Forget shaadi.com and naseeb.com—Muslim-American millennials are jumping on the bandwagon of mobile dating this year with the launch of over four different Tinder-esque dating apps, all serving to keep your both your love life and deen in check.
While online dating has been around for some time now, mobile matchmaking apps are now taking flight. The current generation of single Muslims are just as addicted to their smartphones as their counterparts, which makes halal mobile dating a romantic convenience.
Although what is known as “casual dating” is often frowned upon in Islam, in the current Western world, both Muslim men and women are looking for a mate who is not only a match religiously, but also intellectually. Even for those single adults whose parents encourage their children to find a mate on their own struggle to find an outlet where they can be care-free, but also establish a connection rooted with a similar intention.
Despite the horror stories that often come with Tinder (see @tindernightmares on Instagram), these Tinder-inspired apps don’t focus on the hookup culture—instead, they cater to Muslim-Americans who are seriously getting tired of their aunties or judgmental rishteywaalis setting them up.
Minder, the Muslim twin of Tinder, launched this February—along with Salaam Swipe and Crescent—and competing with the already established MuzMatch. All four dating apps are very similar to Tinder, where users can see a few photos, a brief profile, and can swipe right if they are interested. If the other party also likes what they see, a chat feature will be enabled. On a given scale, you can choose how religious you are—moderate, conservative, or not religious—as well as if you wear a hijab or keep a beard.
All four apps have their differences; while MuzMatch is more developed, where you have the option to select your hobbies and add a guardian/wali to your correspondence, Minder is the opposite—with less features, following a simple template of adding a short and sweet profile, swiping, matching, and chatting.
Minder is less policed than its counterparts but profiles still require an approval, and only serious users with credibility are given the green light. That means users with no indication of education and careers—especially those from abroad seeking only a new life here—are discouraged to make a profile.
Minder founder, Haroon Mokhtarzada, spoke to The Daily Beast on being selective with users on the app, unlike Tinder.
“This is aimed for people that get the culture and are generally Western-raised with dual identities. We’re not looking to promote those that have too much of a foreign bent to them,” he said. “And while I’m sure they’ll be complaints, I would kindly redirect them to other sites. Finding a partner for Western Muslims is a huge problem and this app seeks to address that market.”
The problem remains huge for Muslims who are not really into online dating to begin with, but don’t have enough community mixers—or encouragement—to meet someone of the opposite sex that connects with them on every level.
For 24-year-old Halema, online dating was always never an attractive option, but now she’s reconsidering.
“Everyone—even those aunties at weddings—tell me an online profile is the way to go. For me, shaadi.com is too serious, and sometimes too focused on the biodata, not the personality,” she said.
She has only tried Minder, but is still getting used to it.
For her, the biggest struggle was meeting Muslim men in large non-Muslim campuses and neighborhoods.
“I’d love to meet more Muslim guys who like the same movies and music like me, but also fast during Ramadan, are at least spiritual, and can talk about God when the conversation begins,” she said.
While these dating apps don’t focus on the “hookup” culture of the West, finding someone whose on the same page—in terms of their Muslim-American identity—is still a struggle. Twenty-six-year-old Naima, who has tried out Muslim/ethnic and non-Muslim dating sites and apps, says she still finds users on Muslim apps too serious.
“Even though I take my faith seriously, the app is a little too matrimonial for me,” she said. “The guy I met on it was really focused on marriage. I really want to find my prince charming but I don’t want first encounters to be weighed down with the expectation of something super serious right away—that’s not fun! We don’t live in our parents world anymore and a relationship should happen organically.”
For Muslim-Americans, Islamic dating apps are just beginning to scratch the surface on halal, Islamic love. The Muslim-American identity is still forming, and the connection to “finding the one” is no different.