Disclaimer: This is a random commentary on my experience in the Muslim dating world. My experience is not representative of all Muslims.
There are lots of things at play when trying to find a partner in my community. His race matters. His occupation matters. His parents' occupations matter. His pedigree matters. The same goes for me. A marriage isn't just between two people, it's between two families. You want as many commonalities as possible to ensure a successful marriage. If these key characteristics match up, the man and the woman are encouraged to meet and date- something that was unheard of just decades ago. Dating can last as short as one meeting to as long as a few years, and hopefully leads to marriage. The unspoken rule is that no sex will happen during the dating period, but many people don't abide by that.
In my particular community of Muslims, being a housewife in 2017 is not acceptable. Mothers (and their sons) don't want a daughter-in-law who doesn't earn money, who isn't sophisticated in her own right. As such, when my own career plans were a bit unclear, I didn't have much value as a partner even though the rest of the "karahiri package" was pretty solid. Lmao. Anyway, it was only until I was accepted into medical school was I seen to have some potential.
I think this is part of the reason why I get so irritated by guys who think that all women have to do is be thin and look pretty to find a worthy partner. I've already been rejected for being too short at 5'0, too thin at 112 lbs, not successful enough back when I only had a Masters degree to offer. I can't change my height, I am working on my body, and I hope to make it through medical school in one piece. So what's next?
While I don't mind my parents scoping out guys for me, I also wanted to have more control over the whole process- which they completely encouraged. So, I signed up to be on some Muslim dating apps/sites. Most of my experiences have been...disappointing. Even though I identify as a Muslim, refrain from eating pork, dress comparatively conservatively, have abstained, have read most of the Quran in Arabic... I'm simply not that devout. These days, the most praying I do is the night before exams. I believe in God. I believe in being a kind and generous person, but I couldn't quote the Quran to you. I'm never going to be someone who wears a hijab. I'm not going to say no to alcohol and drugs forever. The kind of Muslim I am is really hard to define. Some label it "culturally Muslim," but many people who identify as such drink frequently, have sex freely, eat pork, have never read the Quran etc. They're almost...not religious enough for me. It's a challenge to find a happy medium.
I'm not sure what's in store. It seems a bit scary to put the onus of finding a partner on your parents... but my parents know me the best. They know 99% of my pros and cons. Most importantly, they have my best interests at heart. They know what a bad marriage looks like- they're living that nightmare every day. I know they will do everything possible to make sure that that doesn't happen to me.
Maybe a lot of this sounds crazy... but I do want to close with some words of wisdom. The rule of thumb in our dating system is "the more you have to offer, the more you can expect." Essentially... do your best to become the best version of yourself you can be. Not only will you respect yourself more, you will attract people of your caliber. I know this might be a "cold" way to approach love and relationships... but I don't think that makes it untrue. This method seems much more practical than me dropping a book and hoping some Muslim hottie picks it up, ours eyes meet, and we live happily ever after.