LONDON – For British Muslim girls in the 21st century, Thanna Alghabban is playing the role of the 18th century Jane Austin, who tells them how to navigate through the western life without falling into what’s haram or forbidden in Islam.
“The more we get educated, the more independent, the more we want real love for ourselves,” Alghabban, a 31-year-old former trainee solicitor from north London and self-styled “halal dating guru,” says of Muslim women, The Times reported on Monday, November 5.
“Women are less likely to put up with s*** now because they can see the prospect of going out into the world, living on their own and actually enjoying their life.”
The YouTube videos laying out Alghabban’s ingenious, heartfelt solution to the Muslim dating deadlock have been viewed more than two million times.
She can get up to 500 pleas for romantic advice a week on Snapchat, from a bewildered generation trying to remake a western courtship ritual from scratch.
“Young Muslim women are having to navigate this alone,” she says.
“They are not going to do what their parents did, but this new thing they have to create, it can make them vulnerable. They can’t just assume because he is a Muslim boy….”
Her popularity started when she started posting on Instagram about her husband, Mo, who died in a motorcycle accident three years ago.
Thousands of young Muslim women were entranced by the doomed romance of their story, and even more, intrigued to learn that the pair had met on Tinder.
“That’s when I began getting messages from people about their relationships. Just simple stuff, but I realized there is such a need for it as so many girls have no one to talk to,” she says.
“They’re not supposed to be dating. It’s actually a special thing, that I managed to marry my boyfriend. That’s the goal really.”
One of the problems she sees the most is Muslim women getting older, still living at home and clueless about how to find love.
“They followed their parents’ instructions not to date and to stay clean or whatever. Now they are messaging me. They’re 30 and they don’t even know how to date, stuck between two cultures because their parents are so protective, but they haven’t wanted an arranged marriage. They say to me, ‘I want to do it my way,’ but it’s so delayed they’ve wasted five years. That’s sad to see,” Alghabban says.
New Muslim dating apps, such as Muzmatch, Minder and Salaam Swipe, are a gift to young Muslims, she says.
“When any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point,” she quotes Austin.