x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Six single Muslims share their search for love

Men and women from all walks of life in the UK hold high hopes for the speed-dating event, which they predict will play an even larger role for single Muslims in the future.

Muhanad Ojjeh, 39, a software engineer, is divorced after going the traditional route of finding a wife back home, in Syria. Jas Lehal for The National
Muhanad Ojjeh, 39, a software engineer, is divorced after going the traditional route of finding a wife back home, in Syria. Jas Lehal for The National

Aisha Khan, 31

Police officer and trainee detective

It is very hard to find a husband because of the work I do. I am shocked by how intimidating men find it. It is not a nine-to-five job and I can be called to duty at any time of day or night.

I am a bit scary. My job kills finding a husband through the traditional route stone dead.

I am a blend of the western and Muslim worlds. I do not wear the veil but I want a Muslim husband who can share my life and who trusts me. I am not looking to fall in love with anyone and find my soulmate. I do not have silly romantic notions that Prince Charming is going to arrive. What I am looking for in a husband is a friend.

I want a career and a family life but I am giving up on getting married if I have not met anyone by the end of the year. I am giving it 12 months and if it does not happen, I figure that ship has sailed for me.

I am really enjoying today because meeting face-to-face is great. I tell people that I work in administration in the police force because I do not want to put them off right from the start. I have got my eye on someone I have met here so fingers crossed.

 

Basil Tungekar, 28

IT college lecturer

I am here to look for a spouse. I love the Islamic and professional environment of these events. I have been to a few but had not met anyone who is religious enough because I am looking for a serious lady.

I have come dressed in a shirt and pinstripe suit because I think it is important to make a good first impression.

I am looking for a well-balanced woman who is well-educated, certainly a graduate, and it is important to me that she prays five times a day as I do. She must be studious and a quiet kind of woman, although I do not want someone who is serious all the time. She should have a sense of humour, too. I want someone who is a practising Muslim but no one too extreme.

My family is from Mumbai, India, although I was born in Kuwait and lived there for seven years. We emigrated to the UK before the first gulf war. I have tried the traditional route in finding a wife but had no luck. I was very interested in one lady but it turned out she had said yes to someone else so I was left very disappointed.

I've been looking for a wife seriously for three months now. It is hard to find someone when you have a busy job and are working.

There have been one or two ladies today that I am very interested in so I am hopeful.

 

Muhanad Ojjeh, 39

Software engineer

I am from Syria but my family came to the UK in 1980. I tried the traditional marriage route and went back to Syria to find a wife. We lived in the UK together but it did not work out and I went through a messy divorce. I have changed my mind about who I want to marry because of that and I am happy to marry a British woman who is not going to grumble about the weather and the cold.

I have been looking to get married for about three months. I am searching for a lady who is loving and caring; someone who wants to be a mother and to be married for life. She must love to love and love to be loved.

I will be a decent and loving husband who will provide warmth and a roof over her head in return. There must be mutual respect. I want someone who is well-educated and open-minded.

Work is a big part of my life and there is not much time to find a wife. That is why I would really recommend events like this. It is formal and well-organised and the ladies here are honest, decent and of a very high standard. Many are born in the UK and for me that is good. I think there is a lot more choice for men and women in finding a spouse this way and it is definitely the future.

 

Hafiz Muhammed, 28

Imam

Like everyone else I am here to find a life partner but I am not looking for an ultra-religious woman. She does not even have to be a practising Muslim but she must be open to learning more about Islam.

There have been a lot of women interested in marrying me because I am an imam but I want to find a wife of my own choosing. A lot of the ladies who want to get to know me better are a bit older than me but I am looking for a younger woman.

I want someone with whom I have a good understanding and can have good dealings with. I have found a few women who I am interested in and, God willing, they will be keen on me, too.

There is more choice at events like this and there are so many females about. They are good for people in western countries who want to settle down and find a life partner. Things like this will become more and more important for Muslims in the future. They will become a bigger part of the search process for a husband or a wife. It is important this kind of thing takes place in an Islamic setting because everyone here is serious about marriage and has fixed in their mind that they want to find a partner with the same religious outlook on the world.

 

Raqiya Ahmed, 29

Primary school teacher

I am a Somalian Muslim but I live in a western society and there is a clash between the two cultures. I came to the UK from Somalia when I was seven years old and I am quite liberal and open-minded. I am seeking a Muslim partner who is well-travelled and well-educated, because I studied international relations for my degree.

It is important to me to meet someone who is like-minded. I am looking for a husband and asking myself what I want for my children. The answer is that I want them to be brought up in an Islamic way.

I went to Somalia and my mum introduced me to a Somali guy who had never left the countryside, could not speak English and did not know what I was talking about when I spoke about my life in the UK. That's why I am at an event like this. It is so big, there is a bigger choice of men and it is fast paced. The guys are really nice but not potential suitors for me. I have just not clicked with anyone yet.

I have been to Somali events like this but it is seen as shameful as if you are only there because you have reached desperation. The idea is that you are meant to be introduced to suitable people by family members but that simply is not happening in my community.

Events like this will become increasingly common because the old routes towards marriage do not work for everyone.

 

Naureen, 28

Management accountant

I am not going to meet the husband I want by bumping into him in the corridor at work. I have a high-pressured job and I do not go to clubs or bars so it is difficult to find a husband when you have a life like that.

I am looking for my best friend - someone who is open, looks forward and is non-judgemental and not looking for a nice young girl to mould. I want my husband to challenge me because I do not want a boring and mundane life.

I am not perfect so I am not looking for the perfect man because he does not exist.

In the last three years I have become more Islamic, getting closer to my religion and becoming a better Muslim. I have wavered over the veil because I work in a corporate environment and I felt unglamorous - but I went back to it and now I feel so empowered and have peace and contentment.

I was born and raised in east London but my family is Pakistani. Now I want to find someone to marry, but in the right environment like this, so I am asking about each person's family background because ideally I want a Pakistani man who is a Sunni Muslim like me.

I am not taking it too seriously and I am really trying to be relaxed, warm and gregarious.

The pace is unrelenting but I have met some amazing characters and some really cool guys today. Many of them are too young for me and there is no one I have met who has made me think "wow".

 

 

This article has been altered to reflect a request by one of the people interviewed to have their surname removed.