I was scrolling through my newsfeed when I saw a Facebook ad for ‘Muzmatch’; an app where you can swipe through Muslim dating profiles. It seemed new, cool and (dare I say it) trippy. As an avid Tinderella and a ‘somewhat Muslim’ (I know, it sounds confusing), I was intrigued and decided to dig deeper. I mean, the last time I tried ‘halal dating’ was when my mum signed me up to Shaadi.com, the biggest matrimonial site out there and that wasn’t a smooth ride. I was inundated with messages from hundreds of marriage-hungry men that I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in and it was all a bit overwhelming. Are the apps really that different?
First, a bit about my own beliefs
A lot of people would say that I’m not a Muslim. I drink alcohol, eat food that’s haram (not allowed) and enjoy dating and having sex without the prospect of getting married. But I believe that there’s a God, that we should be nice to people and that I have the power to label my own beliefs. Why am I saying all of this? Because I don’t want to paint an image of myself as an ‘exemplary Muslim’ or the font of all knowledge. I just want to be honest about where I stand before people read what I think about Muslim dating. Find out more about me here.
Can Muslims Even Date?
Depends who you talk to. I mean… I do, because of my own preferences. But I was taught that in Islam, premarital relationships are forbidden. You’re basically aiming towards marriage to keep each other’s dignity. I respect that view, but for my own personal reasons, I don’t go along with it. Moreover, a lot of other young Muslims who want to get to know one another (albeit in a more halal way than me) before marriage, want a change too – Cue ‘halal’ or Muslim dating.
What’s An Arranged Marriage?
It’s when your family scouts the neighbourhood to see if anyone ‘matches’ with you. Really, it’s like eHarmony, but offline. So actually, it’s not that awful. We’ve heard the stories of people only meeting their spouse on their wedding day and yeah, that still happens unfortunately, as well as forced marriages and other practices that need to stop worldwide – but it’s not representative of us all.
The concept of an ‘arranged marriage’ for me and other second generation British Muslims out there means your family checking out the ‘eligible’ guys in your network, setting up lunch or dinner parties with other families and allowing the lucky kids to meet each other in a group environment. Then, if the boy and girl like each other, the couple meets with chaperones (or without, but keeping it chaste) and then gets married and lives happily ever after.
I am not knocking the concept – It works for some people; just not for me. When I was 23/24, I felt anxious as my mum constantly exchanged pictures of me and random doctors, engineers and lawyers in WhatsApp messages with different ‘matchmaking’ aunties whom I had never met. It was like she was swiping for me. The guys I met weren’t compatible with me at all and it just felt fake. Furthermore, the whole setup of pretending to be ‘good’ in my salwar kameez (traditional outfit) and serving tea with a smile to two families scrutinizing my every move was just plain draining.
What Other Options Are There?
A lot of modern Muslims do believe in the sanctity of marriage, and place value on practicing shared religious beliefs. But as with me, they find the meetings awkward too, they need to expand their networks and maybe they want to get to know their partner a bit more before arranging to get hitched for life. We live in a world of Western liberal values and a healthy dose of Bollywood. So, when this mindset marries the app store, we get a bunch of Muslim dating apps – and actually, I was really impressed by them. Here are the main ones:
Muslim Dating App 1: Muzmatch
The logo is a little pink square with a butterfly-thing in it. The website is modern and sleek and the girl depicted on the homepage is laughing and not wearing a scarf… OK this is different.
‘Where Single Muslims Meet’ followed by ‘Halal, free and fun’
How to create an account:
You sign up with your email or Facebook. You then need to specify a nickname for yourself (for privacy), your DOB, gender, occupation, ethnic grouping, Islamic sect and location. You’re then asked to upload up to six photos and take a selfie to verify your GPS location and ensure you’re not a bot – smart.
