America’s contradictory and passive-aggressive dalliance with sexuality is reflected within its Muslim communities. For some, it is difficult to believe that sexual organs function the same whether they are hidden behind a burqa or a bikini. As a Muslim man, I can verify that Muslims experience the same universal awkwardness of finding “hair in new places” as any other pimpled adolescent; the onslaught of puberty is precisely the time when parents need to have the “birds and the bees” talk to facilitate open lines of communication guiding them through these changes.
In many American Muslim families, however, the only lecture given is “Don’t do it!”. Although “it” is never defined, everyone generally understands “it” as a catch-all-provision for any first-to-fourth base activity with the opposite gender before marriage. One would assume the freedom of college would automatically cure all these societal repressions and allow parents to be more open. However, the story of comedian and journalist Aman Ali is sadly familiar to many American Muslims:
When I started college, my mom told me:
‘You’re there to study, if I catch you talking to a girl, I will break your neck.’
By the time I graduated, my mom told me: ‘Why haven’t you found any good girls to marry? You’re so old!'”
To readers ignorant of Islamic religious traditions, this fits a reductive stereotype of Islam as an austere terrain of angry, bearded men who forcefully engage in joyless sex with oppressed, silent women between bouts of burning American flags and eating copious amounts of hummus. The other extreme depiction of Islamic sexuality plays out like an orientalist fantasy directed by the makers of Sex and the City 2 and features harems, hookahs, magic carpets and a pornocopia of fetishes unfit to print.
Yet Islam, as practised by the prophet Muhammad, is refreshingly candid and human in its treatment of sexuality. The hadith literature – the scholarly collections documenting the sayings, behaviours and etiquette of the prophet – provides ample evidence of this. The early followers of Islam bluntly asked the prophet about sex and marriage in order to correctly practise their new religion. Many books have been written by renowned scholars citing the prophet’s healthy attitude towards sexuality, which encouraged foreplay, playfulness and compassion between consenting, married adults.
The prophetic conduct towards sex has been abandoned by several American Muslim communities, particularly those of immigrant descent, in favour of outright silence. Topics including an acknowledgement of realities such as pregnancies before marriage or adultery are rarely mentioned in many Muslim circles; the fear being that acknowledgement would act as an endorsement, validation and inspiration for un-islamic sexual deviances.
During a Muslim’s youth and adolescence, many elders promote repression. However, when this individual becomes a single, unmarried adult in their late 20s or 30s, they are bludgeoned with repeated commands to “settle down”. Muslim youth are expected to go from 0 to 60 mph with a spouse, 2.3 kids and a suburban home without being taught how to start the engine and how to maintain the vehicle on its journey.
Sometimes, age functions as the greatest prophylactic. This is most noticeable in what is currently deemed the great “epidemic” of single, professional Muslim American women in their 30s who face a double standard. Unlike men, they are unfairly accused of forfeiting domesticity for the sake of personal ambition. As the communities have failed to establish a healthy paradigm for social interactions, there is no quick-fix solution. Thus, they are increasingly marginalised as write-offs, ultimately destined to roam forever as the single walking dead. Single Muslim men in their 30s are like Will Smith from I Am Legend – sole representatives of an increasingly extinct species wandering the wasteland in solitude and depression. The assumptions are either the man is gay, a sexually promiscuous player and thus unsuitable for marriage, or that he has issues with his “equipment”.
Mosques and Muslim community centres ensure singles remain sexless. The gender dynamics displayed within many of these social environments reflect the hypocrisy and absurdity of American Muslim gender relations. The exaggerated gender segregation often found in some mosques actually engenders the exact behaviour and mindset it seeks to eliminate. It treats single Muslims as if they are sex-depraved, ravenous beasts ready to pounce on one another like a Jane Austen heroine unleashed on her wedding night. The walls between genders – both figurative and literal – are analogues to the pink elephant. The more you’re asked not to think about it, the harder it is not to.
Instead of repressing the elephant, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge the elephant’s existence, respectfully offer to buy it a non-alcoholic beverage, and compliment it on the size of its tusks all the while still adhering to one’s religious values. There is hope that the birds and bees talk of today will evolve from “Don’t do it!” to “Do it!” – in a manner that is respectful, comfortable and natural to the sensibilities of Muslim individuals and communities.
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My name is Halima and I'm from Gauteng, South Africa and my husband (Arshad) is from Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa; we are both South African Indians.
He liked my profile on muzmatch on the 8th of April 2018 and on the 9th we started chatting and Alhamdulillah, today we are husband and wife.
About a month before I joined muzmatch I remember speaking to my mother in the kitchen as we cooked supper and she had full confidence that I'd be getting married soon.
I told her that I felt that maybe I'm just not meant to get married and be happy, taking into consideration that I personally felt like one could never find a decent man whose intention is to make Nikah in this day and age.
