D ivorce rates among British Muslims are on the rise in line with wider society. According to some Muslim commentators one in eight Muslim marriages now ends in divorce, up from one in 20 in the space of two generations, and increasing numbers of Muslims are seeking alternative avenues to meet their future spouses, without compromising their commitment to Islam. They want to meet members of the opposite sex in a halal environment, and no, I don't mean a date in the local branch of Dixie Fried Chicken. So they go to Muslim matrimonial websites, "halal speed-dating" and face-to-face matrimonial events to find a husband or wife. Traditionally many second- and third-generation wife- or husband-hunters would expect family and their communities to introduce them to prospective life partners, many even travelling to their parents' country of origin to view future brides and grooms.
Marriage in Islam is not about yin and yin. Raja says British Muslims have failed to embrace the best aspects of modernity when it comes to marriage and as a result increasing numbers of highly educated Muslim women find themselves part of the "spinster generation" excelling in their academic and professional lives but left out in the cold when they try to find a husband. She says Muslim parents and families are realising how difficult it is for their daughters to find suitable husbands and increasingly communities are realising their daughters are facing a backlash from within.
British Muslim women are less likely to want to do the same. Instead, the initial 'checklist' or list of criteria that women used to have become increasingly shorter as the years go by.
Raja also agrees that Muslim women are facing challenges on the marriage front. In the past 10 years Raja has organised hundreds of workshop and gatherings for marriage introductions. The events cater for different Islamic sects, Sunnis and Shias, Muslims with disabilities and special needs — the organisation even runs courses for women on how they can become "surrendered wives". When I ask him if he's for real he is unapologetic in his response.
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Many of our sisters neglect the idea of marriage because they are too focused on their education or careers. Many find it difficult to compromise and hard to adapt to the role of being a wife alongside being a career woman. Raja insists that these matrimonial events offer a more Islam-centric approach to marriage that can't be found through speed-dating or on matrimonial websites. Salma, a divorced single mother in her late 20s used a matrimonial website for a year but has decide to deactivate her account and look at other ways of finding a suitable husband.
In one year almost men contacted her online from all over the world to discuss marriage. It just didn't make any sense.
Salma discovered some men were already married and looking to find wife number three and four without being upfront about it. I even had some men contact me telling me to be aware of certain men on the website who were known liars.DATING ARAB WOMEN
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