Looking for Love – Young Muslims just Wanna have fun
Boring marrieds are out, cool young single things are in: this is the message from ‘rocking new Muslims’. They are clean cut, perfect to take home to the parents, but determined to live life to the full as singletons. Isolate them from the group, and they will admit that they would like to find someone to marry, but until they do so, they are out to have a little fun.
In their twenties and thirties, well educated, on the whole well off second gen kids, they firmly identify themselves as British. They speak in perfect English accents, have been schooled here and work in a variety of respectable fields, from accountants to civil servants, to investment bankers to successful entrepreneurs.
With no traditional vices to speak of (no drinking, no drugs, strippers, lairy stag do’s or joyriding), this is an anomalous likeable bunch of people. Through their sheer delight in good company and good food, they are breaking through the traditional boundaries of their cultural heritages that frown on the fraternising of young singles. Such youngsters are usually seen by the traditional elders of the community as unreligious, westernised and as having abandoned their faith and origins. But these clean cut good looking kids are far from that. And so they challenge traditional community notions of what being “good” or “religious” are all about. Despite their socialising, they are the kind of kids that on the whole parents long for.
They participate in regular community events, are the drivers for progress and change in their local Muslim communities, they create links across ethnic origins, and regularly give up their time to teach younger Muslim children amongst many other voluntary activities. They are practising Muslims, model citizens within their micro-communities as well as wider society. Their simple unfettered approach to having fun and hanging out together is refreshing. They flout the norms simply by being who they are.
But they also challenge western notions of young Muslims who either see them as obedient automatons who do whatever their parents enforce on them, or imagine that all Muslims are dehumanised extremists hell-bent on joining forces with Darth Vader and destroying the known universe. The fact that Muslims can be quite ordinary and simply have fun is a shocking discovery. Even more surprising is the fact that young Muslims are actually quite interested in finding love.
The curious thing about these young hip Muslims is their subconscious refusal to see each other as anything but singles. Love, chemistry and attraction are great ideas in the abstract, but in order to protect the sanctity of the platonic between them, they are unable to make these ideas concrete. As practising Muslims they protect the traditional boundaries between men and women in a new and innovative way – by not challenging the borders of the individual and seeing the opposite gender as anything but very nice people and very good friends.
Married couples are not included in their fun on the pretext that they are boring and dull. But rather it is the married couple’s bridging of the male-female divide, their signal of the move from the platonic to something unknown that is the challenge. They’ve rejected the traditional route of matchmakers and aunties to finding love, but haven’t worked out how to negotiate finding that special someone in the new landscape that they’ve created for themselves. Where do I find someone? they ask. When looking for love, isn’t that the question on everyone’s lips?