Love + Sex, Love

Dating while Muslim shouldn’t be forbidden

He and I dated for only two months, but for me, that time without any family interference made a huge difference.

When I was younger, “dating” was forbidden.

We were told that it was haram and that even talking to a member of the opposite sex was wrong. At Islamic conferences, we’d be lectured during the day, and then at night, I’d see guys and girls sneaking off to darkened corners of the hotel to sneak a quick conversation.

During Islamic camp sessions, we’d spend the day listening to the proper etiquette between males and females, and at night we’d stay up late and discuss which brother had the sexiest beard.

We had met online on a dating website but we had mutual friends. Click To Tweet

I felt like the more we were told to not think about the opposite sex, the more we actually did. Our parents told us that we would be introduced to a suitable man when we reached a marriageable age. For me, apparently, that was the age of sixteen. He was twenty-eight. I know my parents meant well, but it was from that first uncomfortable set-up that I vowed to never meet my partner in that way. I pushed against tradition until my parents eventually stopped bringing guys by the house when I was twenty-two.

I told my parents that I preferred to meet the guy on my own, and they trusted me enough to agree. When I brought home my now ex-fiancé at the age of twenty-seven, I was nervous but excited. We had met online on a dating website but we had mutual friends.

Regardless of whether or not the union was successful, I felt confident bringing home a guy that I had known for a little while and could trust.

Let’s face it; who acts like their real self in front of family anyways? Click To Tweet

My parents knew that I would only let them meet a guy I was sure of because that is the point where I would want them to be involved. So when I was ready, I had him call my dad, and ask if it would be possible to come speak with him and meet my mom. It went so well, and I was not nervous at all, as I already knew that I liked this guy and could be myself in his presence. My parents could tell that I genuinely liked him, and I think in their minds they were at ease because they knew that I was happy.

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Within two months of our meeting, we had our Fatiha.

He and I dated for only two months, but for me, that time without any family interference made a huge difference. I felt in control of my future. Sadly, things didn’t work out (for reasons I’d rather not divulge) and we parted ways the following year, just two months before the wedding.

Since then, my experiences in the dating world have been interesting. For the last five years I have signed up for every Muslim dating site possible, and have had friends/family set me up as well. I think there is nothing wrong with dating while Muslim; the problem is that so many people assume that if we date, it also means sex. Because in the American culture, that’s what it usually entails. That doesn’t have to be the case though if you are dating while Muslim. Really, all it means is getting to know the person in a more relaxed setting, either one-on-one or with a group of people. No more awkward meetings under the watchful gazes of your parents and his; no more interview-like settings where you ask a plethora of questions in a couple hours to verify if the person will be a good spouse.

I, for one, do not live near my family. My parents are divorced. Click To Tweet

Nowadays, more people have embraced dating while Muslim because it gives you the chance to really get to know someone for who they are, before you place them in a formal setting in front of the family. Let’s face it; who acts like their real self in front of family anyways? The guy or girl may seem like the perfect match up front, but once the couple gets some alone time, that’s when the real personality comes out.

A lot of times that only happens after the engagement, so now you have a whole other issue to deal with as the announcement has been made and plans set.

People wonder why the rate of failed engagements and marriages has gone up; because we pressure our youth to get married to someone they don’t know, and it isn’t until later that they realize what a huge mistake it was.

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I have recently had a lot of debates with females who believe the only way to get married properly is in the traditional way, with a man coming to your father to ask permission to speak with you. Let’s be real; so many of us are away from home, living on our own, or don’t have the ideal family situation where that is possible. I, for one, do not live near my family. My parents are divorced. My communication with my father is strained.

So does this mean I should just stay single forever since I can’t do it the traditional way? Be open-minded.

At 32, I feel confident enough to know my limits and set my own boundaries. If I choose to go to dinner with a guy I meet at a conference or online, then so be it. It is a better option than sitting at home, waiting for a guy to come knocking on my father’s door. Because let’s face it; the older you get, the less appealing it is to wait for a guy to go door to door until he happens to you.

I felt like the more we were told to not think about the opposite sex, the more we actually did. Click To Tweet

I feel as though the stigma of dating while Muslim has started to dissipate as more people realize how hard it truly is to meet someone local.

There are even new dating apps such as Minder (Muslim version of Tinder) and Crescent, which will be coming out this year to help moderate Muslims meet others like them. I for one say, bring them on! I’m tired of the outdated, boring Muslim dating sites.

I’ve even signed up for early access to these sites. Who knows?

Maybe with these apps, more people like myself will find a new avenue to start dating while Muslim and remove the stigma completely from our society.

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Jinan Deena

Jinan Deena is a Palestinian American who has used writing as a tool to express herself. Growing up with two cultures, it was always hard to balance being Arab and American, as well as Muslim. Through her writing, she was allowed to create a safe space for expression and dialogue. Over the years, she has written for local newspapers, online magazines, and currently hosts her own blog. The subjects she writes about may be considered taboo for some, but Jinan feels that these topics need to be discussed no matter how much people shy away from them. Usual topics include love, marriage, gender roles, current events, and cultural bias. In her free time, Jinan is an avid reader, seasoned foodie, and amateur fashionista. She currently lives in Youngstown, Ohio where she works as the Fundraising Event Coordinator for the Syrian American Medical Society.

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