Muslims Online Seeking a Religious Spouse ... or Illicit Hookups? Or Both?


Most people are aware of the difficulties Muslims face in getting married, and the rapid rise of matrimonial websites is no surprise. There are matrimonial sites now catering to all crowds - those previously married, those just looking for another Muslim, all the way to sites like DoctorSeRishta.com and SecondWife.com. Over 10 years ago, sites like HotOrNot.com [current iteration of the website is not representative of what it used to be] were all the rage - you could simply view someone’s photo and then give your immediate fatwa on whether they were hot, or not. Tinder is a more sophisticated version of that. It uses your location and gives you potential matches near you. You can look at a profile and then swipe right if you like them, or swipe left if you don’t. If you both swiped right - it’s a match and you can start messaging.

From an Islamic perspective we see the obvious issues with this tool, and on a larger scale the “hook up” culture in general. Internet technology is making zina easier and easier for everyone. That includes those people with nice and tidy profiles on Muslim matrimonial websites. A sister who is a family friend of ours shared her experience-

When the Muslim single arena feels like a desert, and your friends are all celebrating marriage anniversaries and kids’ birthdays, social media seems like the obvious solution to finding a potential life mate in a “halal” way.

From Shaadi.com to Half our Deen to Ishqr (previously Hipster Shaadi) to Salaam Swipe (a Muslim Tinder, if you can imagine), it seems like there are plenty of choices to find a spouse. Yet, match after match, I am being met with the age-old questions about my net income and my ability to roll a perfect roti.

Then one day, I get a potential match on Half our Deen; let’s call him “Ahmed.” Ahmed has a job! And a personality! And he’s a practicing Muslim! So naturally, I Google him to make sure he actually exists.

His Facebook wall is questionable at best, with too many female friends posting comments. I consider giving him the benefit of the doubt, but feel unsure how to proceed. We continue to talk on our “halal” site, him preaching modesty and urging me to change my ways to follow a more conservative path. Maybe he is trying to better himself?

Of course, the benefit of the doubt doesn’t last long when I discover he has a profile on Tinder. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, as I was until now, you simply “swipe” right or left to decide if you want to “meet up” with someone based on their picture – and the number of miles away they are from you. I suppose Ahmed was not only “seeking a modest wife,” but also looking for some nights of fun within a five-mile radius. Curious, I started cross-referencing my other matches from matrimonial sites. “Farhan” was married in real life, and using Tinder to find someone on the side (this was posted openly). Then there was “Bilal,” who on a previous site claimed to be a shy, humble engineer who just wanted to settle down. Using a pseudonym and anonymous photo (I used a picture of my shoes), I messaged him on Tinder to see how a shy man functions on a hook-up site; and was met with what we’ll call a rather graphic and off-putting response to someone he thought was a stranger.

I thought I had the upper hand by being able to do some more research through the Internet and social media; but what I found was even more surprising. Finding someone in a halal way through social media hasn’t made marriage any easier, especially in a world where you can be rejected by a simple screen swipe. You are provided with match after match, option after option, and then a new service comes along, completely distracting you all over again. Not only are single brothers and sisters navigating a challenging new world, it seems harder to sustain a marriage with these options only a click or swipe away.

Next time, think before you swipe.

Social media is directly impacting marriages - both inside and outside the Muslim community. Facebook is becoming more and more popular as a cause of divorce.

The rishta process has been transformed. I was helping a relative with managing proposals, and it is amazing how much you can find out about a person (even if they're not your friend, and even if their profile is private). A number of people were suggested, and then summarily rejected within minutes because of their profile - and they'll never know that was the reason.

What the sister shared above about matrimonial sites and things like Tinder are a real issue in our community. The 40 hadith collection on social media directly touches on a number of the problems here - being two faced, publicizing your sins, lowering your gaze, and just flat out being dishonest (not to mention adulterous for some).

Have you had any experiences with this? What can be done in our communities to help solve this issue?

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