Arab Singles Face a Difficult Road to Marriage
Challenges Facing Arab Singles Who Want to Marry
By Wael Abdelgawad
Arab singles face a tough time finding a partner, getting engaged, getting prepared for marriage, and then actually getting married.
I should know, since I am one of them. It’s a multi-dimensional problem. First, there’s the challenge of actually meeting someone. It’s not like there is an Arab singles club that you can join, although some organizations are putting together periodic singles events in major cities. And because of cultural customs and taboos it can be next to impossible to meet a single Arab of the opposite sex. Arabs are a small minority in Western society (unless you happen to live in Dearborn, Michigan), which makes the selection pool that much smaller.
Secondly, once you actually meet someone, you’re very aware that in our cultures you are not dealing one-on-one. It’s not only about your expectations and hers/his, or your personality, hopes, dreams, and hers/his, or your “qualifications” and hers/his.
No, unfortunately (in my opinion) it’s about the families. This presents a major obstacle, because many Arab families have rigid expectations for their son or daughter’s marriage partner.
They may also have certain Arab engagement customs that must be adhered to, and if either family is perceived to be deviating from those customs, then the Arab bride or groom might be forbidden from continuing.
There may also be some element of nationalism or even racism that prevents a single Arab youth from courting someone who may be appealing and have a wonderful character, but does not come from the “right” country or culture.
I realize that the involvement of the family in the courting and engagement process is designed to protect the prospective bride or groom, and to prevent anyone from getting into an improper relationship. But it can be overbearing to the point where it becomes counterproductive and destructive.
As a result, it’s not uncommon for young Arabs in the West to get married secretly, or elope, or marry a convert (whose families typically have little say in the matter).
Then there is the economic hurdle. For Arab singles living in the Arab world, the financial hurdles are like crossing the Sahara on ice skates. Young single Arab men who may be unemployed, or even if they are employed are probably earning a meager salary, are expected to provide the bride with a nicely furnished apartment, not rented but owned. This is a virtual impossibility for many Arab youth. As a result there’s a lot of frustration among the youth of countries like Egypt and Morocco.
Then there’s the wedding. Couples are expected to have lavish weddings whose cost is borne by the families. It makes no sense. The result is a society of desperate single young Arab men and women.
For Arab singles in the West, finances are usually not as much of a problem, though the expensive weddings can still be a burden. I strongly advocate simple, humble weddings that emphasize the religious and spiritual nature of marriage. The families can take all that money they would have spent on a big wedding, and instead give it to the couple to establish their new home.
So what are the options for Arab singles seeking a life partner?
Of course I am biased, but I feel that Zawaj.com is a good start. You can start out by creating a profile here. I said earlier that it’s tough meeting someone because it’s not like there’s an Arab singles club you can join, but on the internet there is, and it’s Zawaj.com. Zawaj.com is a well-established website with a good reputation. The Zawaj.com program has recently been upgraded so that it offers you a wonderful variety of communication tools, including a private internal messaging system, message boards, chat, and even video chat if you like. It is a safe, comfortable environment in which to meet someone special.
There is a huge photo gallery of Arab singles, both men and women, including Arab-American singles, Palestinian singles, Egyptian singles, Syrian singles, Lebanese singles, Kuwaiti Singles, Saudi singles, Iraqi singles and more. It’s free to register and create a profile, and you can start sending Flirts to other members right away. If you find someone special who intrigues you, you can purchase a Platinum membership and send that person a more detailed message or your contact info if you like. Meeting professional, attractive Arab singles could not be easier.
Join Zawaj.com for free today and get started.
Eid Mubarak 2012 / 1433 – Happy Eid from Zawaj.com!
Tomorrow morning, Insha’Allah, me, my mother and father, and my daughter Salma – who is six years old now – will wake up early and put on our best clothes, Insha’Allah. We’ll get in the car and stop at the donut shop at Shaw and Blackstone, because they have the sweetest, plumpest, shiniest donuts in town. Each one gleams like a seashell in the glass case. I’ll buy a box of a dozen to share with others after Salat al-Eid, and a few extras in a bag for our family, so we don’t have to wait in a mile-long line and elbow people to get ahead.
We’ll go downtown to the Fresno fairgrounds, and sit among a thousand other Muslims. We’ll recite the Takbeerat al-Eid, praising Allah’s greatness. We’ll pray the Eid Salat, then I’ll strain to hear the khutbah as so many people begin chattering right away. My daughter will pester me, saying, “Can we eat the donuts now?”… “Not yet sweetie, when the khutbah is over.”
