Speed marrying

Lots of people gather in a ballroom at a Washington DC hotel for the the Matrimonial Banquet, a fun evening of speed dating and socializing with semi-arranged marriage as the goal. It’s part of the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, and it is in no way to be confused with a livestock market.

…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.

Speed spouse-hunting; sounds fabulous.

Raza said he wanted to ask the women whether they wanted to keep working after starting a family, not so much because he had a staunch preference, but to gauge her reaction. “I want to see flexibility,” he said. “Is she angry when I ask? Does she look at me like, ‘You’re so stupid?’ If so, it’s not the right person.”

Aha. If she gives him a funny look on account of how it’s a sinister question, she’s not the right person. (But then would such a person be at a Matrimonial Banquet in the first place?)





  1. Brian says

    Why is it that flexibility is always in one direction. When employers want to change laws to allow them greater power to sack employees it’s in the name of flexibility. The employee can quit, of course, and starve usually, so it seems asymmetric. This guy wants a wife who is flexible to his wishes, but he won’t be flexible to hers. She could leave him if, after marrying, he didn’t bend, and starve, or be honored with familial killing/banishment.
    Still, as you say, Ophelia, would surge a person be at such a banquet? I suppose a woman who might like independence, but has been brow-beaten or enculturated by family and social milieu might be there and unhappily have to learn to flex and submit…

  2. ttch says

    Why not find out about your potential spouse’s desire for children first thing? Why tie your heart to someone whose vision of marriage is incompatible with yours?

    More than one marriage has foundered on this issue.

    These events may not be ideal but they are a good step away from an arranged marriage to a stranger.

  3. Brian says

    so you’re saying he’s just sounding out the situation and might be flexible to women who keep working after having kids? Because if he’s flexible, then why wouldn’t someone who is open to kids and wants to work after they arrive be the right one?

  4. Jacques Cuze says

    Is there any evidence this approach works better or worse than what non-speed dating, marriage included Muslims endure?

  5. Albert Bakker says

    Seems to me this Raza fellow is being very practical. You meet a woman and ask her if she wants to keep working with taking care of the five kids, the house, the garden and the garage and all. I can imagine there’s a high demand for such banquets.

  6. says

    Only a short article but still interesting that there were no quotes from women taking part. It would have been enlightening to know how people came to attend – what was the selection mechanism?

    I once had a co-worker in an arranged marriage. He said he was happy with it and gave the usual arguments in support of it, but he was keenly intelligent and far too smart not to see through them.

    He had a PhD and had given up his post doctoral research after 5 years for a more reliable (marriageable?) income and to start a family. I thought he was sad and the arguments sounded like Dr. Pangloss.

  7. David Hart says

    “Observant Muslims must also contend with one major constraint that many non-Muslims in America don’t face: a prohibition on premarital relations between men and women.”

    A slightly question-begging way of phrasing it. There is no law in force anywhere in the USA that forbids adult Muslims from having premarital relations as far as I’m aware; rather, Muslims volunteer for (and, in some cases, attempt extrajudicially to enforce against each other) a religious taboo against extramarital relations. I wish journalists would be more clear about the distinction. To my ear, ‘prohibition’ sounds like a law rather than just a taboo.

  8. EllenBeth Wachs says

    To borrow a phrase, what the actual fuck?

    “Always ask about them,” Kadir advised. “Make them feel like you’re really into them.”

    Yes, because THAT’S what is important. The facade. Not really caring.

  9. says

    ttch @ 4 – Because it seems so absurd to think you can just pick out a likely mate the way you would pick out an apple at a greengrocer’s. In this part of the world (at least) the usual assumption is that it’s a long slow process because there are a lot of variables. That’s because the prior usual assumption is that compatability is crucial for matehood, because of the prior usual assumption that living with someone you dislike is not fun.

    So it seems very wrong way around to ask mate questions before you can possibly tell if the person you’re asking is someone you want to live with for decades.

  10. steve oberski says

    @Ace of Sevens

    Is anyone running similar events for conservative Christians? I think there’s good money to be made.

    Well, there are the father/daughter “purity” balls, which in my opinion are even creepier and more misogynistic than the Islamic female chattel aution events described above. And that’s not getting into the undercurrent of child abuse and incest that pervades these “purity” balls, although one has to say that there is a plethora of old testament dogma to justify both of those.

    At least the “matrimonial ball” paricipants are nominally adults and able to make an informed choice, an option not available to the daughters in the “purity” balls.

  11. says

    I know a young woman who is happily married with two kids, and who met her husband through an online dating service.

    The probability of one’s finding a suitable spouse depends on random meeting, which in turn depends on the extent to which social circles overlap. So anything which increases the overlap and probability is only to be welcomed.

    Arranged marriage (with all its drawbacks) has not shown itself able to stand the competition from free choice, despite the chequered track record of the latter.

  12. Ysanne says

    So what’s wrong with checking for basic compatibility in terms of work/family life/roles when you’re at an event where you try to meet your future spouse? How is “how she thinks about stuff” a bad selection criterion in looking for a wife (as opposed to, say, “how she looks” and ignoring that she has a mind, too).
    Yeah, so the whole speed-something setup is not exactly great for finding the ideal life partner — not if you want the whole love thing, or at least thoroughly check if you get along for more than 5 minutes — but once you’re IN this setting with very limited getting-to-know time, asking the non-superficial questions about stuff that matters right away seems a more than sensible strategy.

  13. Rebekah says

    “Is anyone running similar events for conservative Christians? I think there’s good money to be made.”

    Is there any way to make money off of leftist clowns that simply cannot resist changing the subject to Christianity in an article exclusively on Islam?

    Also I would like to make money off of absurd moral equivalencies along the same lines? See steve oberski Comment No. 15.

  14. steve oberski says

    Rebekah, your vague, inconsistent and incoherent concern is noted.

    Of course the article is “exclusively on Islam”. And it’s exclusively on Islam in the USA. And it’s exclusively on Islam in the USA and perhaps how Islam as practised by Muslims living in the USA intersects with other aspects of American culture, one of those aspects perhaps being chritianity.

    Not to mention possible connections to marriage customs in other cultures and religions, and perhaps the treatment of women in general in other cultures and religions.

    If you saw a moral equivalency in my comment that’s because I was trying to make one. If you think it’s absurd then feel free to to illuminate me on why there may be no connection between the 3 major desert dogmas and their treatment of women.

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