There was a time when finding love online was a bit of a minefield. A decade or so ago, the internet was a strange, unfamiliar place, where you were more likely to catch a computer virus than feelings for your soulmate.
How things have changed. Thanks to social media, people can easily find that certain someone in the digital realm. One increasingly popular path to love, especially among young Muslims, is Instagram. Buzzfeed News recently spoke to several Muslim couples who met on IG. For them, the app offered a chance to connect in a low-stress way, away from the ‘so when are you getting married?’ pressure that’s sometimes heaped on by friends and family.
IG image from Harun’s account
Take, for instance, Harun Osmanovic and Hamida Zaourgui, a couple who found each other on Instagram in 2013, even though Harun lived in Poland and Hamida in France. Like many good things, including Method Man’s acting career, it all started because of Wu-Tang Clan. When Harun stumbled across a pic of Hamida in a Wu-Tang t-shirt, he made the first move: “I love Wu-Tang Clan, so I must’ve commented,” he says. “We started like that.” They’re now married and live in south London.
Omar Shahid, a London-based journalist, also met his wife, Aaminah, on the ‘gram. They bonded over a love of books. According to Omar, social media gives Muslims the tools to communicate in a way that could be tricky IRL: “An Instagram profile provides more information, and more reading information, about a person than a single rishta profile” (in case you didn’t know, a rishta is a South Asian term for a marriage proposal, meaning anything from meeting a potential wife’s family to seeing a husband’s ‘marriage CV’).
IG pic featuring #MuslimCouple hashtag
If you search the hashtag #MuslimCouple on Instagram you’ll come across stories similar to Omar’s. Dr Fauzia Ahmad, a sociologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, reckons this is down to changing attitudes. In true academic style, she calls it a “process of rapid social change rendering existing notions of ‘arranged marriages’ as dated”. Young Muslims, she argues, want “halal relationships”, where couples get to know one another before getting hitched. IG gives them this opportunity.
Before your overexcited fingers and break your phone’s screen in a mad dash to find love online, remember this: the internet still has its problems. For every marriage, there are countless examples of thirst-traps shamelessly sliding into someone’s DMs. One girl told Buzzfeed that many of her friends have had to set their profiles to private, even adding the byline “Only sisters.”
So play it cool.