Author - Bloggin Muslim

The importance of asking personal questions when looking to get married.

A typical Muslim matrimonial website barely scratches the surface when it comes to details that are vital to showing who you are and what you are looking for in a spouse. The questions generally revolve around superficial topics such as how much you weigh and how tall you are. While this information could be intriguing to a potential suitor the reality is they do not express enough about your goals for life, wants for the future, ideals for raising children, or what a compatible spouse for you would be.

The focus at Half Our Deen is to dig deeper and allow the couples to match up not only based on who they could be attracted to but also who they could lead a fulfilling life with. The personality quizzes help set a baseline for who would seem the most compatible for you but at the end of the day the only way to truly know is to view their profile, read through their information, and respond to any questions they may have posted. Not only do your answers help them learn about you by responding to their questions you are able to infer what is important to them and have the opportunity to counter with your own inquiry.

Answering the personal questions on Half Our Deen, whether the general ones on every profile such as “About Me” and “Who I’m looking for”, or the more detailed questions that others post to their profiles is the best way to increase your chances of finding a match on Half Our Deen. These answers are the first impression that a potential match will have of you. So take the time to think through your answer and insure that it is an honest representation of yourself.

Sharing a candid imagine of who you are online may not be the easiest task. However, the same way you are trusting that others are representing themselves honestly they are trusting that you are doing the same. You want to find a spouse that compliments who you are, not who you think they want you to be. So spend an extra few minutes going over your answers or even have a friend take a look at it and give you feedback in order to insure that you are putting forward a true reflection of who you are.

More Half Our Deen Offline Coming Up!

Along with running Halfourdeen.com we also strive to bring Half Our Deen Offline events to as many cities as we can. These events take all the things you love about HOD and deliver them in person. They are unlike any other Muslim matchmaking event you have ever been to.

One of the ways we differentiate ourselves from other events is by screening those who wish to attend, in order to insure that there is a balance in the attendees. An HOD member who attended our last offline event noticed how helpful this was and had this to say on the matter, “The fact that there were an equal number of men and women was helpful in terms of making it more convenient to socialize”.

The greatest difference, however, is how the events are structured. A lot of care is put into facilitating an environment that allows everyone to feel comfortable and to get to know as much as they can about their potential matches. This comfortable setting is one of the aspects we get the most feedback on. After our last event one attendee wrote us to say, “I like the openness of the event. Everyone had a lot of freedom” and another said “I thought it was a great idea to have a somewhat casual dress code because it lets everyone be themselves and see others as they would if they bumped into each other, say, on a sidewalk or at a park.”

These events have been a great success, Alhamdulillah, with over 70 mutual matches. The HOD Offline team works hard to ensure they provide the best event possible but it is also important for those wishing to attend to take initiative in order for it to be a success for them. Some of the ways you can do that is by:

1) Come to the event with an open mind. Even though you may have an idea in your mind of who your ideal match is be open to the possibility that the perfect person for you may be slightly outside of that box.
2) Write down the questions that matter most to you. In the moment it is easy to get flustered and forget what you had wanted to ask. This insures that you gather the necessary information to make an informed choice.
3) Present yourself honestly. Don’t dress to impress if that’s not who you are! There is no right or wrong way to act or dress what matters is that the person that shows up on the day of the event is a true representation of who you are.
4) Put your trust in Allah and make duaa. No matter what you do or what the Half Our Deen team does, the only way you will find your match at an event is if Allah (swt) wills for it to be.

In the next few months we plan on bringing Half Our Deen Offline to the East Coast, Arizona and California. For more information on a certain event be sure to click on the link.

New York City – February 22nd 2013. Sign up here
Boston – February 23rd 2013. Sign up here
Chicago – February 24th 2013. Sign up here
Phoenix – March 2013 – Sign up here
Santa Clara – March/April 2013 – Sign up here
Orange County April 2013 – Sign up here
Texas – TBD

Thank you for letting Half Our Deen services be a part of your search for a partner. Please keep us your dua’as as we will continue to keep you in ours. May Allah guide you to that which pleases Him.

