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The Muslim Matchmaking Business

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For the vast majority of young men and women in Pakistan, arranged marriages are still the only way for couples to tie the knot. In a largely segregated society, there are few occasions and venues for boys and girls to meet and get to know each other. But the system works well enough as most families have a vast network of relatives, friends and acquaintances, and clan and biradari connections are called upon when needed.

However, these links break down in the diaspora of Pakistani communities abroad. This is especially true when the young have grown up in a society where almost every educational and workplace is shared by men and women, and segregation is limited to a few old-fashioned men’s clubs. But for Muslims, this easy mingling of the sexes does not make it any easier to meet a life partner.

The younger generation of Pakistanis in Britain, for example, have imbibed values that belong neither to their parents, nor to the host community. Caught in between the two, they seek partners who are both ‘modern’, and yet hold fast to their traditional culture. And since their parents’ network in Britain is limited, young people often have to fend for themselves in a tricky marriage market. Also, as not many of them go to clubs, pubs or singles bars, they do not have the same opportunity to meet people that other Brits take for granted.

Compounding the problem for educated, professional Muslim women is the fact that their male counterparts often marry young, so when the women are successful and hitting 30, they find it increasingly tough to find the kind of partners they seek.

Many websites address this problem, and carry profiles and photos of Muslim women seeking husbands. Here in cyberspace, the essentials of lonely lives are laid bare. Meet ‘Kashmiri Kuri’: 29, a qualified accountant, working in London for a large firm, she is 5’ 3’ tall, likes going to the movies and listening to music, and does not smoke. She is looking for a man who is good-looking and has a sense of humour. He should not wear a beard, but should not drink alcohol. Will she find this paragon, or will she succumb to family pressure and marry somebody from Mirpur through a match arranged by the family?

Far too many lives have been ruined by a mismatch of expectations. Young men from rural Pakistan, unfamiliar with the liberal values of the West and concepts like gender equality, expect their educated British wives to conform to the submissive role wives play in their home village. The young brides, having been born and brought up in an environment where women are equal, often cannot adjust to the demands made by their husbands. Such matches end up in divorce or a lifetime of miserable coexistence in the name of duty.

For many in the West, the only idea they have of Muslim marriages is in the form of headlines announcing yet another honour-killing. This is a common phenomenon where a Muslim girl is made the victim of her father’s or brother’s outrage at her refusal to accept their dictation about who she should marry. But these incidents are rare exceptions: the majority community is largely ignorant of the problems young Muslims face in meeting Mr or Miss Right.

To address this issue, Channel 4 recently aired ‘Muslim and Looking for Love’, a documentary that examines the dilemma so many young Muslims face in Britain today. Directed and produced by the well-known London-based Pakistani director Faris Kermani, this is an occasionally painful scrutiny of lonely lives seeking love and companionship.

The film takes us to the Birmingham Central Mosque, where Mr Razzaq and Mr Haq are two of the more implausible matchmakers you are likely to encounter. Middle-aged and traditional, they maintain profiles of a thousand young men and women. Those seeking partners, often accompanied by their parents, are told about prospective spouses who, in the judgment of Mr Haq or Mr Razzaq, might fit the requirements.

A woman of Egyptian descent wants to meet somebody from her country who is educated and would make a good match. Highly qualified, she works for a re-insurance company in London and feels she is very eligible. After a long search, the matchmakers find Mo, somebody they feel who meets her requirements, and an introduction is arranged at the mosque. Here, the two young people talk, but sadly, Mo is too Westernised for her liking. He enjoys going to clubs, and admits to having a drink now and then; she prays five times a day, and feels she could not live with somebody who is not similarly observant of religious edicts.

Another successful young man comes to the marriage bureau with his mother, and is introduced to a possible match. Very attractive, she is educated and has a good job. Initially, the vibes between the two seem good, and they agree to meet again. At this meeting, she begins to have doubts, especially when he bombards her with emails, wanting to know more about her. They then meet for the third and last time with her cousins on a day in the country. Although they seem to enjoy each other’s company, she is put off by the pressure he exerts to push things along. He appears to be in too much of a hurry to get married, while she wants to be sure that he is the right man for her. Finally, he confesses to the camera that he will have to go to Pakistan with his parents, and let them find a girl for him.

Tellingly, all the young Muslim women who appear in the film make it clear that they will only consider men who are British nationals. Clearly, they are all too aware of the pitfalls of marrying somebody who is unfamiliar with the values and attitudes they have grown up with. But although they expect to be treated as equals in a marriage, they have not yet got to the point where they can bring themselves to venture into the world of clubs and singles bars where other young men and women gather to meet prospective partners. Perhaps their children will, but this generation will still be going to Mr Haq and Mr Razzaq for help in meeting Mr Right.

DAWN

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Such limitations on meeting!! - only through matchmakers/parents or through bars and clubs???? :wacko:

In the West, you have a much better chance to meet mr or miss right thorugh your work or activities. The thing is you need to actually talk to the opposite sex - which is presently highly discouraged. They dont (usually) bite and it is not a one way direction to Hell. There is no other way to meet someone of your generation's cultural/international experience and subsequent compatible future goals and marital roles.

My dad's instruction for me many years ago, and which I have followed, when I started in co-ed education was never be alone with a man and if in a mixed gathering never sit next to one - that actually pretty much covered it and it worked. I had no opportunity to speak to a man beyond superficial pleasantries and no opportunity to understand how they think. I thought in my extremely limited and ignorant way, that they all were like my dad --- WRONG!!!

