Young Muslims find a middle ground for fostering romantic relationships between what is permissible and what is forbidden.
Fahmida Azim for NPR hide caption. When year-old Nermeen Ileiwat first began college, she could not wait to get into a relationship — maybe even get engaged before graduation.
But after one year, the rising sophomore realized she had no idea what she wanted out of life and was in no position to get into a relationship. That decision didn't last long. Only a few months after, Ileiwat met someone at a party, and their friendship quickly turned into something more. However, dating was not that simple for the now year-olds who are Muslim. They have religious restrictions that limit physical contact in premarital relationships.
They chose to focus more on developing their emotional intimacy, with the occasional hug or kiss. Out of respect for their religious beliefs, Ileiwat and her boyfriend decided not to engage in any advanced sexual activity until they're married. For young couples like them, the idea of dating is common, and it means balancing their religious views with their desire for emotional intimacy. But the term "dating" still invites an offensive suggestion for many Muslims, especially older ones, irrespective of how innocent the relationship may be.
Dating is still linked to its Western origins, which implies underlying expectations of sexual interactions — if not an outright premarital sexual relationship — which Islamic texts prohibit. Ismail Menk, a renowned Islamic scholar, argues in one of his lectures that love, within boundaries and with expectations of marriage, is an accepted fact of life and religion — if done the right way.
This "right way," he says, is by involving the families from an early stage. Before the rise of a Western cultural influence, finding a spouse was a task almost solely assigned to parents or relatives. But young Muslims have now taken it upon themselves to find their partners, relying on their own version Non muslim man hookup a muslim woman dating to do so. Older Muslims continue to reject dating because they worry that a Western world will also create Western expectations of premarital sex in these relationships.
Adam Hodges, a former sociolinguistics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, argues there is an added layer of culture and context to the term "dating" that is often overlooked. So the way that we label events or phenomena, such as dating, is definitely going to provide a certain perspective on what that means for us," he says. Therefore, taking on the dating vernacular to describe their relationship and labeling their significant other as "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" does put some couples at risk of falling into the physical expectations that come with dating, Hodges says.
But, he adds, these fears can be allayed because "the most important connotation that is borrowed is the ability to choose your own mate," which is also the main precept of dating in the West. One way that some young Muslim couples are rebutting the idea of dating being offensive is by terming it "halal dating.
By adding the permissibility factor, some young couples argue, they are removing the idea that anything haram, or prohibited, such as premarital sex, is happening in the relationship. On the other hand, some young couples believe there should be no stigma attached to dating and, therefore, reject the idea of calling it halal. Khalil Jessa, founder of Salaam Swipe, a dating app that caters to young Muslims, also believes that the negative associations attached to dating depend on the particular society.
When they take the word dating, they're adding this connotation to it, and I don't think that's necessarily the case. It's up to each individual and each couple to choose how they wish to interact with one another," Jessa argues.
Getting to know someone and making the informed decision to marry them is not an alien concept in Islamic societies. Abdullah Al-Arian, a history professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, says that the idea of courtship has been present in Muslim societies for centuries but was subdued in colonial times.
When the British and the rest of Europe colonized much of the world, they also placed social restrictions on sexual interactions between unmarried couples, Arian says. These social restrictions also took hold in certain Islamic societies, with religious restrictions on Non muslim man hookup a muslim woman leading some to go as far as segregating the genders as much as possible, including in schools, universities and even at social gatherings. These practices began to disintegrate as women started entering the workforce, demanding their rights for universal education and pursuing higher education, Arian says.
Segregating because of religious dogma became harder. And so, as the genders mixed, dating relationships also took root in some societies.