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“When they stand and watch, they make the participants uncomfortable,” said Tabasum Ahmad, ISNA’s matrimonials coordinator. “There is no consensus in the community at all about what is appropriate dating,” said Colin Christopher, a married 33-year-old who works for ISNA.
One Palestinian-American couple had driven six hours from the San Francisco Bay area to deliver their 33-year-old son and 30-year-old daughter into that Anaheim ballroom of hope. It is not that everyone is trying to appease their parents in the search for Mr. “Some people are super conservative, and they only hang out with a potential suitor with their parents around.
Not only can you search for basic criteria (Osman lists himself as a “Foodie” and “Travel Lover,” who stands 5-foot-9 and loves sports), profiles also provide spaces to list things like family origin, languages spoken, degree of religiosity, sect and lifestyle (does not eat Halal, for example), as well as “ideal marital timing.” [‘Muslim Town’: A look inside Philadelphia’s thriving Muslim culture] Unlike Minder’s secular cousin Tinder — with its reputation for casual sex and dating, all within a 10 mile radius — Minder and the other Muslim-oriented apps also allow users to set their search radius as encompassing multiple countries (say, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and United Arab Emirates), or even the entire planet — and many do.
Yasmin Elhady, a Washington area lawyer who moonlights as a matchmaker and comedian, produces online videos to counsel her peers on things like the importance of character and the false promises of “a swipe left, swipe right culture.” She worries about the limitations of such tools.
When the matrimonial banquet was over, he and a few dozen others drifted out into the hallway with little to show for their efforts. Arham told the group about the woman who said he looked like a “baby.” Mavesh, a 25-year-old accountant, told how she had called her father, and he immediately asked if she met someone. Maybe there would be more people his age, he thought. “It just seems like the older I get, the harder it’s gonna be,” he said.
“Yeah, Dad, I met someone, and I’m out with him right now!
But even though they have lasted — raising three boys in northern California and climbing from the bottom rungs of the economic ladder into middle class prosperity — theirs is not the marriage Osman wants. He wants someone like him who was born and raised in the United States to immigrant parents, someone who is “on the same page.” “Looking for my Cinderella, I have her shoe ...” his online profiles read.For many, including Osman, it was their first “matrimonial banquet.” Every year, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), one of the country’s oldest Muslim organizations, hosts about a dozen banquets like this one in locations across the country.It is a Halal form of speed-dating, as one participant described it — a way to meet other Muslim singles in a country where most people are not Muslim, and in a manner their parents would approve. population, so finding a mate is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. [Explaining Islam: A mosque starts a ‘Know Islam’ booth to engage public at farmers market] Add in the broader millennial crisis of choice: The screen time, the dating apps, the Hollywood expectations of “sparks” and fairy tale perfection, and the proverbial needle, the disillusioned complain, becomes something that might not actually exist.Mishal, Sabah, Hera and Azka — all college students — were only there because their mothers had signed them up, (besides, Mishal already had a boyfriend), and they spent much of the event’s social hour talking to each other. “I’ll send this to my mom as proof we were here.” Then there was Nishat, a 35-year-old elementary school teacher, who was only there to help her mother sign people in, although her mother would have loved to see her in the ballroom.“I keep telling my mother that I’m too busy,” Nishat said.