Muslim Version of Speed Dating a Mix of Tradition and Trend

September 19, 2006

Source: The New York Times

On September 19, 2006 The New York Times reported, "So here’s the thing about speed dating for Muslims. Many American Muslims — or at least those bent on maintaining certain conservative traditions — equate anything labeled 'dating' with hellfire, no matter how short a time is involved. Hence the wildly popular speed dating sessions at the largest annual Muslim conference in North America were given an entirely more respectable label. They were called the 'matrimonial banquet.' 'If we called it speed dating, it will end up with real dating,' said Shamshad Hussain, one of the organizers, grimacing. Both the banquet earlier this month and various related seminars underscored the difficulty that some American Muslim families face in grappling with an issue on which many prefer not to assimilate. One seminar, called 'Dating,' promised attendees helpful hints for 'Muslim families struggling to save their children from it.' The couple of hundred people attending the dating seminar burst out laughing when Imam Muhamed Magid of the Adams Center, a collective of seven mosques in Virginia, summed up the basic instructions that Muslim American parents give their adolescent children, particularly males: 'Don’t talk to the Muslim girls, ever, but you are going to marry them. As for the non-Muslim girls, talk to them, but don’t ever bring one home.' 'These kids grew up in America, where the social norm is that it is O.K. to date, that it is O.K. to have sex before marriage,' Imam Magid said in an interview. 'So the kids are caught between the ideal of their parents and the openness of the culture on this issue'... Panelists warned that even seemingly innocuous e-mail exchanges or online dating could topple one off the Islamic path if one lacked vigilance. 'All of these are traps of the Devil to pull us in and we have no idea we are even going that way,' said Ameena Jandali, the moderator of the dating seminar. Hence the need to come up with acceptable alternatives in North America, particularly for families from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, where there is a long tradition of arranged marriages."