Organisers said more than 2,000 people had applied to take part in the session this past weekend, the second staged so far by “Halal Speed Dating”, which uses the term denoting practises that comply with Islamic rules. But unlike Western-style speed dating, which is geared toward matching up people for later dates and courtship on their own, couples in the Islamic version are expected to seek marriage soon after both sides agree, including the parents.Muslim-majority Malaysia has long practised a moderate form of Islam.But conservative attitudes are rising, and the speed dating sessions have been embraced as an alternative to online matchmaking sites or apps that many Malaysian Muslims view as geared more for Western-style casual flings.
Though 2,000 people applied for the latest session, capacity constraints meant only around 50 could take part, but Zuhri hopes to stage a bigger event soon, with up to 500 couples.
During the sessions, Muslim Malay men in Western clothing banter with the women, most of them dressed in long-sleeved blouses, long flowing skirts and headscarves.
Use of personal names is taboo, and participants have numbers pinned to their shirts.
But we hope to bring it back.”Zuhri and his wife met at an unrelated matchmaking event in 2012 and now have a baby boy.
But he wanted to create something more in line with Islamic principles.
Promising an Islamic courtship in a “dignified manner,” Halal Speed Dating requires that women be chaperoned and that all participants ultimately plan to wed.
The weekend round followed an initial instalment in May that Zuhri said resulted in 14 matches that he hopes will soon end in matrimony.
Looking out nervously from her pink headscarf, Malaysian single Siti Aisha chats with a man she has never met, but who could become her husband following their Islamic speed-dating session.
The pair talk shyly for a few minutes under the watchful eyes of Siti’s parents until a bell prompts the dozens of male participants to shift to a new table and a new prospective wife.
The Malaysian concept, staged in a Kuala Lumpur restaurant, is a new twist on the practice of heavily chaperoned matchmaking, but aimed at modern singles for whom time is of the essence.
Siti, a 29-year-old graphic designer, has not been in a relationship since her university days.“I’m here to find someone for marriage because I’m too busy to meet anyone and I spend all my free time with my family,” she said during a break, as her parents eagerly compared notes on the male prospects.