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|Emily Gerson • 12/21/17|
The Short Version: Many Muslim singles are finding that the contemporary dating landscape can pose a number of unique challenges. Level of religiosity, sect, family background, and ethnicity, among other factors, are sometimes top of mind when seeking a compatible partner. As a result, more than 300,000 Muslims have turned to muzmatch for help. The free dating app’s two main search features, Discover and Explore, are effective tools for singles to find and bond with others who share their Islamic values and beliefs. It’s a completely private, community-rated, and secure platform where thousands of modern Muslims are meeting their soul mates.
When it comes to dating for Muslims, Shahzad Younas, CEO and Founder of muzmatch, said several unique factors come into play, including religion, family background, and ethnicity, among others. There’s a focus on marriage early on, he noted, and casual dating as a concept doesn’t suit most single Muslims.
“If you speak to Muslim people in the community, in the West especially, there’s a real social problem of young people finding partners,” he said.
Muslim parents discourage casual dating, but, at the same time, they put pressure on their children to get married, Shahzad told us, making young people feel torn between these scenarios.
When Shahzad identified this dissonance and began looking at what resources were out there, he realized all the existing dating services were incredibly expensive, old-fashioned, awkward, and provided an overall unpleasant user experience. Nothing really worked for modern Muslims looking for a partner, so he decided to create a solution and launched muzmatch in April 2015.
“As a basic premise, we’re essentially trying to take the good things from Western dating apps and overlay that with Islamic sensibilities in a nice, clean way that really works,” he said.
And it is working, with at least 8,000 members successfully engaged or married. Shahzad told us muzmatch recently experienced a huge success when one user signed up and found her perfect match within three days — and she’s now happily married.
Shahzad also fondly remembers when a male user from Uganda emailed muzmatch to give thanks for its role in helping him find his partner, whom he recently wed, on the app.
“I remember thinking ‘I don’t think we have many members in Uganda,’” he said. “I looked in the database, and literally he was the only guy and she was the only woman on muzmatch in the whole of Uganda. For them to find each other and get married was pretty amazing.”
muzmatch has been very successful, with more than 300,000 members across the world. Nearly half of the app’s users are from the UK, Shahzad said, with another third from the US and Canada. The areas with the next highest number of users are Europe and Australia. muzmatch is also big in Indonesia and Turkey, and the remaining members are scattered throughout 160 countries.
The average muzmatch user is 27 years old, and membership is two-thirds male and one-third female, which Shahzad said is in line with other dating apps. He told us more than 70% of the app’s users also have at least a university education.
muzmatch membership spans the globe, and many users are open to finding matches in other countries because it expands their potential dating pool.
“We’ve had people from Morocco find someone from the Far East,” he said. “There’s a real mix of people who are willing to travel. That’s one thing that’s interesting about our app — people are willing and open to looking at people in other countries and actually going out there and meeting the families.”
Shahzad noted that many of the successes they’ve had have been couples from completely different ethnicities and backgrounds who never would normally have met.
“One thing that’s prevalent in the Muslim community is people generally search along ethnic lines or family backgrounds because family is a big part of Muslim marriage on both sides,” he said. “But we’ve found with our app with the success we’ve had, we’ve had a lot of interethnic marriages, which we’re really proud of. I think that’s the progressive nature of what we’re doing.”
Shahzad said they’ve also talked to people with different backgrounds, such as those with divorces or children from other marriages, who had given up on finding someone but found success with muzmatch.
Another thing that makes muzmatch unique is its extensive verification process, Ryan Brodie, muzmatch’s CTO and Co-Founder, told us. Every profile is manually vetted by the admin team.
muzmatch confirms users by SMS messages and by GPS location. The team also employs a selfie verification process, and Ryan said muzmatch is the first dating app to do that.
Users also have the ability to keep their photos hidden until they’re ready and can use a nickname. This helps members feel more comfortable until they get to know someone better, and it keeps them anonymous from friends and family.
muzmatch also has a feature that caters to the needs of more traditional Muslim daters.
“If family involvement is important to you, which it is for many of our users, you can actually involve a chaperone in your experience,” Ryan said.
Your designated family member or close friend will have access to all of your activity in the app, and it’s clear to both daters a chaperone is present.
“We’re solving a problem and can keep the traditionalist happy in that way,” Ryan said.
muzmatch’s app has two places where you can meet other Muslim singles. The first is Discover.
“For Discover, we use an algorithm like Tinder that stacks nearby profiles that might be interesting to you,” Ryan said.
Members can like or pass on each user, and if both parties like each other, the pair can start talking.
The other tool is Explore, which Ryan said he finds more interesting because it only filters other singles by age and location.
“We’re really quite passionate about bringing people from different backgrounds together and showing you people who might not be in your immediate filters but are still relevant to you,” he said.
Shahzad has always made it his goal to deliver a modern, top-notch dating app for Muslims.
“One thing that’s really been lacking in the Muslim space is that the quality hasn’t been there,” he said. “If you look at other Muslim services out there, websites or app, they’re pretty terrible — I’ve tried them all, and it’s a shame.”
From the start, Shahzad said he’s aimed to make muzmatch high-quality and meet what he calls the Western standard.
“Our customers are all using Instagram and WhatsApp and Facebook, and they know a good app when they see it, so it’s about making sure we fit into that category,” he said. “muzmatch views itself as a high-tech company with a high bar.”
That means Shahzad’s’ goal for 2018 is to not only grow the app’s users, brand, and awareness, but also to enrich the app even further by adding features and making it even sleeker and user-friendly.
Shahzad noted that the app has grown almost totally organically, and it’s the first Muslim-centric company to ever be backed by Y Combinator, a popular seed accelerator in Silicon Valley. Despite its successes, Shahzad said it’s important to him, and part of the company’s social responsibility, to keep the app free.
“We’re a premium product and all of the additional features are paid for, but one thing we’ve tried to do from day one is have a really capable, really high-quality free app so essentially people can use our app to match, chat, message someone, and get married without paying a penny,” Shahzad said. “We want to make sure we’re the best service out there for Muslims trying to find a partner.”