I know, it all sounds a bit silly, but I’m excited. It’s a wonderful day. I’ll see brothers that I haven’t seen since last year. Everyone will be wearing their best outfits.
But it’s not about the donuts, or the nice clothes. It is this feeling of being connected to every Muslim around the world; a feeling of being part of something great.
When we return home, Salma will open her presents: a new pair of shoes, a toy bed for her dolls, and a game called “Trouble”. My mother will make cookies, and we’ll put some decorations on the walls. Then we will write a letter to Hawa, an orphan in Sierra Leone who we are fostering. She is eleven years old. I want Salma to understand that part of being a Muslim is caring for others, and remembering them always.
I try to make the day special for Salma. It’s difficult. Everywhere we go, we see Halloween decorations and advertisements. When I tell Salma, “Three days left until Eid!”, she counters with, “And nine days until Halloween!” But I try.
I will also talk to Salma about our Muslim brothers and sisters who are struggling all over the world. In Palestine and Syria and Burma they are fighting for their freedom and their very survival. They don’t have pizza and donuts on Eid, or shiny new shoes. Many have no food to eat at all. Most have lost someone: a parent, a child, a sibling or a friend. Some have been utterly devastated.
Yet, they are resolute. They will not stop until they are free.
These are the real heroes of Eid-ul-Adha. I feel small next to them. I weep when I think of their struggles. They are the ones living the spirit of Ibrahim (as). They have made the greatest sacrifices, and are still striving, undaunted. They are living the words of Allah:
“Say: ‘Verily, my ṣalāh, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are all for Allāh, the Lord of the ‘Alameen’” (6:162).
That is what Eid-ul-Adha is all about. May Allah give them security, safety, comfort, victory, and Jannah.
October 25, 2012
Eid Mubarak, have a blessed and happy Eid!
Eid Mubarak to all our faithful readers, first time visitors, brothers and sisters, and friends.
I thank Allah that I am alive to see another sunrise, to see my daughter laugh and learn, to enjoy all the blessings that Allah has given me, and to have another day to ask Allah’s forgiveness, pray, work, and think. Another day to strive to be a better Muslim, a better father, and a better human being.
We Muslims are people of patience and truth, and if we adhere to that path then Allah will never abandon us, rather He will guide us, ease our hearts, and open opportunities for us.
On this day of celebration, may Allah ease the hearts of all who are suffering, replace pain with comfort and joy, sickness with health, oppression with liberation, tyranny with freedom, and fill our hearts with the hope and tawakkul (trust in Allah) that is sorely needed by our Ummah.
- Wael Abdelgawad
Love for your partner what you love for yourself
Imam Zaid Shakir writes:
As Salaam Alaikum,
To summarize the duties of brotherhood and sisterhood in Islam, we should love for our brother and sister what we love for ourselves.
This is an incredible teaching that if implemented would go a long way towards improving relations between us. This spirit of love is especially important between husbands and wives, as we often treat each other as abstract enemies as opposed to Muslims, first and foremost.
- Imam Zaid Shakir
This is an excellent observation and insightful piece of advice. Many of us are familiar with this hadith but have not thought of it in terms of husband and wife.
When we want for our spouse what we want for ourselves, it takes our marriage to a new level of love. We begin to think about our partners needs and wants, we pray for our partner just as we pray for ourselves, we work for our partner’s material and spiritual success as much as our own.
We also forgive them for their mistakes just as we would hope to be forgiven. We praise them for the good they do, thank them, hug them, and when they need it we correct them in kindness. That’s love, and it’s what a good marriage is made of.
Look Beyond the Packaging: How to Choose a Husband, Wife or Friend
By Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com
Is his hair nicely styled? Is he the perfect height?
Is her makeup just right? Does her body have the perfect curves?
This is packaging, it’s irrelevant.
American, Pakistani, Mexican, Egyptian, Bengali, Indonesian, black, white, brown, this is a veneer. It’s unimportant in the long run. When you’re sick and battling to recover, it’s not an American who holds you and tells you that it will be okay, who makes you chicken soup with lemon and ginger… It’s a human being, a husband or wife who loves you.
We must get beyond superficial and meaningless classifications like race and nationality.
Does he wear Armani suits cut just right? Are his shoes sleek and shiny? Does her clothing drape elegantly on her figure?
