CALGARY – Social activist and self-proclaimed “social butterfly” Saima Jamal has become unofficial matchmaker in Calgary, helping Canadians of all faiths to find love and future partner.
“I might have just inherited accidentally from my mom who kind of inherited accidentally from her mom,” Saima Jamal, co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary, told CBC on Sunday, July 24.
Meeting lots of people through her social network, Jamal said matchmaking is a “hobby” that she just fell into.
Most of the people who contact her are from Calgary’s Middle Eastern and South Asian communities and practice Hinduism or Islam.
“For a large number of Muslims, you cannot just go to a pub or a bar and meet your partner there. You cannot just go dating without, like, chaperones,” she said.
Offering help mostly to longtime Calgarians, Jamal says she has also been approached by several Iraqi refugees.
“They’ve been here six months say, and they’re lonely and they don’t know how to navigate the norms. Many of them don’t even speak the language, so they need help,” she said.
She usually posts a couple lines on her Facebook page about the potential candidate, such as their age, religion and cultural background.
Those interested send a private message to her to examine if the couple would make a good match to arrange for the two to meet.
Matchmaking is one function that has not faded with modernity.
In recent years, as matchmakers, respected individuals and Muslim organizations from communities, especially in the UK and the US, have sought to resolve the problem of finding a suitable partner in a halal way by organizing social events.
These events allow for those seeking marriage to meet prospective partners with their families present.
Jamal said there are online dating sites for Muslims, but they’re expensive and her services are free.
“When you do this sort of work you do it because maybe because you love humanity, maybe because it gives you a high … But it’s also a religious obligation,” she said.
“It gives you rewards in your afterlife.”