Your photos are blurred to anyone not signed up to the site and you can opt to have a ‘wali’ or chaperone receive weekly transcripts of your chats on the app. That’s for safety and to make the Muslim dating process halal. You can instantly report people or rate them based on good conduct – people with good ratings will go up in the app’s algorithm and their profile will be shown more to users. I also really like their introductory conditions – a window asking you to ‘adhere to sensible Islamic etiquette’ before proceeding, otherwise you’d get banned. I kind of wish Tinder had introductory conditions reminding people not to be jerks.
You click the cross or tick symbol on people’s profiles instead of swiping. You can get their bio to scroll up and it’s quite detailed but easy to read. Normal people who value religious practice seem to use it.
On iOS and Android
8/10. It is what it says on the tagline, ‘Halal, free and fun’. The selfie/location confirmation, optional presence of a chaperone, ease of use and image all contribute to a great app.
Muslim Dating App 2: Salaam Swipe
This logo is white and red with a squiggly calligraphy line down the middle. Another girl on the homepage with a denim top and no headscarf… Cool. If you scroll down, it says this: ‘We’re committed to changing the way Muslims meet. Providing you with the right people based on self-identified levels of religiosity, proximity, and interests, we’re no different from traditional matchmaking, except we’ve taken your aunty out of the equation.’
‘It’s Time To Change The Way We Meet One Another’
How to create an account:
Sign up with Facebook or email, check a box describing your outlook and religious sect and boom. You’re ready to swipe. It’s optional to have a picture, fill in the ‘About Me’ and ‘Interests’ boxes and enter your Instagram username.
When you go into settings, setting your age, location and other swiping preferences is user-friendly and almost identical to how you’d do it on Tinder.
This one’s a swiping one. But the bios seem a bit cold – a lot of people don’t fill in the ‘About Me’ sections and more people don’t have photos than on Muzmatch and Minder, because you don’t need them when you sign up.
On iOS and Android.
6.5/10. You can get started in 2 minutes and it’s super easy to use. But I prefer the safety checks and obligatory details required by Muzmatch – those aren’t hard to fill out and they make for a better quality swiping experience.
Muslim Dating App 3: Minder
Their logo is a little red square with a heart in the corner. Cute. Another smooth website that takes you through how it works and the girl on the homepage has a fluffy hat. Very cute.
‘The place for awesome Muslims to meet’ followed by ‘Swipe. Match. Marry.’
How to create an account:
Sign up with Facebook or email, fill in your name, DOB, gender, religiosity, education, flavor (that means sect, not of ice cream. I know, I got excited too), family origin, languages and occupation. Then write a short intro (one line) and fill in the ‘About me’ bit (1000 characters max). Upload up to 6 pics plus 1 selfie to verify location and prove you’re not a bot.
I’m a fan of the selfie/GPS verification and ease of use.
I found that this app had the widest selection of quality profiles. It’s also a swiping rather than clicking one. People’s bios have a nice layout.
7.5/10. Best selection of profiles. But Muzmatch has better extra features.
Soooo…. What do I think?
I think it’s fantastic. People should have options, regardless of boundaries and beliefs. I like how these apps bring Muslim dating into the modern age of swiping with their smooth interfaces and respectful undertones. The apps have incorporated a lot of aesthetics from Tinder, but I think Tinder itself would benefit from some of the extra features I found. If my mum knew about these, she would have downloaded them in bulk from the App Store already (after asking me how to download apps).
When I looked into Muslim dating a few years ago, because I felt pressured to, the overwhelming nature of sites like Shaadi.com and Single Muslims made me feel anxious, judged and fake. The apps here seem more in-sync with the younger generation.
Is it for me? Ummm…. No. Because my beliefs in life are different – I enjoy dating just to date and don’t want to get married anytime soon. My lifestyle is also very different to the target audience here. But I still appreciate these apps as game-changers for other people. However, I’m more of a Tinderella than a Minderella. Check out my own dating experience here.
Let me know what you think of Muslim dating apps and whether you have experience with them!