You know what? That Armani suit can’t stand on its own. It needs a hangar just to stay upright. That elegant clothing can’t raise your children right.
We must learn to look beyond appearances. I’m not saying that appearance is irrelevant, but how much of our attraction is based on true human beauty, and how much is based on distorted standards and poisonous imagery pumped into our brains by TV, movies, advertising, magazines and billboards? In other words, to what degree have we been brainwashed?
The world of advertising teaches us to focus on the wrong things. Consultants are paid millions of dollars to design the perfect package for a box of cereal or an energy drink, just the right shape and bright color to catch your eye and entice you to buy. Meanwhile, the product – as often as not – is actually bad for you, consisting of empty calories, sugar, chemicals and dyes. They are teaching us to make choices based on packaging and image, and what they are teaching us is entirely ruinous and wrong.
Human beings, however, are not consumer products. We’re not disposable. When you marry someone you’re in it for the long haul. You’re with them when they wake up in the morning with crust in their eyes and hair stuck to one side of the their head; when they get laid off from their job and you don’t know how the bills will get paid next month; when they’re depressed, tired, sick; when they make mistakes, when they say and do the wrong things, when they lose their temper, when they’re afraid or insecure…
This is as serious as it gets. This is life, and the right package won’t get you through it, won’t help on you the path, won’t hold you up when you’re weak, or put a smile in your heart when you’re down. The package can’t do that. Remember that when you buy something, the package ends up in the trash. If you choose someone for the package only, you may be bitterly disappointed when the storm comes and no one is there to keep you safe.
These are lessons learned through heartache and disappointment. These are lessons I have learned.
Look deeper. Find a gentle heart, a strong backbone, a striving spirit. Look to what the person does, how they live, how they treat people, how they relate to the Almighty. Look to that shimmering soul inside, and discern whether it’s a selfish and bitter soul, or loving and true. Look beyond the packaging to the person inside, and trust your fitrah-based instincts, and you’ll find yourself a rare happiness, and a precious partnership.
The most beautiful, powerful things in the world don’t come in packages. Mountains, trees, ocean, sky, stars… their true attributes are bared to the world. They don’t need packages because they are beautiful and profound in their essence.
By basing your life choices on matters of substance, you’ll avoid social and financial traps that ruin so many. You’ll build friendships as real and solid as mountains, with people you can trust with your honor, your heart and your life. You’ll do work that matters, and leave a legacy that improves people’s lives in unforgettable ways.
ISNA Eid Announcement 2011 / 1432 AH
ISNA’s Eid Announcement:
Fiqh Council of North America Announces 2011 Ramadan and Eid Dates
Eidul Fitr on Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Doubts have been raised by some about the decision of the Fiqh Council of North America and the European Council of Fatwa and Research about the date of Eidul Fitr this year on August 30, 2011. Following are some clarifications from the Fiqh Council of North America.
- The Fiqh Council of North America recognizes astronomical calculation as an acceptable Shar’i method for determining the beginning of Lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal. FCNA uses Makkah al-Mukarram as a conventional point and takes the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and moon must set after sunset in Makkah.
- The Astronomical New Moon is on August 29, 2011 (Monday) at 3:04 Universal Time (6:04 a.m. Makkah time). On Monday, August 29, sunset at Makkah is 6:40 p.m. local time, while moonset is at 6:44 pm local time.
- It is claimed that the new moon will not be visible on August 29 anywhere in the world. This information is not correct.
- In United States the birth of Astronomical new moon is on August 28, 2011 (Sunday) at 11:04 p.m. (New York), at 8:04 p.m. (California) and 5:04 p.m. (Hawaii).
- On Monday, August 29, the Crescent will set 13 minutes after sunset in San Diego, California and 28 minutes after sunset in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- On Monday, August 29 the Crescent should be visible in Hawaii by binoculars and telescope and in South America by naked eye.
The Shawwal Crescent of Monday, August 29 is acceptable according to Shari’ah for those who recognize the Global sighting as it is also acceptable according to the criteria adopted by the Fiqh Council of North America.
Eidul Fitr is on Tuesday, August 30, 2011. Eid Mubarak and best wishes for a blessed Eid with peace and harmony among all.
Eid Mubarak to all our faithful readers, first time visitors, brothers and sisters, and friends.
