Meet Shahzad Younas, a 31-year-old former investment banker in London. Last year, Younas found that many of his Muslim friends were having difficulty finding marriage partners.
"Some of them had tried to go down the traditional routes – meeting people through relatives and family friends, but they found their choices for prospective [partners] were very limited," Younas told BuzzFeed News.
"And some of them went to Islamic marriage websites too, and didn't have much luck there either. Many of them would complain about how bad the websites were. They would complain they were slow and unproductive- especially given how expensive they were."
Younas said that marriage websites among young, professional Muslims were becoming less popular, with some having a "bad reputation" and attracting people who were "not seriously interested" in getting married.
Marriage is an important element of Islam, and many Muslims believe that getting married is a mandatory part of their faith.
Seeing the problem, Younas decided to create MuzMatch, a mobile app he says "caters for any Muslim looking to get married".
Younas said the app, which is available for iPhone and Android devices, was modelled after Tinder to make it "easy to set up and use." And like Tinder, Muzmatch allows users to customise their preferences, search for prospective partners based on their locations, and includes the "swipe right" feature to show interest.
However, he says that MuzMatch isn't a hookup app, and that he has designed a number of "Islamic features" for Muslims searching for partners.
"MuzMatch uses features you'll see at any matchmaking website or event at a Mosque," Younas said. "For example, you can specify whether you're looking for a partner who is very devout in their faith, such as someone who wears a hijab, or who says they are a practicing Muslim.
The app also includes features for women who are concerned about modesty. "Some women who aren't comfortable showing their profile pictures can blur them out," he said, "or not add one."
If a match is made, users also have the choice to include a relative to act as a "wali", or guardian. Traditionally, walis are used to act as a custodian for women looking to get married.
Since launching at the end of 2014, Younas says that around 12,000 Muslims have signed up, while 100 have said they met someone through the app.
"We've had more than 90,000 matches since we soft launched," Younas said, adding that a large number of the successful marriages involved Muslims living in Britain.
However, he admitted that there were some Muslims who didn't believe the app was compliant with Islamic laws on marriage.
"By and large, younger Muslims tell us the app is great, and it is being taken seriously among many professionals," Younas said.
"But there are some – a small number – who have argued that it's unIslamic, because they say it encourages mixing of men and women who aren't related, something that's still taboo in the Muslim community.
"That said, they should know the app caters to those who are firm in their desire for an Islamic marriage," he added.
Hussein Kesvani is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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