themselves

Many American Muslims — or at least those bent on maintaining certain conservative traditions — equate anything labeled “dating” with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved. Hence the wildly popular speed dating sessions at the largest annual Muslim conference in North America were given an entirely more respectable label. They were called the “matrimonial banquet.”

“If we called it speed dating, it will end up with real dating,” said Shamshad Hussain, one of the organizers, grimacing.>

Both the banquet earlier this month and various related seminars underscored the difficulty that some American Muslim families face in grappling with an issue on which many prefer not to assimilate. One seminar, called “Dating,” promised attendees helpful hints for “Muslim families struggling to save their children from it.”

The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: “Don’t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don’t ever bring one home.”

“These kids grew up in America, where the social norm is that it is O.K. to date, that it is O.K. to have sex before marriage,” Imam Magid said in an interview.

“So the kids are caught between the ideal of their parents and the openness of the culture on this issue.”

The questions raised at the seminar reflected just how pained many American Muslims are by the subject. One middle-aged man wondered if there was anything he could do now that his 32-year-old son had declared his intention of marrying a (shudder) Roman Catholic. A young man asked what might be considered going too far when courting a Muslim woman.

Panelists warned that even seemingly innocuous e-mail exchanges or online dating could topple one off the Islamic path if one lacked vigilance. “All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way,” said Ameena Jandali, the moderator of the dating seminar.>

Hence the need to come up with acceptable alternatives in North America, particularly for families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where there is a long tradition of arranged marriages.

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6 Responses to Muslim dating

  1. Zaheer says:

    As.Salam o alkum everyone,

    being an international student from Pakistan, who is happily married, perhaps i can add one more perspective to the debate. As I understand dating means going out with someone of opposite sex for the purpose of getting to know that person more, and eventually marrying that person. But, as we are all aware there is always a difference between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’. It is not beyond belief and imagination that a young couple meeting in a romantic environment will be tempted to engage in physical acts that are a natural expression of love and sexual love. Now in our tradition, such relationships are not considered good, because to stop oneself from having sex (which is the natural climax and a major reason we get attracted to opposite sex in the first place) while engaged in a courtship is very dissatisfying – in fact cruel. So the options are either to go all the way, or to avoid building up this desire altogether. Since extramarital sex is off limits the first option is eliminated. The second option seems to be more ridiculous than the first on the surface. How can you deprive someone form satisfying this very real need and urge? The answer is that you don’t. As soon as you feel that you are developing some feelings or are being attracted toward someone, the first thing to do is to approach that person or that person’s family and tell them about your desire and your intention to marry that person. Now, it is up to them and yourself to decide if this would be a feasible match. You do this by meeting with that person (not in a romantic and isolated place, but) in presence of other family members. This gives you more opportunity to use your head rather than your heart to make such an important decision.

    It is also important to give the couple some private time, for example by leaving them alone in the lounge for a while (this gives them some private time where no one else is listening or watching over them, but not enough opportunity to have sex:), anyway, the point is that is it important in our culture as well as in Islam to give the couple ample opportunity to find out about each other. But the way this opportunity is given in the western cultures leads to lots of other undesirable results like high number of divorces, high number of messy and emotionally hurting relationships, and even unwanted pregnancies. So halal dating in my view should be some sort of chaperoned dating, where both the parties get to ask some serious questions.

  2. Bilal Zuberi says:

    Zaheer,
    Very interesting perspective. I think you make a good point. There needs to be more avenues for men and women to meet each other without needing to rebel from religious or even cultural customs. But how is the question. How to keep suck events interesting (i.e. without too many elders floating around), and also ‘clean’? I have seen Hindus in India utilize Mandirs for this. Can we use th emosques. problem is that in most muslim countries, women haven’t seen the inside of a mosque – ever!

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  4. I think that it is a very interesting and amusing article. Practically all its main points are true.

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