Having an Open Mind

Getting married is a huge, life changing, event. We can spend years searching for the perfect person to be our other half. And for some of us, we’ve spent even longer dreaming about who this person will be. We’ve imagined every single detail about him/her and we plan on settling for nothing less than the ideal version of a spouse that we have conjured up. Considering how much this person will impact our lives, why should we?

Allah (swt) controls the matters of the heart and it truly is beautiful to see it in progress. The whole reason we got into Muslim Matchmaking was to do our part in helping the Ummah pair up! Hearing the success stories of those who found their other halves through HOD is beyond rewarding. You would be surprised to hear how many of these stories begin with; “I would have never thought of considering this person due to age/race/relocation issues but I can not be happier that I did”. By keeping an open mind and taking a chance on someone who did not seem to be the ideal match at first they were able to see deeper into who the person really is; ultimately finding their ideal spouse.

This is not to say that preferences do not matter when looking for a spouse. However, getting to know someone offers you insight into them that simple statistics on paper can not provide. So for example, on paper you might dismiss someone because they do not fall into the ideal age bracket for you. Instead, had you given them a chance and gotten to know them you might find that they are compatible with you and the fact that they are slightly older/younger than what you had in mind does not bother you as much as you thought it would. The same thing can be said for any number of characteristics that are used to determine who a valid match may be.

The truth is, when it comes to matters of the heart there is no way to predetermine where it will lead us. A lot of times chemistry and compatibility can be found with the most unlikely of suitors. And while, no one should ever marry someone they are not attracted to or do not feel is right for them they should likewise never turn a person down simply because they do not seem to line up with the image they have set. Instead, one should give them a chance. Get to know them. And who knows you may be surprised to find out that you have more in common than you could have imagined.

Another Successful Half Our Deen Offline Event!

The latest Half Our Deen Offline event was  held a couple weeks ago in Santa Clara, California, on September 29th.  By the grace of Allah (swt) it was a smashing success! We could not be more proud of the team who worked tirelessly to ensure that things went smoothly. But most of all we are so very excited for all those who attended and who may have found their other halves.

Alhamdulilah, we had a packed house with 74 attendees. Everyone had a great time and at the end of the afternoon 84% of those who attended expressed interest in at least 1 person and 20 matches were made! All the effort that is put into Half Our Deen is in hopes of great outcomes like these. But you don’t have to take our word for it, here are what some of the attendees had to say:

Wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the organizers for putting together such a unique and tailored event mA.” – Brother, 32

I appreciate how organized this has been- pleasantly unusual for a Muslim-run event.”- Sister, 27

First and foremost I would like to thank you for putting on an amazing HOD event. I felt as if it really worked for me. May Allah (SWT) reward the team for their hard work” -Sister, 28

Hello HOD team – hope all is well on your end =)
First I wanted to just write and commend HOD for the event held in Santa Clara on 9/29. I have never attended a “matchmaking” event and probably will not want to attend another one – unless it’s being hosted by HOD. AH you guys have set the bar so high…by being exclusive, productive, and also respecting the privacy of the people attending. Its so funny you would never think that this process of “finding someone” would be so difficult but your team made it fun, comfortable, and humorous as well – which relaxed everyone. I was very nervous going in – but AH had a very good time and enjoyed interacting with everyone =)” -Sister, 35

Jazak Allah Khair for hosting the event and working so hard to help us meet our other halves.” -Sister, 27

It was a really well-arranged event. This is the very first time I attended an event like this and was pleasantly surprised at the setup” -Brother, 30

The great news is we are working to bring our Offline events to many cities across the globe as  possible. InshaAllah our next Half Our Deen Offline event will be in Tampa Bay, Florida on November 17th. The following weekend we will be back in California with an event on the 25th in Long Beach before jetting to Toronto, Canada in December. For more information, the full schedule and to sign up visit www.hodoffline.com .