The last year has been a time of growth for me, and for Zawaj.com. Most importantly, I thank God that I am alive to see another sunrise, to see my daughter laugh and learn, to enjoy all the blessings that God has given me, and to have another day to ask God’s forgiveness, pray, work, and think. Another day to strive to be a better Muslim, a better father, and a better human being.
On this day of celebration and commemoration of the sacrifices of Ibrahim, Hajar and Ismail (may Allah be pleased with them all), may Allah ease the hearts of all who are suffering, replace pain with comfort and joy, sickness with health, oppression with liberation, tyranny with freedom, and fill our hearts with the hope and tawakkul (trust in Allah) that is sorely needed by our Ummah.
- Wael Abdelgawad
Apology to My Readers
I experimented briefly with a new ad format today, thinking that the advertiser might show some ads for clothing and shoes, health and fitness products, and education courses. I thought there might be some Christian-related ads as well, and that I would block those individually.
I inserted the advertising code then refreshed the website about twenty minutes later to see what ads were showing. To my shock, the ads were adult ads. I removed the ad code immediately.
I hope no readers saw those ads, and if you did then I apologize. That was a very embarrassing mistake. Next time I will make very sure of the kinds of ads to be shown, and do a trial run on a sub-page.
End of an Era, and a New Beginning
I registered the Zawaj.com domain name twelve years ago, in 1998, right around the time that you see me sitting there eating a Popsicle in the photo, ha ha. The name “Zawaj.com” was unregistered up to that point, and since then has never belonged to anyone but me.
There were only one or two other Muslim matrimonial and Arab matrimonial services in existence at that time. One was Zafaf.com, which shut down some years later, and the other was Muslim Matrimonial Link, which still exists but looks and functions exactly as it did back in the 90′s, down to the dated backgrounds and hyperlinked list of ads.
At the time, I never expected that Zawaj.com would grow the way it has. It was a hobby. I remember that in the beginning, the matchmaking database consisted of simple HTML pages, and I used to hand-code a new HTML page for each new profile. The service was free back then. I changed it to a paid service in 2002 or so, and then a few years later I changed it back to a free service again. Not “free trial” free, or partially free, but completely, 100% free, with revenue generated by advertisements rather than membership fees.
I liked the idea of offering something for free that everyone else charges money for. I liked the fact that Zawaj.com attracted thousands of people who could not afford a membership fee, including people from North Africa, Egypt, Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia and other nations all over the world.
But the world runs on certain realities, and one of them is that money makes the wheels turn, or at least makes them turn more smoothly. Over time the Zawaj.com programming grew obsolete and buggy, and I did not have the funds to rebuild it. In the meantime the internet witnessed the rise of the huge corporate-run matrimonial websites like Shaadi.com and Qiran.com. These sites work by virtue of sheer size, but in my opinion they lack a personal touch. You get lost without a rudder in a sea of profiles.
You may notice that I have not shied away from mentioning the names of my competitors in this post. That’s because I’m confident that Zawaj.com is now as good as – or better than – anyone of them.
Today marks the end of an era for Zawaj.com and the beginning of a new one. We say goodbye to our years-old program and simple HTML home page, and we introduce a new look, a new content management system, and a new matrimonial database. The new database is easy and fun to use, and you will find it brimming with intelligent, attractive, successful men and women ma-sha-Allah.
Meanwhile we continue the tradition of offering the internet’s best articles and features about Muslim and Arab weddings, marriage advice, family relationships, and much more. Please note that you can find links to our old Zawaj.com website and content on the right side of the page. With literally thousands of pages of unique content, we are much more than a Muslim matrimonial service. And now you can comment on the articles, share them, and even write your own if you wish.
As a way of illustrating the uniqueness of Zawaj.com, in the early years I came across many small websites where people had documented the Muslim wedding customs of certain cultures, complete with detailed descriptions and photos. I sometimes used to reprint those on Zawaj.com with the writer’s permission. Since then many of those websites have shut down, and now Zawaj.com is the only place you will find those unique articles about things like the wedding customs of Muslim Bulgarians, or a photo essay of a Somali wedding, or an insightful article about the role of women in Islam, written by someone who has since disappeared from the scene.
I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of Zawaj.com’s loyal readers, members and partners over the years. I am confident that this change will benefit everyone – especially you – and I thank Allah for opening the door to this new and exciting road.
