Ramadan Reflections '13, Day 8: Calgary Muslims "Mingle" for Marriage

Marriage is no stranger of a topic for my blog entries. I've blogged countless times about how our community lacks 21st Century ideas to support its members in seeking matrimony. While the digital age has brought about a plethora of online matrimonial sites, these currently do not seem to be addressing the need of Calgary Muslims, as many matches are out of the province, and in many cases, out of the country. And really, the distance can add a lot of uncertainty to an already uncertain situation.

Within Calgary, CIMAP (Calgary Islamic Marriage Assistance Program) was born in the summer of 2011, thanks to a headstrong couple who rallied their friends to make this work. CIMAP is a halal, professional, in-person matrimonial event, run by facilitators and designed with activities to allow participants to get to know one another. It is anything but speed dating, as we don't rotate groups of two every few minutes. We use large and small group activities to encourage communication in a halal setting. At the end of the evening, participants mark down who they are interested in and the facilitators then contact both parties in all cases of a mutual match. One-way matches are also communicated since you never know where some time and thought may lead them.

The event structure is conducive to meeting people since (a) there are NO aunties or uncles present, just facilitators who encourage communication within appropriate boundaries; and (b) where else can Muslim singles meet in a large group that doesn't include gender segregation AND with the intention of marriage? In Calgary, currently nowhere.

Myself and Madiha Vaid, one of the initial brain-childs of this event, were interviewed in the Calgary Herald in November 2011 after the first event, and most people were supportive. However, the number of Muslims who actually thought what we were doing was haram, was also quite high. Some misinformed Muslims accused us of supporting dating and encouraging relationships without parental involvement (quite the contrary!). Rumours flew about couples getting engaged without parental knowledge. They saw the words "matrimonial event" and thought "speed dating," which was haram in their minds. God forbid people "mingle" for the purpose of finding their potential spouse. What did they think this event was, a dance party?! My response to these individuals is if they don't like what they "know" about CIMAP, how about they get off their complaining rears and do something within the community to address the marriage issue? Yup, that's what I thought.

So after almost a year and half hiatus since the last event, a new-ish planning group (with the blessings of the headstrong couple who started this up but have since moved back to Toronto!) has been formed and we're moving ahead with putting things into place for our third event in the fall of 2013. We have some innovative ideas in the works, given the addition of individuals to the group who have extensive event planning experience and insights from other Canadian cities. The truth is, Calgary as a city may be leading edge and where it's happening, but our community within the realm of marriage has a lot to catch up on. We're quite behind in terms of addressing this need and while people throw ideas around, few if any actually put these ideas into motion. Our group was tired of this back in 2011, and the same holds true. We're a group of "do-ers" and do is what we're gonna do!

And that time is now, carpe diem is the way we are going! We feel as though the time off since the last event (February 2012) has not only given us some time to think, but has allowed us to build our own personal networks in preparation for the next event. We find that most of the people who attended found out through Facebook and word of mouth, and we don't think this will change anytime soon. The time just feels "more right" as before...sure, there will always be apprehensive individuals who are unsure, but there are also those who are willing to keep an open mind and give this a shot.

And really, what do you have to lose? For more information about CIMAP, search the program name on Facebook within the next couple of days and "Like" the NEW page we're in the process of putting together. We'll be posting updates about the planning and releasing the event date on this page pretty soon, InshAllah.

Bismillah...here we go again! We hope to see you there!

Comments

  1. thanks for the initiative and the efforts..
    just one thing, try not to mix up opposite genders on the same table..look into halfourdeen..not sure how they do theirs.

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    Replies
    1. We've actually spoken with "Baba Ali" from Half our Deen (he helped us plan things initially) and he does the same thing, that is, opposite genders at the same table. There's a facilitator at every table. I don't see any other way for the participants to get a chance to speak to one another. Group setting is better than one on one anyway, from what we have heard and experienced.

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