There need to be healthy, halal mixing of sexes - through organized activities that dont have the pressure of marriage. If it happens that two people are compatible and want to explore this - fine.

For example, I belong to a ski-club where this works. Unfortunately, for me, it is a a Christian group (heavy duty Christian I might add), but if there was a Muslim one - I would join in a heartbeat.

Edited by Maryaam

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For the vast majority of young men and women in Pakistan, arranged marriages are still the only way for couples to tie the knot. In a largely segregated society, there are few occasions and venues for boys and girls to meet and get to know each other. But the system works well enough as most families have a vast network of relatives, friends and acquaintances, and clan and biradari connections are called upon when needed.

However, these links break down in the diaspora of Pakistani communities abroad. This is especially true when the young have grown up in a society where almost every educational and workplace is shared by men and women, and segregation is limited to a few old-fashioned men’s clubs. But for Muslims, this easy mingling of the sexes does not make it any easier to meet a life partner.

The younger generation of Pakistanis in Britain, for example, have imbibed values that belong neither to their parents, nor to the host community. Caught in between the two, they seek partners who are both ‘modern’, and yet hold fast to their traditional culture. And since their parents’ network in Britain is limited, young people often have to fend for themselves in a tricky marriage market. Also, as not many of them go to clubs, pubs or singles bars, they do not have the same opportunity to meet people that other Brits take for granted.

Compounding the problem for educated, professional Muslim women is the fact that their male counterparts often marry young, so when the women are successful and hitting 30, they find it increasingly tough to find the kind of partners they seek.

Many websites address this problem, and carry profiles and photos of Muslim women seeking husbands. Here in cyberspace, the essentials of lonely lives are laid bare. Meet ‘Kashmiri Kuri’: 29, a qualified accountant, working in London for a large firm, she is 5’ 3’ tall, likes going to the movies and listening to music, and does not smoke. She is looking for a man who is good-looking and has a sense of humour. He should not wear a beard, but should not drink alcohol. Will she find this paragon, or will she succumb to family pressure and marry somebody from Mirpur through a match arranged by the family?

Far too many lives have been ruined by a mismatch of expectations. Young men from rural Pakistan, unfamiliar with the liberal values of the West and concepts like gender equality, expect their educated British wives to conform to the submissive role wives play in their home village. The young brides, having been born and brought up in an environment where women are equal, often cannot adjust to the demands made by their husbands. Such matches end up in divorce or a lifetime of miserable coexistence in the name of duty.

For many in the West, the only idea they have of Muslim marriages is in the form of headlines announcing yet another honour-killing. This is a common phenomenon where a Muslim girl is made the victim of her father’s or brother’s outrage at her refusal to accept their dictation about who she should marry. But these incidents are rare exceptions: the majority community is largely ignorant of the problems young Muslims face in meeting Mr or Miss Right.

To address this issue, Channel 4 recently aired ‘Muslim and Looking for Love’, a documentary that examines the dilemma so many young Muslims face in Britain today. Directed and produced by the well-known London-based Pakistani director Faris Kermani, this is an occasionally painful scrutiny of lonely lives seeking love and companionship.

The film takes us to the Birmingham Central Mosque, where Mr Razzaq and Mr Haq are two of the more implausible matchmakers you are likely to encounter. Middle-aged and traditional, they maintain profiles of a thousand young men and women. Those seeking partners, often accompanied by their parents, are told about prospective spouses who, in the judgment of Mr Haq or Mr Razzaq, might fit the requirements.

A woman of Egyptian descent wants to meet somebody from her country who is educated and would make a good match. Highly qualified, she works for a re-insurance company in London and feels she is very eligible. After a long search, the matchmakers find Mo, somebody they feel who meets her requirements, and an introduction is arranged at the mosque. Here, the two young people talk, but sadly, Mo is too Westernised for her liking. He enjoys going to clubs, and admits to having a drink now and then; she prays five times a day, and feels she could not live with somebody who is not similarly observant of religious edicts.

Another successful young man comes to the marriage bureau with his mother, and is introduced to a possible match. Very attractive, she is educated and has a good job. Initially, the vibes between the two seem good, and they agree to meet again. At this meeting, she begins to have doubts, especially when he bombards her with emails, wanting to know more about her. They then meet for the third and last time with her cousins on a day in the country. Although they seem to enjoy each other’s company, she is put off by the pressure he exerts to push things along. He appears to be in too much of a hurry to get married, while she wants to be sure that he is the right man for her. Finally, he confesses to the camera that he will have to go to Pakistan with his parents, and let them find a girl for him.

Tellingly, all the young Muslim women who appear in the film make it clear that they will only consider men who are British nationals. Clearly, they are all too aware of the pitfalls of marrying somebody who is unfamiliar with the values and attitudes they have grown up with. But although they expect to be treated as equals in a marriage, they have not yet got to the point where they can bring themselves to venture into the world of clubs and singles bars where other young men and women gather to meet prospective partners. Perhaps their children will, but this generation will still be going to Mr Haq and Mr Razzaq for help in meeting Mr Right.

DAWN

Salaam, Good Luck!

