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UK Muslims flip to apps to search out love, get married in lockdown | United Kingdom News

UK Muslims flip to apps to search out love, get married in lockdown | United Kingdom News

London, United Kingdom – A motorway service station is hardly a romantic place for a date. But when Aisha Rosalie and Sultan Akhtar met after matching on a Muslim relationship app at the start of March, a nationwide lockdown ended any hopes of attending to know one another in additional quaint settings.

After discovering each other on the app, they spoke on video chat each day.

With espresso outlets and eating places closed, the pair met in service stations halfway between London, the place Rosalie, 23, is from, and Dewsbury, Akhtar’s hometown in northern England.

“I had to make sure it wasn’t a catfish situation,” 25-year-old Akhtar joked. “We had been continually fearful that we weren’t going to get an opportunity to satisfy. We didn’t know what was going to occur due to the coronavirus state of affairs.

“That motivated me to visit Aisha and see how she was in real life, after which we stayed apart for a good few months.”

Despite the obstacles the coronavirus pandemic hurled their method, their connection grew.

“We hung out at so many service stations before we got married,” mentioned Aisha. “We would eat there, pray there, hand around in our automotive, drive round, and are available again to the service station.

“When I saw him again for the second time, I forgot what he looked like, what he sounded like. Seeing someone on video chat, you forget what they’re like in person.”

By the time social distancing restrictions eased in June, the couple had determined they needed to be married.

But mosques throughout the nation had been nonetheless closed, and it was tough to search out an imam to officiate the nikah, the Muslim bridal ceremony.

“We did consider an online marriage, an online nikah,” mentioned Akhtar, including they discovered somebody based mostly in Pakistan who was prepared to officiate their marriage ceremony.

But it was “not as intimate as I wanted so we held it off”.

Four weeks later, Akhtar requested his native imam in Dewsbury on a whim. The imam instructed the couple to come back the subsequent day and so, inside 4 months of assembly, they had been fortunately married on July 4.

“We’re both simple people,” mentioned Rosalie. “It was an excuse to have the simplest wedding, without all the pressure of spending money, dresses, all this stuff we just don’t really need. It was an excuse for us to make it simple, to make it about me, Sultan, Allah [God], and getting married.”

As some lockdown measures stay in place throughout the United Kingdom, relationship within the age of the coronavirus has more and more moved on-line.

In the 2 weeks after the lockdown started, there was a 13 p.c improve within the variety of customers logging in to Muzmatch, the app Rosalie and Akhtar used.

Globally, the app noticed a 45 p.c improve in downloads in March, when many nations enforced stricter distancing guidelines.

Zoom nikahs

With limits on marriage ceremony visitor numbers and considerations over security, spiritual marriage ceremonies and celebrations have gone on-line.

Sultan Ahmed, director of the Nikah Company, a Muslim matrimonial service within the UK, has officiated greater than 100 nikahs with three different imams over Zoom. By August, that they had wed extra {couples} than in all 2019.

“Ninety percent of our ceremonies in April, May, and June were online. That’s how much the whole mood and trend shifted from physical to digital,” mentioned Ahmed.

“The latest lockdown has brought even more uncertainty, because you’re asking an Asian couple to reduce their guest numbers from 500 to 15,” he added, laughing.

“Then you reduce guest numbers [from] 30 to 15, [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson was asking for trouble there.”

But the subject of on-line nikahs has drawn some controversy; there’s a distinction of opinion on whether or not they’re legitimate.

Ahmed and the students he consulted have concluded that given the distinctive circumstances, Muslim {couples} can get married on-line so long as sure situations are fulfilled.

“Both the bride and the groom have to be consenting, it has to be done with the permission of the bride’s guardian, there has to be a minimum of two witnesses present, and a mahr [dowry] has to be agreed between the bride and the groom,” mentioned Ahmed.

“The other condition is that everyone has to be present at the same time, in the same place. In physical nikahs, that’s very easy because you have everyone in either the same hall, room, the same venue, but online, physically everyone is in different parts of the country or the world.”

Sultan Ahmed, prime proper, officiated the ceremony of Saad and Hibah, backside left and proper, with members of the family logging into Zoom to attend the marriage on-line [Courtesy: Sultan Ahmed]

Ahmed lately oversaw the wedding of Saad and Hibah, who had been within the UK and Kuwait respectively, on Zoom.

The ceremony was streamed reside as a whole bunch of their members of the family watched in from around the globe.

While Ahmed has helped many {couples} start the subsequent chapter of their lives, the shift to digital has been difficult.

“Some people have seen this as a disappointment because everyone sees their wedding day as being the most special day of their life,” he mentioned. “They wish to invite mates, members of the family and family members.

“But the other side to that is that it’s a pandemic. We’ve never seen this sort of thing in our lifetime, so it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to do things differently.”

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