By Madiha Nazeer Khan – Freelance writer
The Prophet (sa) said: “When a person gets married, he completes half his Deen.” (At-Tirmidhi)
In today’s age of cultural upheaval and rapidly disappearing moral values, Fitnah is running rampant. Many young Muslims feel they can protect themselves by getting married. However, this is easier said than done. Unrealistic expectations, coupled with the shackles of culture, have turned the search for a potential spouse into a nightmare.
Predominantly young Muslims in the West face a lot of challenges, when they wish to get married. The offspring of Muslim immigrants desire to find spouses with whom they share the same wavelength and who also understand the challenges of maintaining an Islamic identity in a Western society. Muslim converts have an even more difficult time in finding their soul-mates because they usually do not have the support of family and friends. Consequently, they have to rely on unconventional methods to find their other halves.
“As a convert, I really couldn’t go to my parents,” says A, “and because there weren’t any good matches in my circle of friends, I decided to do something I never thought I would – I joined a match-making website.”
This sentiment is echoed by many Muslims in the West. However, utmost precaution must be taken when joining a match-making website. Some of these so-called Halal websites blur the line between the permissible and the prohibited in Islam, and actually encourage behaviour that breaks the boundaries of the Shariah. Following are some of the problems a person may face in match-making websites.
Many matrimonial websites promote public socializing of Muslim men and women – online dating. Some even provide “Dating Safety Tips” for providing ‘a secure environment’. However, one must realize that a prohibited act done in a virtual environment does not make it any less Haram. Islam restricts free-mixing of non-Mahram men and women: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan is the third among them.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Online dating may lead to actual dates, thus opening a gateway to graver sins. Despite the pure intentions of both parties, achieving Nikah by means of a Haram relationship is wrong.
Many people justify the frequenting of public chat rooms: “How else will we know if we share any interests with the other person?” However, just like dating is prohibited in Islam, the same applies to informal conversations, with the same underlying wisdom behind the restriction.
F. expressed her concern about these websites: “I am registered in matrimonial websites, but I don’t know if the proposals I get are suitable and reliable, as some of them say they want to meet me or ask for my phone number. I feel someone else, who is Mahram, needs to be involved before I start talking to a non-Mahram.”
If direct correspondence is necessary, it should be done with additional precautionary measures. The Wali (guardian) of the lady should be present during the meeting. The meeting, phone call or chat-session should not last too long. The two interested people should speak to each other in a guarded manner, without any flirtatious or informal under-tones.
While we usually associate flirting with specific actions or language, in cyber-space it can includes such applications as ‘hugs’, ‘kisses’, ‘flirts’ or ‘pokes’. Also, such emoticons as ‘winks’ or other smileys are inappropriate with a non-Mahram. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, simply ask yourself, whether you would indulge in such activities in real life. Similarly, if the other party is behaving inappropriately, you have the option to walk away by reporting or blocking that person’s profile.
What to Remember?
§ Be honest: It is inadvisable to give private information right from the beginning. However, one must be honest with personal details at advanced stages when both parties are serious about matrimony.
§ Involve a guardian: Parents or guardians have valuable advice and can help in reaching the correct decisions.
§ Seek a partner in Deen: While age, education or cultural background may seem important in varying degrees, the essential factor is compatibility in religion: “Men choose women for four reasons: for their money, for their rank, for their beauty and for their religion, but marry one who is religious, and you will succeed.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Where to Look?
Sifting through the plethora of matrimonial websites can be a daunting task. However, there are websites that uphold the guidelines of Shariah.
Halfourdeen.com is one such website. It is unique because it creates question-based profiles and encourages the involvement of a Wali (guardian). It also does not allow chat rooms.
Another website, Purematrimony.com, has taken its inspiration from the Quranic verse:
“…Good women are for good men, and good men for good women…” (An-Nur, 24:26) Like Halfourdeen.com, this website is also private and tailored solely for people who are practicing Muslims and serious about marriage. It has very strict codes of conduct and is Wali-friendly.
For Muslims residing in countries with a predominately non-Muslim population, matrimonial websites may be the only way to find spouses. However, one should keep in mind the fine line between the Halal and the Haram, as our actions will be judged by our intentions.
By Brother Jamshed who recently got married through “Pure Matrimony”
“As Muslims, we seek for marriage other Muslims, but is that really enough? I have tried several websites that cater to Muslims, but I can honestly say they don’t work! They focus on quantity over quality. The sites are flooded with fake profiles, making it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Pure Matrimony is different. Because each candidate is very credible (by virtue of having been checked and vetted), the degree of compatibility rises exponentially. They target practicing Muslims. You’re not sifting through a barrel of rotten apples to find a good one. Although there were lesser profiles, the ratio of compatibility with what I was looking for was exceedingly high.
Pure Matrimony has no bogus profiles, and for the most part, every profile was for someone with a mindset similar to mine. Within the first month of using the website, I met the families of two different sisters. Unfortunately, marriage didn’t happen with either, but that was due to personal issues. At best, any website can only offer to introduce the couples. By ensuring high quality profiles, the introductions were much more feasible and easier to make.
There are no profile pictures on the website – you have to specifically request to see someone’s picture, and they have to grant permission which can be revoked at any time. Also, all correspondence is monitored by a third party, and the sisters can also opt to CC their Wali.
Pure Matrimony has a strong association with Mercy Mission. It is not run by an individual seeking to make a living from it; rather, behind it is a professional organization, which serves the needs of the Ummah. The site has credibility because it is associated with people who are knowledgeable in the matters of Deen. The website is constantly monitored and has the backing of reputable scholars and Sheikhs.
Although Pure Matrimony is not for everyone, it does fulfill the need for practicing Muslims, who can’t rely on conventional methods.”