Young Muslim-Americans Try Online 'Halal' Dating

23 August, 2016

Many young Muslim-Americans report having difficulty finding a spouse in the traditional way, so they are using websites that connect Muslims who want to be married.

Filza Satti and Obaid Akram have been married for more than a year. They met on a website for Muslims who want to take part in "halal dating."

Halal dating is a way for Muslims to learn about one another to decide if they want to be married, while at the same time observing the beliefs of Islam.

When Muslim men and women date one another, it is with the intention of marrying one another or deciding against marrying. As they are dating, they do not become physically intimate. They meet only in public places and with friends. And they must have permission from their parents or other older people to date one another.

"I joined a matrimonial website two years ago. You'll find a lot of people there with different backgrounds and cultural values."

Obaid Akram says he once supported so-called "arranged marriages," in which family members bring a man and woman together to be married. But he says finding a wife through a website was easier.

"Halal dating, I think, is gonna be the next thing for our Muslim community, because we need it. You need to do that. We need, we all need to do that."

Some Muslims still prefer the traditional method of matchmaking, or arranging marriages. Huma Qureshi lives in Houston, Texas. She has been a matchmaker for the past 16 years.

"Online dating has impacted our work, because it's so easy to go to the website and create a profile for a nominal fee. Boys and girls can also meet in the process we follow but that involves families first. You do find halal dating amazing as you're young and are attracted to the opposite sex, (but) it's more like a fun thing..."

Meeting other Muslims on a website and then taking part in halal dating is new. But Satti and Akram believe this is the way most Muslims will meet in the future. They believe learning about a person before a marriage takes place will help prevent some of the problems that arranged marriages produce.

I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA's Madeeha Anwar reported this story from Dallas for VOANews. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the report for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

spouse – n. someone who is married; a husband or wife

intimate – v. involving sex or sexual relations

background – n. the experiences, knowledge, education, etc., in a person's past

prefer – v. to like (someone or something) better than someone or something else

matchmaker – n. a person who tries to bring two people together so that they will marry each other

impact – v. to have a strong and often bad effect on (something or someone)

profile – n. a brief written description that provides information about someone or something

nominal – adj. very small in amount