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.
Opinions of Attendees
Ameer, 27, from Florida, attended the event and had good things to say, a first time attendee to MAS-ICNA, he believed his “circle” in his local community didn’t give him an ideal situation to meet a spouse. The biggest draw was that it was led by a “matchmaking service, and the popularity of the event itself.” Overall, he was heavily impressed by the event, and it really drew him to use Pious Hearts for the future, as a matchmaking service.
“It was well organized and it felt that they had a genuine place to present opportunities and to allow people to mingle in a stress-free environment”.
Another female attendee, also thought that the event was very well organized, “everyone had tables to go to, it was very personalized and they developed a way for you to sit down with potential matches”.
The “icebreakers” were really well-put together in terms of kick-starting the right conversations among people in the room. What really motivated her to go to this event is interacting with Pious hearts even before going to the event. Questions around background, age, and other important factors were really motivating in a way that allowed them to personalize their experiences to mold their experience upon arrival.
“There were tons of activities to understand the people in the room such as interactive games, riddles, and other activities to evaluate the personalities of the people around them.”
During Sunday’s event, the Pious Hearts team and MAS was able to bring Shaykh Yaser Birjas to greet and share words of wisdom to all guests. He talked about the ‘5 myths’ about marriage. Alhamdulillah, all attendees were extremely appreciative and benefited tremendously. MashaAllah, it was great to see Shaykh Yaser, after his speech, stay to answer public and private questions from all attendees.
On a concluding note, one of the attendees gave a really profound statement on the importance of these types of events:
“Seeing we are children of immigrants, we tend to have such a diverse background and largely work within so many different networks and backgrounds; it becomes very difficult to create a connection. You could be the wealthiest person out there but we largely need to tap and see other people around us want a deep purpose; being married plays such a pivotal role in a Muslim’s life in a much more spiritual way than meeting people online; this event was really important and events like these have such a deep need in our communities”.
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*The interviews have been abridged for article purposes and reflect the content approval of its owners.