Muslim Girl in America

I'm an American girl, born and raised, and a Muslim.

Non-Traditional Matrimonial Plans

on March 31, 2012

So this is a fairly controversial topic for my first blog post, but it’s something a lot of Muslim girls deal with in my generation. I, like many others, am the child of immigrant parents. I was the first in my family to be born in America and I was raised here. While I was raised with American pop culture, I was also raised with my Pakistani/Muslim culture. Have you ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? My life was a lot like that – outside the house was America, but inside was another country. This blog post is about a plight of Muslim girls in America, namely the marriage mart.

Muslim girls are encouraged to marry (or at least become engaged) during their undergrad or even earlier depending upon the specific culture. This may be due to societal pressures, but there are other reasons, too. One reason is that there are more Muslim women than men, so the thought is that you need to find a good man before someone else does. Plus, if you wait until you’re a little older (as I am, after completing a Master’s degree), the men who aren’t married seem to have some serious issues, or they don’t want to get married but their mothers want them to get married. There is also a big disparity in education as well – women from less educated families tend to marry earlier, though they’re not the only ones; highly educated families do this from time to time as well. Some say it’s best for the newlyweds to grow up together as most do in their 20’s, and I can completely understand that. But I also think that marriage can become unduly stressful when you’re both growing, working, and going to school at the same time. But then, I’ve never been married so maybe I don’t understand anything at all.

Anyway, after trying the traditional way to meet someone for several years (i.e. by meeting a family, sharing info about each other, and then myself and the guy speaking to each other to see if we have anything in common), it’s time to do something more non-traditional. I’ve never “dated” before and I don’t really plan to now, at least in the traditional American sense. I’ve tried matrimonial services, matchmakers, and more, but something not-so-great always came out about the guy or his family (and Thanks, God, for saving me from potential bad marriages in those instances). One day, I heard about a Muslim Speed Dating event (a phrase I never thought I would say or write in the whole course of my life) and I thought, “Why not? Can’t hurt to try it, right?” And so there I was one evening.

The reasoning behind it – For those who don’t know, speed dating is an event where a bunch of single people (here it was for Muslims only) get together and each take turns speaking with participants for about 4-5 minutes at a time to see if they click. It’s a pretty structured event, so you get to meet everyone who signed up to participate. Since traditional methods haven’t worked, I decided it was time for a non-traditional matrimonial plan. If nothing else, this would be a way to meet Muslims my age living in my city. I worried about the stigma associated with a single Muslim girl doing “speed dating, ” but I prayed about it, and realized, once again, that God knows I am a good, honest person (as He knows everything) and that I can’t help what others think, nor if they think wrongly or unjustly about me.

The Competition – I was nervous when I arrived. The other ladies there were very nice and some seemed just as nervous as me. Some were dressed … less conservatively … than me, shall we say. I don’t wear a hijab (or head covering), but I was wearing pants and a short-sleeved shirt. It’s expected in Islam to dress modestly and, I have to say, I do follow that. (Though some would say my short-sleeves are immodest, but that’s another blog post.) Anyway, I shared conversation with some of the ladies there and we traded stories back and forth about our past experiences with traditional methods of meeting guys. Everyone was lovely and pretty, and one of the girls looked so much like Billie Piper (but a slightly tanner, Muslim version) who is known from Doctor Who fame that I did a double take and almost asked her if she missed the Doctor even though she was still technically with the Doctor (it’s a strange storyline …).

Bachelor #1, Mr. Nervous – Nice guy, but was a nervous talker. He ended up spending most of the time talking, but he also listened to what I was saying. Not the greatest looking guy I’ve seen, but past experiences have taught me that looks aren’t everything.

Bachelor #2, Mr. Pretentious – The guy had a glass of wine (alcohol is forbidden in Islam), and that told me everything about him. He would sip it every once in a while in a pretentious/pompous way. I’ve been out with non-Muslim friends who drink and let me tell you, there is a way to sip casually and a way to sip pretentiously and this guy was the latter. He was kind of full of himself, and I suddenly saw an image of myself as some socialite in a revealing evening gown serving drinks to clients and married to someone who probably doesn’t appreciate me. Am I being too judge-y about him? No, I’ve got to be honest – that’s just not the life I’m looking for. After the fourth awkward silence where he looked at me with his fake smile (you know that smile that’s like a parent humoring their child), I prayed for the bell to ring and our never-ending time to end. Ding! Thanks, God.

Bachelor #3, Mr. Timberlake – This guy was very nice and funny (making me laugh is a requirement of mine), and he reminded me a lot of Justin Timberlake. His voice was actually the same octave and the way he spoke really reminded me of him on Saturday Night Live. I realized, though, that even though he had a great personality and was easy to talk to, Justin and I would be better off as friends.

