The swelling crowd, ranging in age from 21 to 50-something, meant the evening of speed dating and socializing known as the Matrimonial Banquet was about to begin. Kadir, 35, was sitting on a bench outside a ballroom at the Renaissance Washington hotel, surrounded by several hundred single Muslim men and women.
The banquet has been part of the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in some form or another for more than two decades, said the group’s matrimonial assistant, Tabasum Ahmad. But in recent years, the demand for such banquets has increased, and the society plans to hold them more frequently. More Muslims are embracing them as an acceptable alternative to arranged marriages and the vagaries of 21st-century, American-style dating. Online matchmaking is also popular, but some prefer to meet in person. Saturday night’s banquet was sold out, as was a second one scheduled for Sunday.
Berlin – Nowhere in Europe do Christian, Jewish and Islamic- linked online matchmaking sites flourish as much as in Germany, where people are increasingly turning to the internet for romance. “For most people the Web is as much a part of life as shopping,” says Friedhelm Hensen, Jr., who launched his SingleChrist.de website in 2007. Hensen’s service, The Singles Site by Christians for Christians, reaches far more people than a regional newspaper’s lonely hearts column ever does, say media experts. In August this year, more than 2 million people clicked onto the site, looking for a partner. Hensen says he’s delighted when he receives a wedding announcement from a couple who have met through SingleChrist.de. It happens on average about once a month, but he reckons the figure is probably higher because not all couples get around to informing him when they have found their “partner for life.” Another online matchmaking outlet, Christian Soulmates, provides an easy way for its members to meet other quality singles on the net. “We ask every user to fill out a questionnaire that will assist other users in getting to know you,” it states. “Once members create their profiles, our matching technology can provide them with instantaneous matches based on their pre-selected dating criteria,” explains an official. “It’s true Internet romances can and do happen, exults Christian Soulmates, which adds a cautionary note from the Bible (Romans 8:25). “But, if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
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