How to message someone you are interested in

One of the common concerns that we have received is “I send out a bunch of messages but no one responds. What am I doing wrong?!” One user told us that they have tried shortening the messages, or making them longer and including more details, but hasn’t been able to find a formula that yields consistent results. When it comes to initiating contact and messaging users on a Muslim matrimonial website such as Half Our Deen there are two points of view that need to be considered; the senders and the receivers.

For a sender the decision to contact another user is often a hard one to make. The nervous about being rejected or worse ignored! They aren’t sure if they are sharing enough about themselves or if they are making a fool out of themselves. Since writing the initial message is a hard task here are a few points to consider.

1) There is no right or wrong way to formulate a message. What matters most is that you stick to your tone of voice and try to express yourself as you normally would instead of making the tone more serious or quirky than you really are in hopes of it appealing to the receiver. If you aren’t sure about how your message reads ask a family member or friend to read it for you and get their feedback.

2) Less is often more in these situations. Just as you wouldn’t tell your full life story to someone the first time you meet them you shouldn’t do it in the first message. Getting to know someone is a gradual process and overloading them with information at one time can be off putting.

3) Be straight forward and make sure to include a question for them to respond to. If your message says “Salaam! My name is Fatima/Ahmed. I’m 27 and live in Toronto. Take care!” the receiver might not know what do with that message and disregard it. Whereas, if your message clearly says “I viewed your profile, responded to your questions, and I feel we could be a good match. Would you like to get to know each other better? “ the receiver has a clear question to respond to and knows what your stance is.

4) Be patient and don’t be disheartened if you don’t received a response right away. There are many reasons that someone may not respond and it more than likely has nothing to do with what you wrote in your message. It could be as simple as they haven’t logged onto Half Our Deen in a while.

That being said if you are on the receiving end of a message there are etiquette you should follow as well. The greatest of them being to respond! It took guts for the other person to initiate and now it is your turn to be respectful and answer them. If you aren’t interested simply say that. Contrary to what some might think ignoring a message is not letting the other person down easy. Infact it will probably hurt their feelings more than a kindly worded rejection. If the reason you haven’t responded is you find the person appealing but its not the right time for you to pursue them tell them that. Whatever your response is they want to hear it so don’t leave them hanging.

Regardless if you are the sender or the responder it important to remember that as Muslims we should treat others with kindness, respect, and as we would like to be treated.

The Power of Istikhara

One of the most powerful duaas that we have been given as Muslims is also one that we often overlook; The Duaa of Istikhara. What exactly is this duaa? It is a duaa that the prophet Muhammad (saws) gave us to use specifically when we are faced with making a decision in our life. And, while, we usually use this duaa for the really important ones like choosing which job to accept, what college to go to, or who to marry, it can be used for any choice that we are faced with. Hence The Power of Istikhara

Performing this duaa will only take five minutes of your time however the results can be profound. So how exactly should this duaa be performed?
On the authority of Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullah he said: The Prophet (S) would instruct us to pray for guidance in all of our concerns, just as he would teach us a chapter from the Qur’an. He (S) would say ‘if any of you intends to undertake a mater then let him pray two supererogatory units (two rak’ah naafilah) of prayer and after which he should supplicate:

‘O Allaah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge and by Your power I seek strength and I ask You from Your immense favour, for verily You are able while I am not and verily You know while I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allaah, if You know this affair -and here he mentions his need- to be good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it , and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.’

Now, while using this duaa when looking to get married is meant to help us in our decision making process it does not mean that we will get a vivid dream about the person we should marry or a clear sign. Instead, by making this duaa we are acknowledging that Allah (swt) knows what is best for us, His plan will lead us to what is right for us in this life, and that with His help if this person is the one that we should marry then He will make the path to marriage easy for us. Some people may feel that they have a clear sign while others don’t. Either way your istikhara will work for you.