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Such limitations on meeting!! - only through matchmakers/parents or through bars and clubs???? :wacko:

In the West, you have a much better chance to meet mr or miss right thorugh your work or activities. The thing is you need to actually talk to the opposite sex - which is presently highly discouraged. They dont (usually) bite and it is not a one way direction to Hell. There is no other way to meet someone of your generation's cultural/international experience and subsequent compatible future goals and marital roles.

My dad's instruction for me many years ago, and which I have followed, when I started in co-ed education was never be alone with a man and if in a mixed gathering never sit next to one - that actually pretty much covered it and it worked. I had no opportunity to speak to a man beyond superficial pleasantries and no opportunity to understand how they think. I thought in my extremely limited and ignorant way, that they all were like my dad --- WRONG!!!

There need to be healthy, halal mixing of sexes - through organized activities that dont have the pressure of marriage. If it happens that two people are compatible and want to explore this - fine.

For example, I belong to a ski-club where this works. Unfortunately, for me, it is a a Christian group (heavy duty Christian I might add), but if there was a Muslim one - I would join in a heartbeat.

Good point. There should be avenues for young males and female Muslims to allow friendly contact other than for the purpose of marriage. Young people who are brought up in segregated environment, especially in the East, often find it difficult to communicate with members of opposite sex when they have to go through marathon spouse selection process - and therefore end up making uninformed decisions.

Even if there was a Muslim ski-club or other Muslim club, chances are good that they'd organise segregated events/activities. So I think in the end males and females won't get a good chance to mix-up. This is truer of the East.

Second, as the article suggests, even young Western Muslim males and females find it difficult to meet with other Muslims, perhaps due to the same segregated policies, and have to resort to marriage bureaus. It is also funny that some Western Muslims have different attitude when mixing up with non-Muslims than they have towards Muslims. I had female Muslim colleague. She had no trouble in having a nice laugh with other non-Muslim male colleagues but she'd run away from me [and two other male Muslim colleagues] as if we bite. The reason was that we were Muslims. Perhaps it was due to her strict upbringing. This girl was the eye-opener for me. lol

Salaam, Good Luck!

:unsure:

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In Canada, the events are usually not segregated. Also, what about University and work? It's a mix envirement too.

It is good if Canada has Muslim majority/only non-segregated, non-religious activities???

It is about meeting up Muslims or Shia Muslims. On random, I think I'm not likely to find many Muslims at school/work. I have none at work and one in the university batch.

I don't know but the only segregated place seems to be the Mosque?...I have not visited the East it's been 18 years, so I don't know although I always thought it's easier to meet someone compatible there than here, only because Muslims are everywhere there however they are a minority here.

Depends. It can be easier and it can be not. Although even Muslims are in majority, it is as or perhaps more difficult than it is in the West if your family or local environment of that particular place does not permit mixing up.

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She had no trouble in having a nice laugh with other non-Muslim male colleagues but she'd run away from me [and two other male Muslim colleagues] as if we bite. The reason was that we were Muslims. Perhaps it was due to her strict upbringing. This girl was the eye-opener for me. lol

:unsure:

well if you were to appear friendly with a muslim guy (i.e normal), chances are you will get more attention than you actually want in return. I quickly learnt that as a first year undergrad at uni, having come from an all girls school and thinking i could talk to a guy like i had talked to my female classmates. And it really doesnt make much of a difference when guys are older, ie workplace. Unless I were to know a muslim guy well, eg a family friend, and know that he is unlikely to interpret my niceness as a come on, then he may just be ok for a normal conversation, but even then you wouldnt spend a long period of time with them because that can be interpreted by outsiders (or the guy) as a steady relationship. i think that is generally the case whether the person is muslim or not. So in fact you really cant 'accidentally' get to know a person very well before marriage in a relatively short period in this way, unless ofcourse you use a pseudo arranged marriage methodology, and make your intentions of marriage known early on... which would perhaps allow for a more intense level of communication in order to help you make your final decision.

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Community activities, I don't know the details I never join any of these activities but I have friends who do join and some of them don't like that it's a mix envirement others like it. Many marriages followed by many divorces. Seems like they don't know how to chose the right spouse?!

People brought up in a segregated environment are likely to make a wrong choice even if they are allowed to mix up later at some point. Sometimes it can happen without this condition. This is quite human. We all make mistakes. The important thing is to know what you want and what you can offer to the candidate. It's not a one way road. It is also not about short-term romance. Anyway I think we ought to give ourselves a chance. Perhaps our next generations will be maturer. lol

Most of time parents and their adult children do not agree/approve on the same candidate which is most of the time problematic. Many proposals, parents agree on some of them which happen to be the same ones decilned by the adult child, some approved by their children which happen to be declined by the parents. At least , that's the case with the Arabic community. I am lucky to have parents who share my same views when it comes to marriage but many of my friends are stuck with these kind of scenarios. Point is, the problem is not always because Muslims are segregated.

Very true. This is a problem on a different wavelength but springs from the same paradigm nonetheless. There is only one simple solution to it. Parents should stop treating children as their property. The best they can do is to give their experienced and valuable advise to children. They shouldn't be allowed to 'decide' for them. The onus is upon parents. With all respect for parents held high, I won't suggest that children should respect [or give into] their parents decisions. Parents need this advice more than their children. Time has come for patriarchal mindset, especially in Arab culture, to be sent back to the era it really belongs.

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There should be a healthy but halal mixing of the sexes so that when the time comes, you know what sort of spouse you want. This did not happen in the olden days because people did not pick their own spouses. People also married young, so it was easier for youngsters to adjust to their spouses.

