Bahawdory had virtually no dating experience growing up in Raleigh, N. After a failed engagement at 25, she found online dating to be her only real prospect.
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While Muslim-themed matchmaking platforms like Minder, Arab Lounge and Ishqr have been around for some time, none of these platforms offer services beyond placing Muslim women on a pseudo-meat market to be plucked from, Bahawdory explains. Eshq is looking to fill a void in the market craved by Muslim women.
After years of researching dating patterns in the Muslim community — including speaking directly to Muslim women of both liberal and conservative backgrounds about what they want to see — the idea of Eshq was born. To join Eshq, you must login through Facebook. From there, the app uses a matching algorithm that picks out similarities between profiles, Bahawdory explained.
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Its drawing feature is that it only allows the woman to start the conversation after a match. It was admittedly implemented by the mainstream Bumble around the same time Bahawdory says she came up with the concept.
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For year-old Sahar M. Given that Muslim culture is far from monolithic, this comes in handy to help give context to your match. Dating in the Muslim community is more nuanced than mainstream millennial dating culture. There is a wide spectrum of piety, culture and religion that factors into decisions around dating, Sahar explains. Having tried Tinder in the past, Sahar matched with and dated a Latino, Catholic man for some time. They talked on the phone for four hours before meeting for coffee.
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On Tinder, I relied heavily on sexual innuendos to keep the convo going. Out of fear of being reported for inappropriate conduct, I resorted to safer read: What do you do for a living? There was no attempt to charm or woo each other, no thrill of the chase. Users also seemed unfamiliar with common online dating practices like ghosting.
Countless unmatches and dead conversations later, I began to wonder if the problem was with me. Was I too frivolous to date seriously?
Was I too different from these devout men to connect with them? Or was I pinning too much hope on what was just another dating app?
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What started as a casual dating experiment went from 0 to real quick and had me questioning my suitability as a potential life partner.
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