Muslimah Media Watch thanks Saad Mubarak Almutairi for his contributions to this research.
As marriage remains a powerful institution in Islam, it is only normal to see marriage “technologies” advance. As traditional matchmakers become non-existent in some places in the world, the internet represents a new alternative for those Muslims who want to marry the “halal” way. Whether online dating is really halal or not is a matter of opinion, but a number of Muslims have chosen to participate in the online matchmaking process.
To overcome the question on the permissibility of online dating, options exclusively for Muslims have arisen. Muslimah Media Watch engaged in a complex research to find out the role that women play in these websites. This research analyzes some of the most popular Muslim Dating sites.
Muslima.com is the least technologically advanced of all the sites we reviewed. This website requires a lot of information, but it gives the individual the option to specifically choose the traits of their ideal partner, which may include job, ethnicity, income, education, etc. Once the profile has been successfully set up, the person can explore the website’s recommended prospects.
An interesting feature of this site is the emphasis on physical appearance, since this constitutes one of the largest sections of the profile. In addition, Muslima.com does not only serve Muslims. When filling out a profile, the individual should specify her/his religion, if she/he is a convert to Islam and, in case she/he is not a Muslim, the site inquires about people’s willingness to convert to Islam upon or before marriage. Thus, participants have the opportunity to interact with people from other religions, although the assumption is that if Islam is required by one of the partners, conversion will take place.
Qiran.com defines it self as a “leader” in Muslim marriage since it boasts almost two million profiles, offering a limited amount of services for free. Qiran.com allows a parent or relative to make a profile for someone else, assuming that marriage is a familiar issue. Its profiles require basic information (such as age, gender, country and residence status), physical appearance (such as height, complexion and body type), cultural background (such as place of origin, religion, ethnicity and languages spoken) and social background (such as education, occupation, marital status, and habits).
This website also differentiates between males and females by asking women about their “hijab habits.” Qiran.com is the only site to give men the option to review the profiles of only those girls who wear hijab always, most of the time, often, sometimes, or not at all.
Many of the questions relate to family values (which may range from liberal to conservative), religious characteristics (not religious to very religious), eating habits (halal/not halal) and other habits, such as smoking and drinking. Such questions rarely appear in the other websites, arguably on the assumption that most Muslims would define themselves as very religious, and they would describe themselves as wearing hijab (in the case of women), as non-smokers, non-drinkers and as observers of halal diet.
MuslimMatch.com is a bit different. This website provides most services, including photos and videos, for free. MuslimMatch.com asks a number of very detailed questions regarding appearance, education, occupation, family, hobbies, etc. At times, the information may seem too personal. For example, some of the questions asked are the person’s weight, income and health issues, such as disabilities. Unlike other websites, MuslimMatch.com is the only dating site that represents different Islamic denominations. Instead of only giving the person the option to say that she/he is Sunni, Shi’a or “other” (like Qiran.com), the website allows the individual to choose over 10 different denominations.
In addition, MuslimMatch.com has mostly blank spaces for the individual to specify the characteristics of an ideal match, and these may range from occupation to appearance. Once a profile has been created and the account has been approved, one has access to a number of profiles through a search engine. This engine will look for the profiles that best fit the person’s ideal match.
Another interesting feature of this website is that distinct from others, it also asks participants to specify whether or not they would participate in polygamous marriages. While it is difficult to figure out this site’s targeted audience, people that join this website probably have a broader understanding of cultural practices around the Muslim world and will not be surprised by people laying out their preference for polygamy in their profiles.
Creating a profile for this website is very time consuming, since a number of questions require one to fill out the blanks, as opposed to checking a box. Due to this, language barriers could be a challenge when looking for a mate, since this website assumes that participants have a solid knowledge of English.
Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we look at Halfourdeen.com.