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well if you were to appear friendly with a muslim guy (i.e normal), chances are you will get more attention than you actually want in return. I quickly learnt that as a first year undergrad at uni, having come from an all girls school and thinking i could talk to a guy like i had talked to my female classmates. And it really doesnt make much of a difference when guys are older, ie workplace. Unless I were to know a muslim guy well, eg a family friend, and know that he is unlikely to interpret my niceness as a come on, then he may just be ok for a normal conversation, but even then you wouldnt spend a long period of time with them because that can be interpreted by outsiders (or the guy) as a steady relationship. i think that is generally the case whether the person is muslim or not. So in fact you really cant 'accidentally' get to know a person very well before marriage in a relatively short period in this way, unless ofcourse you use a pseudo arranged marriage methodology, and make your intentions of marriage known early on... which would perhaps allow for a more intense level of communication in order to help you make your final decision.

I fully understand your concern. If a guy takes your friendliness as a come on, you can always tell him, politely or strictly depending on the severity of the offence, to bug off. That comes after you have a valid reason to believe that the guy is crossing limits. The trouble is that some Muslim girls won't even talk to a guy who happens to share their faith - because of reasons known to them - but be at ease with non-Muslim males. These behavioural gaps need to be filled if Muslims of opposite sexes want to give each other a chance of knowing better. Normal communication can work as a base or starting point, if you want to do it yourself, on which any possible marriage talk can build. And I agree with you on how the rest should follow.

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no i dont think you understand the concern. the response is either that the guy may think youre cheap, and proceeds to do things like wink at you and talk to you in a manner you know is not acceptable in his culture or yours, or that he gets ideas of marrying you and develops strange behaviour (well i must admit that it is usually strange to begin with) when he realises your feelings are not reciprocated. And ofcourse modesty should admit there do exist guys that think youre coming on to them, and look horrified/disgusted at the thought rofl. And i have received the odd scowl from passing muslim looking guys when i am sitting conversing with male colleagues and having lunch. From my point of view, if i dont talk to a muslim guy the possible cost outways the benefit, for me.

Perhaps it is that you see lack of girls speaking to you that you think that females are the only culprits. I am sure muslim males avoid muslim girls for the same reasons. You may just be ina position where you would like to find a spouse and are not happy with the way things are.

I've worked where i am now for over a year, and there is an arab international student who has been there all this time. I dont know if hes muslim or not, but he will not even look at me or exchange a greeting which is my usual behaviour in the workplace, regardless of who the person is. he will chat and smile at the other girls in the office. Now his behaviour is perhaps the sort of behaviour youre complaining about with muslim girls. At first I thought he just didnt like muslims, but then I thought perhaps he is respecting me in his own way by not speakign to me. I dont know, but it doesnt bother me! lol

Many of these guys come from cultures where it is frowned upon to chat idly with a female, and it will be viewed in a negative light by outsiders. So if he is trying to be respectable perhaps he may avoid speaking to you if he guesses you come from the same culture. For example, another international student, bengali, polite and shy only spoke to me because he was worried that the smell of his food would bother me if he sat ate inthe tearoom to eat, and after a small chat which i largely initiated about his work (ie saying i had attended one of his talks in such and such a school), he hurried off when someone else came in and spoke to me. he will exchange greetings with me when we pass eachother in the building (unlike PhD student #1), but only hesitantly. I understand his behaviour, and am not offended by it.

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I fully understand your concern. If a guy takes your friendliness as a come on, you can always tell him, politely or strictly depending on the severity of the offence, to bug off. That comes after you have a valid reason to believe that the guy is crossing limits. The trouble is that some Muslim girls won't even talk to a guy who happens to share their faith - because of reasons known to them - but be at ease with non-Muslim males. These behavioural gaps need to be filled if Muslims of opposite sexes want to give each other a chance of knowing better. Normal communication can work as a base or starting point, if you want to do it yourself, on which any possible marriage talk can build. And I agree with you on how the rest should follow.

It's probably for the same reason that women feel more comfortable around gay men- they don't see them as potential mates, so the awkwardness that is associated with that doesn't follow.

I also think there is a lot of truth in what Cary Grant is saying.

Edited by Dirac Delta function

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Most likely he's respecting you in his own way.

Her behavior is a little normal. If I avoid men in general , I avoid Arabs(or Muslims) specifically . Many of us never had bad experiences talking to non muslim collegues (when it's necessary) however with Muslim ones (Arabs specifically), if you ask for the time, he will blush, sweat, and probably-most likely-for-sure think you're interested in him and for the rest of the year he wouldnt let go of you. I think the best communication for both males and females is to speak formally (when needed) and to not assume anything further then the talk that happened. It's simple and easy.

This is quite true. It can be very painful to talk to a Muslim man who has not been socialized around Muslim women. You are forced to interact as formally as possible and to keep it short to limit the discomfort.

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This is quite true. It can be very painful to talk to a Muslim man who has not been socialized around Muslim women. You are forced to interact as formally as possible and to keep it short to limit the discomfort.

Are all Muslim schools singe sex?. Likewise university classes in Muslim countries etc..?. How do Muslim men ever get the chance to be socialized around Muslim women.

