A (muz) match made in heaven: How one app is revolutionising halal courtships
Long gone are the days of awkward first meetings with a potential spouse and fifty of his closest relatives (for the most part anyway).
Now we're seeing more young Muslims sign up to halal marriage sites and apps to find their lifelong partner.
With one in five relationships starting online, it's no wonder that the Muslim market is getting a slice of the action.
In fact, Muslims remain one of the fastest growing religious groups, making the potential for halal marriage apps huge. In addition to this, 48 percent of the Muslim population are under 24.
In the last few years we've seen a gradual rise in Muslim marriage apps like muzmatch, Minder and Salaam Swipe, all promising a respectful and relatively simple experience in finding a spouse – minus the nosey aunty sitting in the corner.
Muzmatch was created in 2014 by ex-investment banker Shahzad Younas, 33, and Ryan Brodie, 24, a tech entrepreneur.
The idea came from feedback that Younas got from friends who were struggling to find a compatible partner.
"I looked at the options out there and found there wasn't much," explains Younas.
"At the time there were a lot of membership sites, but these were expensive and awkward to use – the technology had failed to evolve.
"I noticed that things were moving faster in the app world and saw a big gap, so I quit my job and built the first version of muzmatch."
Four years after its launch and the app boasts more than 500,000 members in over 190 countries and has over 15,000 success stories.
|We want to revolutionise how Muslims around the world look for their life partners
The app has also seen exponential growth in the past few years with $1.75 million seed investment under its belt and backing from Silicon-Valley based Y Combinator (Airbnb/Dropbox/Stripe).
And to serve its diverse and global market the founders have now added 12 additional language options to the app.
"Halal dating is about getting to know someone purely for the sake of marriage," explains Younas.
"Our app isn't about casual encounters or casual dating. We offer various features to cater to all types of Muslims. For instance, you can choose to make your photo private and even invite a chaperone onto the app."
Sana, 25, from London used the app to find love.
"Through the app I found my husband Hakim. I think it's important to get rid of the stigma in the community about finding someone online and present a more positive narrative and to make the path easier for this generation.
"I actually found out that one of my uncles found his wife through muzmatch as well! It's making a good track record in my family already," she adds.
Younas goes on to explain why apps like muzmatch are so crucial, especially for younger Muslims.
"For many Muslims there are limited ways to interact with the opposite gender. Family introductions don't always work because the quality of the match is not as good and is based on who you know rather than how compatible the couple is.
"An app can solve this, more so with the younger generation who are always on their phone, almost to the point where they run their life through it. You can use a filter to find someone more suited to your needs," he adds.
"We're also breaking barriers – traditionally people have looked within their own ethnic backgrounds for a spouse but we've had a lot of successful couples who are from different backgrounds, which is wonderful.
"Our goal is to be the number one app for Muslims all around the world who are looking for a spouse. We want to revolutionise how Muslims around the world look for their life partners."
Sami Rahman is a freelance lifestyle writer based in London.
Follow her on Twitter: @bysamirahman