We must be sincere when using this duaa and not use it with the hope of a specific outcome. You may feel this person is the one for you but only Allah (swt) knows who will truly be a compatible spouse for you. So go into this process with an open heart ready to accept what Allah (swt) has planned for you. No matter how we feel Allah (swt) has a better plan and will guide you to someone who is right for you.

Common Mistakes Newlyweds Fall Into

You’ve spent months searching for your special someone. Now that you’ve finally found them you promise yourself that you will cherish the relationship and make it a priority in your life. There is no way you want to mess this up!

What we fail to realize is sometimes the mistakes we make in our relationships are not intentional; they sort of creep up on you when you are least expecting it. So what are some of these common mistakes and how can we avoid them as Newlyweds?

Taking your spouse for granted
One of the easiest mistakes to make after marriage is to take your spouse for granted. Once the excitement of the wedding and the honeymoon phase are gone the grind of of our day to day lives kick in. Each of the spouses fall into their designated roles and the wooing comes to a cease.

The remedy for this is simple—dedicate a set amount of time each week to do something special for or with your spouse. It could be a date night where you both put all other stresses behind you and focus on enjoying each others company. Or it could be that you surprise them with a trip to the spa (for the wife) or sporting event (for the husband). It could even be something as simple as leaving them a note in a place you know they will find or sending them a text message that reminds them how much you love and care for them (rather than reminding them to pick up milk on the way home!) What truly matters is that they should feel that the gesture came from the heart.

Failing to appreciate your spouse
Every person expresses love in a different way. So while you might express it through giving gifts your spouses version of expressing love may revolve around doing things for you. While another person may feel/express love through spending time with their spouse. And yet another might find it in touch and require extra hugs, cuddling, and intimate time in order to feel loved. So when two spouses feel and express love in different ways (for example: one of them constantly gives the other gifts hoping the other spouse will do the same while the other spouse is constantly freeing up time to spend with them hoping they will do the same) they may end up feeling unappreciated.

While you might not know what language of love your spouse responds to right away by observing and speaking to them about it you will be able to figure it out. Once you do make sure to appreciate and reciprocate the things they do that you know mean a lot to them.

Failing to listen and compromise
It can be a difficult transition from being the only one to make decisions for yourself to doing it as a unit. Sometimes this leads to not fully listening to your spouse. Instead of paying attention to what they truly mean it’s easy to hear what is superficially being said. In turn this can lead to a lack of compromise.

When an issue arises that you both do not agree on take the time to talk it through calmly. Figure out the points you are not willing to budge on and ask your spouse to do the same. Then, with a clear head see how both of your views can be reconciled.

Not living your own life
Just as it is important to make decisions together and consult each other in your daily lives it is also important to maintain a level of individuality. It is alright to have interests that your spouse does not partake in as long as you give them enough time as well. Being married does not mean that you have to give up every aspect of your per-marital life. In fact, it is healthy for both of you to have some time apart to participate in activities separately or to hang out with friends alone.

Cultivating Healthy Relationships–Imam Khalid Latif

Imam Khalid Latif has a reflection series being published on the Huffington Post during the month of Ramadan. Yesterday’s post [Ramadan Reflection Day 14: Marriage, Dating and Cultivating Healthy Relationships ] discussed the importance of knowing how to cultivate healthy relationships. This is one of our goals here at half our deen. Not only by providing a service that allows you to find out information about your potential spouse and get them well in an Islamic manner but also through our educational videos. In these videos Baba Ali uses his own experience in marriage as well as extensive research on the topic to help us understand the other gender a little bit better.

After you read Imam Khalid Latif’s post below be sure to share your opinions in the comments section and let us know how Half Our Deen can do an even better job in this department.