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no i dont think you understand the concern. the response is either that the guy may think youre cheap, and proceeds to do things like wink at you and talk to you in a manner you know is not acceptable in his culture or yours, or that he gets ideas of marrying you and develops strange behaviour (well i must admit that it is usually strange to begin with) when he realises your feelings are not reciprocated. And ofcourse modesty should admit there do exist guys that think youre coming on to them, and look horrified/disgusted at the thought rofl. And i have received the odd scowl from passing muslim looking guys when i am sitting conversing with male colleagues and having lunch. From my point of view, if i dont talk to a muslim guy the possible cost outways the benefit, for me.

Perhaps it is that you see lack of girls speaking to you that you think that females are the only culprits. I am sure muslim males avoid muslim girls for the same reasons. You may just be ina position where you would like to find a spouse and are not happy with the way things are.

Her behavior is a little normal. If I avoid men in general , I avoid Arabs(or Muslims) specifically . Many of us never had bad experiences talking to non muslim collegues (when it's necessary) however with Muslim ones (Arabs specifically), if you ask for the time, he will blush, sweat, and probably-most likely-for-sure think you're interested in him and for the rest of the year he wouldnt let go of you. I think the best communication for both males and females is to speak formally (when needed) and to not assume anything further then the talk that happened. It's simple and easy.
This is quite true. It can be very painful to talk to a Muslim man who has not been socialized around Muslim women. You are forced to interact as formally as possible and to keep it short to limit the discomfort.

Thank you for the explanation Cary. Perhaps I gave the impression that this is a female only behaviour, but it of course isn't. Like some girls, guys who are brought up in strict segregated environment and have had a rare chance to mix up with females are likely to show erratic behaviour when, out of necessity, they are forced to interact regularly. Those who are nice and understanding may show their niceness by avoiding any communication at all or keeping it as minimal as possible (just like your Arab colleague). Then there are those, perhaps the most common, who will get confused, act foolishly or totally inappropriately, sometimes not by choice, and read signals in the nuances of your voice which aren't there. The bad apples, on the other hand, would go even further. Perhaps the following analogy is not appropriate for the occasion but one cannot expect from a man to remain decent and civilised who has not eaten anything for a week and is showed some freshly cooked dishes. This is not only for unmarried and young but people who are brought up in this way are likely to remain so even if they get married. They would still find it hard to communicate with the opposite sex in a proper and conventional way. All observations are correct but the discussion goes back to segregation.

The exhibition, either intentionally or sometimes unintentionally, of erratic behaviour, the kind described by Calm, is not a one way road. Although most traffic is from males to females lol, but it serves to point out that the girl I mentioned in my earlier post would get confused and likely to speak in a rather eyes rolling, hands twisting, quick and inaudible manner even if we were briefly talking formal business. That was puzzling in the beginning but now I think I got it. lol

I am not looking at this matter as a personal issue. I am trying to understand it as something which unfortunately exists in Muslim communities, and so I think there needs to be a debate, especially among the younger generation, on the concept of segregation as it is practiced. Sure it is not appropriate, figuratively speaking, for Muslim men and women to be in each other's arms and over-socialise and hence get into unislamic behaviour, but it is troublesome if these trends continue. One may individually avoid getting into trouble by not communicating but, at a broader level, the matter at hand needs to be addressed appropriately in order to fix these behavioural anomalies in Muslim youth. This is one of the themes of the article I posted.

Thank you all for your insights.

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The bad apples, on the other hand, would go even further. Perhaps the following analogy is not appropriate for the occasion but one cannot expect from a man to remain decent and civilised who has not eaten anything for a week and is showed some freshly cooked dishes.

no it isnt a good analogy, and it doesnt excuse a guy (by a lower expectation) who has had no sex to behave badly (uncivilised) with women. not that your point even deserves serious rebuttal, but the winking example was actually a married man, who had not been separated from his wife. furthermore i have close male relations who do not engage in premarital sex, nor unislamic behaviour with nonmahrams, and yet they are quite capable of behaving properly, they arent saints either. so it isnt a guy thing.

you seem to think that muslim males and females do not have the skills to act appropriately. they do have those skills; the girl which you described or the arab guy i described are perfectly ok talking to the non muslims in our offices, they may just be overally more introverted than extroverted. the cultural difference however confuses them as to how to act, particularly when there is a sexual attraction/marriage element thrown into the mix (they dont have to be sexually attracted, or considering marriage for this element to be significant).

i often find that when people get nervous or dont know how to behave with a certain group of people, they end up behaving inappropriately. i've had countless such encounters with non muslims who do not know what to think of me, try to presume what i am thinking of them, etc. they often end up behaving stupidly.

so it isnt a muslim phenomenon, it is merely a human one. it has been caused by the fact that two cultures/ value systems are trying to exist in one place.

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Are all Muslim schools singe sex?. Likewise university classes in Muslim countries etc..?. How do Muslim men ever get the chance to be socialized around Muslim women.

I went to a secular single sex highschool in Sydney Australia. University classes in iran are not single sex. There are however a very small amount of single sex universities (i actually only know of one in tehran). They are not mainstream.

Men often socialise with muslim women in their families, or family friends. At least that is my experience.

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no it isnt a good analogy, and it doesnt excuse a guy (by a lower expectation) who has had no sex to behave badly (uncivilised) with women. not that your point even deserves serious rebuttal, but the winking example was actually a married man, who had not been separated from his wife. furthermore i have close male relations who do not engage in premarital sex, nor unislamic behaviour with nonmahrams, and yet they are quite capable of behaving properly, they arent saints either. so it isnt a guy thing.

