Why British Muslim women struggle to find a marriage partner

Older, unmarried female Muslims outnumber their male counterparts for many reasons. Fussiness is not one of them


A few years ago, at the behest of my mother, I attended a Muslim marriage event in Glasgow. These are events where Muslim men and women meet for the purpose of seeking an ideal marriage partner.


Women of Muslim background on Whitechapel High Street in East London.

At the event, there were around five women to every man. Well-turned-out women sat around dejected, twiddling their thumbs, waiting to speak to the select few.

Sadly, it’s not an isolated example. Up and down the country, hundreds of women in their 30s and 40s within the Asian Muslim community are struggling to find a marriage partner.

Nearly all Muslim singles events are female-dominated, unless organisers artificially construct a level playing field by selling equal numbers of male and female tickets.

In the latter case, there’s always a stampede for female tickets. December’s Canary Wharf Professionals Muslim marriage event saw the female ticket quota sell out three weeks before, whereas the male ticket quota only sold out days before.

Moreover, the average age of women at such events is typically higher than men.

Such occurrences are symptomatic of the growing Muslim spinster crisis, which has been brewing for some time and is rooted in cultural, rather than religious, trends.

First, there has always been a tradition for British men originating from the Indian subcontinent to marry women from their country of origin. Families encourage their sons to do so for a host of reasons, including the cultural expectation that girls from “back home” will stay with and look after their in-laws.

The second trend is for Muslim men to marry “women of the book” (Christian or Jewish women), which is permissible in Islam. Men are more likely to work and socialise with British Christian women than their female Muslim counterparts, which leads to a higher chance of such marriages occurring.

Both trends lead to a shortfall of available Muslim men.

For Muslim women, marrying men from their country of origin is rarely considered an option as they tend to want social, economic and intellectual equals or superiors. Men from their country of origin tend to have different mindsets and struggle to find jobs no matter how well qualified they are, thereby leaving women as the main breadwinners. This situation can often create a strenuous dynamic in relationships with men from patriarchal cultures.

Muslim women, unlike men, are restricted as to whom they can marry. Marrying men outside the faith is only considered permissible in most communities if the men convert.

Moreover, in line with national trends, Muslim women academically outperform the men. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s How Fair is Britain? report, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women are more likely to be employed as professionals than their male counterparts. This means that professional Muslim women have an even smaller pool of intellectual and economic equals to choose from.

This is exacerbated by the fact that Asian men are likely to choose partners of lower economic and intellectual status as they traditionally grow up with working fathers and stay-at-home mothers, and generally choose to replicate this model.

Unfortunately, these imbalances are not widely acknowledged – many label older unmarried women as fussy. The effect on women is crippling. Many become depressed as a huge amount of importance is attached to marriage, and unmarried women are made to feel that they’ve failed.

Any real solution would require a complete cultural shift in mindset by parents, community leaders and imams. This will need geographically, socially and economically fractured communities to work together to achieve change – no easy feat. Until they do so, many women who want to marry men of the same faith will continue to struggle.


Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/jan/18/british-muslim-women-marriage-struggle

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11 Responses

  1. Dinah Rahman says:

    Muslim men, contrary to Islamic guidance, also tend not to marry women who are the same or older than themselves. Even if by one or two years.

  2. Dark Ali says:

    If you are giving referance of islamic principles then why are you forgetting another aspect which is called Bigamy. I know many would jump in anger but thats also a solution..

    • Mahfuz says:

      its not just the solution for muslims but every society too! it is natural whereas monogamy has always casued spinsters and mistresses – both equally bad. in islam it isnt bigamy but polygamy, which is ok in UK law so long as it isnt common law.

      talking about religious laws, bigamy laws are based on protestant ethics! not libertarian lol

  3. me says:

    Why cant muslim women marry non muslim men? It will solve the problem easily. I dont think men should be allowed to marry non muslim women, its not fair, who will marry their sisters if all muslims marry from abroard and non muslims! do they want them to have haram relations with kaffirs? i dont get it. One of my friend married a white christian as she couldnt find anyone. And she is happy now, so i dont know why its haram if it helps people?

    • Mahfuz says:

      your friend is probably rasing her children as kaffirs thats why! this article is inaccurate, many mirpuris who marry white girls usually convert them! the conditions for practising people of the book are rarely met. at the end of the day u want someone on the same page who will raise an islamic home, your friend probably has abandoned the bidet for toilet paper and will be calling around her guy ‘friends’ every time england lose at football or its Xmas! m8, i get so many calls from women around abouts that time, more than Eid let’s put it that way

  4. Rich says:

    Dinah, another problem is that many Muslim men believe that they should marry much younger then they are, in the way of the Prophet as he did with Aisha. It seems a shame that when love is the strongest emotion and such a constructive one that there are guidelines on who can be loved. Go with your heart!

  5. Abdus-Shaheed says:

    I disagree with the above article.

    I am a Asian male who has been searching for some time now and one thing I have constantly come across and am so exhausted with that I have become almost discouraged at searching for a partner is the immense ‘shopping list’ of requirements a woman seems to have that I can never seem to satisfy.

    I never entertained cultural dogma which I believed would be an obstacle when I looked for someone and I also would love to marry a convert or someone who isn’t from the same background as my parents, I even don’t care if the potential is older than me since maturity is a appealing element to me.

    Bottom line, women are fussy, whether they choose to admit it or not.

    • iq says:

      Agreed. In a society where waste is the norm and consumer driven culture is what we live by (Whether we admit to it or not) women have become fussy.

      But equally, I’ve encountered a multitude of men who have a list as long as ones arm and are looking for that Stepford trophy wife that quite frankly does not exist. they too, are fussy. Unfortunately, both sides are now finding themselves in a quagmire of their own making. It seems both men and women are unwilling to compromise and make the sacrifices needed in marriage. As a result, we can never truly find that elusive goal ‘happiness’.

  6. Baz says:

    As an asian male who has been looking for a number of years and been to many events, I would agree with Abdus shaheed that women are very fussy, however that isnt the biggest issue I have found. The vast majority of women only start looking for marriage when they get close to 28/29 and then after a few short years of looking they are in their thirties.

    If people actually prioritised marriage and Islam over careers and having fun there wouldnt be this problem. Expecting men to marry women older than them isnt the answer, Islam positively encourages marrying earlier and for very good reasons.

    After many years of looking I am now seriously considering looking back in Pakistan, although I would much much rather find someone here!

  7. Mahfuz says:

    how on earth is fussiness not an issue? the world is too big, go to morocco tunisia and find yourself a looker ladies! i offered my mate simo [model] to carlos [a moti munter] and they acted high and mighty! PFFFT

  8. Stu says:

    A looker in Morocco Tunisia etc? I think the last comment was meant to be a joke on the poor ladies who do NOT wish to be scammed for their residency and financial status

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