Zawaj.com Founder and President
Welcome to the new and improved Zawaj.com
As-salamu alaykum dear readers and members, and Ramadan Mubarak
As you can see, Zawaj.com has been completely redesigned. We have added some exciting new features, and we are in the process of rebuilding the matchmaking section as well. And how do you like this spiffy new logo at the top, eh?
The articles and features from the old Zawaj.com website have not yet been imported into the new format, but they are still available for viewing, not to worry, and we will include links to all the old content.
As you may have known, the old matchmaking program was out of date and had a lot of bugs. I had been wanting for years to rebuild the program but I lacked the funds. Alhamdulillah, I now have a partner who has helped me to make the necessary upgrades. The new matchmaking section is a HUGE improvement in my opinion. It’s much easier to use. Of course you are the ultimate judge of that, but I’m confident you’ll find that in design and function it is as good as any other personals or matchmaking site on the web.
All of the old membership information will be deleted, so if you were previously a free member you will have to re-register. The basic service will still be free, so it will still be free to create a profile, view profiles, receive messages, and send short messages to other members, but to send a longer response you will have to upgrade to platinum membership, which is a paid membership.
It was truly my heart’s desire to continue offering a totally free matrimonial service. But what is the use of offering a free service if it is substandard? The reality is that in order to bring you a better and upgraded website, I must charge a membership fee.
I always had the philosophy with Zawaj.com that if I strive to provide people with a quality service – one that improves their lives in some way, helps them and touches their spirits – then the money would take care of itself. With this big step for Zawaj.com, I feel that my faith has been vindictated and that that you – the readers and users of the service – have been rewarded for your patience.
Jazakum Allah khayr for your sabr and your loyalty to Zawaj.com. Your commitment to this website and your support over the years means a lot to me. Ramadan Mubarak to you, and may Allah make the coming year one of renewed faith, ease from hardship, Muslim unity, success and health, for all of us.
- Wael Hesham Abdelgawad, Zawaj.com founder
Recommended Ramadan Reading
This new version of Zawaj.com is still in development phase and is actually not “open” to the public yet – that’s why the matrimonial search form on the home page doesn’t function yet. We will formally introduce it within a week or so Insha’Allah. I’m thinking of Friday, August 28th as the likely target date.
But the site has already been indexed by the search engines and some of you are finding your way here, so so I thought I would give you folks something productive to do with your time, ha ha.
Here are some excellent books that I consider essential Islamic reading. Any one of them would be great to read a little from every evening after Iftar, or to give as a gift. All are available through the link below:
1. An Interpretation of the Qur’an : English Translation of the Meanings : A Bilingual Edition (Majid Fakhry) – I have this and I read it often. It’s an excellent, modern and scholarly translation. If you’re still reading Yusuf Ali’s poetic but archaic translation, it’s time to check out something different.
2. The Qur’an : A New Translation (Dr. Thomas Cleary) – I would have listed this first except that it’s in English only. The language is modern and clear, yet retains some of the powerful poetry of the Arabic. I highly recommend it.
3. Muhammad : His Life Based on the Earliest Sources : Revised Edition : Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din) – All-time best-selling book on the life of the Prophet (pbuh), now the latest revised edition. You may have read some of the briefer Seerahs (biographies of the Prophet Muhammad) such as The Sealed Nectar of The Life of the Prophet Muhammad, but you have not experienced the breadth and depth of Muhammad’s (pbuh) struggle and indomitable character until you have read this book.
4. Forty Hadith, and Forty Hadith Qudsi – these are brief but fundamental. Read one or two each night and discuss them.
5. Ramadan: Motivating Believers to Action – Ramadan is not just a month of fasting, but a month of spiritual healing. Presented from an interfaith perspective as a means to motivate believers to action, the articles by such famous writers as Muhammad al-Ghazzali, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Gilani, Imam Jawziyya, Ibn Sirin, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Maulana Mawdudi and Laleh Bakhtiar include essays on both the Law and the Way.
6. Purification of the Heart : Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart – Translation and Commentary of Imam al-Mawlud’s Matharat al-Qulub (Shaykh Hamza Yusuf).
7. The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism) Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips – A Muslim should be familiar with the basics of Tawheed, which is the fundemental principle of Islam. This book presents a detailed explanation of the classical Islamic concept of God’s unity as it relates to faith and acts of religious devotion.
Well, as you can see my preference is for more scholarly works, but you can find all kinds of good stuff at IslamicBookstore.com, including children’s books, movies and CDs, and toys. I have been shopping with them for several years now and I’ve always been satisfied.