I think individual examples do not serve the purpose of the discussion, or Muslim women would not avoid speaking particularly to Muslim men. Generally, in the community, the problem with many Muslim males [add females to the list] is that they are brought up in religion-specific segregated environment and never get a chance to mix up with the opposite sex in a normal manner. That explains a lot of stupid and offensive behaviour which goes around. Add sexual innocence to the list and it gets worse. However, the problem is wholly not that they are sexually innocent or compulsorily abstinent; the problem is the total prohibition on mixing up [within their religio-cultural setup] that shows up in stupid/loose behaviour whenever they get a chance to interact.

i often find that when people get nervous or dont know how to behave with a certain group of people, they end up behaving inappropriately. i've had countless such encounters with non muslims who do not know what to think of me, try to presume what i am thinking of them, etc. they often end up behaving stupidly.

so it isnt a muslim phenomenon, it is merely a human one. it has been caused by the fact that two cultures/ value systems are trying to exist in one place.

Things are more tawdry in the East. The dont-know-how-to-react behaviour, sometimes stupid, at times offensive, and at others harassing is more visible in Muslim lands than it is in the West where the argument of multicultural confusion may be plausible. How many times women have noticed men in the streets in Muslim countries staring at them as if they were naked, even when in full hijab, and then compare with Western non-Muslim men who have clearer gazes. The phenomenon exists wherever there is strict segregation and an uncrossable barrier on sexual activity.

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i disagree with your theory that bad behaviour is the result of segregation. and i thought we were talking about western society where the networks in the east do not exist to help young people get married and how they prefer to be able to find their own spouses and is why youre trying to start a movement of freer communication between the sexes, which is where the reasons for the lack of it or miscommunications came up. it is the west where people from muslim families or from differing cultures get confused about how to act and visa versa.

i think men in muslim countries who behave badly do it because they believe they can get away with it and that they have a right to do so. it has nothing to do with segregation, or the muslim way of life. You may not be familiar with Australian current affairs but recently a sheikh here caused an uproar when one of his speeches got out to the public. In his speech he compared women not covered up to uncovered meat and that one could not blame the cat if you left the meat uncovered in the street. He also made an apparent reference to a recent gang bang (where a bunch of "muslim" boys with the promise of drugs took a girl into the park and then proceeded to rape her over the course of several hours) to say that you should be careful of womens charms because it could land you in jail (the boys got unprecedented long jail terms). The truth is that far too many muslim boys are unfortunately taught that there are "good" girls that you treat well (and that is a sliding scale) and marry, and there are "bad" girls that you can have your way with. This view has NOTHING to do with segregation, it is not even islamically based. It often has to do with a bad upbringing and I really do not see how it can be solved by freer mixing. It is something that needs to be retaught.

i do not think the men of the east are more tawdry than those in the west, they are just more free to act as they please in those countries without being held accountable. the sort of behaviour you describe existed in the west (and still does) but it has been reigned in somewhat by sexual discrimination/harrassment laws. therefore when men who have been brought up with this view (ie that they can get away with bad behaviour towards women) and are led to think that you are easy or cheap because you talk to them, they are likely to treat you in a disrepectful manner. It is true, they are in the minority, but they ruin things for the majority.

As far as polite behaviour towards the opposite sex goes, I would say that I prefer the traditional respectful eastern polite behaviour to that of the present day Australian/American/English one. I'd say many females (muslim and non muslim) would share this view otherwise the austen stories in which men and women behave and interract very much like they do in traditional eastern societies, would not have had such a successful revival.

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Guest Peace

salam

Just as an aside I do think upbringing has a lot to do with social interactions and then also the persons personality. I know full well when I was a medical student I would be embarassed if I had to examine a muslim man and when I had an older muslim male consultant Id also find myself more self conscious. Its just natural. I am about to spend 4 months in my next working year in an asian area working as a community doctor. I think its gonna be awkward at times because of these social norms. Ive been brought up to be respectful to older asian men and to keep a conservative manner. I remember once as a fifth yr medical student our group got told to do an abdominal examination on a young muslim guy. I got my mate to volunteer - and then the consultant was like - is it allright if they all have a feel lool. Anyways I think there will probably always be an element of this in my working life. Its very hard to break down barriers/norms which have been erected.

And I can understand why people are cautious around muslim pple of the opposite gender. I used to find it a lot easier to joke around with non-muslim guys - now I find I'm ok with work colleagues regardless providin they seem like theyre sound pple. I dont think there is anything wrong with the reserve tho - I think its actually a sign of good manners and etiquette.

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i disagree with your theory that bad behaviour is the result of segregation. and i thought we were talking about western society where the networks in the east do not exist to help young people get married and how they prefer to be able to find their own spouses and is why youre trying to start a movement of freer communication between the sexes, which is where the reasons for the lack of it or miscommunications came up. it is the west where people from muslim families or from differing cultures get confused about how to act and visa versa.

Nah I didn't quite say that. There is a confusion with few things here. I'll explain:

First - Just to reiterate my point, segregation, among other things, causes lack of communication between males and females. The resulting gaps in communication get reflected in behaviour, especially when young couples who are brought up in segregated environment have to communicate for marriage. They are not 'ready' for it, cannot effectively communicate, sometimes show inappropriate [not deliberately offensive] behaviour, don't know what they are looking for, and run a higher risk of making an uninformed decision. Note that this is not true for everyone brought up in segregated environments. I was brought up in one and, like Calm, I don't think I don't know what I want and how to go after it. I am raising this issue cos it affects so many people and it is all around us. Segregated upbringing is one of the major causes of miscommunication if not the exclusive reason.

