Muslim marriage goes online: the use of internet matchmaking by american muslims | the journal of religion and popular culture
Imams will often compare young Muslims and Jews, she added, wondering whether their religious organizations will also be hurt by widespread disaffiliation. For Siddiquee, living in the Midwest meant his parents emphasized being Muslim—and being different.
The two found each other through mutual friends—she had been working in public health in Philly, while he was in non-profits in New York City. In the lead up to their musllms this fall, the two had only minor friction with their families over religion, even though both sets of parents are more observant than they are.
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Although there was some disagreement about how the couple planned their nikkahor Islamic marriage ceremony, they mostly avoided conflict by not really talking about Islam. In some ways, this is a very Millennial story. Like others in their generation, Khan and Siddiquee have gravitated away from religious institutions and regular practice. Abdullah Antepli, an imam who teaches at Duke Divinity School, often sees similar patterns among the undergraduates he maerican with.
The hidden racism of the muslim marriage market
About two-thirds of Muslims under 40 say religion is very important in their lives, according to Pew, compared to roughly four-in American Millennials. In fact, many of the young Muslims I spoke with seem to be exploring their faith in distinctively American ways.
And that has continued into adulthood. The couple daydream about building a home cor family with faith at the center. Even young Muslims with fairly traditional religious lives have to toggle between identities. Touba Shah is a year-old in the Ahmadiyya community, a sect of Islam founded in the 19th century whose followers believe the messiah prophesied by Muhammad has already returned.
But experiences like hers are actually fairly common.
Islamic marital practices
Potential brides and grooms almost always lead the way, but parents might be more involved in selecting a partner than they would in other American households. Debates about assimilation often focus on immigrants, but they overlook the experiences of Muslims who have long been settled in the U. While 58 percent of adult Muslims were born outside of the U.
More than half of those who have been here for three generations or more are black. Before Saleem met Joshua, she tried dating all kinds of people, including non-Muslims. How I envision my life and my family was different. I want my family to celebrate Ramadan together. But dating as a black Muslim presented its own challenges. Roughly one-fifth of American Muslims are black—according to Pew, a little less than one-third are Asian or South Asian, and roughly 41 percent are white amefican Arab.
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As it muslimx out, Joshua was also black and Muslim. The question of assimilation is also less relevant for converts, who for roughly 21 percent of all U. Muslims, according to Pew, and 44 percent of Muslims born in America. Charles Turner grew up in a small town in Virginia, the white son of a nominally Catholic father. When he got to Virginia Commonwealth University, he started hanging out with members of the Muslim Students Association.
Family Dispute Processes Among North American Muslims
They questioned whether the pair would be able to navigate their different backgrounds. And I guess you could say a bit of apprehension, as well. After Syed completed dental school, her parents relented and agreed to let them marry. At their wedding last year, the pair skipped a big Pakistani-style celebration for a simple ceremony.
And Turner walked in to the tune of an Irish jig.
The newlyweds recently moved to Mormon-heavy Utah, which fits them surprisingly well. For all of these couples, the experience of navigating Muslim identity is made infinitely easier by being straight.
A recent Pew study suggests that American Muslims have become ificantly more open toward homosexuality in recent years: Just more than half say it should be accepted by society, compared to barely more than a quarter who said the same thing a decade ago. Likewise in North America, there is rarely community adjudication on commercial disputes. When we read about shari'a for North American Muslims, what we are really reading about are marriage and divorce processes, and occasionally inheritance principles.
Recourse to processes of Islamic marriage by contract, or nikkah and Islamic divorce release from the vows made in the nikkah contract is an example of a system of private ordering, running parallel to but outside of the formal system of laws and courts. Systems of private ordering are common in every country, community, and organization.
They may in fact have as great, or even greater, an impact on the lives of those who choose to use them as the state-sanctioned system, especially if they represent meaningful principles and processes not available in the state system.
In common with other systems of private ordering, Islamic divorce depends on the commitment of those who use it -- rather than the state aamerican for its authority and legitimacy. The expression "shari'a courts" is misleading. The dispute processes that were the subject of my research could not be described as formal courts. Moreover, the procedures I collected data on could not be compared to what we know as arbitration.
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The private ordering system that I uncovered in my fieldwork is largely confined to the work of individual imams, some of whom have limited knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence. Their "permission" for divorce is more closely related to their internal biases and assumptions regarding marriage and especially the role of women than it is to any principles of Islamic family law which I studied in order to undertake the research.
The process usually involves a meeting with a woman who is seeking permission to divorce, and occasionally a follow-up meeting with both husband and wife.
In a few places, the heat that an individual imam might experience from his community if he looks as if he is being "too permissive" about divorce is eased by a panel of two or three local imams who take collective marriqge for decisions. I found no examples of these decisions forming any type of precedent, nor of any calling for and testing of evidence. Like any private ordering system, muslms one is dominated by the most powerful forces within that order and subject to the usual biases of power.
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For example, only men are presently permitted to be imams although Muslim women are beginning to mount a strong resistance to this karriage and therefore approve Islamic divorce; moreover, divorce in Islam is traditionally an asymmetric process, one in which the husband can simply decide he wishes to be divorced, while the wife must ask permission -- from her husband, or, in a non-Islamic country, her imam although I found many imams who refused to approve divorce on this basis and some Islamic legal systems are mxrriage this rule.
The personal american muslims for marriage of North American Muslims that I have documented include experiences that are both positive and negative, along with outcomes that are sometimes highly satisfactory to participants -- and sometimes less so. These processes, flawed as they might be, have meaning for many North American Muslims that goes well beyond a doctrinal religious belief. Like many private ordering processes, Islamic marriage and divorce are symbols of commitment to a community and a culture as much as to marrige faith.
Like many traditional family processes, they are also something that many Muslims born and raised in North America flr mostly to please their parents -- just as many of us do at important life events. Islamic marriiage is not a legal divorce in any part of North America, and all the imams I interviewed know this.
ameriican Interestingly -- and at odds marroage a widely held public perception -- the vast majority of them also had no interest in changing this status quo, seeing the work they did with community members as satisfying their personal conscience rather than requiring recognition in the legal system. Mkslims the imams and the men and women seeking Islamic divorce are clear that this is not a substitute for obtaining a legal divorce in the courts.
Islamic divorce is therefore in addition to, and not a replacement for, a legal divorce. Instead it is seen as an important element of ritual and commitment that relates back to the original vows taken in the nikkah or marriage contract. In order to break these vows, there must be a sanction that recognizes those vows also not legally binding and releases the parties from them. For the devout, the motivation is to meet one's religious commitments. One respondent explained that for some Muslims, Islamic divorce allows them to feel that:.
For the secular, the motivation to seek a formal community sanction for their divorce is different, but no less important:. myslims
Family dispute processes among north american muslims
I also found that disputes over support, property, and children were settled by the parties in courts of law. Where there was an agreement between the parties, sometimes negotiated with the assistance of the imam, this was submitted as a consent order. More often, however, the imam's intervention was limited to providing permission or not. The relationship between an Islamic divorce and a legal divorce -- since all my respondents obtained both -- was explained to me as follows:.
Every imam, religious scholar, lawyer, community leader, and social worker I interviewed in the Muslim community believes that divorce is increasing rapidly among North American Muslims.
Almost unheard of and certainly unspoken of two generations earlier, divorce is now a relatively common phenomenon that Muslim communities all over North America are confronting.