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Al Rahmah Marriage Bureau in Baltimore has two women for every man in its database.At a local marriage brunch, many of the women attending were born and raised in the US, educated and articulate, while most of the men were first generation immigrants, without large local networks.
Adherence to cultural norms and expectations, generational disparity and the neglect of the Islamic standard for the choice of partners are also hurdles single American Muslims face.
If a single Muslim woman of any age expresses interest in getting married she has to deal with the stigma of appearing desperate.
This is very damaging to the psyche of the sisters in the community.
Women in their late 20s and early 30s, urged to be educated all their lives, settle into their careers or studies, suddenly become less desirable mates to some men.
Another phenomenon faced by several ethnic communities is that many educated men marry outside of their community, race and religion.
Denise*, a divorced mother of two boys from College Park, MD, attending the ISWA matrimonial brunch.
Another troubling point brought up by Muslims across the diaspora was the desperation angle.
According to the New York Times, in 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five [what sociologists term as] milestones of adulthood: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child.
Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so.
“‘Oh my God, she wants to be married, she is so desperate – astagfirullah…’ this popular statement comes mostly from married females when a single Muslimah shares with her that she wants to be married!! it’s like, as a community, we don’t have each other’s back anymore,” laments Naeema*.
“Now, it became a taboo for a Muslimah to say ‘I want to get married’,” says Denise*. Women are being told that they are desperate, weak, and can’t control themselves.” The delaying of the American adolescence experience or the new emerging adulthood stage has also contributed to the delay in marriage, especially, with the high school experience extended by local community colleges.
“We are modeling for our community the lack of marriages, single families and broken homes, that good practicing sisters may never get married.