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At home, "there was no such thing as the words dating or relationships.It was just something that was non-existent," he recalls. "You see your friends, they go out on movie dates and they go to the mall and they hold hands," he says. And this creates a dilemma for young Muslims in search of love.
How can I give women who aren’t allowed to date the power to choose a partner? “Eshq is the first Muslim dating app created by a Muslim woman who is also its target market.”After years of researching dating patterns in the Muslim community — including speaking directly to Muslim women of both liberal and conservative backgrounds about what they want to see — the idea of Eshq was born.“Being a Muslim woman with friends and family members at different ends of the progressive spectrum, I wanted to create an environment that invited individuals from across the Muslim community who are interested in a long-term connection.”To join Eshq, you must login through Facebook.Straddling two contrasting cultures is no easy feat, Raja explains.“Growing up in America with older generation parents makes it hard to do things like date in the normal sense,” he said.He hopes that tech platforms like Eshq will help make it a bit easier to find common ground. Its drawing feature is that it only allows the woman to start the conversation after a match.It was admittedly implemented by the mainstream Bumble around the same time Bahawdory says she came up with the concept.Still, she thinks that in the context of Muslim dating, the app’s small-yet-curated pool makes the feature even stronger.
For 28-year-old Sahar M., who lives in Manhattan and works in marketing, Eshq’s encouragement of comprehensive profiles, including Spotify, Instagram and embeddable videos is what drew her to it.
“I wanted to implement a faster format that’s more mobile-friendly and for a younger crowd.”While Muslim-themed matchmaking platforms like Minder, Arab Lounge and Ishqr have been around for some time, none of these platforms offer services beyond placing Muslim women on a pseudo-meat market to be plucked from, Bahawdory explains.
Eshq is looking to fill a void in the market craved by Muslim women.
They talked on the phone for four hours before meeting for coffee.
Jbara, who is of Syrian origin, had never considered dating a Pakistani man, but was able to change her family’s perspective on it once she met Raja on the app.
From there, the app uses a matching algorithm that picks out similarities between profiles, Bahawdory explained.