UK's leading Muslim matrimonial service eyes global market
- 13 February 2019
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Started almost two decades ago and responsible for more than 100,000 Muslim marriages, the UK’s leading online Muslim matrimonial service, singlemuslim.com, is now eyeing global expansion. My Salaam caught up with CEO and founder Adeem Younis to learn more about its journey and where he hopes to take it.
MS: What inspired you to create the site?
AY: Growing up, I began to realise that I was part of a new generation of Muslims for whom many traditions were becoming more and more difficult to sustain: in particular, how to find a suitable partner for marriage whilst respecting our faith and cultural traditions. It was obvious to me that we no longer sought partners the same way our parents might have, nor did we have the same criteria. This presented a huge challenge, because although we wanted these things, we also didn’t want to alienate our culture and traditions. That was the purpose of singlemuslim.com: to facilitate what Islam allows using modern tools.
MS: When did you set it up, and what is your background?
AY: I set up the website in 2000 when I was still at college in my hometown of Wakefield, a small city in the north of England between Bradford and Leeds. I later went on to study design and marketing at Leeds University. I am one of three siblings brought up by a widowed mother. We lost our father when I was 8 years old, and after this my mother worked as a seamstress to support us. Watching her struggles to give us a better life had a lasting impression on me, and my mother remains my greatest inspiration.
MS: Why do you think your site has become so successful?
AY: We make it very clear this is for people who are serious about getting married, and it is not some “meet up” service. Our app has a flawless user interface and has played a crucial role in driving in new registrations The timing was right for our emergence; technology was improving, and our community was adjusting to new ways of doing traditional things. One of the real keys to our success [is] the hybrid service that allows our cultural traditions to be preserved as much as possible.
MS: What do you mean by “hybrid” service?
AY: A fifth of the registrations on our site are not by the individuals wanting to get married but by someone who has done this consensually on their behalf; that is, like a traditional Muslim chaperone. This allows families and other individuals trusted by the member to be more involved in the process. The option to do this has been on our site from the very start because we recognised that this is how many Muslims have traditionally found their wives and husbands and want to continue doing so.
MS: Could you tell us something about your users? Are all of them from the UK?
AY: We have 2.2 million registered users actively seeking a husband or wife on singlemuslim.com, and our research tells us that at least 100,000 marriages have come about from meeting on our site. If we then average that by two children per marriage, then we can estimate that singlemuslim.com has helped bring around 200,000 Muslim children into the world!
We have around one million members registered from the UK, and the next largest group is from the US. However, you will also see members from Morocco, South Africa, Malaysia and Australia. Many are from places where we have done almost no marketing. For instance, we have 250,000 registered users from the UAE. Most satisfyingly, our data shows that half of our members have joined because of word of mouth.
MS: What were the challenges you faced along the way?
AY: The biggest challenge was making Muslims feel comfortable using new technologies to do something very sensitive and traditional. This involved a lot of educating along the way. You have to remember that, when we started, many Muslims remained unsure about the religious permissibility of posting photos online. Things have come a long way since then, but we still offer the option for those who remain uncertain or uncomfortable doing so to keep photos locked until they are sure they want to show someone.
MS: How do you confirm a user is indeed Muslim?
AY: There is no globally recognised and accepted form of validating this, so we take this on face value and in good faith.
MS: What does the future look like for singlemuslim.com?
AY: We are the UK’s leading online Muslim matrimonial service and our vision is to now become a global leader in this arena. To achieve this, we are now targeting the Middle Eastern, South Asian and African markets. From an innovation perspective, we are experimenting with new intelligent face-recognition technology that learns a member’s potential “type” from their facial expressions as they browse suitable candidates and then makes suggestions based on this information. We are also looking at ways to move into the intelligent watch platform arena as well.
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