“Halal From The Other Side” The Truth About Muslim Dating Apps

I am a practising mature Muslim woman who has struggled to meet someone for marriage purposes as a woman; it’s challenging to find halal spaces to meet someone offline. I’ve been looking to meet someone for Marriage for many years now. I’m a celibate woman, which means I do not engage in sexual activity. In Islam, it is haram and considered a sin to have sex outside marriage. I take my religion seriously, which means I can’t have sexual relations. Yes, the struggle is real. Self-control is a thing.

While scrolling through social media, I saw a Muslim dating app advert. I joined the app thinking, wow, this is a fantastic concept. According to the app, the idea is to meet someone for Marriage the halal way. What an excellent way to meet someone. I downloaded the app through the app store. Upon downloading the app, I was asked to fill out a profile for my age, height and where I lived. I filled out the about me section. It read, “Salam Alaikum, I’m a practising woman bubbly, happy, worldly that likes to help others. I joined this site for Marriage.”

My profile was approved and I was feeling optimistic. Immediately my profile was viewed by many who expressed interest. I was excited and happy, thinking inshallah I will meet someone for Marriage and complete my deen (faith) “Marriage is a highly recommended act in Islam, and it is considered among the practice (Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). I received several messages. However, I am a little old school and prefer to chat on the phone. I exchanged my number with several of the men I spoke to.

After spending a few months on the app, I became frustrated. The men I spoke to, well their profiles did not match how they were talking. Their profile would state “I’m religious and practising my faith is important to me”. However, their personalities did not come across as religious. Some would be verbally abusive “one man told me to Fuck off,” and another called me a “P**I. Some men would send inappropriate messages. The disturbing thing is I received warnings for the inappropriate behaviour of men. The attitude of the staff at the app felt like victim-blaming. The staff working for the app did not take violence and abuse against women and girls seriously.

The app blocked my account because I was victim-blamed for a man swearing at me. This happened several times. I deleted the app and gave up on my search. Some months later, I emailed the app asking why my profile had been blocked when it was men behaving inappropriately. The app reinstated my account.

I spoke to some fascinating people. There was a man who had served four years in prison. He educated me on the entire prison system and rehabilitation programme. I recently completed a Crime Intelligence Analyst course, which helped me understand the criminal justice system. On one occasion a man serving time in prison contacted me.

Then there were the married men looking for a second and third wife but did not want to fund their second or third wives financially. A married man was looking for an arrangement of meeting once a week all under the umbrella of Islamic Marriage. His proposition felt bizarre.

Some wanted to know how sexual I would be after I married them if I would dress up for my husband. If I was going to be a prude because I’m a practising Muslim. One banker asked if I would be up for 50 shades of grey relationship after Marriage. Another spoke about his one-night experiences with women on Tinder. Police officers wearing uniform viewed my profile multiple times. I found it to be creepy and intimidating. What happened? That’s a whole new article.

There were the married men who wanted to speak after midnight. Some might say I should put the phone down and cut these types of men off. The truth is almost every man I talked to were similar. I accepted perhaps this is just how it is. More often than not, the men I spoke to offloaded all their problems onto me. The dating app suddenly felt like a free counselling service where I’m supposed to help all these men.

Some men contacting me started to talk about terrorism, my Islamic views, and my school of thought; one man asked what I thought of Abu Hamza. The contact seemed intentional. These men appeared to have an agenda. It had become apparent how they tried to steer the conversation into extremism. Then came the sexualization. The questions on how many times a day I would sleep with my husband in a day when I’m married. What I would wear, what my fantasies were. Yes, can things get any creepier?

I joined the Muslim dating app to find someone to share my life with. I never realized I would endure so much to find the right one. I don’t go anywhere to meet men because I practice my religion, limiting me from going to non-halal places. Although quite time-consuming, I learned a lot about men and their experiences. I learned a lot about myself, which helped me understand what I’m looking for and not looking for.

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