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The desire to marry Muslim, to marry within a specific culture, and to appease one’s parents is colliding with the screen age, the quest for perfect love and the reality of the diaspora, to produce unrealistic expectations, she says. And none would have good news for their parents when they got home. His parents told him again how picky he is and how much they worry.
“Our norm setting has been destroyed by the diaspora, by the geographic spread out, and because of, I think, a culture that we’re trying to negotiate to be both Muslim and American,” she said. He sometimes wonders if his parents are right: if he is too picky; if he should just go to Pakistan to find a bride. “I think I’m just going to be single for the rest of my life,” he complained to a sympathetic group of his peers that had lingered to commiserate long after the chaperons and event organizers had gone home. Aisha told the group about the guy at the banquet whom she had already matched with online — and who expressed irritation that she never messaged back. At least they got some new friends out of this, someone pointed out. He wondered whether he should give the next matrimonial banquet, in Chicago, a shot.
When a young woman showed up late and brushed elbows with the anxious parents, the father said, “I could save you time — you could marry my son! Other people just have to check the box for Muslim.” Nishat recently came to the conclusion that being Muslim is not an absolute requirement for her future partner.
The most important things — according to the “Ideal Husband” list she keeps on her phone — are that he is respectful and kind, not “a racist, sexist or homophobe.” The proliferation of online matchmaking apps and social media has made some of these things easier.
Now it was a Saturday night in Anaheim, and Osman and around 60 others were taking their seats beneath the crystal chandeliers of a Marriott ballroom.This was a profile on Minder, a Muslim dating app that mimics Tinder but is aimed at helping Western Muslims find a spouse.The guy advertising for halal sex (whatever that entails) was an exception; most of the other profiles seemed pretty chaste.Because practicing Muslims typically shun dating or sex before marriage, the banquets offer a possible, if imperfect, solution to what young Muslims in America say is an irksome problem: “It’s really hard to meet someone in this culture,” Osman said. Among immigrants and their children, there are also varying degrees of desire — and parental pressure — to stay true to some form of cultural heritage. In Osman’s view, his parents are an example of the kind of couple that “just grew to love each other.” They were married more than 30 years ago in Pakistan, in an arrangement orchestrated by relatives to serve practical needs more than romantic ideals. He wants that person to be a Muslim and a Pakistani American — but not a Pakistani.But even though they have lasted — raising three boys in northern California and climbing from the bottom rungs of the economic ladder into middle class prosperity — theirs is not the marriage Osman wants. He wants someone like him who was born and raised in the United States to immigrant parents, someone who is “on the same page.” “Looking for my Cinderella, I have her shoe ...” his online profiles read.