When I was younger, “dating” was forbidden.
I was told that it was haram and talking to a member of the opposite sex was wrong. At Islamic conferences, I’d see guys and girls sneaking off to darkened corners of the hotel for a quick conversation.
During Islamic camp sessions, we’d spend the day listening to the proper etiquette between males and females. 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”
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 marriageable age. For me, apparently, that was the age of sixteen. He was twenty-eight. I know my parents meant well, but from that first uncomfortable set-up, I vowed I wouldn’t meet my partner that way. I pushed against tradition until my parents eventually stopped bringing guys by the house when I was 22.
I told my parents that I preferred to meet the guy on my own, and they trusted me enough to agree. I brought home my now ex-fiancé at the age of twenty-seven. We had met online on a dating website and 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 while and could trust.
“Let’s face it; who acts like their real self in front of family anyways?”
When I was ready, I had him call my dad, and ask if it would be possible to meet him and my mom. I was not nervous as 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.
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 and we parted ways the following year, two months before the wedding.
Since then, 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. So many people assume that dating also means having sex because, in American culture, that’s what it usually entails. That doesn’t have to be the case. All dating means is getting to know someone in a more relaxed setting.
“I, for one, do not live near my family. My parents are divorced.”
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 front of the family. Let’s face it; who acts like their real self in front of family anyways? It may seem like the perfect match, but once the couple gets some alone time, that’s when their real personalities come out.
A lot of times that only happens after the engagement, so you have a whole other issue to deal with as the announcement has already been made.
People wonder why the rate of failed engagements and marriages has gone up. It’s 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.
I have had many debates with females who believe the only way to get married is in the traditional way, where a man comes to your father to ask permission. Let’s be real; so many of us are away from home, living on our own, or don’t have a 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, so be it. It is a better option than sitting at home, waiting for a guy to come knocking on my father’s door.
“I felt like the more we were told to not think about the opposite sex, the more we actually did.”
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. 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 of dating while Muslim and remove the stigma from our society.