In a fun-filled weekend, slightly farther away from the Bazaar, and the thundering sounds of the main hall, a social event was brewing that created a ton of buzz.
In addition to the youth programs, main programs and other parallel activities that underscored the MAS-ICNA convention, “a Singles event” and overall networking session was being organized by an organization by the name of “Pious hearts”.
Before the 100+ attendees that filled the space the following Saturday, I sat down with the Founder & Owner Nawal Ali, to pick her brain on the origins of this event and the Matchmaking service she had created.
I asked her how she started this event, and this service overall, and why it was of such a burning passion to her.
“The reason I started this company was I felt there was a need for a private service that was not public like a lot of the different Muslim themed apps out there, but the problem was a lot of girls did not want to put it out there due to the stigma of being on those types of public apps”.
“Another reason I started this, was being an Arab American, born and raised in Chicago, I realized there was an epidemic for Muslims that wanted to get married, but didn’t have the means or idea of how to do so, particularly the girls, because the pool was very limited in terms of how people got to know one another”.
Afterwards, I dug into the nature of the event itself, and how certain types of events became popular as of late.
The reality of the matter is similar to the median age of average Americans getting married at a later median age, American Muslims are not too far different.
Nawal revealed, seeing that she was in Chicago, home to almost 250,000 Arabs, and nearly half a million Muslims, she found that women who desired marriage, were getting closer to their mid-30s before finding an eligible match.
This served as a “large market” for a lot of reasons seeing that Muslims put a heavy emphasis on marriage to avoid premarital relations as a religious prerequisite and to avoid traditional courtship and dating found in mainstream American culture.
In addition to that, with the advent of social media platforms, and other dating apps, even if they are Muslim friendly; Nawal emphasized that they were “impersonal” in many ways.
A Much Needed Service
On Saturday’s event, it was largely hosted by over 120+ people in the room on Saturday, with a very healthy ratio between men and women.
On Sunday, it hosted upwards to 150+ people split between men and women.
“Alhamdullih, We were blessed to have a very even ratio between men and women in these circles, which was unheard of in a lot of these types of events, where women tend to out-ratio the men”.
The turnout was very favorable in this regard, and seeing that it was a conference that largely emphasized female empowerment, this worked also in that favor as well.
The room was heavily decorated and very warm and inviting for a lot of potential suitors.
Despite, the event itself, the matchmaking service itself created a very staggering concept: Almost every member is typically matched anywhere “between 3 to 6 months”, which is largely a very favorable ratio in this space as well.
Each member is vetted and is carefully matched with the desired criteria of every other member.
It largely creates a space where Nawal says “confidentiality is our largest priority; there is a big stigma to publicizing even the desire to get married, so we do our best to keep this a very confidential space via our website.
Nawal also shared that she truly wanted her company to be unique in that it was a wholesome service; many members are also matched to premarital counselors, psychologists, image consultants and other professionals that truly enhance the experience.