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I find myself often having a familiar conversation with many young men who are about to get married. One of the first times it happened, I was approached by a guy after I had given a lecture at an Islamic Conference in the United States. He was pretty tall and well put together, but there was a certain anxiety about him. He asked if we could speak in private and when we were out of earshot of most he said he was getting married in a few weeks and needed my help with something. I congratulated him and said I’d be happy to help out. He said his upbringing was such that he never really had a relationship with a girl before and now, with his wedding coming up, he felt like he was expected to go from having no experience in even talking to a girl to being physically intimate with one. The only thing he knew for certain was that he didn’t feel ready or comfortable and had no idea what to do about it.

Most of us find ourselves in similar situations at some point or another. Whether it’s in the context of marriage or something more simple and day-to-day, it’s really confusing for a lot of us as to how we’re supposed to interact with the opposite gender. Questions that arise don’t really ever get asked because of an absence of people to ask them of. Those that do get asked tend to not really get answered in a way that takes away confusion. If anything, it just adds more to it.

I’ve found myself asked on many different occasions by young women, “Isn’t it haraam (religiously impermissible) for boys and girls who are not mahram (individuals that one cannot marry) to talk to each other?” I respond, “Aren’t you talking to me right now?” Usually the woman will follow-up and say, “What do you mean?” To which I say, “I don’t know if you realize it, but I’m a boy.” I’ll then ask her, along with the audience what the word haraam means and more often than not, most people don’t really know, resulting a in a big mess of misunderstanding.

For many Muslims, growing up, the idea is plain and simple — you’re not supposed to interact with the opposite gender unless there is a need. Words like “professional” and “formal” get thrown around in how gender interaction “should” be, which for a 13-year-old is probably not the best word choice. After we get older, it tends to not be so plain and simple, but by that time it’s more problematic because we were never really able to normalize an understanding, and are now in a place where we don’t know things that someone should have sat down and taught us as children. This is not just from the standpoint of not doing something, but helping our young people be smart about decisions they make. Many young women that I’ve spoken to who have had pregnancy scares or young men that have developed illnesses could have been avoided if in their learning process someone spoke to them about relationships in a way that was relevant to their lives, not just with a sweeping statement of “stay away from all boys.”

“And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another…..”
The Holy Qur’an (9:71)

The fundamental component of our community is the family unit, and in order for the family unit to be successful and healthy, there has to be a solid communication between the husband and wife. Expectations of what I’m looking for and what I need in a marriage aren’t ever properly understood because I haven’t really figured it out that well. Lectures and classes that I attend on marriage, gender interaction, and things as such seem to not really take into consideration the reality of my life, but the speaker or instructor continues to talk as if what they are saying is what Islam definitively says. I just end up getting more confused.

I spoke at a conference once on a marriage panel in which one of my co-panelists told that audience that in finding a potential spouse, your family will always make the best decision for you and will be able to introduce you to people, so it’s not necessary to go out and find someone yourself. As I bit my tongue and gathered myself, I was approached by a young woman afterwards who said she herself was confused by what the speaker was saying. Her issue stemmed from the fact that her family doesn’t even like her being Muslim, let alone them knowing any Muslims. So how does she deal with what this man is saying in the the context of her life?

A lot of what we understand about gender and topics relevant to it comes mostly from a male voice, whether that male voice is coming from a female or male mouth. Adding perspective in can help deepen our understandings so that we realize the impact that our conversations actually are having on people day-to-day. What we need is more people to explain at all levels of development what gender means, and along with it how gender interaction works. Conversations that help men, young and old understand the overall experience of being both male and female, and similar conversations for women of all ages. That perspective can also be broadened by having more open discussions as opposed to lectures and panels. Talk to the people in your community about what it means to them to be son or daughter, a husband or wife, a father or mother, a professional, a student, a divorcee, a widow, a survivor, a leader, and everything in between. We can learn a lot from hearing other people’s stories — it’s a learning method we don’t really use so much.

