Setting aside the Muslim tradition of family-arranged marriages, Abdullah
Yahya decided to choose a wife on his own. He went online and discovered a
Muslim matchmaking service. Within months he met a woman from Dubai, in the
United Arab Emirates, whom he planned to marry.
But in a clash of culture and technology, Mr. Yahya traveled from San
Francisco to Dubai, only to discover that the woman's parents did not
approve of him and wanted her to marry a cousin instead.
"It became a big mess," says Yahya, a computer programmer. "We just
couldn't go through with it. I flew back to America."
Still, the experience did not dishearten him. He began his own matchmaking
service, muslimmatcher.com, and has helped more than 6,000 subscribers find
other single Muslims to date, with the intention of marrying.
"It's hard to meet other Muslims, and personally, I'm not an advocate of
going straight through the family thing," says Yahya. "I'd rather get to
know the person first."
His website is one of several online Muslim matchmaking services that have
sprung up in the United States and internationally in recent years. They
are used by hundreds of thousands of Muslims worldwide, most of whom live
away from families willing to arrange a marriage, or who prefer to find a
spouse by themselves.
This is part of an ongoing shift in the way younger Muslims approach
marriage. Influenced by their non-Muslim peers, many are dating and
marrying outside their religion, without the consent of their parents.
But for those who want to marry another Muslim, the Internet can bridge a
divide, allowing them to do things previously forbidden, such as
communicate privately before marriage