At one point or another, you’ll get the Time To Get Married card and either you’re one of those lucky few who instantaneously finds someone and lives, as happily-ever-after as possible or you’ll be in position countless people are in today – struggling to find someone.
So how does a person go about finding someone? Is it the, more traditional, family members or friends ask around approach or do we take things into our own hands and find somebody ourselves. Let’s say we do, do the latter. What are our options? Dating – hmm, now that’s a no no. Going to places to mingle? Again, a no no. Ah how about online?
Seriously, this used to be the ‘hilarious’ comment people would say when joking about getting married – ‘Go on to: Shaadi.com/Single Muslims/Yada yada yada [fill website in here]’ (you just laugh along as if they’re the first to make the joke – you know, be polite and all that - *Internal Eye Roll*).
In hindsight, I realise that if a person wants to do things the Islamic way – they actually don’t have many options other than relying on other people to look for them. So sometimes going online becomes an option –it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
In fact, it gives you access to more potentials, you can filter out quickly, it’s not as much of an issue if you don’t like the person (but please be polite and say something like ‘I don’t feel we are compatible’ rather than ‘ERGH!’). In fact, I actually know loads of people who have used Muslim matrimonial sites.
Of course, marriage is a beautiful thing, it’s a bond that unites two individuals and their (hopefully) undying love for – ok wait, there’s definitely not a shortage of marriage articles out there, so let’s skip that. Instead, I’ll share an experience with you. It’s an incident that a friend of mine encountered and with her permission, I’m going to tell you guys the story.
Now like I said, going online sometimes becomes an option and for this friend it was. She’s a good-looking girl who has no trouble meeting people, she’s not shy, she tries to practice her Deen, she’s educated, she’s headstrong, she’s got goals, pretty much someone you wouldn’t expect to be searching for a potential husband online, but she was.
Both she and her parents wanted her to get married, so they agreed to setting up an account online to see if anyone comes along. Simple enough.
She got loads of attention with her profile, but in the end she narrowed it down to one guy, and from what started as a pure intention became a story she now dreads to recall. This is her story:
He got in contact on the website and said he liked her profile. He told her that he wanted to talk and see a picture of her (his picture was already available to be seen). After a few initial message exchanges (which were also read by her sister and later read to me), he gave her his Blackberry pin (which, for those of you, like me, who are oblivious to a lot of stuff, the pin isn’t the actual mobile number). She wasn’t too keen on the idea, especially since parental involvement was minimal at this point, and asked if they could get their parents involved.
To this, his reply was that he didn’t want to get parents involved without getting to know her first (to save the big hoo-haa) and if that wasn’t what she wanted, perhaps they should leave it.
She felt a little pressurised (Warning Sign; Numéro one?) – and after a couple of messages debating the matter, she ended up giving him, her pin.
Admittedly, messaging off the website was more efficient, it was quick, it was easy and there was no hassle having to log in. Around two weeks of messaging every day, he mentioned that his phone had stopped working and in turn needed her mobile number to stay in contact. By this point, she trusted him enough to give it to him. What harm could it do? He seemed really genuine and in the exact words of my friend ‘he was such a gentleman and he made me feel special’.
During their conversations, she asked him how practising he was (Note: he had selected ‘Religious’ on his profile online) and he admitted he wasn’t as practising as he hoped (But who can really say they are?), he said he was constantly going to Islamic talks and told her about his hopes and dreams of going on Ummrah and Hajj.
They began to visualise their future and he started using sentences beginning with ‘when we get married...’, he would sweetly wake her up for work by messaging her and it seemed like he was not looking for anything extraordinary; just a good practising wife who would spend time with him... rather than her friends. She found that a little odd and on humorously questioning it, he replied that he didn’t want her – ‘his wife’ to spend time with her friends (Warning Sign; Numéro two?).
Naturally, the conversations continued and she overlooked the comment. Things seemed to be working out (Why question a good thing?), she told him about her family, about her work, about her plans for the future. She trusted him. One night, he mentioned that his brother was stuck somewhere and needed money to come home. He asked her if she could transfer ‘around £100’ to his account (Warning Sign; Numéro three). Thinking nothing of it, she switched on her laptop and transferred the money.
After this, things changed slightly as he asked for pictures of her without a Hijaab on (Warning Sign; Numéro four) which she refused; and later during a conversation about children, he began to manipulate the conversation to speak inappropriately to her (Warning Sign; Numéro five), justifying his behaviour by saying that they were going to be married anyway. The formal, respectable tone disappeared as he began discussing intimate topics openly and requested her to do the same.
Soon after, on a separate occasion, he told her he wouldn’t be able to talk for a while as he had found out that his dad was in substantial debt and needed to find a way to get the money to pay it off. He asked if she was able to lend him £10,000 which he would pay back to her and told her that if she needed to get a loan, all she had to do was put it in *her name* and he would pay it back for her (Warning Sign; Numéro Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten!)
This time she said she couldn’t (Alhumdullillah!) explaining that she knew her dad would be furious, perhaps she would’ve otherwise, who knows. His response was cold and unforgiving, ‘You’re the only one who can help me, you’re meant to be my wife and I can’t believe that the one person, who is meant to be helping me, isn’t helping me’.
After this, things went from bad to worse as he continued to tell her, that he was now hungry and homeless. Drowned in his emotional blackmail, my friend felt obliged to help and offered him £40 for food. He repeatedly pressurised her for money to pay off the debt, going down to £4000, then on rejection, went down to £2000.
He told her that due to the shock of the immense debt, his mum had, had a heart attack and was in hospital. A few days later he announced that his mum had passed away and his dad was troubled and was contemplating suicide (he supposedly committed suicide later). Ridden with guilt, my friend spent her days depressed and her nights crying, unsure of what to believe in the endless list of fantastic stories.
He quickly became hostile, telling her that he was going to drive to her work place to hurt her and that the family members that she had mentioned in previous casual conversations were going to be contacted through Facebook. (I vividly remember her crying on the phone to me). As a result, she was taken out of work for her safety.
In the end, after much trouble, she was no longer in contact with him and reported him on the website. She completely changed her online account, making it extremely simple and bizarrely enough, a few days later, she had a message in her inbox. On opening it and viewing the profile, it turned out to be the same person with an edited account – of course he didn’t get a reply.
Now, I’m not suggesting that finding a potential spouse online is dangerous and shouldn’t be done but think logically and clarify their intentions. Look out for the Warning Signs and don’t live in fantasy world while getting to know someone. As much hassle as it may be, try to get parental involvement from the start and avoid giving too many specific details out (location of your workplace, home etc) but let your personality shine through! AND remember their definition of Religious or Practicing will probably not match your own, so again: ask questions and clarify.
Finally, figure out what matters to you, whether it’s things to do with religion, race, interests, physical appearance, diet, age, nationality, health or whatever (I know someone who didn’t want to marry a potential spouse because the person bought their kebabs from a different place – totally not joking! It still makes me laugh thinking about it!) Seriously though, knowing what you want is crucial.
What are the things you definitely want the person to have? What are the things that you could be flexible about? And lastly, is going online really right for you? If yes, then your Cyber Spouse is waiting... Log in!