Muslim dating app: A faithful union

Published: March 29, 2015
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The ‘Muslim dating’ app MuzMatch makes digital love-seeking halal. DESIGN: TALHA KHAN

How do you make an app that reforms the ‘hook-up culture’ we’ve come to know and love into something halal, everlasting and ultimately something our parents would approve of? Thirty-year-old Shahzad Younas, a British-Pakistani entrepreneur says he has the answer: MuzMatch, a matchmaking service takes its cues from Tinder, but caters exclusively to Muslims.

The app retains the fundamentals of Tinder — you are presented with a series of possible matches and you swipe right or left on your phone to signal interest or dismiss each candidate. But MuzMatch has features that speak to the hearts of a more conservative clientele; you can create a profile that describes your religious sensibilities and select ‘Sunni’, ‘Shia’ or ‘Just Muslim’, specify the extent to which you practice religion and whether you have a beard or wear a veil.

The app also has a wali feature, where messages and photos of the match are automatically forwarded to a prescribed guardian, normally one’s parent to keep the courtship as halal as possible. Younas says he wants to help Muslims ‘choose their own romantic destiny without breaking religious rules’. “Women on other dating apps are faced with weirdos and creeps,” the MuzMatch founder said. “We will ban anyone sending disgusting or inappropriate pictures and messages.”

While such apps open up the next frontier in courtship, ‘Muslim dating’ is a phenomenon that does have precedent. Nuptial websites like shaadi.com or muslima.com have millions of customers. A labyrinthine set of questions, profile features and algorithms work to get one the perfect match, whether their deen has lapsed or been reborn. Tinder-like apps are a natural progression from such matchmaking sites.

More broadly, an app like MuzMatch is perhaps a rebuff to that cacophony of Western voices that demand the ‘Muslim world’ to modernise. What better way of being ‘modern’ than to tell the story of how you met your partner online, or on a date, even if the parents did come along? The Muslim world has moved on from the monopolies that the Mrs Qureshis and Siddiquis held in matchmaking, and for the better, without necessarily removing the shackles of parental or societal consent.

It is capitalism’s unscrupulous ability to adapt to obstacles like culture, people’s preferences, habits and moods that make it the most powerful institution on Earth. For instance, instead of selling a car with interest, ‘Islamic banks’ buy it and sell it to you at a ‘profit’, ensuring that you buy your price inflated-car the way your religion would apparently want you to. One can get halal tour packages to Turkey, Malaysia and the UAE, skipping the skimpy beaches entirely and focusing instead on the breadth of Islamic history. For only Rs6 per day, you can get your daily hadith on your cell phone. You can get your non-alcoholic perfumes, red wine vinegar substitutes, impure silks and Burberry hijabs. Name a product and there is a halal option that you can find in the grocery store aisle, and now, the App Store.

Currently MuzMatch is working on an android app and will also offer a wide range of languages in the future to cater to Muslims across the world. Like banking or holidays, when there’s a particularly ‘Muslim’ way of doing things, there is indeed a market to get it done, keeping Muslim sensitivities — and a nice paycheck — in mind.

Muzmatch has features that speak to the hearts of a more conservative clientele; you can create a profile that describes your religious sensibilities and select ‘Sunni’, ‘Shia’ or ‘Just Muslim’, specify the extent to which you practice religion and whether you have a beard or wear a veil

Saim Saeed is a freelance writer. He tweets @saimsaeed847

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, March 29th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • discomolvi
    Mar 29, 2015 - 5:27PM

    God, this is making me feel sick.

    You don’t agree to spending a significant part of your entire life only over the basis of ‘online-dating’. People are different over the internet- different from what they are in real life. And besides, let alone the chances of communicating in person, or creating an understanding, you can’t even see how the person looks like before finding them on your bed the wedding night.

    Marriage is not a joke. This is making me cry.Recommend

  • Mar 29, 2015 - 5:58PM

    It will end up the same as all other dating apps/sites unless it fulfils and restricts to the basic criteria prescribed according to Islamic teachings and adopts safeguards designed to keep away from wrong.Recommend

  • Neo
    Mar 29, 2015 - 9:40PM

    @discomolvi:
    People like you should stay sick !!!!Recommend

  • doubleFaida
    Mar 30, 2015 - 2:32AM

    What an idea sir jee. The guy was well aware of the market of the app. I doubt about his intention. Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2015 - 3:35AM

    There is a hadith that says All actions are by intention. Muzmatch was created for those who are serious in seeking marriage. Any matrimonial website, be it a western one or a Muslim one can be abused and exploited by someone with ill intentions. With the muzmatch app, by both manual oversight, as well as by offering specific checks and features, they have tried to ensure that the app considers Islamic values and principles when trying to find your match. I think once you actually read their website and see how the app works, you will realise that it has been quite carefully thought out.Recommend

  • Alladitta
    Mar 30, 2015 - 6:31AM

    This is Un-Islamic ! How is this different from finding your own partner for which so many people are sacrificed in the name of “honor”?Recommend

  • Saad A. Shah
    Mar 30, 2015 - 2:35PM

    Marital Status: Single – Divorced – Widowed… Thats a Bug right there!! Islam allows Polygamy to Men and therefore there should also be ‘Married with N wives’ option too. I understand that in some countries it is not allowed but considering it a Muslim Matrimonial it should be based on Islamic teachings.

    Though I am a strong believer of monogamy but we can’t pose our choices when it comes of Islam.Recommend

  • Apr 11, 2015 - 8:34PM

    Salaam – FYI the Android version of the app is now available to download!Recommend

  • Amina
    Apr 18, 2015 - 12:21AM

    Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarka’tuhu
    I read up on how this app works. I love it. I’m a matchmaker from safrica. There are a group of us who liason with each other. We have been successful with the help of Allah Taala. Alhumdolillah. I wonder if we can set up one for South Africa. The people here are conservative in that they going back to the old style of matchmaking.. JazakallahRecommend

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