Millions of Muslims join online dating

In the last decade online dating became a mainstream activity, in Europe and North America at least. It is therefore not surprising that Western Muslims adapted the idea to their needs. For many, online dating offers a low-stress solution to the daunting challenge of finding a partner for marriage in countries where few share their faith, and in communities where matchmaking is considered a family affair.

Adeem Younis, founder of the matchmaking site SingleMuslim.com, which he created above a fast-food shop in Wakefield while still a lowly undergraduate, now boasts more than a million members. However, the young entrepreneur stresses that the term “Muslim online dating” would be inaccurate. The goal of such sites is often far more ambitious than the average hook-up website. Instead of hazy morning-after memories and hopes of receiving a follow-through text message, sites like SingleMuslim.com aim to provide clients with a partner for life. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. “In Islam, marriage is equal to half of your religion,” he says, quoting a saying thought to have been uttered by the Prophet Mohammed, “so you can imagine how important it is… Islam teaches us that marriage is the cornerstone of society as a whole.”

SingleMuslim.com now claims a success rate of about four matches per day. But the site is just one example of a booming market serving Muslims of all ages and degrees of religiosity.

VIDEO: Single Muslim Celebrates 1,000,000 Members

Online dating services are increasingly popular with Muslims in Europe and North America. SingleMuslim.com recently celebrated its 1,000,000th member.
Online dating services are increasingly popular with Muslims in Europe and North America. SingleMuslim.com recently celebrated its 1,000,000th member.

FBI: Flow of foreign fighters into Syria growing

WASHINGTON — The flow of foreign fighters into Syria has grown in just the last few months, with dozens of Americans joining the country’s conflict along with thousands of Europeans, FBI Director James Comey said Friday.

U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have expressed concern about the influence of hard-line jihadists — many of them linked to al-Qaida — among the rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad. Officials say fighters from the U.S. or Europe looking to join the cause could become radicalized and import those influences and terrorist skills when they return home.

Speaking to reporters at FBI headquarters, Comey said the number of Americans who have either traveled to Syria or sought to do so was continuing to grow. He would not give a specific figure, but he said the number had grown by a few dozen since the start of the year. He said in a similar interview several months ago that dozens of Americans were trying to make their way to Syria.

The FBI also believes that there are Americans in Syria actively trying to bring other Americans over to the country, Comey said.

Comey compared the situation in Syria to that of Afghanistan, several decades ago, when thousands of Muslims worldwide who traveled to the country during the 10-year Soviet occupation returned home with the fervor of jihad and in some cases sought to overthrow their own governments.

D.C. imam provides counseling, weddings and prayer space for gay Muslims

Imam Dayaiee Abdullah never knows how many people are going to show up for Friday prayers.

Some weeks, nearly a dozen men and women gather at a Quaker hall in northwest Washington, D.C., where they kneel on prayer rugs laid out to transform the room into a Muslim place of worship.

 

Other weeks, Abdullah, a convert to Islam, sits alone.

 

He may be the only openly gay imam in the world, and he formed Light of Reform mosque more than two years ago so people like himself could worship without fear.

The mosque is one of just a few in the world where openly gay Muslims are welcome, but even there, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fear harassment, and often stay away.

Life is changing for gay Muslims, even if the changes seem infinitesimally small. A gay-friendly mosque opened near Paris last year. A lesbian Muslim couple from Pakistan married in a civil service this year in England.

 

Western Muslims are leading the push for inclusiveness, said Ani Zonneveld, president of Muslims for Progressive Values, for which Abdullah serves as director of LGBT outreach.

Abdullah provides wedding ceremonies for gay Muslims and interfaith couples. He also offers counseling (available via Skype for gay Muslims living in countries where homosexuality is not tolerated), and weekly prayer services where men and women kneel side by side.

 

But while Abdullah calls his mosque “progressive,” Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, a prominent Muslim leader based at California’s Islamic Society of Orange County calls it “unacceptable.”

No legitimate imam will officiate at a same-sex wedding, Siddiqi said.

Tariq Ramadan on Fort Hood

In this interview, Tariq Ramadan discusses the possible causes of the Fort Hood incident, the multiple identities of Western Muslims, the creation of spaces of trust, and moving on from a discourse on the ‘integration’ of Western Muslims to a conception of a new ‘we’. He also discusses his US immigration status.

Western Muslims and Terrorism Prevention

THE HAGUE — Imagine for a moment a Muslim teenager somewhere in Europe, with the internet in his living room, the world in his mind and his heart torn apart by a million identities, as Swiss-born Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan describes him. How do you prevent that young Muslim from being lured by radical ideas? That was the question at the heart of a conference organized here recently by the Dutch National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism (NCTb). The answer often depended on the religious background of the speaker. Muslims said historical grievances — real or imagined — that had left the Islamic world feeling wronged by the West must be tackled…