Second - and this is important- is the issue of sexual harassment. This is an international issue but it is more intense in many Muslim countries. It does not directly come from segregation. I am not going into details for the sake of brevity but, among other reasons, the problem is greater in Muslim societies for two main reasons. One is that Muslim countries are strongly masculine/man dominated societies, the kind of societies which already treat women as property and discriminate against them in so many ways either due to cultural or religious reasons or both. Two is that, in these societies, in this age, we have hordes of sexually repressed masses who, for a host of reasons, cannot marry early and thus can't satisfy themselves through socially acceptable means. They are more likely to harass women than those who have the means. This is institutionalised behaviour. It doesn't go away just by getting married or satisfying oneself sexually, either legitimately or illegitimately. It stays on and gets reflected in the same or other ways even if one is sexually active. There was a study on this which I read a couple of years ago. I'll try to find it out for you. Anyway this isn't exclusively a Muslim problem. See rural India for an example. Some Catholic majority populations in South Eastern Europe have the same problem.

The reason I gave the example of the East is to show that not knowing how to act properly, especially within one's own religio-cultural group, is a problem which does not come from living in a multi-cultural, multi-religious society. It is more visible in Eastern Muslim countries, at least in the Subcontinent.

i think men in muslim countries who behave badly do it because they believe they can get away with it and that they have a right to do so. it has nothing to do with segregation, or the muslim way of life. You may not be familiar with Australian current affairs but recently a sheikh here caused an uproar when one of his speeches got out to the public. In his speech he compared women not covered up to uncovered meat and that one could not blame the cat if you left the meat uncovered in the street. He also made an apparent reference to a recent gang bang (where a bunch of "muslim" boys with the promise of drugs took a girl into the park and then proceeded to rape her over the course of several hours) to say that you should be careful of womens charms because it could land you in jail (the boys got unprecedented long jail terms). The truth is that far too many muslim boys are unfortunately taught that there are "good" girls that you treat well (and that is a sliding scale) and marry, and there are "bad" girls that you can have your way with. This view has NOTHING to do with segregation, it is not even islamically based. It often has to do with a bad upbringing and I really do not see how it can be solved by freer mixing. It is something that needs to be retaught.

i do not think the men of the east are more tawdry than those in the west, they are just more free to act as they please in those countries without being held accountable. the sort of behaviour you describe existed in the west (and still does) but it has been reigned in somewhat by sexual discrimination/harrassment laws. therefore when men who have been brought up with this view (ie that they can get away with bad behaviour towards women) and are led to think that you are easy or cheap because you talk to them, they are likely to treat you in a disrepectful manner. It is true, they are in the minority, but they ruin things for the majority.

You have explained and I will put a label on it. These are illustrations of the feudalism of Muslim societies, partly aided by our inherited culture, partly by the religion or interpretation of it. Agreed it has little to do with segregation and Islamic teachings. Freer mixing is definitely not a solution to this, and I don't argue for freer mixing to sort out that. Hell no. Anyway, the example of that Australian crackhead mullah is not the only one. You have many such 'religious' figures who'd point the finger of blame towards women if they get raped. That line of reasoning, or nonreasoning to be precise, is surprisingly common in conservative Muslim circles. I can sit down and recount incidents upon incidents. I also don't think that men in the East do what they do believing that they can get away with that. In fact, an attempt to sexually harass women in public can provoke extreme reaction by people nearby not to mention police torture that comes later. Even if there are stricter laws on gender discrimination and sexual harassment [the latter exist by the way], it still won't make a lot of difference as long as we do not get rid of the structures of social feudalism which treats women as subhuman trash. The subject of feudalist/tribalist ethics, the oppression of women in those societies and the troubles that spin from it, like sexual harassment, gender inequality and discrimination, honour killings etc are beyond the scope of this thread.

EDIT - Perhaps you'd like to read this short piece --> Mind Your Language

PS - was on a long haul flight and then got busy. Sorry for the late reply.

Edited by Marbles

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I also don't think that men in the East do what they do believing that they can get away with that. In fact, an attempt to sexually harass women in public can provoke extreme reaction by people nearby not to mention police torture that comes later.

EDIT - Perhaps you'd like to read this short piece --> Mind Your Language

in fact the article you gave highlights why men DO think they can get away with it. its becasue women in those countries tend to have a hightened sense of shame, and in fact fear prosecution or being badmouthed or thought ill of if they speak up. its reminds me of why family members or adults in some position of power who sexually abuse children get away with it for so long.

but yes youre right. a man who treats a woman badly in the east is likely to get his ass kicked by other guys there. something which doesnt exist anywhere near as much in the west. in fact i was harrassed on the train in broad daylight, om a crowded train and no one save a young girl spoke up against my male harrasser.

just another example that occurred today that made me think of this thread:

a girl (who doesnt wear hijab) was sharing with me and another girl that she didnt want to go to the guys prayer room because when she had gone there before to get something one of the guys had looked and spoken to her as though he didnt respect her. so she was asking one of the muhajiba girls to go in her stead. ie because of one guy, she did not want to approach a place where muslim guys congregate, just in case he or someone like him was there. point being, one bad experience is enough.

