Of Course There's Plans For a Muslim Tinder, Too
'Salaam Swipe' is basically the Muslim version of J-Swipe.
The idea for what developer Khalil Jessa is calling the "Muslim Tinder" stemmed from his own experience with the mainstream matchmaking app. After taking a few swipes, he realized he was looking for something more specific.
"For me, it's important to marry the right person and I think there's a high likelihood I'll find that person in the Muslim community," he said.
Finding a date can sometimes be tricky if you're Muslim looking for someone within the faith. Options in clubs and in bars aren't as common since a lot of Muslims don't drink. Even the typical schmoozing after services that you see in some Christian churches just doesn't happen, since many mosques segregate along gender lines.
What does end up happening, according to Jessa, is that parents, aunties, and uncles pick out someone for you, which is frustrating for a person who wants to be in control of who they will be getting old and hairy with.
"Who a young [Muslim] meets is determined by the breath of their network," claimed the twenty-five-year-old developer. "You have to relinquish your control over who you are and your identity to someone else who is going to take that information and bring it to a third party."
Salaam Swipe will allow young Muslims to reach out to potential mates without that interference, he says. The app is due to launch in the next few months.
Like Tinder (but without the hookup connotation), Salaam Swipe plans to let you swipe left (like) or right (dislike) through people in your vicinity and start up a conversation if a match is made. It will also let you choose your denomination and political affiliation for other users to see.
Sure, Muslim dating sites are nothing new, but according to Muslim lifestyle website Aquila Style, many of the ones in existence are littered with sexist double standards and even some 35+ divorced dudes looking for a second, third, or fourth wife.
But Jessa insists his app would be more along the lines of the dating site Ishqr (formerly HipsterShaadi) which is popular with Muslim millenials. There won't be any distinctions within the app based on gender; for example, guys won't be able to say if they want or don't want to see women in hijabs or niqabs.
"You have a lot of very liberal women that wear a hijab and want to at least show that they are Muslims. But I don't want people to make assumptions about other people based on how they dress," said Jessa.
Users on the app will be given anonymity, with the ability to hide their profiles from their snooping Facebook friends and family.
"I know a lot of [Muslim] people who will make two Facebook accounts, one for friends and for family," he said. "All I'm doing is taking the aunties and uncles out of the equation in a big way."
However, going behind the backs of family elders to find a match might not adhere to stricter interpretations of Muslim courtship. In fact, it's a no-no according to Islamic teachings, said Alaa El Sayed, director of religious affairs for Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in Canada and Imam of their Mosque in Mississauga.
He conceded there is a need within the Muslim community for new ways to meet singles, but if Muslims want to use a dating app, they must have permission from their guardian. In other words, if you're a woman that means a father, brother older than puberty, or an uncle or a grandfather––and you shouldn't meet singles online without that.
"They are more than welcome to use the app as long as a guardian is aware," he said about young Muslims. "We can bend the rules, not break them."
(Alternatively, ISNA Canada holds "matrimonial mixer events" at a chaperoned location advertised on their website for Muslims looking to get married.)
In the end, Salaam Swipe, along with J-Date or J-Swipe, is really an example of how social media not only connects people, but reinforces the same cultural experiences we find in the real world.
While Tinder may have been about widening your pool of potential mates beyond your social circles, these types of religious inspired knock-offs correct that exact concept: specializing the dating experience beyond the plurality the original app offers.
Salaam Swipe and others, might also speak to a sober truth about modern dating. With many inter-faith marriages and biracial couples, there are still lots of people out there who just want to date what's familiar.