Thursday, September 18, 2014

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NY1 examines the risks and rewards of love in modern times with its week-long series, "21st Century Matchmakers."

21st Century Matchmakers: Parents Take on Matchmaking Work in Modern Islam

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TWC News: 21st Century Matchmakers: Parents Take on Matchmaking Work in Modern Islam
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NY1 starts off "21st Century Matchmakers," its week-long look at love in modern times, with a report by Erin Clarke on how traditional Muslims meet their mates.

Ramin Chowdhury is 30 years old, single, and a devout Muslim.

By his age, most young men and women in his home country of Bangladesh are married.

"20-25 years you should be married already," says Guyanese immigrant Shireena Drammeh.

Pre-marital sex is considered a sin, and traditional dating is also forbidden.

"We don't go about and say 'Hey, let's see, you know, let's go out Friday night' or something. We don't do that," Chowdhury says.

So how do you find your mate? Through a process that most of the time involves parents playing matchmaker.

"Tell your parents, tell your guardian, you say, you know, 'I think I'm ready to get married.' So they go and find someone suitable for you," Chowdhury says.

Or at least they have an important role in deciding who marries whom.

"You can actually like someone and bring that person home to meet with your parents and the parents will meet and decide if their children like each other and everything is OK, yes that's totally acceptable. In Islam, it's not always arranged marriage," Drammeh says.

The idea is to allow the parents, who presumably know their children best, the opportunity to impart their knowledge.

"I have met more people than you have. I have done things with people to learn about their etiquette, to learn about the dos and don'ts and you have not. I have tested the water; you have not. Therefore, I want to utilize my life experiences in guiding you," says Ghanaian immigrant Sheikh Moussa Drammeh.

While the tradition may seem strange to those who are used to navigating the dating field on their own, Muslims say it's second nature and even welcomed guidance towards a successful union.

"Arranged marriages result in less divorces," says one young man.

"Everybody can't forget their first love. Imagine the first time you met that person. That was the first person you ever kissed. I think that type of system preserves that feeling," Chowdhury says.

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