Comment: New [MyDiaspora] app helps Muslim men find second wife

New York Times, with Daily News as their source:

A new app aimed at polygamous Muslim men looking for a second wife has become popular in the U.K. My Diaspora is open to both women and men, and the men upload pictures and say what qualities they want in a second wife, while the women answer questions such as how strongly they approve of being a second wife, and whether they are willing to move countries and even convert religions. The expectations the men put in their profiles include “beautiful Muslim girl should be modest and [have] Islamic cultural values,” and “I want good women who married with me.” Men can talk to up to three potential brides per day and in keeping with Muslim tradition, there is an “add father” feature on the app, which allows a father or brother to be a part of the conversation, so a patron is there to witness the meeting. The marriages are often unregistered, and according to The Daily Mail, there have been about 200,000 polygamous marriages in the U.K. Arsen Kazibekov, creator of My Diaspora, said that he was “simply responding to demand” and the app has labeled itself as “dating according to Oriental traditions.” The developers aim to help those moving out of Muslim countries to adapt to new cultures while still adhering to their own traditions.

There is more information on the MyDiaspora site, including a presentation and blog. The first blog entry even mentions aiming for halal certification:

In their presentations, we have stated that we are going to get a certificate of Halal. This process has started but not completed. We will inform you about its completion. In general, the recognition algorithm is completely halal we lack one function. It will be implemented in the next update. (translated)

The creators said that they were just filling a need. And they are and it looks like they are sensitive to Islamic norms. Nonetheless, it is sad that our communities have left a need large enough to be an attractive and monetizable niche within the match-making business.

One worry I have with online Muslim matrimonial services is that it is very hard to know what someone is truly like just from their online behavior. An individual being known to the family or community helps remove some of the unknowns and risks. So I would urge anyone using these services to be very cautious about the completeness and quality of information they are getting through these services.

Polygyny can be a good option for some, but it is a poor option for many. It should not be the primary solution that we offer to Muslim women who have not yet found their match. The current situation is dire enough that some sisters are left feeling a need to search for solutions that involve bending or circumventing Islamic law.

During the time of the Prophet ﷺ and the succeeding generations, it was the norm that women who were older, divorced, or widowed would remarry. Have we forgotten that our first Mother of the Faithful had children from a prior marriage when she married him, as were other Mothers of the Faithful – may bless him and them all and give them peace?

Muslim societies need to revive this Sunnah and stop treating older or previously married women as undesirable or second-hand goods. Older and divorced non-Muslim women in countries where polygyny is not an option do remarry and do enter into relationships. And this is in countries where a divorce was considered a religious taboo until recently. Are we content to watch others adopt a Sunnah as we ourselves abandon it?

Marriage is at the heart of Muslim community building. We must do better.

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