Speed-Dating, Muslim Style

The ultimate oxymoron: Islamic matrimony speed dating. It is a twice-yearly conclave started in 2007 by a Pakistani-American financial adviser from Long Island who was tired of being asked by Muslim clients if he knew anyone suitable for their children.

“It’s a combination of East and West,” said the organizer, Jamal Mohsin. He was inspired by an article in Newsweek about Jdate.com, a Jewish online dating service, which also arranges face-to-face events for singles. “Back in Pakistan, everything is arranged. Here, on the other extreme, individuals pick everything and parents, who raised you, aren’t involved. So I’ve created an event with both of these extremes. I’ve kept parents in the loop so they feel involved–at the same time, its speed dating. We’re being American. ” In Pakistan — and in parts of the Pakistani-American community — it is often said that you don’t marry a person, but their family.

This entrepreneurial idea has had its share of criticism, from conservative religious leaders, who pleaded with Mr. Mohsin to use teleconferencing, so men and women would meet via video chat, not in person. One of his friends condemned his events, calling them “an American-style meat-market.”