Edited by Cary Grant

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in fact the article you gave highlights why men DO think they can get away with it. its becasue women in those countries tend to have a hightened sense of shame, and in fact fear prosecution or being badmouthed or thought ill of if they speak up. its reminds me of why family members or adults in some position of power who sexually abuse children get away with it for so long.

but yes youre right. a man who treats a woman badly in the east is likely to get his ass kicked by other guys there. something which doesnt exist anywhere near as much in the west. in fact i was harrassed on the train in broad daylight, om a crowded train and no one save a young girl spoke up against my male harrasser.

This is one convoluted scheme of things. It's funny that in those societies women are given preferential treatment, allowed to jump queues if there are no separate ones for them, listened to and facilitated etc, but it is easy to see where this superficial respect comes from. The rationale for the over-the-top respect for women and the need to protect them in the face of any mistreatment and harassment is the same rationale that is later used, consciously or subconsciously, to oppress and negatively discriminate against women. The same is the problem with cases of abuse and rape. The obsession with the sexuality of women in feudalist societies is the reason behind the culturally popular and evidently insulting nomenclature that the writer of that Dawn piece tries to highlight. It does not matter if the perpetrators get away with their crimes; the only thing that matters is that the "honour" [izzat], or "social standing" [naam aur naak] is "preserved". This is pathetic innit. With that, yes, some men can get away with their crimes if victims do not speak out, especially so if the perpetrators, in the absence of proper law and order, enjoy a position of power and authority. Many girls are abused at the hands of men in power, especially by feudal lords in rural areas, but no one even knows about their plight.

just another example that occurred today that made me think of this thread:

a girl (who doesnt wear hijab) was sharing with me and another girl that she didnt want to go to the guys prayer room because when she had gone there before to get something one of the guys had looked and spoken to her as though he didnt respect her. so she was asking one of the muhajiba girls to go in her stead. ie because of one guy, she did not want to approach a place where muslim guys congregate, just in case he or someone like him was there. point being, one bad experience is enough.

This is familiar. The girl does not cover her hair. She is a transgressor and therefore not worthy of any respect. This is sad. . .

Edited by Marbles

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This is familiar. The girl does not cover her hair. She is a transgressor and therefore not worthy of any respect. This is sad. . .

well it was just her perception and interpretation of his scowling and manner of speech, that it was because she wasnt wearing hijab. we dont knwo for a fact that he was behaving that way because she didnt wear one. he may have just been rude and thought the guys prayer room was not a place a girl should be poking her head. some guys scowl at hijabi girls too for a variety of reasons. the difference between the girl and the two of us (who she was sharing her experience with), is that we simply dont care what the guys think; if we need something from that room, we will pretty much demand it or walk in after some warning. we did ask if she knew who he was too, so that we could return the scowl :lol:

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WOW I HATE PEOPLE WHO LOOK DOWN ON INTERNET SPARKED RELATIONSHIPS, internet has made the world SOOOOO SMALL, its such a great resource, as a girl you dont have to sit nervous among 20 of your family members forcing you to act a certain way when some boy comes in to propose to you. YES THERE are predators and liars online but that is true in real life too, heck you could be married to a man for 20 years and not know the truth about him. Just saying its good to utilize all these things.

There are two choices and decisions in life that must be given tremendous attention, your career and your spouse. In fact you are more married to your work than you are to your spouse in most cases, so make sure to exercise care and try to find the right match. Bad career/spouse choice will ruin your life guaranteed, cuz most of us arent that strong. If you dont want a miserable existence, take your time and try out different channels till you are satisfied.

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Salam,

Interesting post, and some good points made by all.

I would agree that Muslims who are born and raised in the west do have a more difficult time finding a suitable marriage partner then those raised in majority Muslims countries. The reasons for this are somewhat complex, but I do not agree that the primary reason is lack of free and open communication between single men and women who are non-mahram. In fact, the "solution" you advocate is against Islamic teachings.

In the west, men and women "hook up" more frequently, however, if you look at the quality, stability, heath or longevity of these relationships they are severely lacking compared with the average Muslim marriage. Free and open communication does lead to more frequent "interactions" of all types, however, not to a stable, healthy and lifelong marriage (in most cases), which is what both Muslim men and women are looking for. The key to a happy marital relationship lies in the compatibility of the two partners for eachother and shared values and spritual practices during the marriage, which is something that is talked about frequently in Quran and hadith.

I actually think the primary problems have to do with unrealistic expectations. The primary party with the unrealistic expectations is the parents. Most immigrant Muslim parents you talk to in the west have very non-Islamic and fantastic notions about their children s future life, including marriage. Their primary concern for their children is their studies and future job prospects, rather then whether or not their children are living a healthy and balanced life. They figure that their children will marry once they accomplish their materialistic goals, so they get "the best pick" for their future spouse. What goes unsaid is that the parents will also benefit from this by having a higher "social status" due to their children's accomplishments. This is all very selfish and unislamic.

The reality is that their is no shortage of good marriage prospects for single Muslims in the west. Go to any Islamic house of worship and you will see this. The primary problem is that the parents, rather then facilitating marriage at a young age (which is what Islam encourages) actually do everything possible to prevent this. The children then are left with few (or no) good options in attempting to satisfy their natural and "God given" desires. Some of the problem has to do with unrealistic expectations of marriage on the part of the single Muslims as well, however, I don't think this is the main issue.

Salam,

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