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“Lots of grandmothers and aunties, they have these folders full of bio-data and they’re passing them around and saying, look at this girl, look at this guy, it’s like trading cards,” she says.
Bio-data are what Irshad calls "dating resumes." Many young Muslims feel like they're in limbo: An arranged marriage is out of the question, but they don't want to disrespect their family and religion. " — was the topic of conversation at a recent gathering of Muslim college students in Boston.
Arif Shaikh, who was also at the gathering, says growing up he knew some Muslim kids who did date. "Muslim kids who are in relationships are more secretive than Navy SEALS," he says.
"They can do anything and they're completely un-traceable." Shaikh says the way his parents got married doesn't work for him, or a lot of young Muslims who have grown up here.
In a nutshell, Shaikh says, he felt like they were having fun and he wasn't. Ghazala Irshad, who also grew up in a Muslim family in Illinois, says she knows young Muslims who growing up, were told to "lower [their] gaze" when they came across the opposite sex. We don’t know how to talk to the opposite sex, how do we go about this?
"That's all they knew." Shaikh's parents are Muslim and they lived in India at the time of their wedding back in the 1970s.You set your boundaries with your partner." I also heard from an Iranian American, a Lebanese, a Moroccan and a Bangladeshi.They each had different experiences, depending on the family, culture and the country where they come from.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.
He was born there too, but when he was 3, they all moved to the US.