This article first appeared on VICE India.
There is Tinder. And then there is Tinder just for Muslims. It’s called Minder—and according to its website, it’s the place "for awesome Muslims to meet." We don’t particularly think of ourselves as awesome, and one of us isn’t even Muslim. But it didn’t stop three staffers at the VICE India office from giving it a go for a month.
Here’s how our dating lives unfolded over the course of a month.
In all my dating life I’ve never had a Muslim boyfriend. The running joke among my friends is that I have never seen a circumcised penis. But that aside, my mom often reminds me that marrying a non-Muslim would bring laanat (damnation, ruin) to the family. The dilemma is mind-boggling. The search and the saga continue.
So when one of my colleagues, Parthshri, stumbled upon Minder, “the place for Muslims to meet”—think Tinder for Muslims—I jumped. Finally, I thought, I can bring home a Muslim man to my mother. This is what I had been waiting for.
I registered on the app with the simplest of bios and a photo. A few hours later, I received a congratulatory message from Minder. Here was a Muslim, halal dating app and it meant I could now go on to find the momin (true believer) of my dreams.
Here are my key takeaways from a month on being on Minder:
1. Flirting is very Islamic. Very halal. It is not overt. But covert. “You will be my muazzin (person who summons faithful to prayer), I will be your imam (person who leads the prayer),” said one’s bio.
2. It asked me what flavor of Muslim I was. Yeah, I did a double take too. Flavor? The app wanted to know if I was Sunni or a Shia. I said, “Just Muslim” and moved on. As if identifying myself as Muslim was not enough.
3. There was no dearth of matches. And if you’ve been on Tinder, you know how guys start a chat. It generally goes like this: “Hey.” “Hi.” “Hi.” “Hey.” “Hey.” “Wussup.” “Hi.”
If you thought Minder would be any different, you’re wrong. Proof below:
4. People's bios were intriguing. Islam was everywhere, gushing out like hot lava from everyone's profile. I saw a helping of some Quranic verse here, some Hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) there. Someone was earnestly “Looking for a Khadija in a world of Kardashians.”
5. The Muslim dating pool is small. I got more matches from Mumbai and Bengaluru than Delhi. The pool is so small that I matched with my colleague who sits right next to me in office. His opening line: "Your eyes are like rivers of jannah (heaven)."
6. The conversations fizzled out sooner than I had expected. I don’t blame the boys. I was busy meeting my deadlines, while the guy I had tried my hardest with probably matched with the woman of his dreams and moved on.
Bonus point 7. I didn’t receive any dick pics.
Zeyad Masroor Khan:
“I am a momin looking for a muslimah (Muslim girl),” I wrote on my Minder profile when I made the account. With my religious meter set for ‘somewhat practicing,’ I was ready for my hunt for love, swiping right on girls from Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Delhi. In the "short greeting" section I typed “Looking for halal (pious) love.”
The people were very different from your regular dating app. The standard bio of most girls simply read “Assalamu alaikum (may peace and mercy of Allah be upon you).” But there were exceptions. A 25-year-old doctor was “seeking a doctor for marriage,” and a Mumbai girl claimed to “make money with equal ease.” Putting aside my ideological, concerns, and preferences, I did what most men do on a dating app—I swiped right on every profile.
The first match took place within hours. Let’s call her Zehra*. A cute legal professional from Bangalore, she was looking for “a well-educated, decent individual who can balance deen aur duniya (faith and the world).” This was finally the chance to use my pick-up line. “You look like a hoori (angel) from Alpha Centauri.” I waited with bated breath for her response. “Thanks,” she said. My game was working. We talked. She thought Minder was a waste of time, but still worth a try. I fell in love for a day.
The second match was a 24-year-old from Jaipur. I used my second pick-up line. “Your eyes are like rivers of jannah_._” There was a “lol” reply and she blocked me soon after. The third was a girl from my alma mater Jamia Millia Islamia. The fear of society and possibly judgemental friends forced me to unmatch with her. The last was my colleague Maroosha, who was kind enough to swipe right on me. We laughed about it for days.
To sum up, I failed miserably at Minder. Zehra’s insistence that “Allah is the best planner” has stalled our prospective date. I hope she finds a religious dentist and marries him.
As a dating app virgin, I wasn’t scared about joining Minder—just nervously excited. I had never been through the emotional gauntlet of selecting pictures, changing pictures, fixing the grammar in my bio, changing pictures again, etc. But I installed the app and signed up, with high hopes in my heart and wedding bells in my ears.
My bio read, “Religiously and physically extremely flexible,” which I thought was funny, and my pictures were solid sevens. I even set the “How religious are you?” meter to “Not religious.” I felt ready: I wanted to eat biryani at Eid, get invited for iftar parties, and to stick it to my conservative Hindu father. I wanted to swipe, match, and marry.
A month later, my app drawer is a boulevard of broken dreams, as not one person has swiped right on me. Not one. #KyaItnaBuraHoonMaiMaa
My colleagues, Zeyad and Maroosha insisted that Minder was an ultra-conservative space, and that the bio should’ve just said “Introvert but ready to convert.” Placing my faith in humanity, I went with the best version of myself, but strangers on the Internet shat on said version.
Am I super ugly? Should I have put ‘Physically’ before ‘Religiously’ in my bio? Is my name super long to be swiped? Is this how everyone on dating apps feel? Has my self-esteem not recovered from my last breakup as I had assumed it had? Will I ever find love? I don’t know.
The easy answer, according to my colleagues, is that I’m just not right for the app, which, coupled with the lack of users in India (Maroosha’s bio pops up repeatedly), is a ready-made cocktail of heartbreak and pain.
However, I still haven’t given up swiping right on Minder, sometimes on the same girls. I’ve told my mom about it, who is now using her connections to find rishtas (marriage proposals). And my esteemed colleagues just laugh at me whenever I even mention the app.
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