Bachelor #4, Mr. Straightforward – So this guy seemed very nice. He said he was straightforward, and he did seem that way, but I have been fooled before. He also complimented me and said I seemed genuine and straightforward as well. I’m pretty sure he was having an alcoholic drink at the bar when I walked into the restaurant, so I think he might be pulling the wool over my eyes. Not convinced and I will proceed with caution.

Bachelor # 5, Mr. “M” Word – Another very nice guy, and I think he was more straightforward that Mr. Straightforward. Said right out at the beginning of the conversation that he was looking to get married and was here to find a wife. While we were all there for that reason (or at least I was anyway), he was the first person to come right and say the “M” word.

Bachelor # 6, Mr. Coincidence – So this guy was nice (I’m saying that a lot, aren’t I?) and we realized we had some things in common which also seem very coincidental. I don’t think he was being untruthful – I think it was just one of those “small-world” moments.

Bachelor # 7, Mr. Silence – I couldn’t tell if this guy was just nervous or just completely uninterested in me, as he barely spoke and remained silent. At least there wasn’t a fake smile like Mr. Pretentious. And why isn’t he interested in me? I am an exceptionally interesting person. What did he just say? He came to this event because he was close by and had time to kill. Wow. Well, that is a great reason to look for the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life (note the sarcasm here). I don’t think our paths will cross again.

Bachelor # 8, Mr. Possible – This guy was nice, outdoorsy, athletic, relaxed, and easy to talk to. Seemed like we might we have some things in common. Seems younger than me, though, but a real possibility. Suddenly the night seems a little brighter.

Bachelor # 9, Mr. Said-the-Wrong-Things – Seemed nice but then went on to say that he didn’t think my choice of studies was a reasonable one. I don’t think he meant it maliciously and, of course, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but I don’t think this guy’s for me.

Bachelor # 10, Mr. Evasive – Kept drawing the conversation away from himself and asking questions about what to do in the city rather than inquiring about me as a person. Was he just humoring me? Was he just biding his time so he move on to the next girl?

Bachelor # 11, Mr. Close-Talker – So this guy, even though we were sitting at a table, leaned in and was very direct with his gaze. Very focused on what I was saying, which is good, but I kept slowly inching my chair back. That’s not a good sign. Although he was the only one to greet with the typical Islamic hello: “Assalamu alaikum.” I realized that even I had not used the saying to greet people. I wondered why. Was it because this event is very “western hemisphere” that we just don’t consider it part of our typical upbringings and so using it just didn’t register with us? We were trying to save time by saying “Hi” instead? Upon further reflection, I think I fall into the former category.

Bachelor # 12, Mr. Not-for-Me – So this guy was a convert to Islam, divorced with a child. He was very nice and seemed sincere, but we didn’t have that much in common and didn’t seem to click. Also, and I hope you readers don’t think less of me, but I don’t know that I could marry someone with a child. I love children and would love a child even if they weren’t my own, but there’s something about 2 people both starting their married life together on the same footing, so to speak. Does that make sense? Am I a horrible person for thinking this way?

Bachelor # 13, Mr. Avoidance – So at this point most people had met everyone, but a few people still had one more round to go including me. I looked at the guy who was to come to my table, he looked at me, and then proceeded to walk away. Wow. Your loss, dude. Was he shy? Did my features disgust him? Which, by the way, I don’t think is the case. While there were some very attractive girls there I’m not bad-looking, if I do say so myself. And I looked very cute in my NY&Co/Gap ensemble with cute new shoes. So there.

All in all, not a bad evening. I’m glad I went and met new people. If nothing else, it was an experience for this blog post.

Anyway, let me know what you think – I love to hear from readers!

-MK

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5 responses to “Non-Traditional Matrimonial Plans

  1. […] I ended up emailing first, then meeting with some of these four gentlemen from my previous post: Mr. Nervous, Mr. Coincidence, Mr. Straightforward, and Mr. Possible. Here’s what […]

  2. […] but still interesting and amusing. There were a few repeats from the last event, but none from the first I went to. Here’s a […]

  3. […] #3, Mr. Nervous Returns. I met him in the first event and also met him for coffee (see the second Speed Dating post for details on that. It was a bit […]

  4. […] dating again. For those of you keeping track, this is Round #7 (read up on the past events here: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6).  I don’t know why they decided to hold it over a long holiday weekend. […]

  5. […] (with eye make-up) and others were in traditional dress. Since I started with Muslim speed dating (oh, so long ago), I have come to accept that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Were you dressed nice […]

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