Personal development seminars that speak to the needs of a growing population looking for help in simply knowing how to talk to the opposite gender would be great. These should be lead by someone who isn’t regurgitating ideas that I heard at 15 and now at 35 don’t make sense to me. Hearing from real life experience as well as individuals that can help me develop self-esteem and confidence in myself to keep moving forward would be helpful. Most of us don’t know what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like and what processes lead to the development of one. Some of us have come from homes where we didn’t have model relationship to learn from. We saw a lot of fighting, anger and stifled communication. We didn’t see expressions of love or giving of gifts. We saw double standards for how sons were treated in comparison to daughters. We didn’t know how to separate culture from religion and vice versa. As a result, we don’t know where compromise makes sense or where we should stand firm. We don’t know what we are supposed to be looking for or how to go about finding out. Simply put, we don’t know what we’re supposed to do or what challenges to expect.

This is not an issue that simply will work itself out, it has to be worked out. Healthy relationships are key to healthy living and healthy communities. If I don’t know how to interact with the opposite gender, I’m already starting out on a shaky first step. If you are going through this, it’s not your fault. Someone should be there to sit down with you and explain to you how these things work. Hopefully as we grow and learn from each other, we will be able to figure this out as well.

Check out The Huffington Post’s Ramadan liveblog updated daily with spiritual reflections, blog posts, photos, videos, and verses from the Quran. Tell us your Ramadan story.

 

Follow Imam Khalid Latif on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KLatif

Using Half Our Deen Efficiently

One of the questions we get asked a lot is: “how can I increase my chances of finding a spouse through Half Our Deen?’ In a previous post we mentioned how creating a stellar profile will increase traffic to your profile however here are a few more tips:

1) Don’t rely only on the suggested matches and the matches emailed to you. Although these profiles are a high percentage match to yours it doesn’t mean that they are the only ones on Half Our Deen that could be compatible for you. So take the time to browse through profiles and judge for yourself who you might be interested in and who you are not.

2) Use the “I’d rather fast” button. When you come across a profile you are sure you are not interested in click the “I’d rather fast” button and it won’t be shown to you again. This way the next time you are browsing profiles you won’t waste time looking at ones you have already decided are not for you.

3) If you come across a profile that you believe you could be interested in but it does not include enough information for you to make a full decision take the time to send them a quick message and ask for more details.

4) Take the time to answer the questions that are posted on others profiles. Not only does this tell them more about you but by going through their questions and thinking about them you can learn more about the person.

5) Be patient! Although our members generally find their matches within 3-10 months for some it might take longer. Just because your perfect match isn’t on Half Our Deen today it doesn’t mean they won’t sign up tomorrow!

Being a Better You

One of the topics that comes up a lot when marriage is discussed is how it will help you be a better person. How after marriage half your deen will be completed and you will be more whole. And while this is true, to a certain extent, this improvement and development needs to begin before marriage.

The best way to find a spouse that will bring love and happiness into your life is to strive to be the best version of you or by being a better you. What is important here is that you don’t strive to be the version you think others will be most interested in. Instead, you stop trying to be something your not and focus on improving who you really are.

If there are people in your life that influence you in the wrong way or who do not bring out the good in you, now would be the time to distance yourself from them. This can be an extremely hard task however it is an important step in freeing yourself from negative influences in your past and allowing yourself to grow and mature. It is also a step in the right direction in putting yourself first and focusing on what will help you succeed.

In order to succeed in a future relationship you have to to forgive yourself for past mistakes and not be afraid to make more. No human is perfect. If you expect perfection from yourself and constantly compete with others you will never be satisfied with what you have accomplished. So let go of your ideals of perfection. Embrace the challenges that are thrown at you. Use them as learning experiences instead of potential failures.

Learn to take a break and enjoy the small moments in life. It’s amazing how much happiness you can gain by appreciating actions or experiences that may otherwise be overlooked. Society teaches us that happiness comes from materialistic things and other people, whereas the reality is if you are not happy with yourself you will not be happy with anything.

Above all else, be grateful to Allah (swt) for all the blessings in your life. Just the fact that you woke up today seeing is more than many others can say. So, stop worrying and stressing and instead put your trust in Allah (swt). And continue working on yourself until your other half comes along!