My Moulana had recommended that I join Nikah/Muslim match-making groups and muzmatch populated amongst my searches, so I downloaded the app and registered. After a while I had lost hope so I deleted the app from my phone but did not deactivate my profile.
It was a Monday morning, I had woken up to get ready for work,
I checked my phone and I had an email notification from muzmatch which read "Arshad likes you".
I was quite surprised; I looked at his profile and his biography was quite captivating but it seemed so surreal - this was too good to be true.
I used the link in his bio to view his Facebook profile, we had a mutual friend which was my cousin that also resides in Kwa-Zulu Natal, so I felt a bit more assured that this is definitely real considering that I had started to think that this could potentially be a catfish.
We started chatting that very morning and there was an instant click. It felt like we were long lost friends because of how well we understood each other and could complete each others sentences. We had the same interests and the same intention; we could speak for hours on end without running out of things to say.
We had realized that we are most definitely soulmates.
Within 2 weeks he called my parents to ask for my hand in marriage. In July 2018 (21st), I booked a flight to visit him and his mum for the day and after spending time together we knew that this was the right decision and that Allah SWT had created us for each other.
We then saw each other once again in August 2018 (25th - A surprise for my 21st birthday planned by him and my mum); and again in November 2018 when he flew up to attend my younger sister's wedding with his mum, younger sister and brother-in-law.
Slowly the long distance had become difficult, our younger sisters were both already married and settled and we started wondering when would we actually get married. In February this year he decided to relocate to Gauteng and found a temporary job.
His dad visited my parents and they decided to set a Nikah date, Alhamdulillah once the date was set everything fell into place by the will of Allah. He found a job as a PC Engineering lecturer and we were able to find our own place with our parents help and support.
Today I am happily married, living my dream with my husband and I have wonderful in-laws that love me as much as they love Arshad.
The most important quality I wanted in a husband was someone that could take my family as his own and Alhamdulillah I found that in Arshad.
We are now a huge happy family Alhamdulillah.
Jazak'Allah muzmatch! Arshad has found me due to the creation of this wonderful app (He always says that he found me, not the other way around).
I would advise everyone to put their trust and faith in Allah SWT, never give up hope that Allah SWT will send the one who is meant for you when the time is right - for Allah is the greatest of planners. May all the other individuals find their spouses through this app as well Insha'Allah.
Halima & Arshad
My name is Yasmeen and I found my husband, Taymoor, on muzmatch on the last day of last ramadan. We were both divorced.
The first time we talked on muzmatch was in June and we got married one month later in August 2018. I always wanted to send our story to inspire others who are searching for a good husband and wife.
We are both Egyptians, from Cairo, we even work & live very near to each others in New Cairo city. I am a digital marketing manager and Taymoor is an IT manager. I am 37 years old and he is 40.
I have a daughter who is 12 years old, and I was searching for a real Muslim man who would be a good husband and father. Finally I found Taymoor, who is a good man and a good Muslim, he is very kind.
I am telling my friends that I found someone who really looks like me from the inside. He was divorced and also has a kid, who is 5 years old. When we first chatted on muzmatch we spoke for over 6 hours, he was surprised much we got on, he even thought that this was a prank!
I couldn't believe that I finally found the man I was looking for. The first time we met, was after Eid al futr, in the House of Cocoa, as Taymoor knew that I loved chocolate. We talked about ourselves for over six hours, I did not want to leave and neither did he.
After we met I told my family and friends, and he did too. He and his family visited us and we got married in only two months, I never imagined that I would find my soulmate and marry him that fast.
I always wanted to find a man to trust and love, after being a single mom for years, I found out that my dream man was hard to find, but alhamdullah I found him on your app.
Alhamdullah, we are very happy together, my daughter lives with us and his son visits us on the weekends. You cannot imagine how much I am now recommending muzmatch to all my friends.
It didn't even take me long to find my husband. I used the app for almost one month or less.
I am so happy alhamdullah now that I married a real muslim I always wanted.
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My name is Sara and I just wanted to thank muzmatch and let you know that I finally got engaged on 24th December 2018 and found my Fiance - Ghazunfar on the App.
We are really happy Alhamdulilah and just wanted to thank you for creating a platform for Muslims to find a suitable match for marriage!
I believe it's a real blessing because initially we matched but we didn't talk as he hadn't read my messages and was not appearing online. After around 4 weeks, I unmatched however after some weeks I logged in and I came across his profile again. After some giving it some thought I decided to rematch and give it a try again.
The next day he replied to me and the is history. Its been a almost a year since we matched on Muzmatch and we have set the Nikkah date which will be 1st March 2019 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Our families are very happy and we are looking forward to entering into the blessed union of marriage Insha'Allah. We just wanted to say keep up the good work, may Allah bless you and request that you keep us in prayers.
One last thing to everyone using the muzmatch App - please do not give up, there is someone out there for us all!
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